In support of this month's theme on electrical design, the EC&M editorial team, our Code consultants, and contributing authors worked long and hard to produce some enlightening articles on this topic. In addition to our 4th annual report on the Top 40 design firms, this issue features an article on sustainable design for electrical engineers, a piece explaining the recent boost in those obtaining NICET certification, and a good old-fashioned “how-to” tutorial on sizing battery banks for switchgear by hand. Combine this with our regularly featured Code Basics column, power quality coverage, and Forensic Casebook lesson, and you've got a nice showcase of excellence in electrical design.
Unfortunately, I'm sure most of you would agree that for every good design package or installation you've set your eyes on, you've run across just as many — or maybe more — downright bad designs. My hypothesis is supported by the overwhelming number of photos I receive from many of you, featuring the poor decisions made by electrical designers and installers all over the world. It's also corroborated by the popularity of our “Illustrated Catastrophes” and “What's Wrong Here?” columns, coordinated by our very own Code super sleuth Joe Tedesco.
The question I can't ignore is what's behind this abundance of bad designs and inferior work practices? Maybe we're sacrificing quality of work for speed of construction. Could it be that today's design professionals are less skilled than those of the past? Is it possible that advances in electrical design software have “dumbed down” the electrical design profession? Have our technical schools and higher education facilities slipped a notch, no longer providing the appropriate level of basic training to the industry's young recruits? Or maybe people just simply don't take enough pride in a job well done anymore.
Whatever the reasons behind this onslaught of inferior design work, these questions got me thinking. Maybe we should create an issue devoted exclusively to the topic of poor electrical design. Of course I'm not suggesting that we create a Top 40 Bad Electrical Design Firm's listing or profile the worst electrical designers in the country — although I must admit the idea intrigues me. But what about dedicating an issue to the topic of bad design, but doing so in a constructive way. In other words, create a bunch of show-and-tell pieces that depict inferior electrical designs and installations, but support this with quality design photos and content to demonstrate the way it should have been done in the first place — think of it as designers' real-world lessons learned from others' mistakes.
So what do you think? Is anyone willing to support me in this quest? I can't do it alone. I'll need you to send me lots of supporting photos and text to pull this off. If you'd like to lend a hand, send your materials to me via snail mail or e-mail. I'll be waiting!