Structural engineering is a specialized branch of civil engineering that entails analyzing and designing structures, like buildings, bridges and even concert stages.
Engineering is a big discipline that involves a systematic approach to designing solutions to problems experienced in the real world. There are many different fields of engineering, like mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, civil engineering, chemical engineering and systems engineering. Within these fields are various subfields; structural engineering is a subfield of civil engineering.
Structural engineers use mathematics and physics to make sure that a given structure won’t collapse or fall over. When ensuring a structure’s sturdiness, structural engineers perform calculations and look at several factors, such as
- The forces a structure is likely to encounter
- The properties of the materials that make up a structure
- The shapes that make up a structure
For example, a bridge not only has to support itself; it also has to handle a variety of forces, such as downward forces caused by the traffic driving over it, and forces caused by wind, snow or an earthquake.
Structural engineers take properties like strength, weight, flammability and stiffness of materials into consideration. For example, steel is typically heavier and stronger than wood.