What Does It Mean to Be a Structural Engineer?

Structural engineers are responsible for creating some of the most impressive and useful structures in the world, from bridges and roller coasters to hospitals and public artwork. They work as part of a team with architects, builders, and other engineers to design, construct, and maintain public works. Structural engineers focus on infrastructure such as bridges, tunnels, transportation routes, water treatment facilities, and government buildings. In the United States, they are also involved in military engineering.

To become a structural engineer, one must typically obtain a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and often a master's degree specializing in structural engineering. Structural engineers must understand the physical sciences underlying their field, which began to be understood in the Renaissance and have since become pioneering computer-based applications in the 1970s. They must also be able to manifest the construction ideas of executive directors, policy makers, and public servants. Structural engineers are responsible for designing static structures that can withstand loads and fatigue.

More experienced engineers may be responsible for the structural design and integrity of an entire system such as a building. Structural engineers working on public sector projects earn an average of £37,083 per year compared to the average £43,947 earned by those on commercial projects. Structural engineers are also involved in designing the building envelope, insulation, curtain wall, infrastructure, and foundation. Famous modern structures such as the Large Hadron Collider and the James Webb Space Telescope are attributed to companies and government organizations.

The structural stability of pyramids is based on both their shape and the strength of the stone used to build them. Architectural engineering programs offer structural emphasis and are often found in academic departments combined with civil engineering. Professional structural engineers emerged during the 19th and early 20th centuries with the development of specialized knowledge of structural theories. To apply knowledge successfully, a structural engineer generally requires detailed knowledge of relevant empirical and theoretical design codes, structural analysis techniques, as well as some knowledge of corrosion resistance of materials and structures when exposed to external environments. Structural engineers have an enormous responsibility to ensure that the public is safe and cared for. iStructe is one of several professional bodies in the United Kingdom empowered to award the title of Chartered Engineer; its members receive the title of Chartered Structural Engineer.

The license can generally be obtained with the same qualifications as for a civil engineer but some states require a license specifically for structural engineering with specific experience. The architect is usually the lead designer of buildings with a structural engineer employed as a sub-consultant.

Grace Martin
Grace Martin

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