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A contribution to innovative methods for enhancing the economy of steel structures engineering Ramadhas, Vignesh

Abstract

An engineer in his everyday practice, in addition to the tasks of analyzing, designing, fabricating and erecting structures, is faced with the exigent task of decision making. The process of making decisions becomes even more challenging in the presence of uncertainties. Nevertheless, the presence of uncertainties is inevitable in all forms of engineering and making efficient decisions in the presence of uncertainties is a critical skill that engineers as decision makers must develop. It is a well known fact that decisions made in the early stages of a project have greater economic implications on the project than decisions made in the later stages when changes become more expensive and difficult to make. However, there is a high level of uncertainty associated with the early or conceptual stages of a project. In such stages, while making decisions, the engineer relies on experience when challenged with problems similar to those encountered previously and when faced with uncharted situations, falls back on engineering judgment and first principles. Since the issue of liability is a major concern, it is extremely critical that the engineer supports his decision with proven decision making theories and analyses rather than with the bare tag of "experience". Theories for decision making have already been well recognized in fields such as business and economics and several methods, tools and software are now available and can be used to apply decision making theories in everyday practice. This thesis introduces several theories and criteria that can be used to make rational decisions in situations of risk, uncertainty and incomplete knowledge. The practical implementation of these theories with the help of tools such as Decision Trees, Influence Diagrams, Monte Carlo Simulation, Sensitivity Analysis, Expected Monetary Value (EMV), etc. has also been discussed. It is felt that a proper combination of theories and analytical techniques can greatly rationalize the decision making process and improve the quality of the decisions made. The focus of this report has been on using the decision making tools mentioned above to enhance the economy of steel structures. Examples illustrating the same have been provided and two case studies have been conducted to demonstrate the application of the ideas discussed in real time problems and projects.

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