Structural Engineering is a field of Civil Engineering dealing with the analysis and design of structures that support, bears or resist loads. Structural engineering is usually considered a specialty within Civil Engineering, but it can also be studied in its own right. Structural Engineers are mainly involved in the design of buildings and large non-building structures (for example Bridges, Retaining walls, Dams etc) but they can also be involved in the design of machinery, medical equipment or vehicles.
Structural Engineers must ensure their designs satisfy given design criteria, predicated on safety (Structures must not collapse without due warning) or serviceability and performance (e.g. building sway must not cause discomfort to the occupants). Buildings are made to endure massive loads as well as changing climate and natural disasters.
Structural Engineering involves Structural analysis, designing of structural members like Foundation, Columns, Beams, Slabs etc or designing of Structures like Dams, Retaining Walls, Bridges etc.
Structural engineering theory is based upon physical laws and empirical knowledge of the structural performance of different landscapes and materials. Structural Engineering design utilizes a comparatively small number of basic structural elements to build up structural systems that can be very complex. Structural engineers are responsible for making creative and efficient use of funds, structural elements and materials to achieve these specific goals.
Structural engineers are responsible for engineering design and analysis. Entry-level structural engineers may design the individual structural elements of a structure, for example the beams, columns, and floors of a building. More experienced engineers would be responsible for the structural design and integrity of an entire system, such as a building.
Structural engineers often specialize in particular fields, such as bridge engineering, building engineering, pipeline engineering, industrial structures, or special mechanical structures such as vehicles or aircraft.
Structural engineering has existed since humans first started to construct their own structures. It became a more defined and formalised profession with the emergence of the architecture profession as distinct from the engineering profession during the industrial revolution in the late 19th century. Until then, the architect and the structural engineer were usually one and the same - the master builder. Only with the development of specialised knowledge of structural theories that emerged during the 19th and early 20th centuries did the professional structural engineer come into existence.