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Baffled by Degrees Minutes Seconds?

We’re not all technical people are we?  Sometimes we have to explain things to people who just don’t get it as quickly.  There are three main ways to describe a slope in land and urban development, angle, (degrees), slope (percent) and slope, (1 in ….)

Civil Engineers commonly describe slope in terms of percent grade, which is effectively Rise/Run.  This is pretty easy to understand from a couple of examples.  A slope of 100% or 1:1 is the same as 45 degrees.
Degrees are useful when referring to a bend, say in a pipe, common prefabricated bends come in shapes such as 45, 22.5 and 11.25 degrees.  When attempting to define pipe deflection to match these bends in civil design software, it is useful to know this equation. Sometimes it’s just easier to explain to a client in terms of degrees, its useful to have an idea anyway. Check out the image for a quick reference equation shown on my HipsterPDA.

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Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.