What Does An Architectural Engineer Do?
An architectural engineer is a person whose job it is to work with architects and construction companies to make sure buildings are designed and built in a safe and useful manner. They can work on new buildings, or they can do their part to help remodel or renovate existing buildings.
Architectural engineers must be knowledgeable about building and safety codes and regulations, and make sure their designs are always following current code. Building codes are different depending on the area and type of building. Architectural engineers must stay up to date on any changing rules and regulations in their line of work.
Architectural engineers must be prepared to follow a schedule for each project, completing each phase correctly and on time. They must plan ahead to account for weather, delayed supplies, or other unexpected events.
Keeping a project within the agreed upon budget is also part of an architectural engineer’s job. They must look at each piece of the project and find areas where they can complete the project for a lower cost, while still maintaining the quality expected by the customer.
Architectural engineers must work with architects. An architect’s job is to design a building, thinking about style, appearance, and how it is mapped out on the piece of property where it will be built. The architect then creates blueprints that communicate the design. Then the architect meets with the architectural engineer.
It is the architectural engineer’s job to analyze the blueprints and communicate with the architect to make sure the design can be carried out to build a structure that is safe, stable, and meets the needs of the intended purpose.
Architectural engineers are trained to use standard engineering principles, physics and math to figure out information such as how much weight a building can hold, or how many people can safely exit a building in an emergency.
Architectural engineers design a building’s different systems, including:
- Air conditioning
- Fire protection
- Acoustics – noise control
Some architectural engineers choose to focus on a certain type of building, or a specific system, while others work on the whole building. When an architectural engineer designs a system, they must think about many different things, including:
- What it is used for
- How to make it safe
- How to build it in a cost-effective way
- The space it must fit
- How to make it run effectively
- How to make it accessible for future maintenance, repair and remodeling
Architectural engineers are trained to draw their designs by hand, as well as use computer aided drafting (CAD) software programs, depending on what the project requires. They must also think about unique factors that will affect the building, including:
- Type of use
- Area weather
- Flood plains
- Heavy snowfall
- Geographical features
- Soil type
- Topography – whether the land is flat or sloped
- Naturally occurring water features – lakes, rivers
If necessary, the architectural engineer and the architect work together to change the design to make sure it is safe, follows code, and is cost effective. Then they make the necessary changes to the blueprints.
After the design phase is finished, the architectural engineer must complete systematic tests to make sure the design will work. Depending on what they find, they adjust the design again, and then repeat the tests, or complete different tests if needed. They go through this process as many times as necessary until they feel confident that the design will work correctly.
After the design is tested and approved, the architectural engineer must work with the construction company as they follow the blueprints and construct the building. The architectural engineer is there to help supervise and handle any problems that come up during the construction phase.
Architectural engineers are also hired to work on repairing and remodeling existing buildings to make sure they meet codes that may have changed. They can also work on a project that requires an existing building to be remodeled to serve a completely different purpose.
Some of their time is spent working in an office setting, while the rest of the time they are out in the field working at the construction site.
Architectural engineers can work for several types of employers, including:
- Architectural engineering firms
- Consulting firms
- Construction companies
- Manufacturing companies
- Government agencies
A successful architectural engineer must have an excellent understanding of engineering practices and concepts. They must be able to think creatively to solve design problems so that buildings safely meet code, while still maintaining the artistic style of the architect. In addition, they must be able to communicate effectively with other members of the engineering team, as well as architects, construction workers, and clients.
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