Introduction to conceptual design for structural engineers – 11th Feb to 4th Mar 2021, online


11th Feb – 4th Mar 2021, online
Price varies depending on IStructE Membership
Visit IStructE for price and booking details



This conceptual design training course for structural engineers provides a theoretical framework for understanding conceptual design. We deliver this course on behalf of the Institution of Structural Engineers as a webinar: a weekly, two-hour session for four weeks.

Good conceptual design takes the engineer from a situation of client needs and a blank sheet of paper to an idea that has the potential to bring delight. It is the time when the imagination has the greatest leverage. It sets the groundwork upon which the detailed engineering analysis is built.

Course content

In this conceptual design training course we cover

  • How conceptual design fits into the overall process of design
  • Techniques for really understanding a brief
  • Being more systematic in idea generation
  • How to know if you are ideas are any good
  • Iterative development of ideas

We apply the conceptual design techniques we talk about to an on-going case-study.

Reflective workwork

Workwork is our name for the reflective work that I ask people to do between sessions. It is like homework, except done at work. In this conceptual design training we ask ask participants to carry out some Workwork to help them embed what they are learning in their work.

About the trainer

From the Institution of Structural Engineer’s website:

Oliver Broadbent is an expert facilitator and trainer in design thinking for the built environment. With a background in civil engineering and teaching, he specialises in designing high-impact training that has a lasting effect on the learner.

He is Founder and Director of engineering training consultancy Constructivist. There he leads the development of Constructivist’s programme of design training for design consultancies. He also works with universities including Cambridge, Bath and Imperial to develop innovative approaches to curriculum design and delivery. For eight years Oliver was Director of Think Up, the education arm of the Useful Simple Trust.

Oliver has co-authored a series of good practice teaching guides for the Royal Academy of Engineering on experience-led learning, e-learning for engineers, effective industrial engagement in engineering education and how to teach sustainability.

He is a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor at Imperial College, London.

Course requirements

This conceptual design training course is an introductory course. It is aimed at structural engineers in practice who are starting to think about how they could improve their conceptual design skills.

  • Graduate engineers will find the course useful as they start to develop the skills and the habits of a conceptual designer.
  • Structural engineers preparing to sit their professional membership exam will have the chance to discuss techniques to use in the run up to and during their exam.
  • More experienced practitioners will find the course a good way to start reflective practice to improve their design work.
  • Managers of graduate engineers can use the technqiues in this course to help develop the conceptual design skills of their teams.

Tech requirements

This course is an online interactive webinar. We deliver it using Zoom. To participate you will need to use a headset with microphone. Once you have registered for the course, you will be given a link to the online training space.