1. You need to have a good grasp of "statics" and be able to draw free body
diagrams and follow load paths thru a structure.
2. You need to be able to translate analyses into construction drawings.
This is often a "weak link" for recent graduates since schools do not teach
this very well. If you can get a set of structural construction drawings
from an actual project, it would help to study the drawings to see if you
can follow the sequence and details of construction. And if you can get
architectural, mechanical, and electrical drawings as well, you can see how
different disciplines interrelate on a project.
3. You need to be able to function using both computers and manual methods.
Don't get into the habit of doing "everything" on the computer. Learn when
computers are most effective vs when manual methods are most effective.
4. When doing computer analyses, you need to be able to determine whether
the results are "reasonable". I recommend looking at various output from a
structural analysis program, especially including deflections and
deformations of a structure to see how a structure reacts to the applied
loads. Often errors can be found when the structure does not "behave" the
way you would expect it to. Also view plots of the input, moments, etc.
Don't just assume that the output is correct.
5. You should be able to review work done by someone else and be able to
"critique" it, i.e. note where there are errors, omissions, or
6. And you need to be able to communicate with others effectively.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Karma Yonten [mailto:kyonten(--nospam--at)seas.gwu.edu]
> Sent: Friday, April 27, 2001 10:47 AM
> To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
> Subject: advice
> Hello there,
> I'm a structural engineering student at GWU; I got my B.S. in
> physics, and I don't have much background in S.E. par se.
> What makes a good
> structural engineer, that is, what kind of tool and skill
> must you have? I'm
> studying a lot of theories, and that's what I've been doing
> all my life, but
> theories without applications seem pointless, and I've been
> quite frustrated
> with that. Studying is one thing and applying is quite
> another; they go
> together, but it doesn't mean that if you're good at
> theories, you'll be good
> at applying them because in reality there are a lot of things
> that you have to
> consider that studying theories often don't give you that
> experience. I'm
> interested in all aspects of structural engineering,
> designing, analysis etc.
> What are some of the good tools that you use daily, that I
> need to be familar
> or even have expertise on if I seriously thing about pursuing
> this career? I
> would be grateful if you could pass down some advice to a perspective
> structural engineer.
> Thanking you.
> Karma Yonten
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