Civil Engineering is one one of the core and oldest branches of engineering. The stream attracts several young talents every year. In the recent past, structural engineering, which is a specialized domain within the broad field of civil engineering, is creating a tremendous buzz. With the increasing popularity of more complex designs and focus on sustainability, careers in structural engineering present excellent career opportunities for the engineering graduates.
The field of civil engineering deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including works such as roads, bridges, canals, dams, airports, sewerage systems, pipelines, and railways. A civil engineering degree prepares you for jobs in the construction industry as well as in the business, management, and financial sectors. Within the construction industry, civil engineers typically get employed as construction engineers, transportation engineers, hydraulic and irrigation engineers, geotechnical engineers, environmental engineers, public works engineers.
Career Opportunities for a Civil Engineer
- As a control surveyor in a building
- As a Consultant in a consultancy
- Self-employed as a contractor
- Working as a design engineer
- Working as a nuclear engineer in a nuclear power plant
- Working in the site as a site engineer
- As a Structural Engineer for the built/load-bearing structures like buildings, bridges, roads & highways, tunnels, etc.
- As a water supply engineer
- As a manager in a construction company
- As an Engineering Geologist
- As an environmental consultant
- As a patent attorney
- As Professors and Researchers in the academia
Specializations within Civil Engineering
Civil Engineering includes different specializations such as Construction Engineering, Transportation Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, Structural Engineering etc.
Construction engineers manage construction projects, ensuring that they are scheduled and built in accordance with plans and specifications. These engineers typically are responsible for the design and safety of temporary structures used during construction. They may also oversee budgetary, time-management, and communications aspects of a project.
Geotechnical engineers work to make sure that foundations for built objects ranging from streets and buildings to runways and dams are solid. They focus on how structures built by civil engineers, such as buildings and tunnels, interact with the earth (including soil and rock). In addition, they design and plan for slopes, retaining walls, and tunnels.
Transportation engineers plan, design, operate and maintain everyday systems, such as streets and highways, but they also plan larger projects, such as airports, ship ports, mass transit systems, and harbours.
Structural engineers design and assess major projects, such as buildings, bridges, or dams, to ensure their strength and durability.
Now, we will focus on Structural Engineering.
Careers in Structural Engineering
Co-authored by Sujoy Sengupta
Structural Engineering is a specialized branch of civil engineering that deals with the analysis and design of structures that support or resist loads. The field of structural engineering focuses on the framework of structures, and on designing those structures to withstand the stresses and pressures of their environment and remain safe, stable and secure throughout their use.
“Generally, structural engineers create framework, drawing, specifications, observe construction sites, perform calculations and oversee the constructions of new buildings”.
In other words, structural engineers make sure that buildings don’t fall down and bridges don’t collapse.
Structural engineers often work alongside civil engineers and architects as part of a construction team.
“if a structure was a human body, then the architect would be concerned with the body shape and appearance, and the structural engineer would be concerned with the skeleton and sinews.”
Job Roles and Responsibilities of a Structural Engineer
The duties of a Structural Engineer depend on the structure he has to build. Working closely with clients, architects, building contractors, other engineers he has to perform the following duties-
He has to design different parts of the structure by using computer software.
He has to perform the task of drawings and make the framework of the different structures like buildings, bridges, tunnels, towers, etc.
In order to construct the building, he has to go through mathematical calculations accurately.
He has to select the construction materials and the appropriate proportions of the mortar that will be used to construct the particular building or structure.
Before repairing an existing structure like bridge he has to perform different tests like ring corrosion test, ultrasonography test, reflection test to measure to assess its structural integrity.
He has to perform the concerned tests to find out whether the structural components of the building can withstand environmental or human-generated stresses, strain & pressures.
He has to calculate the total cost of the project.
A structural engineer has to maintain communication with the construction contractors and make sure that the different parts like piers, girders, deck slab of the newly constructed bridge and pillars, beams, RCC roof of the newly erected building are structurally sound.
He has to consult with different scientific experts and gather knowledge about how different forces of nature act on the built structure.
He has to employ Computer-aided design technology for a simulation to see different behaviours of the built structure under different environmental conditions.
Inspecting the damage caused to the building materials like steel, concrete, glass, etc. of an unsafe building and advising the contractors about the ways of improving the safety of the structure of the concerned building.
The structural engineer has to look after whether the building follows the legal guidelines, health & safety regulations as well as environmental rules.
Demand and Job Prospects in Structural Engineering
Structural engineers make sure all our buildings and infrastructure are safe to use. A structural engineer works with the architect who helps ensure that the beams and other underlying structural pieces of the building will hold up under the particular stresses that the building or other structure will be under. With increasing urbanization and factors like climate change & energy efficiency, the demand for structural engineering will rise further.
While there is not a high turnover rate in these positions, there will be new openings as companies look for more structural engineers to provide their services.
Structural engineers advance in their careers by taking on more difficult projects and by helping manage other engineering teams. Some specialize in a particular area and contract out their services as independent consultants.
Role of Structural Engineering in Green Building & Sustainable Development
At present, the demand for Green Building & Sustainable Development is fuelling the career scopes of structural engineering.
Urbanization, buildings, and civil infrastructure are vital for any economy in the world. However, large quantities of natural resources and energy are required for their construction, operation, maintenance and demolition.
Building construction consumes natural resources, potable water and energy. Secondly, the construction process also contributes to 30% of the global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Therefore, sustainable environment is not achievable without contribution from the building & construction sector, especially from the structural engineering domain.
