Structural Engineering and Geometry

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June 16, 2008
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Structural engineering and geometry are intertwining subjects. Since the very first Egyptian structural engineers began building pyramids, geometry has been used to help solve structural stability problems. Geometry has been woven into the development of structural engineering for centuries.

What is Structural Engineering?

A structural engineer’s goal is to design structures that can both support and resist loads. A structural engineer designs structures and analyzes them for structural soundness. Structural engineering is closely related to architecture.

What is Geometry?

Geometry is a branch of mathematics that deals with the size, shape, and relative position of physical elements. Geometry also deals with the properties of space. Geometry looks at the length, width, height, and space of an object. Basic geometry is taught to high school students all across America.

Structural Engineering and Geometry in History

Examples of structural engineering intersecting geometry studies can be found throughout history. Some examples are even well known.

The Virtual Work Theory Structural Engineering and Geometry at Work

Structural engineering and geometry have evolved together over the years. Daniel Bernoulli, along with Johann (Jean) Bernoulli (1667-1748), is credited with formulating the theory of virtual work. The virtual work theory provides builders and structural engineers with a tool that uses the equilibrium of forces and compatibility of geometry to solve structural problems.

Archimedes: Structural Engineering and Geometry in History

The Greek engineer, Archimedes studied geometry extensively in his quest for building better structures and machines. Geometry played a large part in Archimedes’ experiments.

Euclidean Geometry, Preparing the Way for Structural Engineering

Euclidean geometry is also credited with contributing to modern day structural engineering. The ancient Greek mathematician Euclid wrote about Euclidean Geometry. Euclid’s book, Elements, was the first known written explanation of geometrically principals.

Geometry has strongly influenced the development of structural engineering. The principals researched in studying geometry have shaped structural engineering into the precise science we have today. Ancient Greek principal taught centuries ago are used today to create structurally sound high rise buildings, innovative shopping centers, and single family dwellings.

Structural engineering and geometry influence the way buildings are designed and built today. Geometry is an important part of the structural engineer’s industry.