General FAQ

General FAQ

1-The Differences Between a Structural Engineer and an Architectural Engineer?

Architectural and structural engineers both work in the area of civil engineering. Architectural engineers specialize in a building’s essential systems, whereas structural engineers are more concerned with the nature of the structure itself. Both play an essential role in ensuring the quality and safety of a modern building.

          Structural Engineering: A structural engineer reviews a structure’s design to determine that it will hold up to gravity, wind and other forces. He ensures the materials used to construct the building will support its weight. A structural engineer works with an architect to ensure the soundness of a structure, whether it is a home, a high-rise or a bridge.

          Architectural Engineering: An architectural engineer designs a building's essential systems, such as lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, plumbing and acoustics. Architectural engineers also design the building’s safety systems, such as fire prevention and fire suppression systems, emergency exits and security systems. Like a structural engineer, an architectural engineer coordinates his efforts with the architect.

2-The Differences Between a Structural Engineer and a Civil Engineer?

Structural Engineering is part of the Civil Engineering specialties such as (roads, hydraulic structures, sewer system, bridges...etc). In other words, civil engineering is more general than structural engineering.

They differ in several aspects. For example, civil engineering focuses more attention in design elements while structural engineering is more concern on inspecting materials to be used for the construction. They ensure that the materials being used for construction can support the design of the structure.

To sum it up, civil engineering is a broad subject which covers structural engineering. It’s a first degree course offered in universities which results in a bachelor degree. On the other hand, structural engineering is a subject under civil engineering and is taught to students taking up the course. However, it is also a specialization which leads to a master's degree or a doctorate.

3-How to Select a Structural Engineer ?

Licensed civil and structural engineers are state-registered professionals qualified to perform civil and structural engineering based on their advanced education, training, technical knowledge and experience. In California, a licensed civil engineer may practice structural engineering on all facilities except hospitals and schools.

A licensed structural engineer has three years of responsible charge experience in structural engineering after registration as a civil engineer and has passed a specialized examination in structural engineering. In California, a structural engineer may perform structural analysis and design on any type of structure, including hospitals, schools and essential facilities.

4- Why do we need an structural engineer for our projects? What Structural Engineers Provide?

  • Expertise regarding the structural analysis and design of structures.
  • Determination of lateral forces, such as wind and seismic, on structures.
  • Selection of framing systems and recommendations for construction and economic feasibility.
  • Assessments of existing building vulnerabilities.  
  • Coordination and preparation of plans, calculations, specifications and reports.
  • Knowledge of common construction materials such as steel, concrete, wood and masonry.

5-When a Licensed Professional Engineer is Required?

Your city or county Building and Safety Department, Department of Public Works, Planning Department, or municipal utility will be able to advise you about code requirements and what permits, plans, and maps are required, if any. These agencies can also inform you specifically when a professional engineer or professional land surveyor is required.

All civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering final plans, specifications, and reports must:

  • be prepared by a registered engineer or by a subordinate under his or her direction;
  • contain the engineer's signature and seal or stamp;
  • if multiple pages or sheets have been prepared, the signature and seal/stamp need only appear on the original plans and on the original title sheets.

Before you attempt to design or alter structures, prepare surveys, or hire an unregistered person to prepare your project, you may want to consider the following:

  • Unregistered or unlicensed persons are allowed to perform engineering or land surveying services for you only if they are working under the responsible charge and direct supervision of a registered professional engineer or licensed professional land surveyor.
  • Responsible charge relates to the span or degree of control a professional engineer or professional land surveyor is required to maintain and to the decisions which can be made only by a professional engineer or professional land surveyor.
  • Contact your local city or county building officials and/or county surveyor's office. Local officials will be familiar with factors of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as the local environmental conditions in various areas of the state, such as snow loads, high winds, earthquake activity, or tidal action.

6-How much does it cost to hire an structural engineer?

Any discussion about working with a structural engineer must begin with an emphasis on the need to avoid looking for ways to "cut corners". This is because the work performed by any structural engineer is going to ensure the stability of a building. For example, load-bearing walls, foundations, and even design approval will all land on the desk of the modern structural engineer.

Pricing on their work tends to consider a few factors that other professions do not. For instance, the length of time that a structural engineer has worked in their field will usually increase the prices they demand for their services.

7- What is the scope of services of structural engineer?

Structural Engineer’s services encompass a wide range covering, broadly Conceptualization, including associating with architects or other Professionals to arrive at an optimal design solution

  • Design Development
  • Detailed Design
  • Detailed Structural Drawings
  • Structural Specifications
  • Quality assurance
  • Management of Projects
  • Risk Assessment – Safety Standards & Structural Integrity
  • structural repair, rehabilitation & retrofitting

8- How to find a structural engineer?

Through IAStructE members directory.

9- What are the special skills of a structural engineer?

Structural Engineer has to necessarily acquire specialist skills to effectively fulfill his/her obligations towards creation of safe and economical structures by: 

  • Conceptualizing forms that are appropriate to the purpose of each structure, with particular consideration of the impact on the built environment
  • Selecting materials that are appropriate for each structure, with particular emphasis on durability
  • Sizing structural members so that they are fit for the purpose, neither so large that they are uneconomical nor so small that they are unsafe
  • Understanding the nature of soil and subsurface conditions, with a view to ensuring that foundations are strong enough but not extravagant
  • Demanding and ensuring construction procedures that ensure that the product is of    high quality
  • Communicating effectively with all members of the design