When you walk across a bridge, do you worry about it falling down? Whenever you ride an elevator in a skyscraper, do you hold your breath as you watch the floor numbers light up, hoping you make it all the way to the top? After you leave your car in a parking structure, do you ever fret about it?

Your answers are probably a resounding “no,” and you have structural engineers to thank for it. 

What exactly do structural engineers do? Should you hire a structural engineer for your construction project? What services should you expect a structural engineer to provide? 

The Basics of Structural Engineering

Structural engineers focus on the safety, technical, and environmental aspects of a building construction project. As a discipline, structural engineering falls under the umbrella of civil engineering, which covers all aspects of the construction and design of public works projects such as bridges, utilities, dams, airports, and other structures used by the general population. 

Structural engineers are responsible for reviewing plans for structures to ensure their stability under stresses such as weather, wind, gravity, earthquakes, sustained traffic, and other pressures. The primary goal is that the structure meets its assigned purpose, like allowing traffic to move across a river or bay, while simultaneously keeping people and property safe. 

In addition to safety and stability, structural engineers consider factors such as the comfort of the people in or on the structure, as well as any long-term fatigue the structure will possibly experience. A friend’s father worked in the Sears Tower in Chicago, which was reportedly famous for swaying in the wind. Some execs who worked there would have to go home early on windy days because they became “seasick” or whatever it’s called when you are queasy when a 1000 foot structure is swinging under you! 

Many states require the involvement of a structural engineer for specific projects like hospitals or schools. 

The Qualities of a Great Structural Engineer

A qualified structural engineer will typically have a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master’s degree in structural engineering. They should have an in-depth knowledge of material sciences and solid mechanics, as well as extensive understanding of mathematical analysis and the disciplines of structural mechanics, structural dynamics, and structural failure. 

In addition to a thorough education, structural engineers in the United States are required to be licensed to work in whichever state(s) they practice. 

Structural engineers should also be highly knowledgeable about building materials such as cement, masonry, timber, and steel. They need to understand how materials interact with each other, how durable they are, and how they’re affected by fatigue, temperature, vibration, and other influences. 

Aside from their professional expertise, the best structural engineers exhibit a willingness (or, better yet, an eagerness) to collaborate with clients, architects, contractors, government agencies, and other engineers to find solutions for each project they’re involved with. 

Above all, structural engineers should care about the lifetime of any construction project they’re involved with. As long-term thinkers, they’re always looking ahead to the future of the structure, not just the construction itself. 

Hiring Areté Structural Engineers

Areté Engineers provides structural engineering services that meet all the qualifications mentioned above … and more. Our team has the experience, knowledge, diligence, and humility that contractors, builders, and architects love working with. 

The cost for hiring Areté structural engineers is reasonable, too, especially compared to the other services needed for civil or commercial construction projects. Contact the team at Areté Engineers to explore how we can ensure your next structure will be as secure, stable, and comfortable as possible. 

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