What Does a Structural Engineer Do?

Structural Engineers specialise in ensuring that load-bearing structures are designed and built properly so that they will remain stable. They often work as part of an engineering or construction team, combining office-based and on-site duties.

They offer services such as detailed seismic assessment (DSA) and structural strengthening design, retrofitting and building performance peer review. They also work on existing structure repairs and earthquake damage assessments.

Seismic Design

Seismic design involves the analysis of civil engineering structures and buildings to reduce the risk they pose during an earthquake. This includes studying the properties and manufacture of concrete, steel and timber structural products and determining design loads according to the New Zealand loading standards.

The recent Kaikoura earthquake highlighted that there is a gap in public expectations of the seismic assessment process. Many people think that a building identified as %NBS earthquake prone will require extensive repair and even demolition. This confusion is exacerbated by the fact that tenants engage their own engineering firms to determine a rating for their specific building and that these ratings can differ.

The reality is that a building’s rating is determined by engineers who use the %NBS earthquake ratings as minimum design criteria. Engineers are aware that a building may have more or less damage than the %NBS rating suggests and that performance in one earthquake cannot be guaranteed to be consistent with a different event.

Structural Strengthening

Structural strengthening involves enhancing the existing load capacity of concrete structures, including buildings and bridges. This can be necessary due to changes in building use, increased demands on the structure or structural faults. It can also be used to alleviate stresses caused by natural disasters or restore the original load capacity of damaged structural elements.

Structural engineering is a complex field that requires great maths skills, attention to detail, and the ability to manage time and budgets. Civil engineers need to be well organised and have good communication skills, so they can work effectively with construction teams.

Working on these projects is a hugely rewarding and fulfilling experience. The knowledge that you’ve helped build a better world is truly amazing. If you’re interested in learning more about this rewarding career, you should consider studying civil engineering at one of the many prestigious universities in New Zealand. Their programs are designed to help you achieve your goals while experiencing this beautiful country.


Structural engineers Auckland make sure buildings are designed and built properly so that they will be safe and stable. They also monitor structures during construction and review them after they’re completed. They can work in offices or on-site, depending on their responsibilities.

During the post-earthquake Christchurch rebuild, structural engineering  firms performed many retrofitting projects. These included assessing damage to existing buildings, foundation and superstructure repairs design and construction monitoring.

Soft-story seismic retrofitting is a technique for making older, soft-story buildings more earthquake safe. This process increases a building’s lateral stiffness and strength. However, it can’t make buildings earthquake proof.

It’s possible to strengthen existing walls, add new “shear walls” or even install a steel frame in soft areas of the building. But these measures can be expensive and time consuming. They also may not be ideal for all building types. Other methods are less invasive and more cost-effective, such as adding additional drywall or reinforcing existing columns.

Building Performance Peer Review

In addition to preventing design mistakes, peer evaluations in construction projects can help elevate craftsmanship and ensure that all building plans meet high-quality standards. The benefits of this process are numerous and can have a significant impact on the final outcome of any project.

Review processes provide industry expertise, which helps ensure that designs comply with all regulatory requirements. This can prevent future legal repercussions and potential project delays down the line.

Peer reviews can also identify opportunities for incorporating eco-friendly materials and energy-efficient designs into projects. This not only improves sustainability but also contributes to the preservation of the natural environment.

If you are interested in becoming a structural engineer, consider earning a degree at an accredited institution. A four-year bachelor’s degree is typically sufficient, but a postgraduate qualification can improve your employability. In addition, it is helpful to participate in professional development courses to increase your qualifications. Structural engineering is a unique field that demands a highly skilled and versatile individual.

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