According to the United Nations (UN), the construction and operation of buildings are vital for social upliftment and sustainability.
In the US, the demand for green buildings has increased from 2.5% in 2005 to 32% in 2010. The global scenario is no different as well. In countries like India, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, France, Ireland, Canada, US etc., a lot of focus is given on structural engineering.
Structural engineers play a vital role in the efficient design, construction and performance of a building. Structural engineers, in collaboration with the architects, owners and/or construction managers decide on the viability of architectural concepts, constructability and cost-effectiveness at the inception of construction projects. As the project progresses to the design stage, structural engineers are the first to produce a set of working design documents.
Structural engineers traditionally have not identified themselves with environmental sustainability. Growing concern for the natural environment, the emergence of smart cities, and the increasing importance of sustainability & energy efficiency are driving the demand for structural engineers.
The renewable energy sector is also a great driving factor. The concept of sustainability is gaining popularity these days and it’s applicability to the energy sector is clear. Hence, overall, the career & job prospects of structural engineers are very bright in the coming days.
Education, Skills and Training for a Career in Structural Engineering
A master’s degree is a must-have for a structural engineer, and almost all have at least a master’s in either structural or civil engineering. Training is essential, as well, and engineers must work for several years in a sort of apprenticeship under other, more experienced engineers before taking a test that gives them a license as a Professional Engineer.
At the Bachelors level, it’s ideal to pursue B.Tech. or B.E. in Civil Engineering, and then opting for Masters (MS, M.Tech. or M.Sc.) in Structural Engineering. Even graduates from the Mechanical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, and Architecture are also eligible to pursue Structural Engineering at the postgraduate level (Masters and PhD).
Required Key Skills
- The Structural Engineers must have a sound knowledge in the subjects like Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry & Information Technology.
- He should possess a solid up-to-date technical knowledge about the subject.
- They should have the ability to analyze any small or big project with a detail-oriented & creative mind.
- He should have the ability to solve complex problems regarding the project.
- They should have the capacity to communicate with fellow engineers as well as with the public to explain the technical, environmental aspects of any taken project.
- The Structural Engineers have to possess time managing capacity in order to finish a project within a scheduled period.
- Besides having a solid knowledge of construction methodology he also required to know the different codes, legal, health and safety rules & regulations that are specifically connected with the industry. Knowing these rules is necessary for the successful completion of a project.
- He must be proficient in Computer-Aided Drafting software and other applications integral to Structural engineering such as Auto Cad (Autocad 2000i), MATLAB, STAAD, RISA, SAP etc. He should be familiar with word processing and spreadsheet programme.
- He should possess strong written communication skills.
- He should have the ability to draw diagrams related to the construction.
- He should have a good concept in three-dimensional diagrams.
- Ability to work in a team is mandatory.
- He should have an interest in understanding the design & structure of any built structure.
Structural Engineering Salaries in India and Abroad
In India, the salary of a Structural Engineer ranges from Rs.34,000 to Rs.42,000 per month. For those Engineers who have gained experience can receive a salary ranging from Rs.67,000 to Rs.100,000 lakh per month. In the US, a Structural Engineer receives $65,000 – $82,000 per year at the entry-level.
Top Recruiters in the Structural Engineering Domain
- Central and State Governments
- Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force
- Jaypee (India) Capital Services Ltd
- The Stellar Group of Companies
- Jindal Steel and Power Ltd
- Larsen & Toubro
- Bharat Heavy Electronics Ltd
- Reliance Infrastructure
- The Boeing Company
- Kpff Consulting Engineers
- Balfour Beatty
- Buro Happold
- Carillion and Mott MacDonald
- Jacobs Engineering Group
- Walter P. Moore
- HRD Inc.
- CH2M Hill
- Northrop Grumman Corp
Top Civil and Structural Engineering Colleges in India
- IIT Bombay
- IIT Delhi
- IIT Kanpur
- BITS Pilani
- NIT Trichy
- IIT Kharagpur
- IIT Roorkee
- IIT Madras
- IIT – BHU
- IIT Guwahati
- Delhi Technological University
- NMIMS’ Mukesh Patel School of Technology Management & Engineering, Mumbai
- R.V. College of Engineering, Bangalore
- Bangalore Institute of Technology, Bangalore
- SRM University, Chennai
- Jadavpur University (Faculty of Engineering & Technology)
- PEC University of Technology
- Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology
- College of Engineering Pune
- Thapar University
- Lovely Professional University
- PSG College of Technology
- NIT Rourkela
- Manipal Institute of Technology
- Osmania University
- Nirma University – Institute of Technology
- Vellore Institute of Technology
- Coimbatore Institute of Technology
Top Universities for Structural Engineering Abroad
- University of Cambridge
- UC Berkeley
- Delft University of Technology
- Imperial College London
- Stanford University
- University of New South Wales
- Georgia Tech
- University of Hong Kong
- University of Oxford
- ETH Zurich
- National University of Singapore
- Tsinghua University
- Nanyang Technological University
- University of Sydney
- University of Melbourne
- Waseda University
- Polytechnic University of Milan
- UT Austin
- Peking University
- Hong Kong Polytechnic University
- University of Tokyo
- The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Tokyo Institute of Technology
- Kyoto University
- Kyushu University
- University of Manchester
- University of Leeds
- Chalmers University of Technology
- TU Munich
- Vrije University Brussels
- University of Auckland
- Linkoping University
- Linnaeus University
- RMIT University
- University of Canterbury
- University of Western Ontario
- University of Alberta
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