What are Structures?
Structures are defined as a set of components, designed and arranged to support and resist external forces, in a manner that results in stability, safety, and efficiency. Structures are essential in a wide range of applications, including buildings, bridges, tunnels, and other civil engineering projects, as well as in the construction of mechanical and electrical systems. The study of structures and the design of structures is known as structural engineering.
Types of Structures
There are many types of structures, each with its own unique set of properties and design requirements. Some of the most common types of structures include:
Frame Structures: These structures are characterized by a series of interconnected members, such as beams and columns, that work together to support external loads. Examples of frame structures include steel-framed buildings and wooden frame houses.
Arch Structures: Arches are curved structures that distribute loads evenly across a span. They are commonly used in bridges and as a decorative element in buildings.
Cable Structures: Cable structures are composed of cables that are tensioned between two or more points to support a load. Examples of cable structures include suspension bridges and cable-stayed bridges.
Shell Structures: Shell structures are composed of a thin curved surface that is supported by a framework of beams or columns. Examples of shell structures include domes and egg-shaped buildings.
Membrane Structures: Membrane structures are composed of a thin flexible material, such as fabric, that is stretched over a framework of poles or cables to form a tent-like structure. Examples of membrane structures include tent structures and air-supported dome structures.
Next, have the class listen to the story ‘
Iggy Peck, Architect‘ by Andrea Beaty.
Key Components of Structures
There are several key components that are common to all types of structures. These components include:
Foundation: The foundation is the part of the structure that is in direct contact with the ground and provides stability and support to the rest of the structure.
Columns and Beams: Columns and beams are structural elements that are designed to resist compressive and tensile forces. They are commonly used to support loads in frame structures.
Cables and Struts: Cables and struts are elements that are designed to resist tensile forces. They are commonly used in cable and truss structures.
Arches and Vaults: Arches and vaults are curved structural elements that are designed to distribute loads evenly across a span. They are commonly used in arch structures. Design Considerations for Structures
The design of structures is a complex process that involves the consideration of several factors, including:
Loads: The loads that a structure must resist include weight, wind, earthquakes, and other forces.
Materials: The choice of materials for a structure is a critical consideration, as different materials have different strength and stiffness properties. Common materials used in structures include steel, concrete, and wood.
Stability: The stability of a structure is a critical consideration, as it must be able to resist external loads without collapsing or deforming.
Economics: The cost of constructing a structure is a critical consideration, as the designer must balance the cost of materials and construction against the requirements of the structure. Classroom Exercise: Understanding Structures
Objective: To understand the types of structures, key components, and design considerations in structural engineering.
Whiteboard or chalkboard
Markers or chalk
Handout with a list of types of structures, key components, and design considerations
Divide the students into groups of 3-4.
Provide each group with a handout that lists the different types of structures, key components, and design considerations.
Ask each group to choose one type of structure and create a diagram on graph paper that shows the key components and how they work together to support external loads.
Have each group present their diagrams to the class and explain their design.
After all groups have presented, ask the class to come up with a list of design considerations that they would need to keep in mind when designing their structure.
Write the list of design considerations on the board and ask each group to discuss how they incorporated these considerations into their design.
Conclude the exercise by having a class discussion on the importance of understanding structures and the role of structural engineering in the design and construction of buildings, bridges, and other structures.
The diagrams created by each group can be evaluated based on the accuracy and completeness of the representation of the key components and how they work together to support external loads.
The presentations can be evaluated based on the clarity and effectiveness of the explanation of the design.
The class discussion can be evaluated based on the
student's understanding of the importance of understanding structures and the role of structural engineering. Conclusion
Structures play a crucial role in a wide range of applications, from buildings and bridges to mechanical and electrical systems. The design of structures is a complex process that involves the consideration of several factors, including loads, materials, stability, and economics.