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A Brief Overview of History of Structural Engineering

Posted by: Hi-Tech | Posted on: December 26th, 2012

Structural engineering is a branch of science concerned with the design and analysis of various civil, mechanical, marine and aerospace structures. It is a wide branch and includes association and coordination with the other branches of engineering.

The professionals known as structural engineers deal in the designing of various structures such as the high rise buildings, bungalows, bridges, aircrafts, automobiles, ships, dams, stadiums and various other special structures. A structural engineer needs to have a thorough knowledge of the behavior of the solids and fluids as these are closely related to the structural loads.

Out of the various engineering disciplines, architectural engineering is considered as one of the oldest evolution having a long history. In the earlier days, structural engineering existed as a fine form of art rather than a science. The field relates its evolution with the period, when Imhotep, known as the first engineer in history, built the step pyramid for Pharaoh Djoser.

Science developed in a significant way in the Greek period and the Greek philosopher Pythagoras has played a prime role in the development of science and engineering. After Greeks, the Romans started implementing the scientific theories more practically. They built roads, bridges and stadiums. Pantheon was one of the most notable Roman constructions and is considered as one of the significant buildings in the structural history. The Romans got this success because of their precise surveying techniques.

Centuries later, in the 15th and 16th centuries; Leonardo da Vinci produced many architectural designs based on the scientific observations. By the 17th century, great scientists Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton and Robert Hooke laid the foundations of modern structural engineering.

In the year 1638, Galileo published ‘Dialogues Relating to Two New Sciences’, which outlined the sciences of the strength of the materials and the motion of the objects. Through this book, he established a scientific approach to structural engineering for the first time.

In the year 1676, Robert Hooke stated the Hooke’s law, which provided a scientific understanding of the elasticity of the materials and their behavior under different load conditions. In the year 1687, Sir Isaac Newton set out certain theories on the laws of motion. In the 17th century, both Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz independently developed the ‘Fundamental theorem of calculus’, which is now being used as one of the most important mathematical tools used in deriving the engineering phenomena.

In the 18th century, steel construction was first made possible. This happened when Henry Bessemer invented the Bessemer process to produce steel in the 1850s. During the late 19th century, great developments were undertaken in the use of cast iron and it gradually replaced wrought iron as a construction material.

In the early 21st centuries, the powerful development in the computer technology gave rise to more efficient structural engineering concepts. Finite element analysis is one such technique, which became a significant tool for the structural analysis and design of various types of models. In the present scenario, structural scientists and engineers have come up with highly advanced structural engineering principles and tools, which have a greater impact on each and every area, where structural engineering is being implemented.

Structural engineering is a branch of science concerned with the design and analysis of various civil, mechanical, marine and aerospace structures. It is a wide branch and includes association and coordination with the other branches of engineering.






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