Structural Engineers: what do they do? It can be hard to explain if the person is not familiar with the building process. Thankfully the Institution of Structural Engineers spends time thinking about these kinds of questions and part of their answer is:
Structural engineers are specialists in design, construction, repair, conversion and conservation. They are concerned with all aspects of a structure and its stability. Relatively little is known about this unsung band of heroes, who are fundamental to any build project.
In a nutshell, if a structure was a human body then the architect would be concerned with the body shape and appearance, and the structural engineer would be concerned with the skeleton and sinews.
Structural engineers are a key part of the design and construction team, working alongside civil engineers and architects. Together they create all kinds of structures from houses, theatres, sports stadia and hospitals to bridges, oil rigs and space satellites.
I recently spotted another way of answering this question when driving through the town of Tullamore. By the side of the road was an unfinished steel framed building. Unfortunately it will remain unfinished for the foreseeable future. See pictures of the building below.
Every steel member (beams and columns) that is visible in the above picture of the unfinished building is necessary to hold up the floors, roofs and walls. These are positioned and sized by the structural engineer. Other elements that remain hidden, like the foundations and drainage are also designed by the Structural engineer. The structural engineer basically designs the foundations and skeleton of the building, which is then hidden by the clothes of the building (the walls and ceilings). But the framework that is normally hidden is on display in this picture.
Now if I could just find out what economists do………..