What do structural engineers do?

I’m honestly quite proud to belong to a profession that has been romanticized the way structural engineering has. Our profession has created masterpieces that have inspired and captured the public’s imagination and wonder. Whether it’s the Chrysler building, the Millau Viaduct, or the Duomo in Florence, there is a rich and near-artistic heritage that we draw on.

I want to share a quote that every structural engineer knows – this sums up what we do more candidly than anything I’ve ever heard.

“Structural engineering is the art of molding materials we don’t wholly understand, into shapes we can’t fully analyze, so as to withstand forces we can’t really assess, in such a way that the community at large has no reason to suspect the extent of our ignorance.” –Unknown

This beautifully expresses the challenge and uncertainty of our work. While there is a world of knowledge left to uncover, those that have gone before us have produced structures which have overcome this uncertainty and performed honorably. It reinforces that our service is to the public, to provide our families and neighbors with safe infrastructure they can use without fear.

For anyone interested in reading some inspiring and beautifully created books about the art of structural engineering, you will not be disappointed by the following: