Hard Work and Diligence. Talent obviously helps but does not play the main role. The struggle is the path everyone takes in his or her life one way or the other. The professional structural engineer, on the other hand, is not like what most people think of it as an easy task.
So, structural engineering is not just about stress-strain curves, it is about how you take the peoples’ lives into consideration. One mistake is the last mistake of taking the lives of others.
Therefore, take this idea with a responsibility that in any step you make, you are in charge of peoples’ lives. I am not inducing that structural engineers are careless and irresponsible. On the contrary, the nature of it demands to be responsible.
I am here to illustrate it to you how students take this path. This is not just passing courses. This is a common mistake that students fundamentally make. Enjoying life is one thing, but when you step in the field of structural engineering, you are in-charge for everyone’s health and living.
To that perception, if you field in transportation engineering, be sure you are responsible for safe and sound public transportation in mediums such as buses, trains and commercial airplanes. Remember, you will be dealing with roadways, carrying people and all their livelihood like foods and good and whatnot in a safe manner, it is your responsibility.
Now, if you are an irrigation engineer, it is your responsibility with proper planning that water reaches the farms, otherwise, people will not get food to eat.
Let’s say you are a structural engineer, you are responsible for safe buildings, schools, offices, bridges, and dams are to be built by your proper planning. No mistake can be afforded, causing the loss of lives.
Simply you are entering in a battlefield, where the life of people is at stake. Responsibility is the motto that you should hang on to. To be a professional structural engineer, you need to master:
to understanding the strength of materials. It is crucial to understand the phenomenon such as shear stress, shear strains, bending stresses, torsional stresses, the moment of inertia, and axial stiffness. This is the principal of structural analysis. To understand concepts like Tensile Stiffness – Compressive Stiffness – Bending Stiffness.
Understand the variety of different analyzing method from basic to advance is suggested. Basic methods such as analyzing of joints, sections for trusses, analyzing a determinate beam for bending moment and shear force, and the relationship between loads vs. deflection, advanced analysis such as portal frame method, sway &non-sway frame, analysis of arches, slope deflection method, and matrix method.
Thoroughly understand the load paths. A load is a potential energy, flowing from high point to low point. Understanding how this flow takes place and how to play it to add loads to one element as compared to another.
Study stability of structures. The one is the most important concept, as important as buckling of columns, lateral torsional buckling of beams, and the very interesting concept to study is buckling of shells. This will help you understand the concept of member’s behaviors after reaching a critical stage. Having Euler’s formula to calculate the buckling load you will be on the safe side since you do not know why it shouldn’t go beyond the buckling load.
If you want to do the calculation by in-house tools, you can do it by excel in MATLAB, Excel, C++ programming tools. This will help you plot produce plots and comprehend and interpret results.
Since you will not solve the structure by hand all the time, it is a good idea to study different software to select the most suitable one for the type of design and complexity of analysis. Doing so saves you sizable time. Therefore knowing how to model in a software with exact stiffness factor, for that end conditions and support conditions would help you a lot. But knowing if the output is right, you ought to know the fundamentals of structural analysis. ( Etabs, SAP2000, Tedds, Cype, Tekla)
Learn the ways in which you can communicate with drawings. Learning it will benefit you in long run. All bars of the building will be presented in drawings along with building geometry, in which connection details and element details are also present in drawing. Thus understanding a drawing is much more important to analyze a building.
Practice makes it perfect. By practice, you adapt yourself to carry out the complex and tough task.
Hard work, guarantees your success.
To share my accumulated thoughts, my experience in structural engineering, I suggest reading as much new stuff as possible. That will help you grow and absorb an abundance of knowledge. By doing so you will enjoy the responsibility that you have taken on.
Wish you great success in all your structural engineering endeavors.
Written By: Abelli Noja