Structural engineering – a speciality within the field of civil engineering — focuses on the framework of structures, and on designing those structures to withstand the stresses and pressures of their environment and remain safe, stable and secure throughout their use. In other words, structural engineers make sure that buildings don’t fall down and bridges don’t collapse.
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 huge hotel complexes.
There are several elements that can affect the structure, starting with gravity, wind and ground movement through temperature and other environmental causes.
Structural engineering is therefore a discipline that identifies the loads that a structure may experience over its expected life. This is done through determining suitable materials and dimensions as well as defining the assembly process and also monitoring the process of assembly and possibly of the structure throughout its life.
The structural design will satisfy the criteria for strength, serviceability and economy. A structural engineer’s main concern is to make sure that the structure will not collapse when subject to its design loads.
Monitoring is a commonly used term in the structural engineering world. But monitoring what? The answer is a “system”. Why do we need to monitor? To check for any changes happening in the system as time passes and to remain prepared for any future changes.
For example steel structures rust if we do not take precautionary steps and this would have a detrimental effect on the steel and indeed structure as a whole. Another example would be whether the structure has suffered any damage from seismic activity, if so this needs to be assessed and monitored? Most structures will be either directly or indirectly monitored throughout their life to ensure they are still fit for purpose.
So to summarise, the main three principles of structural engineering are as follows:
- Structural Safety: Designing a structure which will not collapse.
- Serviceability: Designing a structure which people can use for a certain period of time without any damage or discomfort.
- Value Engineering: A systematic and organised approach to provide the necessary functions in a project at the lowest cost. Value engineering promotes the substitution of materials and methods with less expensive alternatives, without sacrificing functionality.
Here at Green Structural Engineering we pride ourselves on our work, its design, safety and durability. We do not compromise and high standards and quality are the two values we are extremely proud of.
If you are looking for a structural engineer for your commercial or domestic project, please do not hesitate to get in touch for a free non-obligatory quote.