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In the ever-evolving world of engineering, professional qualifications play a crucial role in shaping the careers of individuals and fostering their professional growth. For structural engineers, obtaining and maintaining professional qualifications is not only a matter of personal development but also a gateway to success in their field. In this blog post, we will explore the significant benefits that professional qualifications offer to structural engineers, highlighting the advantages they bring to individuals, their employers, and the broader industry.

One of the primary benefits is the development of enhanced technical competence. These qualifications typically encompass comprehensive training and education, ensuring that engineers acquire a solid foundation of knowledge and skills. Through rigorous coursework and examinations, engineers gain a deeper understanding of core concepts, cutting-edge technologies, and industry best practices. This enables them to stay updated with the latest advancements in the field and enhances their problem-solving abilities. This technical competence becomes a continual process, which is captured in a yearly CPD record (typically undertaking a minimum of 30 hours per year).

Professional qualifications provide a boost in credibility and industry recognition. Earning a recognized qualification, such as becoming a Chartered Engineer (CEng) or a Professional Engineer (PE), demonstrates a high level of competence and adherence to ethical standards. It validates an engineer's expertise, experience, and commitment to upholding professional integrity, making them stand out among their peers. This recognition not only opens doors to new opportunities but also fosters trust and confidence from clients, employers, and regulatory bodies.

Acquiring professional qualifications broadens the horizons for structural engineers in terms of career opportunities. Many organizations and clients specifically seek qualified professionals to lead and manage complex projects. These demonstrate an engineer's ability to handle challenging assignments and provide assurance of their competence. Additionally, they often lead to membership in professional bodies or societies, which offer networking opportunities, and access to exclusive resources. Such networks can be invaluable in connecting with industry leaders and staying updated with the latest technology.

Structural engineering involves a significant degree of responsibility, as the safety and integrity of buildings and infrastructure are at stake. Professional qualifications ensure that engineers adhere to established standards and regulations, promoting public safety and mitigating risks. By staying informed about current codes and guidelines, qualified engineers can effectively design, analyse, and assess structures with a higher level of accuracy and reliability. This compliance not only protects the public but also safeguards engineers themselves from potential legal and ethical consequences.

In the competitive landscape of structural engineering, professional qualifications offer numerous benefits that can propel an engineer's career to new heights. From enhanced technical competence and industry recognition to expanded career opportunities and regulatory compliance, these qualifications serve as a testament to an engineer's expertise and dedication. As the field continues to evolve, investing in professional qualifications becomes increasingly vital for structural engineers who aspire to excel, make a positive impact, and contribute to the advancement of their profession.

Finite element analysis showing stress results

When obscure engineering problems present themselves, Engineers often turn straight to analysis software to build a model and try and solve the problem.

The prevalent use of software in structural engineering is fantastic at providing us with fast answers which would otherwise have taken much longer to approximate.

However, as the old saying goes:

‘more haste, less speed!’

Mistakes can happen and it is incredibly important in the modern engineering landscape to verify the results of the software to ensure they are correct.

Here’s our internal process for verifying results:

Check the Deflected Shape

Deflections are the very first sense check for any engineering analysis. If we know the geometry of the structure, how the connections are formed and how the loads are applied, we can approximate the deflected shape before even hitting the ‘run’ button.

“If it looks right, or wrong - it probably is.”

Once satisfied that the deflected shape is as expected, the value and order of magnitude are the next indicators, again if the values are as expected, the assessment appears to be on the right track.

Check Applied Loads and Reactions

As Newton’s third law states:

“To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”

This is a fundamental verification tool in it’s simplicity.

For structural design applications, generally speaking we are designing structures that are static by nature (i.e. not moving), therefore we can easily check that all loads that we apply to the structure are carried through to the supports and all sum to zero.

Hand Calculations are Still Relevant!

With the increase in reliance on engineering and analysis programs, comes the risk of calculations being undertaken undercover or in a ‘black box’.

In the days before the mainstream use of these programs. Engineers designed from hand calculations, rules of thumb and first principles. These skills are still relevant today (if not more so than before) and we encourage all our engineers to perform basic calculations to verify all FEA results.

In summary, verification of engineering output is a critical element of the design phase, always be sceptical of all computer output and build engineering judgement!

Get in Touch!

Do you have a project that you wish to discuss? Please get in touch for a no obligation discussion.

Sustainable urban drainage (SUDS)

The importance of considering climate change and flood risk in building development proposals is now more prevalent than ever, as demonstrated in recent years by the significant storms that have struck across the country.

Local planning policy for development applications quite rightly now consider drainage and SuDS proposals as a key driver in determining planning permission. Across many planning authorities, the requirement for SuDS applies to all types of development, whether on brownfield or greenfield sites and for minor and major developments.

The need for a fully detailed SuDS strategy, flood risk assessment and drainage design for all major applications at submission stage is a given, however a common misconception is that the need to apply SuDS policy to smaller projects does not apply. This is simply not the case, and we are finding that we are often brought in at a later stage, after planning permission has been applied for, to retrospectively incorporate a SuDS strategy to a developed scheme. These projects can range from small scale retail stores to residential extensions, where space is almost always limited. Even on small brownfield sites, many planning authorities now require a reduction in discharge rates to match greenfield run-off, or as close to.

A key point to consider is that we as engineers and developers have a responsibility to improve on current flood risk (on and off-site), rather than simply maintaining the status quo.

The days where drainage design is only considered to be pipes and manholes are now gone, and it is crucial that civil engineers are brought onboard as early as possible to work with architects to drive site layouts and provide support on potential locations for above-ground SuDS. These types of SuDS solutions such as the overflow lagoon pictured above, located just outside of Subteno’s office, provides not only flood storage but also improves biodiversity, water quality and visual amenity to the local community.

How Subteno Can Help ?

Subteno are experts in drainage and infrastructure design. As such engaging with us early in the design process ensures a fully considered SuDS solution to the complex challenges that sites can present. Subteno are well versed and experienced in developing designs that meet the requirements of both regional and national planning policies and frameworks, allowing us to produce outline schemes for feasibility studies or land acquisition evaluations that we can follow through to detailed design and construction.

With this expertise, we’re able to engage with Lead Local Flood Authorities before any planning application is submitted, allowing for many questions to be answered and solutions agreed in the early project stages, alleviating many headaches that occur as part of the subsequent statutory consultation process. This early consultation process can help avoid tricky planning conditions, thereby expediting the start-on-site date.

We work with developers of all sizes to help realise their aspirations for a site, whilst simultaneously developing drainage strategies that ensure an ongoing low flood risk, to both site users and the public (downstream of the site). The environment is at the forefront of our designs and as such we always ensure the required SuDS treatment train is implemented to remove pollutants from run-off before it leaves the site boundary. Look out for our upcoming blog where we use a case study to show how even the most constrained sites with complicated ground conditions can have effective drainage design implemented to reduce flood risk and provide suitable treatment measures to stormwater run-off.

What we can offer? Using the latest technology and knowledge, we work with clients ranging from popular high street retailers and nationwide distribution centre operators to regional housebuilders and individual property owners to deliver the following:

  • Site-specific Flood Risk Assessments in accordance with the NPPF

  • Detailed SuDS and Drainage Strategy reports with supporting calculations and drawings

  • Environmental Impact Assessments and Environmental Statement Chapters

  • Feasibility studies to support costing or land acquisition reviews

  • Cut & Fill terrain modelling & analysis to drive a zero-to-landfill approach

  • Standalone Drainage/SuDS designs to satisfy pre-existing planning conditions

Get in Touch!

Do you have a project that you wish to discuss? Please get in touch for a no obligation discussion.

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