What does a structural engineer do?
In a nutshell, a structural engineer evaluates the structural integrity of a building or construction. In any direction you look, you will observe the work of structural engineers. These professionals are behind every single structure or building in the modern world. It’s their responsibility to ensure each build is structurally feasible and safe to create for its designated purpose. Despite this, not knowing what a structural engineer does is a common thought as most people assume it’s architects that design, create and build the homes we live in and the offices we work at.
Which aspects of the build are the work of a structural engineer?
In literally every step bar a couple, building a property or construction will have a structural involved. Firstly, they aid the initial design to ensure durability and feasibility for its intended purpose. During this process, the structural engineer also supports the architects role in solving design issues that may arise. The structural engineer also helps in the building process to make sure the inspection is passed first time and the building is fit for purpose. Regardless of whether the building is residential or commercial, the main priority of this key worker is to ensure safety of the overall project.
What other areas of the building process do structural engineers lend a hand in?
Aside from helping with the design and build process as discussed, this role helps in a mathematical way. For instance, a structural engineer calculates stresses and loads pressure that could be exerted on the building, then they determine whether the proposed building could withstand this safely. Loads and stresses taken into consideration are often factors such as gravity or snow.
Another role a structural engineer plays in the building process is the choosing of materials. This is not done from an aesthetic point of view, but to ensure the materials will hold stable for the purpose of the building, in turn ensuring its structural integrity. Lastly, this role may involve assessing commercial buildings and structures before they are sold.
What would a typical project of a structural engineer look like?
Virtually all structures in the world must be approved by a structural engineer before they are built and then again when they open to public use or sale. For example any residential building such as a house or flat must first be approved by this professional. But it doesn’t stop there, other purpose built structures such as schools, bridges or stadiums must also be analysed by this highly qualified professional.
Even structures such as oil rigs or satellites being sent into space require a level of analysis by a structural engineer before they can be launched. With this in mind, virtually any human built structure will pass through the work of at least one structural engineer, if not more.
The essence of a structural engineer’s role is to ensure stability of the building and deem it’s structural integrity acceptable. This is done as a primary factor with the end result being public safety. From this, it is not difficult to understand the criticality of their role.
Is there anything else a structural engineer can do?
As discussed a structural engineers typical role would largely be involved in the design and build process of a structure. However, they are also often involved in the demolition or dismantling of buildings, whether this is a permanent demolition or a temporary measure in order to conduct repairs. Structures are inspected both during and after the build or demolition for consistency to their anticipated plans.
Due to their unique responsibility to public safety, every structural engineer must be highly trained and qualified to ensure their abilities. As a rule, pengineers of this level have a bachelor’s degree as a minimum requirement, in addition to 4+ years of experience working with another registered engineer. Once these requirements have been met, the structural engineer must pass a licensing exam. It is only then they are a practising registered engineer.