What is Structural Engineering? Responsibility of Structural Engineers

What is Structural Engineering? Responsibility of Structural Engineers

  • On September 2, 2020

What is structural engineering?

Structural engineering is among the oldest types of engineering & it is a branch of civil engineering, A structure has multiple components which are connected in such a way that the structure can withstand the action of loads that are applied to it.

These loads may be due to gravity, wind, Earthquake, Fluid pressure, impact, temperature, or other environmental sources.

Primary responsibility is ensuring the safety and serviceability of the structure over its expected life, determining a suitable arrangement of structural members, selecting the material and dimensions of the members, defining the assembly process, and finally monitoring the structure as it is being assembled and Periodical maintenance.  

Roles & responsibility of structural engineers.

The structural engineering is more concerned with the design and the physical integrity of the structures. The main focused responsibility of a structural engineer is to bring a structure that will ensure safety and durability until the service period.

The architects develop building based on the engineering designs, sizes, shape of building components as designed by Structural engineer.

But these have certain technical requirement during Pre/Post-construction, that can be found and resolved only by the structural engineers. The structural engineers help to achieve the architect’s requirements like shape, form and internal layouts of columns and spaces.

The duties of the structural engineer include

  • Preliminary site survey- The structural engineers required to coordinate with geotechnical engineers & get the necessary soil bearing capacity data. it will help to design the building foundation & also engineer to study about function of the building, environmental condition & Future expansion.
  • Structural Designing- The structural design process of any structure can be subdivided into three stages that are load derivation, structural analysis, and design. For arriving the loads will depend on the purpose & Function of the building. Once the loads acting on the structure are known, the structure is analyzed to determine the effect of all these loads on the individual elements of the structure. Manual/Software calculation is required to find basic Stress & Deflection. Once the forces and stresses arrive from analysis, it can be used to design the main structural elements by using relevant standard codebooks.
  • The structural engineer has to coordinate and consult other members like geotechnical engineers, landscape architects, architects, project managers the site engineers, other design engineers, etc. Proper communication helps in spreading correct information among the group avoiding errors.

Structural Engineers – What they design

The structural engineer technical input is required for all types of small/large scale construction activities. The followings are the various construction field listed below

Stuctural Enginneers

Buildings- Residential Building, Non-residential building like a warehouse and industrial buildings, commercial buildings, buildings for public entertainment, hotels, restaurants, educational buildings, health buildings, etc..,

Infrastructure- Dams, Highway bridges, roads, Mass transit, Airport & Airways, Metro, Water supply & resources, Offshore structures, Wastewater management, Power generation & Transmission, etc..,

Few Structural Engineering Marvels are presented here.

#1 – Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa

General building information-

Burj Khalifa (which was known as Burj Dubai prior to its inauguration on January 4, 2014) is the tallest man-made structure of the world. 829.8 meter or 2,722 feet high, this skyscraper has become a symbol of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Structural information-

To support the height of this tallest structure ever built, structural engineers developed a new structural system called the buttressed core – which has a hexagonal core reinforced by three buttresses placed in a ‘Y’ shape.

This system provides lateral support to the building and keeps it from twisting. The central pinnacle pole that weighs 350 tonnes was constructed from inside the building and taken up by more than 200 metres using a strand jack system.

Burj Khalifa’s primary structure is made of reinforced concrete. To withstand the extreme summer temperatures of Dubai, the cladding system of Burj Khalifa has 1,42,000 sq metre of reflective glazing and aluminum and textured stainless steel spandrel panels with vertical tubular fins. For exterior classing, more than 26,000 glass panels were used

#2- Capital gate

Capital gate

General building information-

Another engineering marvel of the United Arab Emirates is the lean Capital Gate at Abu Dhabi. Inclined 18°to the west (four times than the leaning angle of the Leaning Tower of Suurhusen in Germany), it is 160 metre (520 feet) high and has 35 storeys. Rivalling the Leaning Tower of Pisa, this masterpiece is also known as the Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi. 

Structural Information-

To counter the gravitational pull at the strangely leaning skyscraper, civil and structural engineers used a technique called pre-cambered core.

This technique uses a concrete core reinforced with steel. The core is deliberately built slightly off-center and is anchored to the ground using 490 piles drilled to 20-30m below the ground level.

It uses a diagrid (like the Beijing’s National Stadium in China) to absorb and channel the forces built up by the gradient of the Capital Gale, wind, and seismic loading. To achieve the inclination, the floor plates were stacked vertically up to the 12th story and then, displaced one over the other by a difference of 300 mm to 1,400 mm.

#3 – The Millau Viaduct (Tallest cable-stayed road bridge)

The Millau Viaduct

General information- The Millau Viaduct, which spans across the valley of the River Tarn near Millau in southern France, is one of the most impressive engineering ventures in the world. The bridge’s highest tower soars to 1,125 feet, making it the tallest cable-stayed road bridge in the world. Interestingly, the Millau Viaduct’s tallest towers surpass the Eiffel Tower (986 feet) and are almost as tall as the Empire State Building (1,250 feet).

Structural Information & Construction sequence- The first stages were focused heavily on building the massive piers that would support the roadway high above the valley floor.

Layer by layer, the concrete piers were erected. Each one was built as a single, hollow shaft. The deck itself was made of steel, rather than concrete, to add additional structure support. The masts above the roadway were constructed as whole units, then tilted into place and attached to the deck. Eight massive steel cables connect the mast to the deck in each direction.

#4- Three Gorges dam

Three Gorges dam

General information- Dam on the Yangtze River (Chang Jiang) just west of the city of Yichang in Hubei provinceChina. When construction of the dam officially began in 1994, At the time of its completion in 2006, it was the largest dam structure in the world.

Structural Information & Construction sequence- Made of concrete and steel, the dam is 2,335 m long and the top of the dam is 185 m above sea level. The project used 27.2 million m3  of concrete (mainly for the dam wall), used 463,000 tonnes of steel, and moved about 102.6 million m3 of earth. The concrete dam wall is 181 m high above the rock basis

#5 – Sanfrancisco Golden Gate

Sanfrancisco Golden Gate

Completed during 1937, Acclaimed as one of the world’s most beautiful bridges, there are many different elements to the Golden Gate Bridge that make it unique.

With its tremendous towers, sweeping cables, and great span, the Bridge is a sensory beauty and engineering wonder featuring color, sound, and light. Beloved international icon and true engineering marvel carries about 40 million vehicles a year and serves not only as a vital transportation link but also as a major travel destination for millions of visitors from around the world. One of the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world.

A marvel of modern engineering, the Golden Gate Bridge is 1.7 miles long and 90 feet wide. Its 4,200-foot main span between the two towers was the longest for a suspension bridge until 1981, while its 746-foot towers made it the tallest bridge of any type until 1993