Structural Engineering

structural banner 3Structural engineer, abbreviated as SE, uses physics principles and materials to designs projects like bridges, buildigs, industrial facilities and tunnels.  Structural engineers are responsible for the stability of the buildings and facilities, not the design or looks like an architect.



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Nomenclature & Symbols



Nomenclature, Symbols, and Units


Structural Engineering GlossaRy


  • Aggregate  -  A mixture of sand and stone with the major component concrete.
  • Axial Force  -  A force that tends to stretch or shorten a member.


  • Bar Spacing  -  The minimum spacing that should allow the largest expected concrete gravel size to pass between the bars freely.
  • Beam  -  The main part of the structural framing that carries loads from one member to another on its horizontal axis.
  • Beam Loading  -  The application of a load to a pipe between two points of support usually expressed in pounds and the distance between the centers of the support.
  • Bend Allowance  -  The length of the arc through the bend area at the neutral axis.
  • Bending Strength  -  Upper limit of normal stress of a beam at which fracture or excessive plastic deformation occurs.
  • Boulder Wall  -  A wall constructed of boulders and set in morter.
  • Bracing  -  The stiffening of an area between columns by means of diagonal elements.


  • Collapse Slump  -  The fresh concrete collapses completely.
  • Column  -  A vertical structural compression member which supports loads.
  • Compressive Stress   -  The force that is responsible for the deformation of the material such that the volume of the material reduces.
  • Concrete  -  A composite material that is created by mixing binding materials, aggregates, and water in specific porportions.
  • Concrete Slump  -  An on the spot test to determine the consistancy and workability of fresh concrete.
  • Connection  -  Joins members to transfer forces or moments from one to the other.
  • Cope  -  A cutout made in a structural member to remove materialand conform to the shape of an intersecting member.
  • Corrosion  -  A process through which metal deterioates and returns to its natural oxidation state by a chemical reaction.
  • Creep  -  Metal deformation that occures at stresses below the yield strength of a metal, normally at elevated temperature.


  • Dead Load  -  The full weight or pressure applied downward to a fixed location on the ground and relatively constant over time.  The weight is usually measured in pounds per square foot (psf).  The dead load can be calculated accurately because the load is constant.
  • Deflection  -  The change in the position of something from zero or from its normal position.
  • Deformation  -  Is measured by how much an object is deformed from its origional dimensions.

  • Distributed Load (Uniform Load)  -  A force evenly distributed along a supportive structure.
  • Dynamic Load  -  Cyclic load, such as gusty wind and seismic loads.


  • Elastic Modulus  -  The ratio of the stress applied to a body or substance to the resulting strain within the elastic limits.
  • Elasticity  -  Measures the stiffness of an elastic material.
  • Expansion Joint  -  Designed to withstand pressure and temperatures growth in foundations and piping system.  The thermal movement can be angular, axial or lateral.


  • Factor of Safety  -  The ability of a system's structural capacity to be usable beyond it's expected or acrual loads.
  • Fixed connection  -  A connection that resists axial forces, shear forces, and bending moments.
  • Footing  -  A structural member used to distribute the loads to the soil in such a way that the load bearing capacity of the soil is not exceded for building or structure foundation, walls and columns.
  • Force  -  The push or pull of an object resulting in a change from rest or motion.
  • Foundation  -  Supports a building or structure and transfers the load level across the soil.
  • Friction  -  The mechanical resistance to the relative movement of two surfaces.


  • Girder  -  A type of the beam that supports other smaller beams.
  • Grout  -  A mixture of Portland cement, sand, water, and other elements used for bonding concrete and steel members.


  • Hardness  -  The property of a material that enables it to resist plastic deformation, usually by penetration.
  • Header  -  A beam that is perpendicular to a joist.
  • Heat  -  A form of energy that causes physical change in what is being heated. 





  • Lap Joint  -  The joint between two overlapping connections in parallel planes.
  • Laterial Bracing  -  Provides in-plane laterial stability like diagonal bracing, shear walls, or other means.
  • Laterial Load  -  Acting in a laterial direction, created by the wind or an earthquake.
  • Lightweight Concrete  -  This concrete has strengthening properties that are not the same as normal concretes, with the mixing of binding materials, a lighter aggregate, and water in specific porportions.
  • Live load  -  These are the dynamic forces from occupancy and use.  They are the forces that move through the building such as momentum and vibration.  The live load can not be calculated accurately because the load is not constant.
  • Load per Unit Length   -  The load applied per unit length of the pipe.


