Structural engineering is a specialization in civil engineering. The main operational domains of structural engineering are analysis of the structural frameworks and designing of structures to withstand operational stresses and pressures. The key objectives of optimum design are keeping structures and the environment safe and secure during their entire life period, considering all the possible eventual environmental influences during the lifetime of the structure. Structural engineering can be considered one of the oldest engineering divisions, existing since prehistoric times: it has become much more sophisticated in the current era, of course, and is still developing. Structural engineering applications have become interdisciplinary, with several types of equipment used in medical applications being based on the principles of structural engineering. Gustave Eiffel and Eero Saarinen are two of the most famous structural engineers of all time, remembered for their valuable contributions to the world.
Structural engineering graduates typically study advanced mathematical methods, concrete analysis, steel structures, structural dynamics, elasticity and plasticity theories, finite element analysis, external force (such as earthquake analysis) on structural integrity, study of experimental techniques and methods for structural analysis as well as instrumentation tools for structural analysis. Structural engineering spans from nano-scale constructions to those of mega-scale.
Apart from required courses, most structural engineering majors may choose from electives in bridge structural studies, maintenance and rehabilitation of structures, offshore structures, optimization of structural designs, advanced concrete technology, prestressed concrete, sub structural design, composite material mechanics, CAD, shell and spatial structures, or the stability of structures are often studied as special electives in structural engineering courses. Recent research trends in structural engineering include fracture and damage mechanics, the application of neural networks, random vibrations and chaos, and structural reliability studies.
Structural engineers often find careers in the construction industry; apart from that, careers in specialized streams such as mechanical structures and industrial structural design and development are some of the popular career destinations for specialized structural engineers. In addition to the needs of interdisciplinary knowledge and a command of the basics of engineering, structural engineers must have a thorough knowledge of the prevailing codes and standards of building and non-structural elements in industry. From the identification of environmentally friendly novel structural materials, to working out new short- and long-term solutions to sustainable engineering problems continue to be major challenges for structural engineers. Structural engineering has immense scope to meet the demands of the modern world, supplying better designs that consume less material with reduced environmental impact and minimal life cycle costs. Knowledge of better structural materials, computer skills and proficiency with advanced design tools are all demanded of graduate engineers.
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