What do structural engineers do? It is a good question, and one that should not be confused with civil engineering or indeed consulting engineering; structural engineering stands in a field all of its own and a very important one that shapes the world in which we live. Structural engineers use maths and science to solve problem, create designs, and find solutions to problems with the structure of our towns and cities.
Structural engineers work not just with buildings, and in fact a greater proportion of their work is on larger projects than the building of a standard housing estate. If you want to grasp the concept of what structural engineers do then you have to think big, and think about some of the largest structures that we have in the world. From oil rigs to sports stadiums and space satellites, the job of a structural engineer is indeed wide and varied.
Structural engineers are necessary when a structure is being build that is required to support its own weight in a way that a standard building does not. Take a large road bridge as an example; have you ever wondered just who worked out just how much it should sway in the wind and indeed how it supports so many cars and trucks at one time?
Structural engineers will work alongside other engineers in fields such as those of civil and consulting engineering, and they will also work closely alongside the architect. A structural engineer does not design a build; that is the work of the architect. What structural engineers do is carry out the necessary studies to find out just how a construction should be made in order for it to be safe and solid.
New structures need to be strong and durable, and this is made possible with the input of structural engineers. Whereas the architect may have grand designs on how a new opera house or bridge should look, they do not have the in-depth knowledge required to ensure that the structure will actually be safe for those that will be using it.
Structural engineers carry out analyses to understand the effect that loads will have on a building structure, using gravity and the varying climatic conditions to come up with the answer. Around the world, the condition of the ground varies from place to place. What this means is that what may be a suitable building material in one place will not be in another; gravity causes enormous stress on heavy buildings, and they need to be constructed in such a manner that they will be able to take the strain of the weight that is impacted on them at all times.
Structural engineers play an extremely important role in the construction of large buildings, monuments, bridges, hospitals, carparks, and much more. Through the use of structural engineers and their profound knowledge of science and maths, new builds all over the world are being constructed that are safe, durable, and that will really serve the infrastructure of the communities that they serve and that they will continue to serve for many decades to come.