Understanding Structural Engineering Work

Posted on: 27 March 2020

Structural engineering work is performed by a structural engineer who uses his or her learned and acquired skills and experience to ensure a structure (building, tunnel, dam, bridge, retaining wall, etc.) is safe, stable, serviceable, durable and sustainable. This is not easy work; it involves the use of maths and physics (angles, measurements, laws, calculations, etc.). Various computer software and programs are also used for accuracy purposes and to reduce human error.

Structural engineering work revolves around two particular areas: structural design and structural analysis. Here's what you need to know about structural design and analysis.

Structural Design

Various factors considered under structural design include the following:

What structure is being built? As indicated above, structural engineers can work on different structures that may include buildings, tunnels, dams, bridges, retaining walls, marine structures, towers, etc. The first step is usually to identify what structure is required. You should hire structural engineers who specialise in the construction of the particular structure you want to be built.

What is the purpose of the structure?

This has to be figured out so that the structural engineer can cater to the maximum load the structure might bear during its design life.

What materials are required?

Structural engineers highlight the different materials a structure requires after considering all the factors that may affect its safety, stability, serviceability, durability and sustainability.

Preparation of drawings to be used by builders

Structural drawings are prepared to act as a guide to other specialists and contractors. They indicate where each component should be positioned.

Structural Analysis

The factors considered under structural analysis include the following:

What are the soil and rock properties?

The properties of the soil and rocks below a structure should not interfere with the stability of the structure in any way; they have to be inspected.

What possible natural and artificial stresses can affect the structure?

If a flood or earthquake occurred, would the structure be affected in any way? Are there measures that can be put in place to ensure the structure is not affected? What about man-made activities; are there any that can compromise the stability of the structure? How can they be mitigated? If the use of a particular structure changes, will the changes alter the safety, stability, serviceability, durability and sustainability of the structure? What needs to be done?

These are the main considerations made by structural engineers to guarantee a structure remains serviceable throughout its design life with the ability to carry out its intended use.

To learn more, contact a structural engineering company.