  • Mass  -  The amount of matter an object has.
  • Material  -  The matter an object is made of.  There are four categories of material: ceramic, composite, metal and polymer.
  • Material Hardness  -  Hardness is the property of a material that enables it to resist plastic deformation, usually by penetration.
  • Moment of Inertia  -  Measures the resists or change an object has to rotational acceleration about an axis. 


  • Net Area  -  Gross areareduced to account for removing material.
  • Nominal Load  -  The magnitude of the load specified by the applicable code.


  • Oxidation  -  The loss of electrons in a chemical reaction.


  • Pipe Rack  -  Used to support piping, instrumentation, cable tray and other components in a process facility.
  • Plate Girder  -  A fabricated girder by which welding plates togeather creates the desired shape.
  • Point Load  -  A load or force located at a certain point on a supporting structure.  This is the opposite of uniform load.
  • Pressure  -  It is the force exerted perpendicular to the surface of an object and is expressed as force per unit area.



  • Radius of Gyration  -  The distance from the axis of rotation to a point where the total mass of the body is supposed to be concentrated.
  • Reinforced Concrete  -  Concrete containing steel reinforcement (steel rods or mesh) provides resistance to internal forces that weaken the structure.
  • Rolled Steel Girder  -  A fabricated girder by which rolling a blank cylinder of steel through a series of dies creates the desired shape.


  • Safety Factor  -  The ability of a system's structural capacity to be usable beyond it's expected or acrual loads.
  • Seismic Load  -  Loads produced during a seismic movements of an earthquake.
  • Shear Modulus  -  The ratio of the tangential force per unit area applied to a body or substance to the resulting tangential strain within the elastic limits.
  • Shear Slump  -  If one half of the cone slides down an inclined plane.
  • Shear Stress  - Tends to deform the material by breaking rather than stretching without changing the volume by restraining the object.
  • Shear Wall  -  A structural member used to resist laterial forces parallel to the plane of the wall.
  • Slurry  -  The measurement of the height loss from a compacted cone of fresh concrete.
  • Span  -  The distance between the supports.
  • Stiffness  -  The elastic deformation of an object that applies to both compression and tension.
  • Strain  -  The deformation, stretched or compressed, of a material compared to its original length.

  • Static Friction Coefficient  -  The amount of force that resists motion that is on the verge of motion.
  • Stress  -  The force per unit area of cross-section.


  • Temperature  -  Normally described as the amount of heat or cold, but it is neither heat or cold.
  • Tensile Strength  -  The maximum stress a material can resist before it starts to elongate.
  • Tension  -  The force (pulling or stretching) acting on a material.
  • Tension Strength  -  The capacity of a material to resist a force tending to stretch it.
  • Thermal Expansion Coefficient  -  The percentage change in the length of the material per degree of temperature change, heated solid or liquid.
  • Tie Plate  -  A metal plate used to tie parallel parts of a building structure.
  • Torque  -  It is a measure of how much twisting is applied.
  • Torsion  -  The stress of twisting of an object due to applied torque.
  • Torsional Bracing  -  A bracing that prevents the stress of twisting of an object due to applied torque.
  • Triangular Load  -  A force distributed along a supportive structure whose magnitude is zero at one end and increases constantly to the second end of the span.
  • True Slump  -  The concrete just slumps a little and more or less maintains its moulding shape.


  • Uniform Load (Uniformally Distributed Load)  -  A force evenly distributed along a supportive structure.  This is the opposite of point load.



  • Web  -  The middle plate of a beam or channel.
  • Web Buckling  -  A limit state of lateral instability of a web.
  • Weephole  -  A hole that allows water to escape from, such as the bottom of a pipe support to stop corrosion, or from behind a retaining wall to relieve pressure.
  • Welding  -  The fabrication process that fuses like materials togeather by heating them to a suitable temperatures, this can be acomplished by brazing, soldering or welding.



  • Yield Point  -  The point where an elastic material is permanent change in length with no extra load force.


  • Zero Slump  -  The fresh concrete maintaines the actual shape of the mould.



Display #
Anchor Tee Pipe Support
Angle Iron Pipe Support
Beam Bending Stress
Beam Design Formulas
Beam Fixed at Both Ends - Concentrated Load at Any Point