If you are an engineering student with an emphasis in structural engineering, you may be wondering what career paths are open to you beyond the obvious choices. One of the options you may not have considered is becoming a consultant. If you aren't sure this is an ideal option for you, you may want to consider what a structural engineering consultant actually does.
As a consultant, you may come across cases were the client has the idea in mind, but the idea may not work in the environment or conditions the client has chosen. For example, they may want to build a beachside hotel, but the land may not be able to support the structure due to erosion from the tides and other environmental issues. The job of the consultant would be to step in and help re-design aspects of the hotel or the foundation in order to thrive in the environment and its conditions.
This could mean a complete re-design of a structure, or it could mean a few simple changes to the initial design, like removing or adding building extensions. You may also be tasked with keeping to the client's budget during this task as well.
There is a push by many development companies to go green and to build structures that help, rather than hurt, the environment. An option for a structural engineer considering consulting is to go with environmental consulting. This option will allow you to work with environmental companies and with your clients to ensure you aren't destroying wetlands or contributing to the breakdown of the environment in any way. You can also help design buildings that use solar, water, or wind power to operate part of the structure's operations.
You may not think of surveying as part of the structural engineering consulting options, but it can be. Some structural engineering firms will hire consultants to work with the surveyors to lay out building ideas and designs prior to the ground breaking process. You can decide the best area for the building based on the surveys and help the client avoid any issues that may come up due to the lay of the land.
There are some cases where you can combine all three of these consulting options in order to work with a client through every step of the structural engineering process. If these sound like options you would like to pursue, consider a consultation with someone working as a consultant, such as those at Jeffrey Hills and Associates. They can give you a strong insight into what to expect and other options you may not have considered.