Structural Engineering

General Overview

Structural engineering is one of the main sub fields of civil engineering. Structural engineering is a very broad topic and can be applied to many other fields such as automotive and aerospace. Structural engineers research, design, predict and analyse elements in structures such as buildings. Structural engineers can also be involved with the maintenance, health and safety, project management and construction supervision of the structures that they have designed.

 

Structural engineers require a technical knowledge of applied mathematics, physics and multiple disciplines of engineering such as mechanical, civil, material science and any other disciplines for which they wish to design structures in. They are also required to have a strong level of project management. This includes supply chain management, financial knowledge, business management and an understanding of how the structure will integrate with the environment that it is designed in. 

 

A stadium being designed using  CAD  and CAE software. Source: www.indiamart.com

Structural engineering is the oldest area of engineering (as a sub-field of civil engineering) and dates back to the Egyptian kingdom period. Pyramids were required to be scaled from small to the Great Pyramids of Giza. This size differential meant that they had to withstand the increase in loads. This fundamental theory did not exist with other structures as the time. Pyramids are great structures both in terms of shape and composition. They were built from blocks with superior material properties in a manner that allowed the shape to withstand the loads, as well as the project management of maneuvering such large building blocks from quarries, often many miles away. Following this, structures such as the roman aqueducts were built however it wasn’t until the industrial revolution that specific structural engineering theories were created. This included the revolution of concrete and allowing it to be used in modern buildings through its integration with rebar. Continuing its development, modern structural engineering now uses complex mathematical algorithms and software. Additionally, now that many theories have been understood, project management, construction supervision and health and safety have been integrated into the field.

Example Jobs
Required Knowledge

Skills and Expertise

  • Design principles for beams, columns, trusses, plates and arches.

  • Connection methodologies between multiple structural members.

  • Knowledge of material science in particular metals, ceramics, concrete composites and timber.

  • Knowledge of Computer Aided Design (CAD) systems.

  • Ability to use and maintain Building Information Modelling (BIM) software.

  • Manage supply chain and multiple suppliers.

  • Understanding of other similar fields of engineering such as mechanical and any other specific industry that structural engineering can be applied to such as mining, automotive, aerospace etc.

 

Software Understanding

  • CAD packages (E.g. CATIA, Solidworks, Autocad, Inventor, PTC Creo, Revit)

  • Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) understanding (ANSYS)

  • Ability to understand and apply Building Information Modelling (BIM) Software to help with the design and management of construction.

  • Word processing, spreadsheets and presentations (E.g. MS Word, MS Excel, MS Powerpoint; Google Docs, Sheets and Slides)

  • Microsoft Project or other project planning software

  • Building surveyor

  • Structural Engineer

  • Site Construction Manager

  • Aerospace Structures Engineer

  • Automotive Body Structures Engineer

  • BIM Technician (CAD - Revit)

  • Residential Planning Coordinator

  • Infrastructure Design Engineer

Institutions

UK: The Institute of Structural Engineers (IStructE), Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE)

USA: Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE), American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)

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