Department of

Civil and Environmental Engineering



Kavanagh Lecture - Abstract

April 2, 1998

Towards More Realistic Design


Dr. John M. Kulicki
President and Chief Engineer
Modjeski and Masters, Consulting Engineers


This paper deals with issues and trends in design which generally move the design process in the direction of greater recognition of the variability of the physical environment and more accurate representation of the physical actions taking place as structures respond to loads. Examples and specific issues are taken from the practice of bridge engineering, but the general issues have wide applicability to other areas of civil engineering. Some cases where simply using more powerful computational tools did not necessarily result in more realism, are discussed. Conversely, the dangers of oversimplification are also illustrated through a case study in distortion-induced fatigue. The general trend of design philosophy from working stress design to load factor design to probabilistic limit states design is reviewed. The concept of structural reliability theory is introduced. Future needs are identified.