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Omar Elnagar

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Graduate Member Omar Elnagar explains what inspired him to become a structural engineer, and why he wants to become a Chartered Member of IStructE.

"As a structural engineer I am improving people’s quality of life. I see my work as part of a beneficial cycle."
Omar Elnagar

What inspired you to become a structural engineer? 

I wanted to contribute to communities by building structures that would shape people’s lives. I was also attracted by the beauty behind the science of engineering. 

The Louvre of Abu Dhabi was a pivotal point in my life. Falling in love with this structure shaped my career by letting me understand the ‘whole’ rather than the ‘part’. 

It let me understand that being an engineer is not just about calculating the bending moments of a beam and designing the reinforcement of the element accordingly, but also about the purpose of the beam. It let me know that a beam is part of the whole structure that then shapes people’s lives. 

How would you define structural engineering?

Structural engineering is the science and art of making structures stand. It’s what gives us the opportunity to create imaginative structures – from glass bridges to skyscrapers whose ends cannot be seen on a cloudy day. It changes people’s lives by making ideas real. 

As a structural engineer I am improving people’s quality of life. I see my work as part of a beneficial cycle.

For instance I am now part of the team designing The Impact Centre, a music Venue in Edinburgh. When the structure is built, a five year old boy might visit the venue with his parents, discover a passion for classic music and the violin, and 20 years later perform in his own show at another music venue – built by another engineer, where another little boy discovers his own love for music in turn. 

This is structural engineering. It’s a relationship between man, structures, society, and culture.  

Who should become a structural engineer? 

It is a cliché that “people who are good at maths should be structural engineers”. Math and physics are not "the requirements" of becoming a structural engineer. 

What is a must is enthusiasm for creating and developing. It’s with this energy that people then pay attention to details, are able to memorise formulas and analyse numbers. It’s also this energy that is the reason structural engineers do what they do - they know the value they bring to society. 

Without this energy, a structure engineer would be a number crunching machine. It’s a career that suits people with dedication and with the ability of understanding the world as a whole not as a part. 

What do you find valuable about Graduate Membership?

Events and resources on the website. I also really enjoyed the 2019 Digital and Computational Design Conference. 

I am planning to work towards Chartered Membership as I want to play a substantial role in the fairness and integrity of our industry.

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