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6 Tips To Take Your Structural Design Work From Good To Great

March 01, 2022|9 min read

How would you describe your structural design skills? Are they good or great? If you answered "good," you might want to consider taking your skills to the next level.

Structural engineering is a highly specialized field that requires hard work and dedication to master. It involves designing simple to complex buildings using techniques that will ensure the structure will be safe, durable, and economical. 

Sometimes, the complexity of these structures makes it difficult for even experienced engineers to get them right. But if you are an engineer with a knack for this type of work, there are some things you can do to elevate your skills.

This article aims to give you some tips on how to improve your structural design work so that you can take it from good to great.

Understanding The Basics

The first step toward improving your structural design skills is to go back to the basics.

This includes reviewing basic concepts like forces, materials, and geometry and making sure you have a solid understanding. It also means knowing what types of problems you should expect when working on projects.

By being familiar with these things, you will be able to identify potential issues in the design phase before they become serious.

If you have been in the industry for a while, you probably already have a good handle on the basics. However, if you are just getting started, here is a list of topics that you should learn:

  • Forces – Understand the different kinds of forces that act on objects. These include gravity, tension, compression, and shear. Knowing which forces act on each type of object will help you understand why specific designs fail.
  • Materials – Know the properties of various materials, including their strength, weight, elasticity, etc. Understanding these characteristics will allow you to predict the performance of any structure made from those materials.
  • Geometry – Learn the basic shapes used in structural design. You don't need to memorize all of them, but knowing what they look like will help you recognize them more easily.

You should also know how to calculate the applied loads and stresses on different structural members. This helps you determine whether the proposed design is feasible or not.

Once you have learned the basics, you will be ready to start tackling real-life problems. To do this, you will need to practice using your knowledge. This could mean creating structural modeling, conducting computer simulations, or practicing on paper.

Know What Makes A Good Structure

Before creating any design, you need to know what makes a good structure. There are many things to look at when determining whether a particular design is sound or not.

Some of these include:

  • Safety – Is the structure safe enough for its intended purpose? Will it withstand earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters?
  • Durability – Will the material being used last long before needing replacement?
  • Cost – Can the structure be built affordably?
  • Sustainability – Does the structure contribute to environmental sustainability?
  • Efficiency – How much energy does the structure use?

These factors are only a few of the essential considerations when designing a structure. If you want to create something that meets all of these criteria, you will need to put in a lot of effort.

However, if you focus on just one aspect of a project, you may end up with a design that fails in other aspects. For example, if you try to make a building as strong as possible, you might sacrifice durability. Or, if you try to save money by choosing cheap materials, you might end up with a structure that breaks down quickly.

To avoid making poor decisions, you must first understand the concept of tradeoffs. Once you do, you can begin to think about ways to balance your needs against each other.

Understand Building Codes

Building codes are rules set by government agencies that dictate how specific structures must be designed. These codes are meant to ensure safety and prevent property damage. They also provide standard guidelines on building structures that meet specific structural design criteria.

Most countries have some form of building code. In the United States, local governments often have their own building codes. However, most states have adopted the International Code Council (ICC) Building Code. It is considered the standard because it has been adopted by almost every state.

The ICC Building Code includes three main sections:

General Requirements

This section covers general requirements such as electrical wiring, plumbing, and heating systems. It also specifies the minimum square footage needed for buildings.

Structural Requirements

This section deals with structural analysis issues such as load-bearing capacity, wind resistance, earthquake strength, etc. The maximum allowable weight of a building is specified here**.**

Fire Protection Requirements

This section contains information on how to protect a building from fire. It details how to install sprinkler systems and emergency exits.

It's important to note that different types of buildings require different levels of protection. For instance, residential homes usually don't need to comply with the same regulations as commercial buildings.

When designing a new house or remodeling an existing one, it's best to check with your local building department to see what they recommend. This way, you will know precisely what you should expect when getting permits and inspections.

Building codes constantly change as new technologies emerge and old ones become obsolete. To stay up to date with these changes, you need to keep abreast of all the latest developments. You should be familiar with the most current versions of the relevant codes.

Once you understand the basic concepts behind building codes, you can start applying these principles to your designs. You can then use this knowledge to help you choose the proper construction techniques and combine them into a safe and durable structure.


Learn About Construction Techniques

Construction techniques refer to methods of building that are commonly used today. For example, concrete is one common construction technique that has been around for centuries. Other examples include steel frame construction, wood framing, and brick walls.

You may want to learn more about each type of construction method to ensure that your design meets applicable building codes. If you're going to incorporate any of these techniques into your project, you will need permission from your local building authority.

Each type of construction method has its advantages and disadvantages. Once you understand how these techniques work, you will make better choices during your structural design process.

If you don't know much about construction techniques, you may find yourself struggling to come up with ideas for projects. Fortunately, plenty of online resources can teach you everything you need to know about constructing different types of structures with various structural components.

Find Out How Materials Are Used

Materials play a significant role in the overall performance of a given project. When you design a structure, you need to consider where the materials will go and how they will interact with each other.

If you use metal beams for support, you need to think about how the beams will react to internal forces applied. In addition to considering how materials will behave under stress, you also need to think about their durability. 

Choosing the suitable material is just as important as choosing the right design. After all, the quality of the materials used in a building determines its overall structural performance.

Materials play a massive role in determining any given project's structural safety and durability. Knowing which materials are appropriate for each situation can save you time and money.

Get Help From Professionals

Even though you have an idea of what you want your structure to look like, you still need help coming up with a plan. It is essential to get professional advice when designing anything. Experienced architects and engineers can offer valuable insight into how best to create a structure that meets your needs while remaining cost-effective.

You can improve your structural design skillset by attending conferences and workshops. These events provide opportunities to meet other professionals who share your interests. They give you the chance to network with experts who can answer questions you might have.

When you take advantage of these educational opportunities, you will gain new insights into the world of structural design. You will also develop skills that will allow you to tackle future challenges independently.

In conclusion, structural design involves many aspects of engineering. It includes figuring out how the structure will perform, how it will be built, and how it will sustain the environmental conditions. It is not easy to become an expert in this field, but you can master the art of structural design with practice and research.

Structural engineers are a vital part of the design and construction industry. With the proper training, knowledge, and experience, you too can become a great structural engineer.

Software For Structural Engineering

There are several software programs that you can use to make sure that your designs are structurally sound.

At StruCalc, we've developed our software program to assist you in creating structural elements. Our software allows you to quickly calculate loads, stresses, deflections, and more. We also include automatic calculations, graphical representations, and interactive simulations.

We understand that there are many different structural forms out there, so we've designed our software to work with almost every kind of structure imaginable. StruCalc can be downloaded and installed in just five minutes and comes with a 30 day trial period. If you are a student or professor, you can utilize StruCalc for free with StruCalc Academic!