In a working role, structural engineers can employ a wide variety of disciplines including design, calculation, and innovation. The process of becoming a structural engineer requires more than the technical knowledge and skills that can be gained through achieving qualifications. In addition to this theoretical understanding, the experience and practical knowledge gained through actually undertaking the role in a commercial environment is required. It is to this end that a graduate structural engineer undertakes a variety of roles during an induction period before being given the title of structural engineer.
During the personal development stage of his or her career, a graduate structural engineer must work through different disciplines required by the role. As an example, he or she may undertake a period of time within a design department. During this time, the individual learns to design isolated structural components as part of a team to tackle design challenges in real-world situations. The development of these isolated components eventually evolves into the design of larger and more complex structural installations.
Once the graduate structural engineer has completed a learning period within a design group, it is common that he or she is paired with an experienced structural engineer. And, a mentor-mentee relationship is formed. While being mentored by an experienced professional, the graduate structural engineer can expect to receive guidance on methods of working along with experience in developing integrated structural designs.
The different kinds of application experienced by graduates vary depending on the specialty of the consulting firms for which they work. Indicatively, the range of these applications can include bridges, residential dwellings, and large industrial or commercial developments. Structural engineering is not limited to the construction industry, and roles are available within the shipping and aerospace industries. Regardless of the industry in which a graduate structural engineer chooses to work, he or she is required to collaborate with electrical and mechanical engineers. Within the construction industry, structural engineers also work alongside civil engineers and architects.
Structural engineering is generally considered as a specialist division of civil engineering. Within their roles, structural engineers must calculate, configure, and design bridges, buildings, and industrial installations that are suitably strong and stable to operate effectively. Factors that can have effects on the design of these structures include wind loading, localized ground or bearing conditions, and vehicular loads. Additional considerations that are required during the design process include human comfort, deflection or vibration, and lifespan fatigue.