The “Marvelous” Structural Engineer
Greetings fellow structural engineers! While I was resting after a jog, I idly flipped through a continuing education catalog. A course title caught my eyes “The Marvel of Everyday Structures”. What marvel? It really jarred me thinking about that. Truth to be told, it has been so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day processes of managing engineering projects that I have lost sight of that marvel that we, the structural engineers, do every day.
As a practicing consulting engineer, your day can be easily filled with a mind numbing series of emails, of phone calls, of questions. There is no “marvel” in reviewing the testing lab reports; in looking through your construction drawings to find the answer to the “urgent” RFI that the contractor’s field engineer has just sent through. There is no “marvel” in spending hours looking at your structural analysis model to figure out why it is that the framing that you’ve come up with did not work the way you thought it should. There is certainly no “marvel” in reading through the chapters in the International Building Code to find the answer to the code official’s question on the building permit of a project that you have just submitted.
Yes, the day-to-day processes of what we do can easily wear one down. But, once in a while, we need to stop for a moment and appreciate that what we do, is truly marvelous. We, the structural engineers, bring forth buildings that began as an idea borne out of an architect’s mind. We, the structural engineers, bring to life the soaring bridge arches that let travelers experience the vastness of a canyon up close. We, the structural engineers, bring to reality the ocean-travelling vessels that to allow for commerce to flourish. We, the structural engineers, first built cable footbridges that allowed far-flung villagers to cross raging rivers to go to market.
I need to remind myself that. And let us meet once a month to remind ourselves that it is truly a marvel of what we do.
See you at our monthly meeting.
Tan Tran, PE