The education of structural engineers for the 21st century Abstract

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Theeducation of structural engineers for the 21st century


Structuralengineers, like their name suggest, are engineers specialized inbuilding structures that are in a position to counter the natural andhuman forces such as wind and earthquakes. They build structures suchas bridges, houses, and skyscrapers. Education of structuralengineers is not as easy as one can imagine. Going to class alone andacquiring a degree is never enough. Much of their education shouldinvolve a lot of practical work and the constant relation of whatthey learn in the real world.

DavidBarnard Steinman, who was an American engineer, is a good example ofa structural engineer. The learning process is that he underwent anembodiment of the real education of structural engineers. Like allother engineers, Steinman started learning to engineer in collegewhere he went to the University of Columbia and did civilengineering. He later continued with his doctorate in the sameUniversity. During college, engineers learn a lot of theory aboutwhat they will do. Theory, however, accounts for less than 50% ofwhat they are supposed to know, and it, therefore, supplemented byhuge amounts of fieldwork. One advantage or benefit of college to theimprovement of the quality of the engineer produced is the projects.Before graduation, a student has to design his thesis. A thesis makespeople open minded, innovative and makes them think broad. Steinmanndid a thesis in his undergraduate titled ‘The design of the HenryHudson Memorial Bridge` and in his doctorate, he did &quotSuspensionBridges and Cantilevers: Their Economic Proportions and LimitingSpans&quot(Bruschi,95).

Engineersneed to learn from the past designers and past structures. Steinmandid a comprehensive study of bridges built in the past and especiallythe Tacoma Bridge, which collapsed in 1940. Using the Tacoma bridgestudy, he was able to derive mathematical computations forrelationship between the weight and depth of girders of bridges. Hecame up with many conclusions of how aerodynamic stability of bridgesought to be improved. Steinman specialized in suspension bridges. Outof his experience and the successful studies, he conducted he becamea very popular engineer. Steinmann said that it is unfortunate thattoday, engineers are made through a simple course and that is all.There is never production of the perfect engineers that were at thebeginning of formalization of engineering. The four-year course mayhave been adequate two generations ago, but the increasing content ofessential engineering knowledge and the growing recognition of thedesirability of a background of liberal arts and cultural studies fora professional man have altered the picture (Taerwe,81). Engineeringcolleges, institutions, and organizations, however, have realized theneed to have postgraduate studies and are slowly pushing for it.

Acomparison and discussion of similarities in leadership and trainingbetween Tedesko,

Freyssinetand Steinman

AntonTedesko is another structural engineer who shares similar experienceswith Steinmann. Born in 1994 (not long after Steinmann), he became aninternational engineer who designed and built great innovativestructures. Tedesko had his engineering education at the TechnicalUniversity of Vienna where he acquired a diploma in Civilengineering. Eugene Freyssinet, on the other hand, was also astructural engineer born in 1879. Like Steinman and unlike Tedesko,he attended both undergraduate and postgraduate. The three engineershad great accomplishments that no one can turn a blind eye on. Thethree engineers were great leaders and mentors to many upcomingengineers. It is surprising how Tedesko was not as highly educated asthe other two, but he was employed in many different placed as agreat engineer. However, this is very simple. As Steinman said, classwork entails very little of structural engineering. Engineers improvetheir skills by fieldwork and the way they prove their skills indifferent projects.


Bruschi,Maria Grazia. `Eminent Structural Engineer: David B. Steinman(1886–1960)`. StructuralEngineering International18.1 (2008): 95-97. Web

Taerwe,Luc. `Advanced Materials Engineering`. StructuralEngineering International10.2 (2000): 81-81. Web