About Structural Basics

Hi there, 👋👋

I am Laurin Ernst and this is my blog.

I started Structural Basics in January 2022, because I wasn’t happy with the structural engineering content that you could find with Google. I either couldn’t find the things I was looking for or I wasn’t happy with how the content was presented. There were no easy to follow step-by-step design guides, and I thought that I could change that. 😎😎

Structural Basics is about you, the reader, and teaching you structural engineering knowledge in the easiest possible way.

In April 2023 I also started a YouTube channel, turning the blog posts into video and a newsletter sharing more personal and work related stories.

Since I started SB, I learned so much about websites, SEO, design, video editing and writing.

My Personal Life

I was born in February 1997 in Kempten, Germany. I grew up in Germany close to the Alps, did my bachelor’s in Austria and my master’s in Denmark. I now work as a full-time structural engineer in Copenhagen, Denmark.

One of my big passions is backpacking. I use almost all of my vacation days and overtime hours to travel.

Another thing I love is sports. I hit the gym 4-5 times a week and currently prepare to run my first marathon in 2024. Growing up close to the Alps, I also like skiing and hiking.

Besides travelling and sports, I love working on Structural Basics. I am very fortunate that I found a profession which I love. At this moment in my life, my work as a structural engineer feels like a hobby. I am very grateful that I get to share my knowledge with you readers.

My Background

Since I am 16, I have been working in the construction industry or in construction related jobs. To be honest, I have never had a job that wasn’t related to construction.

In the beginning that were summer and student jobs I got to finance my travelling and studies (but also to gain knowledge and insides from the industry) included

  • Scaffolding
  • Carpentry
  • Refurbishment of an old building
  • Plumbing
  • Housekeeping

In October 2016 I started studying Civil and Environmental Engineering at the university of Innsbruck, Austria.

To be honest, when I started my studies, I had no clue about civil engineering. At that time, I thought I would become a site engineer. I didn’t even know that structural engineering was part of the civil engineering study programme.

Well, I quickly fell in love with all structural engineering courses I had, and I knew that I would want to pursue a career in structural engineering.

After my first engineering internship, which was within bridge inspection, I got my first student job with another bridge engineering firm in my hometown. I was working within BIM management, which was super exciting to my because BIM at the time wasn’t really taught in uni, and I thought it will revolutionize the industry.

After I graduated from my bachelor’s in July 2019, I started working full-time for the same engineering company as a BIM-modeller. I was modelling bridges in Autodesk Revit and got really nerdy about automizing our workflows with Dynamo.

In that job, I quickly realized something – the Scandinavian/Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland) are like way ahead of Germany, like 5-10 years, when it comes to BIM and digitization in general. Also, I’m all about challenging myself and growing, plus I really wanted to learn a new language and study in English. So, I applied to master programmes in those countries! And in the end I decided to go to DTU – the Technical University of Denmark, because I liked the courses and the university the most.

So in August 2020, I packed my things and moved to Copenhagen, Denmark. And yup, it was not great timing moving to a country where you don’t speak the language during Covid-19. And I would be lying if I told you that it was easy.

Moving to another country is never a walk in the park. It always takes time and effort. But it was seriously the best decision I could’ve made! My expectations for this digital-savvy country? They were definitely fulfilled. It’s been great! I learned things and tools in my jobs and in my studies I wouldn’t have in Germany or Austria. Here are some of these things:

  • Hand calculations are done in software programs like Mathcad, Maple or SMath instead of pen and paper
  • Writing reports about structural design helped me become a better writer but also understand the designs better as I had to explain my calculations
  • Revit and BIM? Well, that’s completely normal for everyone here. Even 50-60 year old engineers navigate through 3D models
  • Python is used in many mathematical and structural courses

In the beginning of my master’s, I was still working remotely for the German bridge engineering company. I loved that job, but at the same time, I also wanted to experience how people work on the other side of the table in construction companies/ contractors and in Denmark. Learning from local companies was one of the main reasons I moved here.

So in November 2020 I switched to a contractor where I worked within BIM Coordination as a student. In this job I was doing clash detection, helped with modelling site installations, implemented Power BI dashboards which extracted data from all the softwares we used, set up check-lists and other workflows in Dalux and much more. In my time at the contractor, I had fun and learned a lot because I had great colleagues and got a lot of responsibility even though I was working as a student worker.

In August 2022 it was finally time to switch back to an engineering firm. I always knew that I enjoy structural engineering the most, but I didn’t want to miss out on the experience of working in a construction company for a few years and might regret that in the future. I joined a young and fast-growing structural engineering firm in Copenhagen, where I helped develop our in-house Grasshopper plugin in the first months until I graduated. On the side I also had the chance to get my own small design projects where I did the structural calculations and documentation of small renovation projects.

I graduated as an Architectural Engineer (MSc) from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in February 2023. In my thesis, I researched about the reuse of structural steel elements like beams and columns.

Laurin Ernst graduation from DTU.

In April 2023, I started working full-time as a structural engineer in the same engineering firm I worked since August 2022. I definitely like working there as my colleagues are young and innovative, the company is growing quite quickly, and I get a lot of trust and responsibility. Here are some of the things I’ve been working on:

  • Small renovation projects (window and door openings)
  • House extensions
  • Precast concrete buildings