Notes on structural analysis in a distributed collaboratory

The worldwide growth of communication networks and associated technologies provide the basic infrastructure for new ways of executing the engineering process. Collaboration amongst team members seperated in time and location is of particular importance. Two broad themes can be recognized in research pertaining to distributed collaboration. One theme focusses on the technical and technological aspects of distributed work, while the other emphasises human aspects thereof. The case of finite element structural analysis in a distributed collaboratory is examined in this paper. An approach is taken which has its roots in human aspects of the structural analysis task. Based on experience of how structural engineers currently approach and execute this task while utilising standard software designed for use on local workstations only, criteria are stated for a software architechture that could support collaborative structural analysis. Aspects of a pilot application and the results of qualitative performance measurements are discussed.


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