Structural and civil engineering are the oldest forms of engineering and some of the earliest professions. They were developed with the rise of ancient civilizations thousands of years ago. As buildings became bigger and more complex, the profession became more advanced and enabled the construction of complicated and sustainable structures. However, structural engineering is now seeing tremendous developments in the fields of information technology, computational methods, visualization technologies, and artificial intelligence.
The basic practice of structural engineering was the same until the rise of finite element analysis-based computing around 50 years ago. FEM (or FEA) software allows structural engineers to accurately predict internal forces, deformations, and stresses in complex structures. One of the first building designs to use finite element analysis in a significant way was the roof of the Sydney Opera House during the 1960s and 1970s.
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) (2007) has defined in its 2025 vision future civil engineers as master planners, designers, constructors, operators of society’s economic and social engine, innovators, and integrators of ideas and technology across the public, private and academic sectors.