The Art of Structural Engineering: Bridges


Maria Garlock
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Learn about bridge design and discover how structural engineering is a creative discipline and art form.

      In this engineering course you will learn how to analyze bridges from three perspectives:

      1. Efficiency = calculations of forces/stresses
      2. Economy = evaluation of societal context and cost
      3. Elegance = form/appearance based on engineering principles, not decoration

      With a focus on some significant bridges built since the industrial revolution, the course illustrates how engineering is a creative discipline and can become art. We also show the influence of the economic and social context in bridge design and the interplay between forces and form.

      You will learn:

      • How to solve for the efficiency of structures using the appropriate formulas
      • How to evaluate a structure within the measures of structural art
      • How economic, social and culture influences structural design
      • How to analyze bridge forms: suspension, beams, pre-stressed, arch, cable-stayed, tied-arch


      Course Status

      Archived (open)

      What Learners Say

      "Really interesting and easy-understandable. The instructor is the best I ever had many years ago in this career. Plenty satisfied." - Mario

      "This is an elegant, well organized course. Each presentation vividly illustrates the merger of structural engineering and art. It's a visual experience, as the designers of bridges intended, and many of the examples are simply breathtaking. Thank you, Prof Garlock for this glimpse of genius at work and the difficult road of bringing public projects to fruition." - Richard

      "Delightful course! Interesting and engaging!"

      "This is a well-organized, fascinating course! The math is pretty easy, but the methodology is quite sophisticated, as are the historical details surrounding iconic bridges. This is a real engineering course, tempered with appreciation for artistic elements, harmony with the local environment, and the human drama of large-scale projects in civil engineering. The most breathtakingly beautiful bridges are even more impressive with some idea of what it takes to put them up."