What Does a Structural Engineer Do?

Structural engineering is a subdiscipline of civil engineering in which structural engineers are trained to design the “bones and muscles” that create the shape and form of man-made structures. Structural engineering is the branch of engineering that deals with the design, construction and maintenance of public works. A structural engineer pays the greatest attention to infrastructure, such as bridges, tunnels, transportation routes, water treatment facilities, and government buildings. In the United States, structural engineers are also involved in military engineering.

Essentially, it is the job of the structural engineer to bring to life the construction ideas of executive directors, policy makers and public servants. Being a structural engineer is a challenging profession that requires a great deal of education, ongoing training, and innate skills and talent. Structural engineers focus on building materials and their ability to withstand design actions. Structural engineers are involved in a project if an owner plans to change the use of a building, introduce more floors in a building, or add significant expansion to a building.

Structural engineers increasingly rely on computer-aided design (CAD) systems, so competition with computers is essential. They usually design buildings to last fifty years and bridges for more than a century, so their structures are used and enjoyed by thousands, or even millions of people. Once the loads acting on the structure are known, the structure is analyzed to determine the effect of all these loads on the individual elements of the structure. Structural engineers use many problem-solving skills, from basic mathematics to cutting-edge technology.

In addition, many structural engineers belong to the Institute of Structural Engineering of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Structural engineering is one of the oldest types of engineering, dating back to the first time tree branches were joined together with vines to make a shelter. Some of the professionals of recent days in this field are known, although often not as well as the structures they designed. When a structural engineer visits a construction site or the site of a building or structure to be evaluated, he observes a number of construction-specific elements.

Grace Martin
Grace Martin

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