13 Free Structural Design Courses Online

If you have been in search of free structural design courses online to take part in, this is definitely the right place for you as we have gone all out to put together about 13 of these free courses that are offered fully online.

free structural design courses online

With the way the world is now, lots of things are pivoting online. Businesses and shops and other facets of people’s daily lives have moved online. There is, therefore, no hindrance between you and free education online.

The University of People in its article titled “Benefits of education are societal and personal” is quoted remarking that “There are many benefits to education. Not only will you personally benefit from receiving education when it comes to income, career advancement, skill development, and employment opportunities, but your society and community receive benefits of education as well.”

This fact is one that should be kept in mind even as you take the free structural design courses online. Remember that not only will you benefit from the course, but society will as well.

This article explores free structural design courses online and lays out 13 in a list.

What is structural design?

The FAO describes structural design as ” the methodical investigation of the stability, strength, and rigidity of structures. The basic objective in structural analysis and design is to produce a structure capable of resisting all applied loads without failure during its intended life.”

The primary purpose of a structure is to transmit or support loads. If the structure is improperly designed or fabricated, or if the actual applied loads exceed the design specifications, the device will probably fail to perform its intended function, with possible serious consequences.

A well-engineered structure greatly minimizes the possibility of costly failures.

13 Free Structural Design Courses Online

  • Mechanics of Materials II: Thin-Walled Pressure Vessels and Torsion
  • The Art of Structural Engineering: Vaults
  • Structure of Materials, Part 1: Fundamentals of Materials Structure
  • Structure of Materials, Part 2: The Crystalline State
  • Structure of Materials, Part 3: Liquid Crystals, Defects, and Diffusion
  • Materials Science: 10 Things Every Engineer Should Know
  • Material Behavior
  • Material processing
  • Materials Science and Engineering
  • Design of Steel-Concrete Composite Structures
  • Steel Beam and Plate Girder Design
  • Connections in Steel Structures
  • Machine Design Part I

#1 – Mechanics of Materials II: Thin-Walled Pressure Vessels and Torsion

This free structural design course online is delivered by Dr. Wayne Whiteman, PE from the Georgia Institute of Technology through Coursera. This course explores the analysis and design of thin-walled pressure vessels and engineering structures subjected to torsion.

  • Full time – 3 weeks long, 9 hours worth of material
  • Venue – Coursera
  • Start date – Always Open

#2 – The Art of Structural Engineering: Vaults

This is one of the best free structural design courses online delivered by Maria Garlock from Princeton University through the edX online learning platform. The course explores iconic vaults like the Pantheon, but its main focus is on contemporary vaults built after the industrial revolution.

The vaults that will be examined are made of different materials, such as tile, reinforced concrete, steel, and glass, and were created by masterful engineers/builders like Rafael Guastavino, Anton Tedesko, Pier Luigi Nervi, Eduardo Torroja, Félix Candela, and Heinz Isler.

  • Full time – 6 weeks long. 2-3 hours a week
  • Venue – edX
  • Start date – Self paced

#3 – Structure of Materials, Part 1: Fundamentals of Materials Structure

This is one of the most popular free structural design courses online delivered by Silvija Gradecak of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology through edX.

This course is the first in a three-part series from MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering that explores the structure of a wide variety of materials with current-day engineering applications.

Taken together, these three courses provide similar content to MIT’s sophomore-level materials structure curriculum.

Part 1 begins with an introduction to amorphous materials. Here, you will join to explore glasses and polymers, learn about the factors that influence their structure, and learn how materials scientists measure and describe the structure of these materials.

Then we begin a discussion of the crystalline state, exploring what it means for a material to be crystalline, how we describe the periodic arrangement of atoms in a crystal, and how we can determine the structure of crystals through x-ray diffraction.

  • Full time – 5 weeks long. 6-8 hours a week
  • Venue – edX
  • Start date – Self paced

#4 – Structure of Materials, Part 2: The Crystalline State

This is one of the several free structural design courses online delivered by Silvija Gradecak of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology through edX.

Part 2 provides an introduction to the study of crystallography. We begin by looking at crystals and their symmetries in two dimensions. Then, we expand into three dimensions, exploring the underlying crystalline structures that underpin most of the materials that surround us. 

Finally, we look at how tensors can be used to represent the properties of three-dimensional materials, and we show how these change as a function of the crystalline symmetry.

  • Full time – 5 weeks long. 8-10 hours a week
  • Venue – edX
  • Start date -Self paced

#5 – Structure of Materials, Part 3: Liquid Crystals, Defects, and Diffusion

This free structural design course isdelivered online by Silvija Gradecak of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology through edX.

Part 3 begins with an exploration of quasi-, plastic, and liquid crystals.  Next, we will learn how the properties of materials are influenced and can be modified by structural defects. We will show that point defects are present in all crystals at finite temperatures and how their presence governs diffusion in materials.

Next, we will explore dislocations in materials.  We will introduce the descriptors that are used to describe dislocations, we will learn about dislocation motion and consider how dislocations dramatically affect the strength of materials.

Finally, we will explore how defects can be used to strengthen materials, and we will learn about the properties of other structural defects such as stacking faults and grain boundaries.

