When designing structural members, their cross-section must safely and economically resist applied loads, which includes optimizing the weight. Other considerations, such as ease of fabrication and construction, may also affect which member you choose. It all begins with selecting the lightest cross-sectional shape that can safely transfer the load and meet serviceability and durability requirements. The fundamental prerequisite of structural design is to ensure the required strength does not exceed the available strength. Practicing engineers need a high-level background to understand the basics of fatigue and fracture in engineering design.
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