The structural engineer is involved in the design, construction, repair, and retrofit of all types of structures: buildings, bridges, dams, and many others. The safety of the structures we occupy and utilize every day is the responsibility of structural engineers. They must be able to evaluate the loads placed on a structure, determine their effects on the structure, and select the appropriate materials and structural elements, or repair strategy, to withstand these loads. Today’s structural engineer is using new space materials in the design of new structures or the retrofit of older structures.
Mathematics, physics, and materials science constitute a foundation for structural engineering. Structural analysis and design are added to this foundation and become the focus of the structural engineering program. Graduate students in the structures program also engage in structural mechanics, numerical methods, structural dynamics, geotechnical engineering, and the study of new structural materials. Current research in the structures area is focusing on the dynamic characteristics of structures, their potential response to earthquakes, and new seismic retrofit measures, using advanced composite materials, for older structures. Materials research is focusing on cementious materials and constitutive modeling.