Structural engineers design structural systems to support and resist various natural forces that may originate in nature (e.g., the wind) or may be applied by human activity, e.g., the outward force (centrifugal force) exerted on a curving railroad bridge as the moving mass of a train passes by). See Figures 2.8, 2.9, 2.10. Structural engineers must consider the properties and behavior of materials, e.g. steel, concrete, aluminum, timber, plastic, and innovative building materials such as carbon fiber reinforced plastic; anticipated loads, e.g. structural weight, contents weight, wind, earthquake, flood, snow, and blast; economics; constructability; occupant comfort; and most of all safety.
Structural engineers work closely with architects to develop the structural systems of buildings to support the architect’s conceptual design. Structural engineers perform the following functions: