What Is Structural Engineering -- and What Could It Mean for Our Community?

What Is Structural Engineering -- and What Could It Mean for Our Community?

While all types of engineering play a critical role in our society, structural engineering is perhaps one of the most significant. It’s an age-old discipline that dates back to the earliest human civilizations, and for millennia since, people have used structural engineering concepts to design and build various structures.

In our modern world, structural engineering has enabled humans to build truly awe-inspiring structures, from half-mile-tall skyscrapers to stadiums that can accommodate audiences of up to 100,000 spectators, if not more.

However, structural engineering also has a direct impact on day-to-day life throughout communities around the globe, as the discipline affects everything from daily commutes to work to how well a home can withstand catastrophic weather events. 

What exactly is structural engineering, though, and more importantly, how does this field influence our community? Let’s explore those very questions.

What Is Structural Engineering?

Structural engineering is a specialty that falls under the umbrella of civil engineering, focusing on designing the framework of a structure so that it can withstand both the environment and the stresses of its intended use. Naturally, the structure of a massive skyscraper must be far more robust than that of a residential dwelling. but all frameworks are critical to the lifespan, safety, and usability of a structure.

Structural engineering services are performed by a structural engineering firm, which will provide services such as:

  • Structure design
  • Consulting
  • Drafting
  • Structural inspections
  • Structural repair plan creation

Some firms will specialize specifically in designing residential structures, while others provide commercial engineering services. Highly skilled firms can even provide a combination of both commercial and residential engineering services. 

Even the best structural engineers, however, do not work alone. Instead, they collaborate with civil engineers, construction management personnel, architects, and stakeholders. 

Structural engineers ensure that a project is physically viable by designing and drafting a strong, safe, and secure framework, and architects and civil engineers will then add the external components to the design, such as doors, windows, walls, openings, etc.

Ultimately, the work of a structural engineer is mostly hidden, given that the “bones” of a building are covered by the aforementioned external components. Despite that fact, structural engineers and their field have a tremendous impact on our communities and the world around us.

How Does Structural Engineering Impact the World Around Us?

The input provided by a structural engineer during the design and construction of a building ensures that the finished result can withstand natural events such as:

  • High winds
  • Snowstorms
  • Earthquakes
  • Tornadoes
  • Hurricanes 

Structural engineers also play a role in designing the framework of structures such as tunnels and bridges., as they are responsible for ensuring that such installations will hold up under the rigors of daily use. 

There is not an area of your life or a corner of your community that has not been positively impacted by the field of structural engineering. The next time you confidently ride out a rough storm in your home or drive across a bridge without fear, remember that structural engineering made those feats possible. 

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