Everything you need to know about Structural Engineering
Did you know, the moment humans found the need to build shelter, they found the need for structural engineering? It’s true! It’s actually one of the oldest types of engineering. Since the first concept of adhering branches together with natural materials like vines in efforts of creating shelter; structural engineering has been a HUGE, as well as vital part of human life. Nowadays, we have come a LONG way from huts made of branches. Today structures have become increasingly impressive; whilst others can even be considered full-on jaw dropping works of art. (Not that a hut made out of completely raw materials isn’t entirely resourceful as well as incredibly impressive on its own.)
So it’s safe to say, structural engineering has certainly evolved over time; but what is it exactly? We’ve broken all the juicy details down! We’ll find out WHAT structural engineering is, what a structural engineer does, and when you may need one. Finally, we’ll highlight the difference between a structural engineer and an architect.
What Is Structural Engineering?
Structural Engineering is a specified sector within civil engineering. Structural Engineering by literal definition, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, reads: “a branch of civil engineering dealing primarily with the design and construction of structures (such as bridges, buildings, dams)“. This sector of engineering focuses on the framework of structures and how to design them. Additionally, whilst designing the framework to these structures, multiple variables come into play that needs to be considered for safety purposes. These variables include the structure’s ability to withstand stress and pressure of the environment. For example, a bridge has to have the strength and durability to handle the heavy load of multiple cars, as well as safely endure the ever-changing weight distribution. Can you imagine if bridges had a see-saw effect the minute a car drove onto one side? The results would be disastrous. But thankfully, we have structural engineering!
What Does a Structural Engineer Do?
What does a structural engineer do? We’re glad you asked! Structural engineers are the people who actually create and design drawings and specifications for structures to be built. They perform all the calculations required to make sure said structures will be sturdy and safe, while also being able to handle stress and weight loads, as mentioned earlier. Moreover, they “analyze and design the gravity support and lateral force resistance of buildings, bridges and other structures“. More tasks that fall under the responsibility of a structural engineer include, but are not limited to: reviewing the work of other engineers to check for any errors or provide improvements, writing evaluations and reports on specified structures, as well as physically observing construction sites.
MyMajors.com, lists a structural engineer’s job to include:
- Analyzing blueprints, maps, reports, and topographical and geological data;
- Estimating the cost and quantities of materials, equipment and labor;
- Computing load and grade requirements, water flow rates and material stress factors to determine design specifications;
- Inspecting project sites to monitor progress and ensure the project is being constructed according to design specifications;
- Conducting studies of traffic patterns or environmental conditions to identify potential problems and assess how they will affect the project.
Structural Engineering requires a professional engineer’s license to be obtained in order to practice in the field. Licenses are acquired after the completion of a prescribed amount of schooling, work experience, and finally successfully passing a large exam. Different states may demand different requirements.
Similarly, structures in different states have different requirements. But this makes perfect sense if you think about it. Buildings in California need to be built to standards that can withstand earthquakes. While buildings in Florida, especially those on the coasts, need to be built to withstand hurricanes. Structural engineers take all of these elemental variables into consideration when designing a building; as well as when offering technical advice regarding the project.
When Do I Need a Structural Engineer?
Structural engineers are the silent heroes of our everyday lives. The roofs above our heads in our homes, offices, restaurants, movie theaters, libraries, schools, hospitals, coffee shops etc. are all thanks to the careful calculations and skilled analysis of structural engineers.
You may even find yourself in the market for a structural engineer one day! Some of the reasons you may want to hire a structural engineer would be for:
- Residential renovations
- Commercial renovations
- Tenant improvements
How Can I Find the Right Structural Engineer?
In the case you are in the market for a structural engineer, you may be wondering how to find the right team to hire. Of course, you will want to be working with a trusted group of professionals. Great news! Seems you’ve already come to a great place to start by clicking upon this article! Our skilled professionals and team of structural engineers at Eastern Engineering Group would be happy to make your dreams a reality! Previous projects can help show a visual of the quality work our engineers have performed, with brilliant attention to detail!
Always do your research and make sure you are comfortable with the firm you’re working with.
Tips for Hiring
5 expert tips for choosing a structural engineer, listed by abbott-holliday.co.uk include:
- Look for recommendations from the right places.
- Always look for a structural engineer with the proper qualifications.
- Look at their previous projects, references & testimonials.
- Look for companies with a long & consistent track record.
- Ask the following questions before hiring a Structural Engineer:
- How do you calculate your fees and what extras might you need to include?
- Do you always do site surveys as standard?
- May I contact one or two past customers you have done work for, so I can ask them about their experiences?
- How long have you been established?
- What types of insurance do you hold?
- Where are you based?
- Are you chartered?
- Do you hire any women? ( Shoutout to Eastern Engineering Group! – Woman Owned and proudly hired… and writing this article right now 😉 )
What is the difference between an architect and a structural engineer?
“In a nutshell,” explained by the Institution of Structural Engineers, “if a structure was a human body, then the architect would be concerned with the body shape and appearance, and the structural engineer would be concerned with the skeleton and sinews.”
As designeverest.com further explains when it comes to identifying who to hire; “The main difference when deciding to hire an architect or engineer, is that the architect will focus more on the artistry, layout of the space, and design of a building, whereas the engineer focuses more on the structural elements and technical components.”
So there you have it! We’ve covered what structural engineering is, what a structural engineer does, and when you may need to hire one yourself. We’ve listed some tips for picking the right firm for you. Lastly, we highlighted the difference between an architect and an engineer. Did you realize structural engineers played such an important role in all of our lives; whether we hire them personally or just benefit from their previous work and creations? Next time you stand in awe of a skyscraper beaming up into the clouds, or cross a bridge across a beautiful ocean, say a little “thank you” for the structural engineers who make it all possible! 🙂
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