Discover your career path

Stress Engineer

Design structures that can withstand extreme weight, wind, and weather.

What does a Stress Engineer do?

You’ve heard of the straw that broke the camel’s back? Well, when the camel is a building, bridge, tunnel, aircraft, or boat, and the straw is people, cars, or cargo, a Stress Engineer keeps the backbone strong using a combination of mathematical modeling and functional testing.

Indeed, as a Stress Engineer, you help Engineers and Architects design structures that stand – and stay standing, no matter how much stress they’re subjected to. That stress could be weight, as in how many pounds a boat can carry before it sinks. It could be wind, as in how much wind shear an airplane can withstand before it’s ripped apart. Or, it could be the environment, as in what conditions – heat, cold, humidity, etc. – might cause a building material to become unstable.

Regardless, it’s your job as a Stress Engineer to determine what potential stressors could compromise a design’s integrity, safety, and longevity. Based on your findings, you make recommendations for materials, design specifications, and building techniques that minimize risk and maximize performance.

A Structural Engineer, you therefore spend the majority of your time performing stress tests and analyses. Before a structure’s built, for example, you build prototypes and design computer simulations to predict how it will react under certain circumstances. Simultaneously, you use established equations and formulas to calculate things such as load bearing capacity, all in order to determine what the most effective design is.

Sometimes, you work with pre-existing structures, too. You might examine an old building, for instance, and make recommendations for repairs, or you might investigate a collapsed bridge to help authorities figure out why it fell. Always, however, your mission is to keep people safe through better design.