Structural engineering — a specialty within the field of civil engineering — focuses on the framework of structures, and on designing those structures to withstand the stresses and pressures of their environment and remain safe, stable and secure throughout their use. In other words, structural engineers make sure that buildings don't fall down and bridges don't collapse.
Structural engineering is among the oldest types of engineering, dating back to the first instance of tree branches being lashed together with vines to make a shelter. Throughout recorded history, people have been designing and building increasingly larger and more sophisticated structures, from primitive huts to the International Space Station.
The names of the earliest practitioners of structural engineering are lost to antiquity. We will never know who designed the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Parthenon or the aqueducts of the Roman Empire. Some of the latter-day practitioners in this field are known, although often not as well as the structures they designed. Prominent structural engineers include Gustave Eiffel (Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty) and Eero Saarinen (Gateway Arch).
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