# Bridges Built on Troubled Calculations

We do not need to preach to P.E.s how critical calculations are to their designs. It also goes without saying that bad data leads to bad decisions. Whether we’re computing Load and Factor Resistance Design for expansion bridges or computing Allowable Stress Design for residential A-frames, you’ve got some math to do.

The Architectural, Engineering, Constructions and Operations industry (AECO) has many tools to select from for Building Information Modeling, 2D and 3D Architectural and Engineering Design, Project Management/Collaboration and Structural Analysis Tools. Throughout all the commercial and government agencies doing AECO application a common thread exists… PTC Mathcad.

For nearly 30 years now, PTC Mathcad has been providing a document for engineers to scratch out their calculations, view them in natural math notation, share them with other engineers and create a customer facing report from their calculations.

PTC Mathcad was purposely designed for engineers who work on projects. Engineers need to easily read data, do analysis and perhaps some optimization. They are doing algebra, stats, calculus, and solving systems of equations. Additionally, all input variables have units on their terms, plus they are dealing with force and pressure, mass and distance, Fahrenheit and Celsius. It’s easy to see why Engineers choose PTC Mathcad over Excel.

Excel

=(\$B\$1*\$D\$1/2)*((PI()*\$F\$1*\$D\$1-\$H\$1)/(PI()*\$D\$1+\$F\$1*\$H\$1))+

\$B\$1*\$F\$2*\$D\$2/2

=9.774428429

PTC Mathcad also provides a repository of pre-built worksheets addressing the following application areas:

• Highway design
• Bridge & tower construction
• Retaining wall structural analysis
• Waste disposal systems
• Environmental: water and air pollution control
• Pipelines
• Irrigation

Here is a quick look at the intro to one worksheet chosen at random from the hundreds available.

PTC Mathcad is perfect for AECO applications. We hope you will try it.

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## 4 thoughts on “Bridges Built on Troubled Calculations”

1. Kyle Nguyen says:

I’m using Mathcad to do my engineering homework in college, and while it has been tremendously helpful, I have an impression (from reading online resources) that Mathcad is not “serious” enough for practicing engineers. Therefore, I would love to hear about practicing engineers using Mathcad to actually help them implement projects for their companies.

2. John Sheehan says:

Many commercial and government agencies have standardized on Mathcad for almost 30 years.

although there is a lot on non-sharing due to competitive nature, the Florida DOT makes public many of their Mathcad templates. Most US DOT’s leverage these as well as many contractor to the DOT’s
http://www.dot.state.fl.us/structures/proglib.shtm

3. Mark says:

John, I think you mean, “Load and Resistance Factor Design” (LRFD), not “Load and Factor Resistance Design.”

Kyle, I’m an Engineer who works for a company that designs and supplies bridge components. I use Mathcad almost daily. I don’t have much experience with other math programs, but I’d say Mathcad does everything we need it to (and more). As noted by this article (among others), it’s a lot better than using spreadsheets for engineering work.

1. John Sheehan says:

I did mean LRFD, thanks for the correction