ATC Hazards

The Applied Technology Council (ATC) has made a web tool for determining structural hazards by location. This is a useful tool to document code specified design values for snow, wind, seismic loading criteria. You can find their tool at .

About the ATC:

The Applied Technology Council (ATC) is a nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation established in 1973 through the efforts of the Structural Engineers Association of California. ATC’s mission is to develop and promote state-of-the-art, user-friendly engineering resources and applications for use in mitigating the effects of natural and other hazards on the built environment. ATC also identifies and encourages needed research and develops consensus opinions on structural engineering issues in a nonproprietary format. ATC thereby fulfills a unique role in funded information transfer.

ATC is guided by a Board of Directors consisting of representatives appointed by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations, the Structural Engineers Association of California, the Structural Engineers Association of New York, the Western Council of Structural Engineers Associations, and four at-large representatives concerned with the practice of structural engineering. Each director serves a three-year term.

Project management and administration are carried out by a full-time Executive Director and support staff. Project work is conducted by a wide range of highly qualified consulting professionals, thus incorporating the experience of many individuals from academia, research, and professional practice who would not be available from any single organization. Funding for ATC projects is obtained from government agencies and from the private sector in the form of tax-deductible contributions.

The corporate headquarters for ATC is located in Redwood City, California, with a satellite office in Arlington, Virginia.

Their sponsors include

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS)

Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA)

Carport Central

American Iron and Steel Institute

Wolfram|Alpha – Intro

Wolfram|Alpha computational knowledge engine

Wolfram|Alpha is becoming a more valuable tool for engineers practically every day.  If you haven’t used it before, you should definitely check it out.  Their goals are summarized on their info page:


Wolfram|Alpha’s long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone.

We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.

Wolfram|Alpha aims to bring expert-level knowledge and capabilities to the broadest possible range of people—spanning all professions and education levels.

Our goal is to accept completely free-form input, and to serve as a knowledge engine that generates powerful results and presents them with maximum clarity.

Wolfram|Alpha is an ambitious, long-term intellectual endeavor that we intend will deliver increasing capabilities over the years and decades to come.

With a world-class team and participation from top outside experts in countless fields, our goal is to create something that will stand as a major milestone of 21st century intellectual achievement.

You can do a lot with it.  It can definitely serve as a quick replacement when you need to consult an infrequently-used table for some data.  What is the bulk density of sand?  Need to know the coefficient of thermal expansion for Copper?  What about the general properties of elemental Silicon?  Need to solve some engineering problems?  These examples only scratch the surface of the large number of topics that Wolfram|Alpha covers.

Custom Graph Paper

Green Engineer's PadMost of us professionals have pre-printed graph paper with the company logo and other things.  Students usually have to buy their graph paper in bulk from their bookstore,, or somewhere else (probably online).  When I was in school, we used a green engineering pad similar to this.

What happens when you’re in the middle of a homework assignment, and you just run out of graph paper only to realize you forgot to go to the bookstore before they closed, and your assignment is due tomorrow?  (If you are running low, you may want to order a pad or two now while you are thinking about it.)  What if you just need a few sheets to get you by, or if you need some grid pattern that you don’t usually use?  One option is to print some yourself.  It is quite easy–you don’t even have to draw it in AutoCAD or make it in Excel!  All you have to do is go to incompetech’s website and print any custom grid pattern, type, and size for free as an instantly downloadable PDF.