Many engineering students find themselves studying structural engineering basics, but this fundamental knowledge is useful for others as well.  Backyard landscapers, anyone remodeling a room of their home and those building a new skyscraper all benefit from structural engineering basics. Structural engineering basics are evidenced in the great pyramids of Egypt and indications of knowledge of structural engineering can be found in earlier structures as well.

The Basics of Structural Engineering

Structural engineering is the study of how to design structures and non-structural elements that bear a load. Structural engineering seeks to determine the stability and longevity of a load-bearing item, and design building plans accordingly.

Structural engineering students study the physics of nature such as the effects of wind, water and snow on buildings, the effects of gravity and the effects of the weight of the structure itself.  In addition to the physics affecting a structure, they also study the known longevity of materials and their impact on the environment, known as the life cycle assessment or LCA.

Structural Engineering Basics: Physics

The laws of physics that affect a structure are an important aspect of the building process. Miscalculate the stability of a structure and lives could be lost and property damage incurred.  Structural engineering basics cover how common building materials such as steel, concrete and wood behave under pressure.  These know behaviors are used in conjunction with special equations that predict how much weight a structural design can withstand while remaining structurally sound.

Structural engineers also plan for safety in the event of an earthquake, flood or other disruptive force. They design the structure to fail under these circumstances without endangering the occupants within or on the structures if possible.

Structural engineering also prepares students to inspect structures for unsafe conditions.  Moisture, energy, heat, and the weight of the structure itself, in addition to the weight of the furniture and people inside the building, are all examined to help determine the safety of a structure.

Structural Engineering Basics: Life Cycle Assessment

Life cycle assessment plays an important role in structural engineering.  Not only does life cycle assessment allow a builder to select the most environmentally friendly option in building materials, it also allows him to select an appropriate building material to increase the longevity of the structure in the given climate and environment.

Structural engineering basics are a wonder t behold at work. Suspension bridges, skyscrapers, and artistic buildings such as the Louvre in Paris are all terrific examples of the wonder and awe that structural engineers can evoke.

April 14, 2008

Structural Engineering Basics