Structural engineering is a sub-discipline of civil engineering in which structural engineers are trained to understand, predict, and calculate the stability, strength and rigidity of built structures for buildings and nonbuilding structures, to develop designs and integrate their design with that of other designers, and to supervise construction of projects on site. They can also be involved in the design of machinery, medical equipment, and vehicles where structural integrity affects functioning and safety.
Structural engineering theory is based upon applied physical laws and empirical knowledge of the structural performance of different materials and geometries. Structural engineering design utilizes a number of relatively simple structural elements to build complex structural systems. Structural engineers are responsible for making creative and efficient use of funds, structural elements and materials to achieve these goals.
Structural engineering — a specialty 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 the International Space Station.
Structural engineers analyze, design, plan, and research structural components and structural systems to achieve design goals and ensure the safety and comfort of users or occupants. Their work takes account mainly of safety, technical, economic and environmental concerns, but they may also consider aesthetic and social factors.
Scope of Structural Engineering
Structural engineering is the field of engineering that deals with the design of building and other non-building structures such as the design of machinery, medical equipment, and vehicles, etc.
Structural engineering is a specialty of civil engineering, where a structural engineer ensures that architectural components are structurally sound.
Structural engineers design structures to withstand stresses and pressures imposed through environmental conditions and human use. They ensure buildings and other structures do not deflect, rotate, vibrate excessively or collapse and that they remain stable and secure throughout their use. They also examine existing buildings and structures to test if they are structurally sound and still fit for purpose.
Working in close partnership with architects and other professional engineers they help to design most structures, including houses, hospitals, office blocks, bridges, oil rigs, ships and aircraft. It is the structural engineer’s responsibility to choose the appropriate materials, such as concrete, steel, timber and masonry, to meet design specifications and they are often involved in inspecting the work and advising contractors.
As a structural engineer you’ll need to:
- analyse configurations of the basic structural components of a building or other structure;
- calculate the pressures, stresses and strains that each component, such as a beam or lintel, will experience from other parts of the structure due to human use or environmental pressures such as weather or earthquakes;
- consider the strength of various materials, e.g. timber, concrete, steel and brick, to see how their inclusion may necessitate a change of structural design;
- liaise with other designers, including architects, to agree on safe designs and their fit with the aesthetic concept of the construction;
- examine structures at risk of collapse and advising how to improve their structural integrity, such as recommending removal or repair of defective parts or rebuilding the entire structure;
- make drawings, specifications and computer models of structures for building contractors;
- work with geotechnical engineers to investigate ground conditions and analyse results of soil sample and in-situ tests;
- liaise with construction contractors to ensure that newly erected buildings are structurally sound;
- apply expert knowledge of the forces that act on various structures;
- use computers and computer-aided design (CAD) technology for simulation purposes.
Skills and Competencies needed in Structural Engineering
You will need to have:
- good analytical and problem-solving skills;
- strong mathematical ability;
- computer literacy;
- a grasp of physics;
- three-dimensional conceptual skills;
- excellent oral and written communication skills;
- diagrammatic skills;
- the ability to teamwork;
- attention to detail;
- the ability to liaise well with professionals from other disciplines;
- an interest in the design and structure of buildings.
Career Opporrtunities and Job Prospects in Structural Engineering
- Building control surveyor
- Consulting civil engineer
- Contracting civil engineer
- Design engineer
- Nuclear engineer
- Site engineer
- Structural engineer
- Water engineer
- Building services engineer
- Construction manager
- Engineering geologist
- Environmental consultant
- Patent attorney
- Quantity surveyor
- Sustainability consultant
Admission Requirements for th study of Structural Engineering in Nigeria
The O'level subject combination and requirements needed to study Structural Engineering;
You require; Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics
In UTME, please note that English Language is Compulsory for this course. Therefore, the three (3) other JAMB UTME subject combination needed to study Structural Engineering under the Faculty of Engineering, Environment & Technology in the above Universities include;
Five SSCE credit passes to include Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, English Language and one Science subject