The characterization, selection, and use of building materials such as wood, concrete, metals, and other compounds, are the responsibility of a structural engineer. The civil engineer that specializes in structure conducts the analysis and design in order for these to resist in a safe way the pressures that are performed upon them. This engineer is different from the architect; the structural engineer is the one who carries out the artistic piece of an architect.

A structure is a set of elements interconnected that must remain as a whole during the course of useful life. Some examples are houses, bridges, buildings, dams, monuments, churches, industrial structures, ports, and others. Structural design is a mathematical process in which the shape and size of the elements that form a structure are determined. The structural analysis is one of the most important steps in the process of designing. Mathematical modeling allows predicting the internal forces acting in the different elements of structure and its performance.

Therefore, it is the engineer specialized in structures, the one that designs the structures to resist the force of gravity, hurricane winds, earthquakes, ground pushes, water pressure, and other actions. This engineer also works with fire resistance and the selection of suitable materials for construction.