Structural engineering – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest building, currently under construction in Dubai

Structural engineering is a field of engineering dealing with the analysis and design of structures that support or resist loads economically. Structural engineering is usually considered a specialty within civil engineering, but it can also be studied in its own right.[1]

Structural engineers are most commonly involved in the design of buildings and large nonbuilding structures[2] but they can also be involved in the design of machinery, medical equipment, vehicles or any item where structural integrity affects the item’s function or safety. Structural engineers must ensure their designs satisfy given design criteria, predicated on safety (e.g. structures must not collapse without due warning) or serviceability and performance (e.g. building sway must not cause discomfort to the occupants).

Structural engineering theory is based upon physical laws and empirical knowledge of the structural performance of different geometries and materials. Structural engineering design utilises a relatively 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 goals.[2]

Earthquake engineering structures

Earthquake engineering structures are those engineered to withstand various types of hazardous earthquake exposures at the sites of their particular location.

Earthquake-proof and massive pyramid El Castillo, Chichen Itza

Earthquake engineering is treating its subject structures like defensive fortifications in military engineering but for the warfare on earthquakes. Both earthquake and military general design principles are similar: be ready to slow down or mitigate the advance of a possible attacker.

The main objectives of earthquake engineering are:

Snapshot from shake-table video [1] of testing base-isolated (right) and regular (left) building model

  • Understand interaction of structures with the shaky ground.
  • Foresee the consequences of possible earthquakes.
  • Design, construct and maintain structures to perform at earthquake exposure up to the expectations and in compliance with building codes.

Earthquake engineering or earthquake-proof structure does not, necessarily, means extremely strong and expensive one like El Castillo pyramid at Chichen Itza shown above.

Now, the most powerful and budgetary tool of the earthquake engineering is base isolation which pertains to the passive structural vibration control technologies.