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“Practice of engineering means any professional service or creative work requiring education, training, experience, and the application of advanced knowledge of mathematics and physical sciences, involving the constant exercise of discretion and judgment, to such services or work as consultation, investigation, evaluation, planning, design, responsible oversight of construction, and responsible oversight of operation, in connection with any public or private utilities, structure, buildings, machines, equipment, processes, works, or projects, wherein the public welfare, or the safeguarding of life, health or property is concerned.” PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING NH STATUTE CHAPTER 310-A

About Structural Engineering

Structural engineering is a branch of civil engineering with many applications. Most structural engineers are engaged in the design of buildings, bridges, retaining

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walls, culverts dams or other similar structures. There are amusement rides, communications towers and power generating faculties that require vast amounts of structural engineering as well. The structural engineer is responsible for selecting the appropriate materials, layout of structural systems and sizes of members to safely resist calculated forces which will act upon the structure. Occupancy, snow, wind and earthquake forces must be resisted by the selected structural system and a load path developed to transfer those forces through to the foundations and eventually to the ground. Structural engineers are, therefore, typically responsible for designing the foundations in the ground that support buildings, bridges and other structures that are exposed to those external forces above the ground.

Structural engineers provide services primarily as consultants to others, including architects, contractors, municipalities, federal, state and local governments, businesses and home owners. Using steel, concrete, masonry, wood, and other materials, the engineer determines the appropriate member sizes and layouts so the structure will perform the intended function. Those functions vary widely from safely crossing a river to conveying screaming passengers on a roller coaster or protecting you in your own home during a winter nor’easter. After the design is completed and the construction drawings are prepared, structural engineers are often involved in the field with construction observations to ensure that the structures are constructed in accordance with the design intent.

Structural engineers are generally consulted for the design of new structures, assessing existing structures, renovating structures for new uses or additions, designing temporary supports or engineering the safe deconstruction of a structure. The NH Department of Safety State Building Code Review Board has set standard building codes for the design of new and renovated buildings and other structures while the NH Department of Transportation has specified design standards for a variety of transportation related structures. These state standards rely heavily on national standards and reference documents that are regularly updated to include enhanced engineering understanding of how materials behave and to improve public safety.

Licensure:

Structural Engineers are professionals closely tied to public safety and must be licensed with the state in which they practice. Generally speaking, a licensed engineer has a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in civil or structural engineering and at least four years of experience working under the direct supervision of a licensed engineer. After obtaining these credentials the engineer must pass a licensing exam in order to demonstrate their abilities to become a licensed engineer in their field of practice. To encourage them to keep abreast of the ever changing design codes and standards, many states, including NH, require licensed professional engineers to complete a minimum amount of continuing education hours relevant to their practice of engineering during each renewal period. Before retaining a structural engineer, SENH recommends that you check their licensing status on the NH PE Board’s website.

Certifications:

In addition to state licensing as professional engineers, some structural engineers obtain additional certifications in their specialty. The Structural Engineering Certification Board is an independent national organization that reviews credentials of practicing structural engineers and certifies that they have “…unique and additional qualities necessary to perform structural engineering.” Structural engineers who have been reviewed and certified by the Structural Engineering Certification Board are then permitted to be identified by the addition of SECB after their name. For more information on this certification, visit the SECB website, www.secertboard.org. Their Q&A page on their site is very helpful to understanding certification. It is very similar to board certifications in their specialty for physicians. Since many states do not license professional engineers in their specialty, this certification is another way for structural engineers to demonstrate their engineering specialty.

The US Green Building Council is promoting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, among design professional in an effort to construct buildings and structures that are more energy efficient and friendly to the environment. Design professionals who have demonstrated a thorough understanding of green building practices and principles and a familiarity with LEED requirements, resources and processes, can, by a process of study and examination, become LEED certified. LEED AP is the more common certification achieved by design professionals and will be appended to their name and licensing credentials. For more information on this certification, visit the US Green Building Council’s website, www.usgbc.org and specifically, www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CategoryID=19 for LEED information.