At its simplest, structural engineering is about making sure buildings don’t collapse.
In practice, it is a complex discipline, requiring a broad knowledge of many practical and theoretical subjects, and taking many years of study and experience to master. Structural engineers possess a depth and range of skills on a par with other leading professionals such a doctors and lawyers. Indeed, at any given moment, far more people’s lives depend on the skill and dedication of structural engineers than do on the abilities of the medical profession.
The importance of structural engineering to our civilisation can be gauged by considering a world without engineered structures: no modern hospitals or schools, sport halls, multi-storey hotels, car parks or offices, radio or TV masts, football stadia, airports, steel and concrete bridges, railway stations, or even satellites and spacecraft.
Structural engineering covers topics such as materials, stability, strength and movement. Structural engineers use their creativity to respond with safe, economic and environmentally sustainable solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing our world today.
Structural engineers contribute towards shaping the environment we live in, often working within teams on the design, refurbishment and construction of all types of structures. They may work for contractors, consultants, local authorities, institutions, individuals or in teaching and research.
If you are interested in building, altering or understanding the behaviour of a structure, you will probably need the services of a structural engineer.