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Valuable Resources for Civil Engineering Students

In your later years of study, you will be performing project design tasks that simulate the work required of a practicing engineer. There are a number of resources available to help with these tasks that will also be useful in the years to come as a graduate engineer.

Institution memberships (UK-based)

A student membership in professional institutions is valuable to students for two reasons. Firstly a student membership entitles you to access resources useful to your studies including design guides and manuals. The Institution of Structural Engineers (IstructE) publishes a series of technical guidance notes that set out clearly how to perform design tasks such as designing steel and concrete elements to the Eurocodes.

They also provide guidance on areas less well covered in university and likely useful for your design projects such as best practices for engineering drawings and typical construction methods.

Secondly, a student membership of a professional institution is attractive to employers who will see it as a sign that you are dedicated to the profession, and already starting on the path to becoming a chartered engineer. When you graduate you are able to move along the pathway of the institutions to become a graduate member, before embarking on your development to become a fully chartered member. For the IstructE the final stage is a 1-day technical examination.

Companies that value chartered engineers are more likely to be employers committed to technical excellence and ethical engineering practice. They are also more likely to support their young engineers to become chartered.

Structural Engineers Pocket Book

The Structural Engineers Pocket Book is a valuable resource for practicing engineers and engineering students. Useful chapters cover:

  • Design data: typical weights, typical loads

  • Shortcut tools for structural analysis

  • Timber/Masonry/Reinforced Concrete/Structural Steel/Composite Steel and Concrete/Structural Glass

  • Sustainability

The pocketbook is a useful resource to have handy for quick concept design stage calculations. It is available free to read online for members of the IstructE, or can be purchased online for approximately £20.

Steel construction info identifies itself as the free encyclopedia of UK steel construction information. There is a large amount of useful free information on the site including design guides produced by the Steel Construction Institute. Some useful free guides include:

  • Design of Steel Portal Frame Buildings to Eurocode 3

  • Structural Robustness of Steel Framed Buildings

  • Steel Building Design - Concise Eurocodes

The Concise Eurocode document is particularly useful as it condenses and explains the lengthy and somewhat reader unfriendly Eurocode 3 into a more manageable document.

There is also a link to the interactive ‘blue book'‘- an online resource that provides section property data is provided as well as tables of member resistances.

Simple design tools are also provided that can be used to quickly assess the capacity of steel members. These tools are particularly useful for verifying hand calculations.

The Concrete Centre

The Concrete Centre provides published guidance, seminars, courses, online resources, and industry research which is valuable to practicing engineers and students alike. Some of this guidance is free - some useful free publications include:

  • How to design RC Flat Slabs using Finite Element Analysis

  • Structural Design of concrete and masonry: A compendium of technical papers

  • Multi-storey concrete car-parks

The Concrete Centre also runs a program of free webinars that cover themes such as sustainability, best practice in design, and how-to guides.

A range of case studies is also highlighted that will be of interest to students who are passionate about concrete design. They can also be used to give students ideas on companies to add to a shortlist of possible employers (especially if concrete design and technical excellence are priorities).


Note by Will Whiting. Will is an engineering tutor and founder of Good Foundations Engineering Tutors. Good Foundations connects engineering students with industry-experienced tutors, guiding and inspiring the next generation of engineers. Please visit the website for more information.


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