Association of Consulting Structural Engineers NSW

What do Structural Engineers do?

Structural engineers carry out strength calculations and prepare drawings of structures to ensure they are strong enough to avoid collapse when loaded. The most common structures dealt with are buildings and bridges, tunnels, walls to hold back earth embankments, large tanks and silos as well as mining structures, also form part of a structural engineer's work. Specialist areas include oil drilling platforms and associated infrastructure, shipbuilding vehicle and aircraft design, demolition and staging and temporary structures.

Structural engineers generally work in teams and look at the way a structure is to be built. They ensure buildings are strong enough to withstand natural forces and loads imposed by the nature of its use. Through research and the testing of both form and material, new solutions are developed which promote safer, more environmentally friendly buildings and structures.

Structural engineers use analytical tools including specialist software to determine load paths in structures and calculate the stresses in the various materials.

Some structural engineers work in the design of structures (carrying out the strength calculations and supervising drawings), others specialise in the building of structures and some work in research. Structural engineers commonly work with architects and other creative professionals, builders, mechanical, electrical and chemical engineers to ensure that all parts of the structure are safe and capable of fulfilling their intended function. They also make sure structures use appropriate materials efficiently.