Structural Engineering jobs are responsible roles and needs careful learning. To become an expert in structural engineering, one need to have essential basic understanding of structures and adequate experience working or learning under a practicing consultant. Before starting own structural consulting, it is essential that one get involved in structural engineering jobs under established consultants.
Here are some of the essential steps you should learn and experience to master structures. These steps can guide you to plan your structural design learning.
Knowing the Role of a structural engineer
Many Civil engineering students and engineers really don’t exactly appreciate what the role of a structural engineer is. It is not limited to preparing a computer aided analysis model in ETABS or STAAD Pro. It is much more than this. Knowing the role of a structural engineer is really important so that you can plan and pace your learning well.
The main Role of a Structural Engineer is listed below.
Most young and entry level civil engineer thinks that the role of a structural engineer is limited to the strength aspect. That is to issue drawings that shows the size of columns and beams. Deciding depth and size of footing and thickness of slab. Also, the reinforcement needed in these structural members. When ensuring strength of members is an important structural aspect, there are many more important structural things that one need to ensure.
I have put this as a structural design free course here.
If you have been following my structural blogs and videos and posts for a while, you would have seen me emphasizing on stability of structures many times. It’s a key aspect which most young structural engineer ignores. Most recent failures of building structures have a stability reason as the trigger of failure. Instability can also create disproportionate collapses and irreparable damages. The free structural design course which I mentioned in the previous section includes all aspects of stability. Many practical aspects of stability of buildings are covered in this. If you want an additional blog on stability of structures, please see this blog.
Serviceability means useability. The building should perform the intended functions for the intended life time. For this, we need to ensure the building is durable, the deflection of members is within limits and also that the crack widths of the members are with in permissible limits.
Durability of structural members are very important. Though it may not create an immediate failure of structural members, lack of durability can cause long term structural problems. Proper cover to reinforcement and adequate mix of concrete are the 2 things needed to ensure durability. Many engineers think that site engineers ensure this. But the design engineer should specify the cover and mix of concrete and the site engineer ensure the specified is applied at site. Many thinks that mix of concrete is related to only strength. In fact, it is related to durability as well.
I will only talk about durability in this blog. Other things i.e.; controlling deflections and crack widths are more important and are in fact mentioned in the free structural design course that I mentioned in the previous section. Please ensure you do the course to understand these important structural aspects on serviceability of buildings.
Ensure the design is buildable
Many young engineers don’t focus on this aspect of buildability. Their energy is spent in mastering software tools like ETABS and Revit. This is useful only if the end result is buildable. It is very important that one know the buildability challenges. You need to look at the building site interfaces. Things like if there is an existing building nearby and if the foundations are protruding to the site and so on. There can be hundreds of things on this point based on the project conditions.
Ensure information is received, provided and executed
All good structural engineers have to be good listeners. Many times, client don’t appreciate the sensitivity of structural information. They don’t know what a structural engineer need. So, we have to be good listeners to pick up each client brief, probe on it and gather sufficient information to ensure the buildings are safe and economic at the same time.
Knowing to scheme a building
Scheme of a building is an important aspect. A civil engineer should be able to decide the preliminary structural scheme at least. You should be able to understand the architectural requirement and fairly co-ordinate the structural requirement. Generally, one should know these below mentioned points about scheme development. If you are not a master in these, focus in learning these.