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reddit: Ask Engineers

reddit: Ask Engineers

And now for something completely different…

A few weeks ago someone posted one of my articles onto reddit, which gave me a surprisingly large number of views. Not one to fall into the debt of others, I’ve decided to give something back.

So for each day of this week I’ll pick-up, promote and try to answer a reddit engineering question from the /r/AskEngineers subreddit. If you think you know the answer, follow the link and share your 2 cents (or pence…).


reddit-leadQuestion: What is the purpose of the lead sheet on the base of this railroad bridge footing between the steel and concrete? [U235EU / Image ]

My answer: I’ve seen this used on wrought iron bridges as the bearing pad for the free end, with the girders ‘sliding’ on the (relatively) smooth plate surface.

Got a better idea? Help answer the question!


Question: Do you need to be good at drawing for CAD drawings? [feman3]

My answer: I’d say you need to be good at sketching.

Being able to communicate the ideas that form the drawing (dimensions, layouts, how the subject is constructed) is essential, not just for helping any future draughtsman get your drawing together, but for talking to clients, sharing ideas in meetings, and even explaining calculations (picture = 1000 x words).

As for CAD- the purpose of all the big programs is to make technical drawing easy; moving it from the realms of artistry to geometry- of course, a good draughtsman blurs the lines (just take a look at some old, hand-drawn Victorian engineering drawings…)

Disagree? Share your view!


Question: I’m interviewing with a company, but can’t find any information other than from their own site (should I be worried)… [it-was-the-asian]

My answer: That depends, a lot of engineering companies don’t tend to worry too much about their online presence, as they win work through tendering. This is especially true of small/medium sized firms, who simply can’t afford the overhead required to fund a full marketing machine!

More generally, I might be a bit concerned, however, if you can’t find anything about projects they’ve worked on and you were hoping to get involved with more recognisable projects. Personally, I’ve worked on both, and although it’s nice to get some recognition when you tell people what you’ve worked on, it’s the smaller projects that get you the most experience as a graduate.

If it’s the stability that worries you, there’s a lot of sources of information online about most types of company. For example, all limited companies (common for small/medium engineering firms in the UK) have to register at Companies House, which includes filing accounts that can give you a feel for the safety of the business.

Got another take? Spread the word!


Question: Civil Engineers, what makes your choice in career path so fulfilling, or not? [Madeeg]

My answer: This is one of those questions I’ve answered so many times; I’m starting to feel like a broken record

The thing I like most about being a Civil Engineer, is that you get to make a tangible difference to the world around you; there aren’t many jobs where you know what you’re doing will effect the lives of millions of people (easily, if you’ve helped build/maintain any infrastructure).

The worst bit? The gradual resignation that no one will ever know what you do- even if they’ve just driven across the bridge you built to tell you so!

Unfulfilled? Give another reason!


(Final) Question: What are some problems that society will soon face that engineers will have to solve? [dilan11]

My answer: Short and simple, for the weekend:

There not being enough engineers to solve the problems engineers should be solving- I expect!

Worried? Share your fears!

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