Calculation in an emergency

Aeronautic, study of a gantry design options to be anchored on existing concrete blocks.

We, engineers, love our Modeling, Multiphysics, and advanced simulation tools allowing us to optimize our systems by iterations, testing options, and refining our designs…

Sometimes, this is just not fast and convenient to find options, select solutions, or simply get an order of magnitude or a validation… Sometimes, the “good old fashion way”: Putting down the problem into a system of equations and solving it is more appropriate…

For instance, what happens during construction, when an unanticipated technical issue is blocking the whole process, when a solution must be found (very fast) to avoid wasting man-hours and costly equipment mobilization? Most of the time, under pressure, construction teams are coming up with shortcuts, potentially leading to failure months or years after plant commissioning, especially when delicate materials are involved, such as Super Duplex Stainless Steel. In such cases, we find and validate analytically and suitably workshop convenient repair methods.

At the feasibility stage also, considering specific constraints needs to be done before any modeling or design choice. Then too, it’s more efficient to use algebra and a formal and numeric solver to determine the most practical design options.

Problem-solving and innovation don’t proceed as per the same scheme as design optimization: Intuition, reverse and critical thinking, ability to compose with complexity and constraints, fast validation, …, are then essential, like calculation in an emergency.

It’s a lost art…

(The title of this post is a blink to Franck O’Hara’s poetry book “Meditation in an emergency”)

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