Structure a career to your own designs

A PENSIONER nearly died when his ceiling collapsed under the weight of thousands of magazines he’d stored in his loft.

The story, which made national headlines last week, raised awareness of the role played by structural engineers in building construction.

Structural engineers are a key part of the design and construction team, working alongside civil engineers, architects and other construction professionals.

Together they create all kinds of structures from houses, theatres, sports stadia and hospitals to bridges, oil rigs and space satellites. Additionally, structural engineers are charged with developing existing structures to ensure that they remain safe, fit for purpose and take into account environmental and sustainability issues that may not have been understood when the structures were first designed.

Structural engineers are people who enjoy a challenge, innovation, responsibility and excitement in a varied career. Structural engineering presents both creative and technical challenges and requires excellent problem solving skills. Structural engineers must understand building loads/stresses and be able to produce designs and use materials to produce stunning structures.

Additionally structural engineers must develop management skills to lead engineering projects and work within commercial, legal, environmental and health and safety requirements.

A career in engineering is never dull, it can take you all around world, working within a design office or on site. Structural engineering provides an opportunity for you to shape the future and improve the lives of millions of people.

As a structural engineer your work would involve:

l working closely with clients, architects, contractors and other professionals

l developing design ideas, using computer aided design

l investigating the properties of materials like glass, steel and concrete, and advising on which may be most suitable for the job

l working out the loads and stresses on different parts of a structure like foundations, beams and walls

l using computer simulations to predict how structures will react under different conditions, for example high winds or earth tremors

l inspecting unsafe buildings and recommending options for repair or demolition

l making sure projects meet legal guidelines, environmental directives, and health and safety needs

l preparing bids for tenders

l supervising project teams and giving progress reports to clients and senior managers.

Structural engineering is a global profession and there may be opportunities to work around the world.

Graduate engineers earn between £18,000 and £23,000 a year. Experienced engineers earn between £24,000 and £40,000, while chartered engineers often earn over £50,000 year.