The engineering discipline series continues. In this post, we’re going to take an in-depth look at structural engineering. In the world of engineering, structural engineering is considered a subspecialty of civil engineering. As its name says, it focuses on the design and framework of structures. Their mission is to ensure that structures are safe and able to withstand the stresses and pressure their environment places on the structure. It’s their responsibility to make sure buildings, bridges, tunnels, etc., don’t fall down and are safe for the public.
In this article by Live Science, “Structural engineering is among the oldest types of engineering, dating back to the first instance of tree branches being lashed together with vines to make a shelter. Throughout recorded history, people have been designing and building increasingly larger and more sophisticated structures, from primitive huts to the International Space Station.
The names of the earliest practitioners of structural engineering are lost to antiquity. We will never know who designed the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Parthenon , or the aqueducts of the Roman Empire. Some of the latter-day practitioners in this field are known, although often not as well as the structures they designed. Prominent structural engineers include Gustave Eiffel (Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty) and Eero Saarinen (Gateway Arch). However, most designs for famous modern structures such as the Large Hadron Collider and the James Webb Space Telescope are attributed to companies and government organizations.”
What does a structural engineer do?
As we mentioned, structural engineers are a subspecialty of civil engineering. They are a part of the construction team and work alongside civil engineers and architects. “In a nutshell,” according to 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.”
The article in Live Science on structural engineering says, “Structures must be able to deal with the conditions in which they are built. A house in Canada must have a roof that can bear the weight of heavy snow, and a stadium in California must be able to withstand earthquakes, for example. When building bridges, designers must take into account the conditions of terrain, wind, water, and traffic volume. Structural engineers consider all of these factors and provide technical advice about the project.
“Structural engineers battle gravity, wind, snow, and rain every day to provide the world with outstanding structures,” Kate Leighton, a structural engineer, said in “Careers in Structural Engineering, a publication of the Institution of Structural Engineers. “They are experts at solving problems, meeting challenges, and providing creative solutions.”
Structural engineers “design roof framing (beams, rafters, joists, trusses), floor framing (floor decks, joists, beams, trusses, girders), arches, columns, braces, frames, foundations and walls,” according to the National Council of Structural Engineers Association. “In bridges, they design the deck — or riding surface, girders or stringers, and piers. The materials they use include steel, concrete, wood, masonry, and aluminum. Engineers design the structure to resist forces from gravity, earthquakes, high winds, water, soil, collisions, and blast explosions.”
According to MyMajors.com, a structural engineer’s job includes:
- 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 in determining 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.
Critical skills that a person needs in structural engineering include an in-depth understanding of physics and mathematics. A structural engineer must also know.”
What services do structural engineers provide?
Structural engineers are involved in many different construction projects, from residential to state and local government to commercial. Their work can be found in new and existing residential building projects. They also work with government agencies to ensure bridges, tunnels, streets, and water supply systems are safe for the public and can withstand constant use and stress.
Landmark EPC’s Structural Engineering Team
At Landmark, we have more than 50 years of structural engineering experience. Our team works on residential, commercial, industrial, bridges, and institutional structural engineering projects in Colorado. The team is unique in that not only do our Structural Engineers talk with our Survey and Geotechnical departments to build designs that best suit the land a structure is built upon, but they also communicate with construction and municipalities to makes sure every inch of a building follows Colorado’s and its regions guidelines.
Our structural engineering services include:
- Foundation Design
- Beam/Header Design
- Post and Column Sizing
- Lateral Load Analysis/Design
- Floor and Roof Layouts
- Rafter/Roof Beam Design with Glu-Lam Beams, LVL Beams, Tough Sawn Lumber, and Logs
- Concrete Structural Floors (Garage and Basement)
- Concrete Retaining Wall Design
- Pipe Supports
- EZ Lines
As you can see, structural engineers are a big part of what keeps the infrastructure and buildings we benefit from safe and sound. Next time you drive across a bridge or take the elevator to the 25th floor of a building, take a minute to think about the structural engineers that played a massive part in your ability to safely cross the bridge and arrive on the 25thfloor.
About Landmark EPC
Landmark EPC is a multi-disciplined engineering firm based in Colorado. With expertise in civil and structural engineering, landscape architecture and land planning, geotechnical services, land surveying, subsurface utility engineering, and construction management, Landmark provides clients with one source for all your development project needs from design and engineering to project management. To learn more about Landmark EPC, click here to schedule a call with our team.