Institution Member, David Knight, (31) is a structural engineer with engineering consultancy, COWI. He has helped design amazing projects around the world, like the Philippine Arena in Manilla, the West Kowloon Terminus building in Hong Kong and the Greenwich Reach Swing Bridge in London. Here he gives five reasons why structural engineering makes a great career.

Our ideas become reality

Structural engineers get a real sense of achievement when a project is finished, whether it is a skyscraper, a bridge or a house. It is a rush to touch something that you imagined and designed, knowing that your skills were instrumental in bringing it into being. We’re involved in creating record- breaking structures, beautiful structures, useful structures and sometimes just cool structures. It’s really rewarding work.

Our work lasts a long time

The work structural engineers do has an incredible, long-lasting impact. We design buildings to last for 50 years, and bridges for over a 100, so our structures will be used and enjoyed by thousands of people long after we’ve gone. We also breathe new life into old structures– renovating or changing the use of buildings that were designed decades ago and turning them to completely new purposes. 

We make the world safer 

Structural engineers make sure all our buildings and infrastructure are safe to use. We also help society address the biggest problems, from climate change to disaster relief. We build bridges, to help bring communities in developing nations out of isolation. We study how to make buildings stand up during earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. We help improve the way we build, minimising the impact construction has on our planet, and work to make the best use of limited resources. 

We solve problems

Structural engineers use many skills – from basic mathematical tools, through to physics, cutting-edge technology, and communication. I spend my days talking (in meetings, emails, and site visits), drawing (in pencil or on a computer), thinking and calculating. I meet hundreds of people in my job, and need to work collaboratively with them to make a success of our project. Most of all structural engineers are the problem solvers in design teams, designing solutions to the challenges construction projects throw up.

We are respected professionals

Structural engineering is not easy, but it rewards hard work. We are widely respected by other construction professionals for our skills, which are a vital part of unlocking the potential of a project, overcoming its challenges, and most of all, ensuring that it is safe.

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