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When I was 16 I had a Saturday job as a shelf-stacker at a local supermarket. One day, during a tea break, a co-worker asked me what I did the rest of the week. I explained that I had just done O Levels and was going on to do A Levels. I told him how many and in which subjects. He then asked me about my career aspirations (not his exact words). I explained that I wanted to become an engineer. His aghast response was: ‘What! With all those qualifi cations?’ Engineers suffer from a lack of public perception of what their profession entails – many people think we spend our days in the suburbs, mending washing machines and televisions.
Architects are more fortunate in this respect – the public have a better grasp of their profession: ‘They design buildings, don’t they?’ Public perceptions aside, careers in both civil engineering and architecture can be extremely rewarding. There are few other careers where individuals can be truly creative, often on a massive scale. The civil engineering profession offers a variety of working environments and a large number of specialisms within civil engineering. Civil engineers have opportunities to work all over the world, on projects large and small, and could come into contact with a wide variety of people, from the lowest worker on a construction site to government officials and heads of state.
At the start of the 21st century there is a huge demand for civil engineers and many young people (and some not so young!) are realising that this is a profession well worth entering. Traditionally, students embarking on university courses in civil engineering would have A Levels in subjects such as mathematics, physics and chemistry. However, for a variety of reasons, many of today’s potential students have A Levels (or similar) in non-numerate and non scientifi c subjects. Moreover, a sizeable number of ‘mature’ people are entering the profession following a first career in something completely different. As a university admissions tutor, I speak to such people every day.
It is pos-sible, depending on the specialism eventually chosen, to enjoy a successful career in civil engineering without an in-depth mathematical knowledge. However, it is extremely difficult to obtain a degree or HND in civil engineering without some mathematical proficiency. Turning to architects – these are creative people! Every building they design has a structure, without which the building would not stand up. Architects, like civil engineers, have to understand the mechanisms which lead to successful structures.
This book is about Structures. Structures is a subject studied as part of all civil engineering degree, HND and OND courses, as well as architecture degree courses, and also on some degree courses in related subjects (e.g. quantity surveying, building surveying, construction management and architecture). I have taught Structures to undergraduate civil engineers and architects for the past 12 years. During that time I have noticed that many students find the basic concept of structures difficult to grasp and apply. This book aims to do the following:
• to explain structural concepts clearly, using analogies and examples to illustrate the points;
• to express the mathematical aspects of the subject in a straightforward manner that can be understood by mathematically weak students and placed in context with the concepts involved;
• to maintain reader interest by incorporating into the text real-life examples and case histories to underline the relevance of the material that the student is learning. This book presumes no previous knowledge of structures on the part of the reader. It does, however, presume that the reader has a good general education and a mathematical ability up to at least GCSE standard.