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What is Truss Engineering?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated May 17, 2024
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Truss engineering involves the design and creation of trusses that are made from one of several potential materials. Trusses are crafted from straight and slender pieces of material connected at various joints to form a triangular shape. They are primarily used to build a larger structure, with the shape and design of the truss adding strength and weather resistance to the overall structure. Trusses can be designed as planar trusses, which are a two-dimensional shape — used most commonly in roofs and floors — and space trusses which are three-dimensional. Multiple trusses can also be combined.

Some truss engineering firms design and build pre-made trusses to sell to construction and architecture companies. These designs are generally smaller in scale and used for floors and roofs in houses and other relatively small scale buildings. Other firms may design their trusses and build onto the building itself instead of having them pre-made, thereby customizing the look and size to fit a specific structure.

Bridges, skyscrapers, and towers also implement the work of truss engineering professionals. More complex structures such as these require detailed planning and often a more intricate combination of trusses, comprised of multiple units being used at once. Bridges and towers generally combine planar and space trusses that are made from metal, although some bridges are made of wood.

More detailed aspects of truss engineering involves the design of multiple trusses that are interwoven in a particular shape or for a specific purpose. Generally, the more complex the design, the stronger the structure it will be. This is particularly important for the tops of skyscrapers and other tall buildings because they must withstand much stronger wind resistance than structures that are lower to the ground.

Professionals who are involved with truss engineering may require advanced education, depending on the level of responsibility. Crews who specialize in the building of trusses, especially smaller ones, may only need minimal training. Designers and engineers who come up with the truss’s appearance and function often need at least four years of education after high school.

Most truss engineering professionals work with others to complete a job, including construction crews, architects, and engineers in related fields. Building and implementing trusses requires careful planning to ensure a structure is as strong as possible. This means that all team members must work together closely in order to ensure that the finished product matches the original design. Any deviations from the plan could result in a weakened structure that is more prone to damage at best or a full-on collapse at worst.

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