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Laura Legnani MIStructE

Laura Legnani became a Chartered Member in 2018. Here she defines structural engineering and the sort of people who make good engineers.

What inspired you to become a structural engineer? 

I’ve always been interested in understanding how structures work and stand. I started working at Robert Bird Group in October 2013 and I’ve been working there for the last five and a half years. I have been lucky enough to work with some great people that mentored me and guided me into the engineer I am today. In particular, I have great admiration for my first team leader. I often look up at him as an example of the engineer I want to be. 

What are the greatest achievements in your career? 

I’m proud of all the projects I worked on. One that gave me a lot of gratification is Meygen Phase 1A project, which won the 2017 Structural Award for structures in extreme conditions. Chartered Membership is of course another great personal achievement. 

How would you define structural engineering? 

Structural engineering is that part of engineering that allows any structure (hospitals, offices, houses, bridges, etc) to stand safely. Structural engineering is everywhere. It’s our home and our workplace. It’s the factories where our cars are made and energy is produced. It’s our hospitals, schools, cinemas, train stations and airports. 

Who should become a structural engineer? 

When I was a student, I thought that structural engineering was only about numbers and calculations. Of course technical skills are very important, but so is the ability to communicate with others (architects, services engineers, builders, etc) as well as taking the time to go on site looking at how things are built and how we can make it easier and safer for workers. 

Ultimately, as a structural engineer, you should always ask yourself ‘how does it work?’, ‘how do I make it work?’, ‘is there a better way to solve this problem?’. Answering these questions on a daily basis is what defines you as a structural engineer. 

And you can answer these questions only if you have an all-around understanding of what you’re trying to build, how is going to be built and used, what functionalities it requires. And you will often work very closely with other parties (architects, service engineers, builder specialists, etc,) to find the best solution to these questions.

What does Chartered Membership mean to you?

I worked towards IStructE Chartered Membership because it progresses my career and is recognised worldwide, opening up better working opportunities abroad.

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