In this episode of The Structural Engineering Podcast, we talk to David L. Pierson, PE, SE, SECB, Sr. Principal at ARW Engineers, about resilience, building codes, and free markets in structural engineering.

Engineering Quotes:

Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask David in This Episode:

In reference to the article you wrote in Structures Magazine, entitled "Who Hijacked My Building Code?" Can you tell our listeners what the overall purpose of the building code is?  

In your opinion, who do you think should pay for the development and promulgation of the building code?  

In another article of yours in the Structures Magazine, entitled “Changing Building Codes,” you talk about the importance of changing these codes. How often do you believe these building codes should be changed / re-issued?  

Can (or should) building codes be used to implement social engineering via unelected government officials and organizations?  

What are your thoughts about the role of government in regulating construction?

Do you think it is ethical to promote mandates for resilience into the building code?  

What advice would you give engineers who are considering a career in structural engineering?  

Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About Resilience, Building Codes, and Free Markets in Structural Engineering:

The building code originated in the United States with the Chicago Fire of 1871 and the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. The overall purpose of the building code is to ensure life safety. My concern about things that creep into the building code beyond life safety is the clasp that it puts into society.

I consider the building code law, which means that I am under threat of state sanctuary penalty if I do not obey that law. However, you are required to pay money to find out what the law is. If we need to make a simplified life safety code for the public, the public should pay for it via taxes.

We need to remember how much we do not know. When we make changes on the capacity side by less than 5%, we must acknowledge how little we know about the demand side.

Building codes should follow a subjective legislative process. There is such a vast amount of information that needs to be considered to make the right decision, and consumers cannot always access the right information.

As a building owner, or even as a city, we have the right to do a third-party plan check.

If you are a structural engineer and you want to advocate for bringing resilience in under the building code so that you are mandating it on people, you need to realize what you are doing and that you are asking for a partial infringement on the rights of the building owners to make those decisions.

Consider choosing a career in structural engineering if you love what you are doing, and then go earn your fame and fortune.

More Details in This Episode…

About David L. Pierson, PE, SE, SECB

David Pierson is the Vice President of ARW Engineers in Ogden, Utah. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Utah State University. David was the 2020 Engineer of the Year at the Utah Engineers Council (UEC) and received the 2019 Structural Engineer of the Year award from the Structural Engineers Association of Utah (SEAU). During his high school senior year, Dave took Applied Physics, Applied Math and decided he would be a Structural Engineer. David spent a few years in the industry throughout Utah and California before joining ARW in 1991. As a Principal Engineer, he oversees multiple projects. The top three things he enjoys most in life are spending time and traveling with his wife and kids, seeing his kids work hard and succeed at their endeavors, and his version of golf (and debating what it means to have a sub-par day of golf)."

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