Envelope #28 (Part 2): 1+1=3 Experiment

Happy Friday! This is Andy from Back of the Envelope.

In the last email, I talked about the concept of "1+1=3" and "collaboration." And I mentioned that I need to run an "experiment" on an idea to see if we could potentially create a "win-win" in our profession (i.e., to create an ever-increasing metaphorical pie for all of us to eat 😋).

Today, I will elaborate on that idea (and at the end, there will be a chance for you to join this "experiment").

Let's dive in!

(Estimated read time = 3 minutes and 30 seconds )

As I mentioned in the last email, I had thought about this a lot, so I initially wrote a bunch of stuff for this email (over 1200 words)…

But this is Back of the Envelope… I realized I needed to trim the fat and give you the goodies.

So here it is, a shorter version of my original essay:

  • First, what is "collaborate" exactly? It means engineers work together to achieve a "common shared goal."

  • That "common shared goal" could be more money, more job satisfaction/fulfillment, and more recognition/appreciation from non-engineers.

  • But in order to collaborate, engineers need to have a "place" to congregate where they can regularly bounce off ideas, get questions answered, and eventually build a meaningful and trusting relationship with each other.

  • Professional organizations and trade/technical organizations allow you to do that, but the intervals where you get to chat with each other could be long (meetings once so often, sometimes a month, sometimes longer). Also, to have regular contact with the same people, you must be fully committed by joining a committee or a Board (not everyone's cup of tea).

  • Online forums like Eng-Tips or Reddit also allow you to connect with other engineers (to a certain extent). I regularly see fascinating stuff on these sites, but it can be a challenge to make meaningful connections with an anonymous person, even if their user name is AiscNdsAciTms or NotEngButTrussMe (I just made those up – not real users, I think. You get the point).

  • Social media sites like LinkedIn is another platform that could work. But it is a "media" designed to suck you in to spend time on. Just like Facebook, before you know it, you'll end up scrolling through the endless feeds, forgetting why you were there in the first place…

Basically, my point is that currently, there's no platform out there that:

  1. Allows structural engineers from anywhere in the country to connect and interact regularly.

  2. Doesn't require a strict time commitment.

  3.  Has real people with real identities and credentials.

  4. Has minimal distractions.

This is why, I am thinking of running an experiment to build out an online SE-specific community. (A professional community for structural engineers, if you will).

And I am looking for 5 to 25 "founding members" to help dial this in.

This will be a community that:

  1.  Allows you to connect with like-minded structural engineers who support each other and grow together.

  2. Enables you to learn and improve your skills.
    (I plan to add technical and non-technical resources over time that help you with your specific challenges; think Back of the Envelope on steroids)

  3. Lets you get help when needed.
    (I'll personally get in there regularly to answer questions if I know the answer or find someone who can help)

  4. Lets you share your accomplishments and wins.
    (Sometimes, only other structural engineers can truly appreciate the ingenuity of your work, if you know what I mean)

  5. Allows you to potentially earn a side income!
    (I'll explain more in the next email – it's a wild concept I derived from the cross between Hulu, Defi, and Dropbox).

To make all this happen, it will be a budget-friendly, paid membership site (which will also help weed out spammers and tire kickers).

The site is almost ready (I am getting things set up). In the meantime, if this seems interesting to you and you'd like to be part of this "experiment," go ahead and click the button below and fill out the application (takes maybe 5-10 minutes).

I am looking for a mix of engineers with different levels of experience to be the founding members, and your response will help tremendously.

Hope this all makes sense. If you have any questions, just hit reply to let me know.

Thanks and have a good weekend!


The main reason your clients make changes to the plans that affect structural (even though you thought they said they weren't going to), is because of a misplaced comma:

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