Within the broad field of civil engineering is the more specialized discipline of structural engineering. It would be difficult to imagine construction projects and buildings without the critical work that structural engineers carry out. In addition to being involved in the initial design of the structure (creating the drawings, calculations and specifications), structural engineers also oversee the building and completion of these structures from start to finish. They design reports regarding the work that was done and evaluate the results of all concerned parties.
Structural engineering is a dynamic field that encompasses multiple dimensions of buildings and other structures. If you're planning a construction project, you will most likely require these engineering services to ensure the successful completion of your project. A solid understanding of the role of structural engineering will also help you make the right decisions moving forward.
Analysis and design
An important dynamic of structural engineering involves the site analysis and design of structures. Analysis refers to determining forces that affect each structure and how these forces can be properly balanced across the entire final product. Once each structure's force has been determined, the structural engineer will then come up with design elements that will properly balance all the forces involved.
Each item within a structure exerts a certain amount of force. For example, walls, supporting beams, roofs, and multiple floors all need to be adequately supported to prevent a building from collapsing. Once the forces of each individual element are known, proper design techniques can be implemented to ensure stability.
Support and force resistance
Another critical area of structural engineering is determining the overall integrity of a structure and the forces that are likely to act upon it. Engineers will typically carry out an analysis of gravity loads and horizontal loads. The gravity load is the permanent load that is associated with the structure. This includes the walls, furniture, floors, and all other items that are permanently embedded within the building's structure.
When you propose your goals for a construction project, structural engineers will typically assess and inform you if it is possible to include everything you desire in a building of a particular size.
Structural engineers will also measure the horizontal load of a structure, which is a measure of its resistance to wind, earthquakes and storms.
Design of final structures
Structural engineering also encompasses the final look and functionality of the building bridge or home that is built. Their work doesn't simply stop after construction. They offer on-going support throughout the lifetime of the structure by addressing any issues that arise along the way.