Be the first to like this
Issue Date: Dec-2007
Publisher: Asian Institute of Technology
Abstract: Practicing structural engineers are often faced with limitations in available computing tools as well as insufficient access to relevant knowledge for design projects and engineering jobs. At the launch of a project the immediate tasks invariably involve research, discussions with colleagues and a series of computations. These tasks are repeated over and over again until a final design is arrived at. The degree to which these tasks are well facilitated in an engineering firm helps determine the productivity of its engineers and thus the firm’s competitiveness in the industry. Semantic computing technologies such as Semantic Web Services, Weblog, and Dig-ital Library have substantial, hitherto untapped potential to improve the productivity of structural engineers. This dissertation proposes a support system for structural engineering using these semantic computing technologies. A system architecture and the key software components for it are specified and prototype systems presented. The support system involves two frameworks of software infrastructure: first, the Weblog and Digital Library Framework for Engineering Knowledge Management (Blog+DL), which uses Weblogs and Digital Libraries as core components of a collaborative structural engineering support system; second, the Semantic Web Services Framework for Computational Mechanics (SWSCM), a methodology that unifies and utilizes scattered computing resources. Blog+DL and SWSCM are complementary methodologies in the engineering process. Blog+DL relies on SWSCM to integrate computing resources shared by several parties. SWSCM can use Blog+DL to deploy and discover shared computing resources, as well as to educate and exchange knowledge, including peer opinions about underlying theories and user experiences. Two proof of concept prototype systems were developed. The first system illustrates the joint application of Blog+DL and SWSCM to build support systems that facilitate the computationally oriented knowledge management process in structural engineering. The second system illustrates the full potential of SWSCM to facilitate a computationally intensive workflow that involves heterogeneous engineering software components. Blog+DL and SWSCM combine semantic computing technologies to build computer-aided engineering tools that improve the productivity of individual engineers and thereby enhance the competitiveness of engineering firms.