2016 Annual General Meeting Keynote Presentation: Design in the Digital Age

Date: March 10, 2016

Presenter: Tristram Carfrae, RDI MA FREng FTSE FIEAust MIStructE Deputy Chairman and Fellow at Arup, London, UK

Tristram Carfrae is an Arup Fellow and Deputy Chairman at Arup. A Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, he is recipient of the most prestigious GOLD Award in 2014 from the Institution of Structural Engineers. 

Regarded internationally as a leading engineer, Tristram has been responsible for many award-winning structures, including the Beijing Olympics Aquatic Centre, Singapore’s Marina Bay double helix bridge, and the AAMI Park Stadium in Melbourne, to name a few. 

In collaborating with some of the world’s best architects, Tristram has the reputation for challenging the established way of doing things; for exploring better solutions; and moulding both materials and people to his vision. He believes that good buildings should consume less materials, energy, time and money; while at the same time being beautiful and providing greater amenity for society.

In his keynote address, Tristam addressed the big topic of designing with computers and put things in perspective…

It is relatively common to hear the senior members of our profession exhort our more junior members to “stop using computer models”, particularly early in the design process. However, a computer analysis programme is really just a superior calculator (slide rule or log table)! Then why shouldn’t they be used by engineers to get a fast appreciation of the structural behaviour of their idea? And what is it about making a quick sketch and a hand calculation that makes it so more informative than a computer model – which is replete with stresses, deflected shapes, loads, reactions and many other informative results? Surely what we really want is the wise use of computer models, even early in the design process. A virtual exploration of the design space, many models of different complexity, cross checking for fundamental structural behavior, sensitivity studies against various input parameters … to name a few of the different strategies available. I think that our senior members should try and learn the capabilities of modern computing so that they can teach their colleagues how to get the most out. 

Tristram’s passion to extrude the best in efficiency, elegance and form is displayed by his bold approach to tackle and overcome the oft-overlooked basic inhibitions. His presentation will centre on the wise use of computer models as an inherent part of the design process revealing how it can be used effectively early in design to explore structural behavior, conduct sensitivity studies, and innovate en-route. Tristram believes that structural engineers should continue to understand modern computer modelling so that they can obtain the most benefit from its many capabilities.

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The video recording is restricted to members only.

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