Microcomputers for civil engineering consultancy in developing countries
The civil engineering industry generally regards new methods and technology with a high amount of scepticism, preferring to use traditional and trusted methods. During the 1980s competition for civil engineering consultancy work in the world has become fierce. Halcrow recognised the need to maintain and improve their competitive edge over other consultants. The use of new technology in the form of microcomputers was seen to be one method to maintain and improve their repuation in the world. This thesis examines the role of microcomputers in civil engineering consultancy with particular reference to overseas projects. The involvement of civil engineers with computers, both past and present, has been investigated and a survey of the use of microcomputers by consultancies was carried out, the results are presented and analysed. A resume of the state-of-the-art of microcomputer technology was made. Various case studies were carried out in order to examine the feasibility of using microcomputers on overseas projects. One case study involved the examination of two projects in Bangladesh and is used to illustrate the requirements and problems encountered in such situations. Two programming applications were undertaken, a dynamic programming model of a single site reservoir and the simulation of the Bangladesh gas grid system. A cost-benefit analysis of a water resources project using microcomputers in the Aguan Valley, Honduras was carried out. Although the initial cost of microcomputers is often small, the overall costs can prove to be very high and are likely to exceed the costs of traditional computer methods. A planned approach for the use of microcomputers is essential in order to reap the expected benefits and recommendations for the implementation of such an approach are presented.