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Why Structural Engineering? The Job Where You Build Up Your Dreams

Structural engineering is attracting more and more attention from ambitious students out there. And no wonder. It is one of those industries that allows you to get a real sense of achievement as soon as your project is finished. Being a structural engineer, you see your dream properly built up. Brick by brick. Project by project.

Why Structural Engineering? Top reasons:

If you’re searching for reasons to pursue structural engineering as your career, David Knight has the strongest ones at hand. Being a structural engineer with engineering consultancy group COWI, David has helped design amazing projects around the world, therefore he knows a thing or two about dreaming big.

1. Our ideas become reality.

With structural engineering, success and performance will be noticed straight away once a skyscraper, a bridge or a house is built up. It is a rush to touch something that you imagined and designed, knowing that your skills were instrumental in bringing it into being. We’re involved in creating record-breaking structures, beautiful structures, useful structures and sometimes just cool structures. It’s really rewarding work.

2. Our work lasts a long time.

The work structural engineers do has an incredible, long-lasting impact. We design buildings to last for 50 years, and bridges for over a hundred years’ time, so our structures will be used and enjoyed by thousands of people long after we’ve gone. We also breathe new life into old structures – renovating or changing the use of buildings that were designed decades ago and turning them to completely new purposes. It’s about adding life to what used to be once just a dream, a plan on a paper.

3. We make the world safer.

Structural engineers make sure all our buildings and infrastructure are safe to use. We also help society address the biggest problems, from climate change to disaster relief. We build bridges, to help bring communities in developing nations out of isolation. We study how to make buildings stand up during earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. We help improve the way we build, minimising the impact construction has on our planet, and work to make the best use of limited resources.

4. We solve problems.

Structural engineers use many skills – from basic mathematical tools, through to physics, cutting-edge technology, and communication. I spend my days talking (in meetings, emails, and site visits), drawing (in pencil or on a computer), thinking and calculating. I meet hundreds of people in my job, and need to work collaboratively with them to make a success of our project. Most of all structural engineers are the problem solvers in design teams, designing solutions to the challenges construction projects knock together.

5. We are respected professionals.

Structural engineering is not easy, but it rewards hard work. We are widely respected by other construction professionals for our skills, which are a vital part of unlocking the potential of a project, overcoming its challenges, and most of all, ensuring that it is safe.

The power and influence that structural engineering has is significant in so many aspects of life. It is not just an industry where you analyse results of soil samples or play around with timber, concrete or steel. Structural engineering is where you build up the world surrounding us all. It’s responsibility and innovation, in every sense of the word. And now, if we’ve piqued your curiosity, don’t stop here. Find out more info about structural engineering and learn everything about how to work your way towards it. How about getting a degree in engineering in the UK?

Special thanks to David Knight for providing us with this article. David is a member of The Institution of Structural Engineers, who has added breath-taking projects to his portfolio over the years. Among them, we mention the Philippine Arena in Manilla, the West Kowloon Terminus building in Hong Kong and the Greenwich Reach Swing Bridge in London. 

How Does Engineering Improve People’s Lives?

Are you looking for a career that makes a difference? From robotics to harnessing renewable energy sources to a simple, noninvasive tuberculosis test, engineers in the US are contributing to human comfort, ease of living, and turning tomorrow’s dreams into reality. The engineering profession is exploding around the world to meet the demands of our very technology-driven human culture. In this article, we’ll explore the question of how does engineering improve lives.

Engineering disciplines

Simply put, engineering combines maths and science for use in practical applications. The area of application helps divide the broad field of engineering into various disciplines including, but not limited to:

  • Aeronautical
  • Biomedical
  • Chemical
  • Civil
  • Computer (Software and Hardware)
  • Electrical
  • Environmental
  • Mechanical engineering

Interdisciplinary engineering

Several engineering fields have recently emerged to become very inter-disciplinary, requiring the interaction and study of a “mix” of engineering areas. For example, the field of mechatronics is interdisciplinary combining mechanics, electronics, control systems, and complex projects usually bringing together engineers from multiple disciplines. Thus, today’s engineering student should take advantage of schooling where multiple disciplines are taught and where the students and faculty work together across disciplines to solve real-world problems.

