Structural design engineers create the details, drawings, and schematics for the building of larger structures, such as buildings, bridges, and other public works. The engineer applies sound engineering principles to design structures that are functional, safe, and aesthetically pleasing.
Much of the work to be done by a structural engineer is done using computer-aided design (CAD) software and other statistical and design tools. The engineer studies the requirements of the structure to be built, and then determines how the best design to meet these standards. While CAD work is a big part of what an engineer does, they also must be fluent in math and physics and understand a variety of natural and man-made factors that will impact the structure being produced.
Another aspect of the design process for an engineer is materials knowledge and the ability to apply it. Structural engineers must understand what can and can’t be done with materials such as concrete, steel, and aluminum, as well as how to balance weight, safety, and load-bearing qualities of their designs to ensure maximum safety.
To work as a structural design engineer, an individual generally needs at least a bachelor's degree in engineering, preferably in a civil or structural engineering capacity. Many design firms hire entry-level engineers and then give them increasing responsibility as they demonstrate skill and competence. For some companies with specific contracts, they may look for previous engineering design experience to fill their roles. A structural design engineer normally works in an office environment during regular business hours. However, a person with this job may be asked to do some traveling to assess job sites and structure locations.
Structural Design Engineer Tasks
- Researches and analyzes maps, blueprints, photos, charts, and other data to plan projects.
- Gathers information to prepare and present reports on project topics.
- Manages and directs staff at project site.
- Performs engineering duties; plan, design and oversee the construction and maintenance of buildings, bridges, and other structures.