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Structural engineering is a field of engineering dealing with the analysis and design of structures that support or resist loads. Structural engineering is usually considered a specialty within civil engineering, but it can also be studied in its own right. Structural engineers are most commonly involved in the design of buildings and large nonbuilding structures but they can also be involved in the design of machinery, medical equipment, vehicles or any item where structural integrity affects the item's function or safety. Structural engineers must ensure their designs satisfy given design criteria, predicated on safety (e.g. structures must not collapse without due warning) or serviceability and performance (e.g. building sway must not cause discomfort to the occupants). Buildings are made to endure massive loads as well as changing climate and natural disasters.
Structural engineering theory is based upon physical laws and empirical knowledge of the structural performance of different landscapes and materials. Structural engineering design utilises a relatively small number of basic structural elements to build up structural systems that can be very complex. Structural engineers are responsible for making creative and efficient use of funds, structural elements and materials to achieve these goals.