Environmentally-friendly engineering

An example of a cutting edge environmentally-friendly interdisciplinary research project being conducted nowadays would be the automation of the disassembly of end-of-life products. Disassembly is an already established industry, but the operations are complex, time-consuming, and expensive. Some cost recovery occurs through the resale of recovered materials. However, manpower is the major cost, so an automated solution could help reduce costs significantly.

Research teams of computer, mechanical, and industrial engineering faculty and students are working on a solution, using several research laboratories including:

  • Robotics
  • Intelligent Sensing
  • Control Labs
  • Sustainable Energy and Environment Labs
  • and Programmable Logic Control Systems Labs

The green engineering team proposes a new model for disassembly that employs robots and introduces the use of an online dynamic genetic algorithm to conduct an ‘intelligent’ survey and assessment of module components, followed by the coordination of the disassembly process. This process allows for a time-effective assessment of both typical and uncommon alterations that may have been made after product purchase through repair, upgrade, or to meet personal preferences. The disassembly ‘cell’ consists of an industrial robotic manipulator fitted with a webcam, and a PC enhanced with additional hard drive and RAM that is programmed with component segmentation and range-sensing visual algorithms.

Biomedical engineering

In the field of biomedical engineering, non-invasive tuberculosis testing is being researched that would be a tremendous boost for testing in developing nations. A layer-by-layer, paper-based test using ‘invisible ink’ comprised of a gel sensing protein is being developed to measure TB-associated protein in the urine.

Engineering in the USA

Among the many disciplines, engineering students in the US should have plenty of hands-on experiences and faculty mentoring through working on an array of projects.

Whether you are a student from China who might help rural women learn modern irrigation technology and water management or a student from India who can help develop the efficient use of wind turbines as an alternative energy source, you will have many opportunities to learn and practice engineering in action at your university of choice and through regional and national research and scholarly conferences that will help launch a successful career after graduation.

By Tarek Sobh, Vice President for Graduate Studies and Research and Dean of the School of Engineering at the University of Bridgeport.

Enjoyed this article? Check out our other engineering subject guides.

A future in International Energy Economics – Hermann’s story


Hermann: Protecting the planet with a degree in International Energy Economics

I caught up with Hermann via a video call and, apart from his time studying abroad at Western Sydney University, I knew nothing about him. By the end of our conversation, I was astonished at how much he has already fitted into his 22 years. I asked him about his current degree in International Energy Economics.

“I’m currently studying International Energy Economics at the University of Applied Sciences in Ulm, southern Germany. As the name suggests, it’s a combination of computer science (data analytics, mostly), energy engineering and business studies relating to the energy sector. I completed my sixth semester abroad at Western Sydney University in Australia, now in my seventh semester. I’m currently writing my thesis with my bachelor’s degree graduation in March.

“My semester abroad made me want to continue using my English, so I’m currently working as a Student Assistant at the International Office. Because I was an international student myself, I can empathise with the internationals here. I know how it feels, being in a new country and some of the difficulties that can cause, so I can help them.”

Why study International Energy Economics?

Hermann’s enthusiasm for his chosen field was striking. I wondered why he chose to go in this direction, and if he had ever considered anything else. It was towards the end of his high school studies that he chose the energy sector, making a big shift from his previous plans.

“At the very beginning I wanted to become a banker; you could say I was just after the money! But then a visiting professor from The Biberach University of Applied Sciences delivered a presentation in my school about renewable energy sources. He talked about sustainability and how we need to protect the environment, using my home region as an example. It changed everything.

“I’m from a town that’s really close to nature. Five minutes by bike and you’re outside in the forest or you can go swimming in the lake. I realised that the professor was right – we have beautiful landscapes here, close to the Alps and close to Lake Constance. It’s beautiful, it’s green and there is so much nature. His presentation reinforced the importance of protecting all that, rather than running off to chase the money. I think I was only two or three weeks from my final exams when I switched. I was about to enter a programme offered by Deutsche Bank but that persuasive and inspiring talk made me change my mind.”

Find out more about Hermann’s time as an international student in Australia.

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