What is structural engineering?
Structural Engineering is a civil engineering specialty that deals with the research, planning, analysis, design, construction, inspection, evaluation, monitoring, maintenance, rehabilitation, and demolition of permanent and temporary structures. Additionally, it considers the technical, economic, environmental, aesthetic, and social aspects of the structures.
Structural engineering is a profession that offers a great opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of people and their environment.
The structural engineer is responsible for economically designing buildings, bridges, warehouses, storage tanks, and other structures with sufficient strength to prevent their collapse when loaded and protect them from extreme natural phenomena such as wind, snow, fire, and earthquakes.
Structural engineers are responsible for:
- Evaluate the effect of loads on the structure throughout its useful life.
- Establish how the structure will support the loads.
- Select the materials, components, and connections of the structure that will support the loads safely and without excessive deformation.
- Plan a safe construction sequence.
- Prepare drawings and specifications of the complete structure.
- Supervise the construction to verify that the construction plans are followed in detail.
Structural engineers are responsible for the analysis and design of structures. The analysis is the process of determining the forces in each element of a structure (such as a beam) when the configuration of the elements is already defined. Design is the process of configuring elements to resist forces whose magnitude is already known. Analysis and design are complementary procedures in the general process of designing new structures.
Structural engineers perform the analysis and design of:
- Architectural structures: Buildings, houses, factories, stadiums, etc.
- Civil infrastructure: Bridges, dams, pipelines, structures on land, rocker platforms, tunnels, etc.
- Aerospace, mechanical and naval structures: Airplanes, spaceships, space satellites, cars, ships, submarines, cranes, etc.
Structural engineers commonly work with architects, builders, civil, mechanical, electrical, and chemical engineers, and construction managers to ensure that all parts of the structure are safe and capable of performing their intended function. They also ensure that the structures use appropriate materials efficiently.