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Building sturdy structures

Gauri Chhabra
The first principle of architectural beauty is that the essential lines of a construction be determined by a perfect appropriateness to its use. So said Gustave Eiffel, while talking of the Eiffel tower in all its grandeur and glory. Little did he realize then that he was laying the foundation of a specific branch of Engineering that would play a significant role in this journey of mankind through building and bridges.With this spurt of construction activity and the buildings growing bigger and taller, there has also been a need for designing them in a manner that they could withstand the test of time and vagaries of nature. This is precisely what falls under the purview of Structural engineering. What is Structural Engineering? Structural engineering is a subset of Civil Engineering concerned with the engineering design and behavior of buildings, bridges, machines, and constructed facilities. It has, as its edifice, the principles of structural analysis, continuum mechanics, structural dynamics, and fracture mechanics to predict the response of structural elements supporting loads. It encompasses the end to end engineering structure, from conceptualization and design, through construction and management, to rehabilitation, demolition, and forensic investigation and conservation. What does a Structural Engineer do? Structural engineeris the nucleus of construction industry. He designs the framework of buildings, pipelines and bridges so that they can support their own weight and resist forces, such as weather and traffic. Besides, he also takesinto account aesthetics and efficiency. He oversees the end to end progress of an architectural project from creating initial design models using in-depth mathematical and scientific knowledge, and meeting with contractors to ensure that the designs are being followed closely. Without the skills and technical knowledge of structural engineers, the buildings which we inhabit and spend our time in on a daily basis could potentially cause us serious injury or even death. During the lifetime of a typical building, various stresses and strains will test its physical composition and structural engineers will ensure that the structure is strong and flexible enough to remain safe and sturdy. Without the input of a structural engineer, buildings may twist, bend, or vibrate in ways that cause both structural damage and put human lives at risk. It is also the responsibility of a structural engineer to make sure that older buildingscan withstand forces in a safe fashion. Getting in Structural engineering is a result of long years of arduous study. Higher math, such as geometry, trigonometry and calculus all play an important part. Take classes that emphasize mathematics and science such as algebra, geometry, biology and physics before graduating high school.After B.Tech, you can go in for M Tech (Structural Engineering) that provides thorough knowledge of design stage to construction and completion that is a two-year full time program. Difference between an Architect and Structural engineer Dr. Jagadanand Jha, Professor and Head, Department of Civil Engineering, Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, Ludhiana says “An architect makes the drawing (Plan) of the building based on location and its functional requirement and follows standard architectural practice to optimally utilize the space. For example position of master bed room with respect to other room.Therefore it is typically a line diagram to demarcate the space. On the other hand, a Structural Engineer works on the line diagram (Plan) supplied by an Architect and decides the amount of steel and concrete grade required to keep it safe and durable. In brief, an architect creates a space whereas a structural engineer builds the space which is safe and durable under adverse conditions during its life span. Punjab is under Zone 3 and 4 (85% area is under zone 4), which is almost under critical conditions created during earth quake condition.Again if the area is water logged and having silt as supporting soil, it can create liquefaction condition during earth quake. Most of the area in Punjab is water logged with silt as major soil component. Any structure therefore must be designed and constructed as per the relevant provision (IS 1893, IS 13920 in case of reinforced concrete buildings). This can be done only a qualified structural Engineer by giving all the due consideration of geotechnical condition prevailing at the site of construction and structural requirement of the proposed structure. Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College started an M.Tech Course in Structural Engineering and Geotechnical Engineering way back in 2000, so that proper specialized manpower can be produced. Again The Civil Engineering Department is giving Consultancy services to private and public sector for Structural engineering and geotechnical engineering through its consultancy cell by highly specialized Faculty The Civil Engineering department has started an awareness programfor general public in association with TATA TISCON by proving many ready to use structural drawing and building tips in the form of pamphlets Institute scape (M.Tech in Structural Engineering) *Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IIT KGP), Kharagpur. *Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, Ludhiana *Maharishi Markandeshwar Engineering College, Ambala *BLDEA’s Vachana Pitamaha Dr. P.G. Halakatti College of Engineering & Technology, *College of Engineering, Trivandrum, Thiruvananthapuram *College of Technology, Pantanagar *Government College of Engineering, Amravati (M.S) Who will hire you? *Forensic scientists *Engineering consultancies *Local authorities *Oil companies *Railway operators *Civil Engineering contractors *Public utility companies *The Civil Service *The Armed Forces Career Pathways Studying to be a structural engineer isn’t for the intellectually lazy. This is a challenging field of study; but one with great rewards. It carries with it the satisfaction of doing being able to create something which makes a difference in society and individual livesopening several forking pathways ahead. Project Management The most linear progression from structural engineer is to project manager. You would be working closely with clients, architects, contractors and other professionals on construction plans, developing design ideas, using computer aided design (CAD), investigating the properties of materials like glass, steel and concrete, and advising on which may be most suitable for the job, working out the loads and stresses on different parts of a structure like the foundations, beams, arches and walls, inspecting unsafe buildings and recommending options for repairs or demolition, making sure projects meet legal guidelines, environmental directives, and health and safety requirements, preparing bids for tenders and supervising project teams and giving progress reports to clients and senior managers. Forensic Department You can dove tail your structural engineering degree and get a job in the Forensic department where you will be responsible to conduct field investigations and analyze failuresinvolving all types of structures and construction problems including residential, commercial and industrial properties, determine the cause, origin, and extent of structural failures, water intrusions, construction defects and building system failures including envelope, roof, wall and glazing. Your work schedule may include foundation settlement investigations, structural assessments, site evaluations where you may be required to analyze failures in buildings and other infrastructure systems by conducting site visits and applying engineering principles and practices in accordance with codes and industry. Seismology Departments Another offshoot of Structural engineering is Seismology where you can not only play a vital role in earthquake-prone areas where you can help to improve the evolution of seismic resistant design of traditional and engineered structures, but can also make a huge difference in designing buildings to ensure they are resilient against earthquakes and minimize the damage and destruction caused. Heritage buildings Of late there has been an intense need to strike the right balance between the sometimes con?icting objectives of conservation and commercial development. Some ancient monuments have been transformed into modern hotels where the job of the structural engineer is to avoid unnecessary intrusion into historic structures while balancing current needs for public safety and development economics. This creates further demands on the creativity and problem solving skills. Your job would not simply be that of ‘protector of heritage assets’ but would involve the challenges of integrating new with old and developing reasoned arguments for proposed construction works. The sensitive alteration of historic buildings and structures also would also require a thorough understanding of the heritage issues surrounding such works. Work hours You would normally work between 35 and 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday, with a combination of office work and site visits. In case you are fond of travelling, it is one profession that can take you around the world, depending on your employer and the nature of the projects you are working on. Of all the castles we build in the air, structural engineers lay solid foundations underneath…


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