The Downside to Theory – A Structural Engineer’s Perspective

Theory has always been the basis behind all engineering design.  And it is no wonder… it is a necessity to lay the foundation – the building blocks which allow for unlimited creativity.  As engineers we use theory to help open our minds to creativity and innovation.

However, too much theory has a hidden downside.  By relying solely on theory, we can limit the very thing we as engineers strive to advance.  Such idea limits the possibility of innovation as we become bound by strict rules that do not allow for deviation.

In this view, we become limited by a completely theoretical world without compromise, which hinders new viewpoints and trains of thought.  This simplified approach requires conformity to the “norm” – to what is generally “understood” as correct, but discourages creativity.

Yes, many times these are actually the best solutions to many engineering problems. But by blindly “assuming” these are the “only” correct approaches is a disservice to the profession.  It is our duty as engineers to find the most creative and innovative solutions in all we create.  And by using theory only as a tool (and not the answer), we can continue to progress the profession in limitless ways.

ZLS Consulting, Inc. (c) 2017. All rights reserved.

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