  • Full time – 6 weeks long. 6-8 hours a week
  • Venue – edX
  • Start date – Self paced

#6 – Materials Science: 10 Things Every Engineer Should Know

This is one of the well known free structural design courses online delivered by James Shackelford of the University of California, Davis through Coursera.

The course explores “10 things” that range from the menu of materials available to engineers in their profession to the many mechanical and electrical properties of materials important to their use in various engineering fields. We also discuss the principles behind the manufacturing of those materials.

  • Full time – 5 weeks long. 9 hours worth of material
  • Venue – Coursera
  • Start date – Always Open

#7 – Material Behavior

This is counted alongside several free structural design courses online delivered by Thomas H. Sanders Jr. of Georgia Institute of Technology through Coursera.

This is the first of three Coursera courses that mirror the Introduction to Materials Science class that is taken by most engineering undergrads at Georgia Tech. The aim of the course is to help students better understand the engineering materials that are used in the world around them.

This first section covers the fundamentals of materials science including atomic structure and bonding, crystal structure, atomic and microscopic defects, and noncrystalline materials such as glasses, rubbers, and polymers.

  • Full time – 6 weeks long. 25 hours worth of material.
  • Venue – Coursera
  • Start date – Always Open

#8 – Material processing

This free structural design course is delivered online by Thomas H. Sanders Jr. of Georgia Institute of Technology through Coursera.

This is the second of three Coursera courses that mirror the Introduction to Materials Science class that is taken by most engineering undergrads at Georgia Tech. The aim of the course is to help students better understand the engineering materials that are used in the world around them. 

This first section covers the fundamentals of materials science including atomic structure and bonding, crystal structure, atomic and microscopic defects, and noncrystalline materials such as glasses, rubbers, and polymers.

  • Full time – 2 weeks long. 12 hours worth of material
  • Venue – Coursera
  • Start date – Always Open

#9 – Materials Science and Engineering

This course is delivered by Alexander S. Mukasyan of the National University of Science and Technology (MISiS) through edX.

The course content is closely related to chemical, mechanical, electrical, computing, and bio- and civil engineering. This course will provide key information about fundamental characteristics of a variety of materials including metals, ceramics, polymers, and electronic materials.

  • Full time 7 weeks long. 3-5 hours a week
  • Venue – edX
  • Start date – Self paced

#10 – Design of Steel-Concrete Composite Structures

This course is delivered by Amit Varma, Sahaas Bhardwaj, and Morgan Broberg
of Purdue University through edX.

This course will cover the design of composite structures with an emphasis on composite beams and floor systems, composite columns, and composite walls.

Students will leave this course with an in-depth knowledge of relevant limit states and failure modes as well as a familiarity with the AISC360 (American Institute of Steel Construction) provisions for composites.

This course is best suited for students with an undergraduate civil engineering background including a basic steel design course and will build on these concepts.

  • Full time – 8 weeks long. 2-3 hours a week
  • Venue – edX
  • Start date – Always Open

#11 – Steel Beam and Plate Girder Design

This course is delivered by Amit Varma, Sahaas Bhardwaj, and Morgan Broberg
of Purdue University through edX.

Students will leave this course with an in-depth knowledge of relevant limit states and failure modes as well as a familiarity with the AISC360 (American Institute of Steel Construction) provisions for plate girder design.

This course is best suited for students with an undergraduate civil engineering background including a basic steel design course and will build on these concepts.

  • Full time – 8 weeks long. 2-3 hours a week
  • Venue – edX
  • Start date – Always Open

#12 – Connections in Steel Structures

This free structural design course is delivered by Amit Varma, Sahaas Bhardwaj, and Morgan Broberg
of Purdue University through the edX online learning platform.

This course will cover the design of steel connections with an emphasis on eccentrically loaded bolted and welded connections, moment connections, and connections transferring concentrated forces.

Students will leave this course with an in-depth knowledge of relevant limit states as well as a familiarity with the AISC360 (American Institute of Steel Construction) provisions for simple and moment connections.

This course is best suited for students with an undergraduate civil engineering background including a basic steel design course and will build on these concepts.

  • Full time – 8 weeks long. 2-3 hours long
  • Venue – edX
  • Start date – Always Open

#13 – Machine Design Part I

Here is one of the best free structural design courses online is delivered by Dr. Kathryn Wingate of the Georgia Institute of Technology through Coursera.

In this first course, you will learn robust analysis techniques to predict and validate design performance and life.

We will start by reviewing critical material properties in design, such as stress, strength, and the coefficient of thermal expansion. We then transition into static failure theories such as von Mises theory, which can be utilized to prevent failure in static loading applications such as the beams in bridges.

Finally, we will learn fatigue failure criteria for designs with dynamic loads, such as the input shaft in the transmission of a car.

  • Full time – 5 weeks long. 31 hours worth of material
  • Venue – Coursera
  • Start date – Always Open

Conclusion

These 13 free structural design courses online are leverage that you should consider if you have interests in structural design.

FAQs

What qualifications do I need to become a structural engineer?

You need a certificate that shows that you have satisfied the requirement for the award of a degree in structural engineering.

Can I get a structural design certificate online?

Yes, you can get structural design certificates online. Most of the courses on this list have certificates attached to them.

What do I need to study structural design online?

You need a prior understanding of some basic science, maths, an internet-enabled device and some time to study some of the courses on this list.

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