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Ralph Liebing, RA, CSI, CDT
Senior Member
Username: rliebing

Post Number: 1236
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 - 12:15 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

by Ralph Liebing, RA, CSI, CDT
Cincinnati, OH

Railroads [if you don’t remember them, ask your grandparents!] use a very unique way in moving trains from one track to another, etc., get them on the correct routing to their destination. This, of course, is the “switch”-- where one rail line [composed of 2 tracks] merges into another to form on track set. They are adjustable and flexible, so the trains may be transferred track to track when traveling in either direction.
But no matter, for in the end it is the final location where the various products in the cars are delivered.
We work on something very close to a “railroad”! Well, of course, we are “on track” for the most part, and have a definite destination in mind. And in a matter of speaking we, too, take several switches to ensure that we do what we are supposed to-- to deliver the correct product in the correct manner at the correct place!
The basic point of all this, is that there is a need to adjust and to be flexible in our work. And this is true in many cases, we could cite. Those of us with experience of any length know they well or at least well enough to beware of it. The prevailing problem is that this realization seems to being occurring later and later in careers and in fact may never really take hold income young professionals at all. We need to teach or mentor that this “signal point” is noted and impressed on our youngsters so they do not miss, so projects either suffer through “mistreatment” or design become to repetitive and lifeless. Flexibility yields variety which is the spice of life in design.
As specifers we often times have a better grasp of the process than other team partners, We see things, and receive information differently from the designer and thereby have the distinct advantage in our depth of construction knowledge, flexible application and use of materials and systems, and adaptations to upgrade the project. In addition, our flexibility is discretionary and available in many places within our projects. Unlike the railroad, our work does not have “stitches” in fixed locations and spiked down routings; we can configure what we do in any and varied locations, including within the processes of writing the specifications and compiling the final working copies [dare I say, “Project Manuals”?].
Many jobs and positions are not the cookie-cutter, production line processes where solutions are repeated time and again, day after day. So with spec writing, architecture, engineering and construction and the like. The basic knowledge required must be so understood that flexible applications are commonplace. We need to know that with ay one material or system, there are innumerable possible solutions and interfaces. This point is crucial to overall success by any professional ad is the very reason students need this criteria in their “tool boxes”.
Standard details, for example, have a tendency to forestall this flexibility and increase the rick that younger professionals will lean toward solutions that resolve similar but different requirements and situations in their projects. Solutions will be “forced: to work in lieu of some alternative or mutation.
Our risk and mission s to understand openly and to work this into the instruction we use-- OR DEVELOP!-- to widen our influence and to provide instruction, service and information not now distributed or presented. The world and methods have and are changing, so the raw basis and rudiments must also be engaged.
A challenge, friends-- No! a responsibility of ours, to do more and better and to maintain the potency of our work and how we educate, train, develop and assist others! For both now and the future [whatever that holds]

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