Structural Engineering Visual Encyclopedia (SEVE)

What is SEVE? | The Problem SEVE is trying to address | Goals and Objectives | Current Information

What is SEVE?

SEVE (Structural Engineering Visual Encyclopedia) is a multi-media educational
software package. The purpose of the software is to help students learn to read and interpret civil engineering construction drawings. SEVE also provides the student with a quick visual reference to some of the more common engineering terms related to the design and construction of buildings and bridges. The information is presented in variety of formats; textural information, sketches, photographs, CAD drawings, 3-D solid models (virtual reality) and animation.

NSF under a CCD (Course and Curriculum Development) Grant has supported this project. If you would like information on how to obtain the program, contact Robert Henry at or visit the web site.

The Problem SEVE is trying to address

Civil engineers use construction (or engineering) drawings to convey to other engineers and lay people their designs for bridges, highways, buildings, etc. These drawings are often labeled "contract drawings", because they define a contract between the architect, the engineer, and the contractor as to how the finished project is to look, what materials are to be used, and how it is to be built. Therefore, it is important that all civil engineers be able to:

  • read and interpret engineering construction drawings,
  • communicate their ideas by means of sketches and drawings,
  • visualize 3 dimensional structures from a set of 2 dimensional drawings, and
  • understand and properly use engineering terminology.

Goals and Objectives

The goal of this project is to develop an interactive multi-media software package that will address the void created by the elimination of reading and interpretation of engineering construction drawings from most civil engineering curricula. SEVE will enhance a student's ability to read and interpret engineering construction drawings,
promote the understanding of structural engineering terminology and increase a student's 3 dimensional visualization of structural systems. The student will have at their fingertips a visual database of structural engineering information brought to life using 2-D and 3-D sketches, CAD drawings of typical sections and details, photographs of actual structural components, and 3-D solid models (virtual reality) of common structural components. The format of SEVE is useful to a faculty member in the classroom as an instructional aid and equally useful to the student as a multi-media study aid, in essence a structural engineering visual handbook or encyclopedia.
SEVE is designed to allow the material associated with the reading and the interpretation of engineering drawings to be incorporated into several different structural engineering courses that are part of a typical civil engineering curriculum:

  • Introduction to Civil Engineering Applications
  • Classical Structural Analysis
  • Reinforced Concrete Design
  • Timber Design
  • Matrix Structural Analysis
  • Structural Design in Steel

Another important point is that many engineering students tend to be hands-on or visual learners. They are comfortable with the most recent advances in information technology.Suppliers of information to the general educational marketplace have recognized this fact and are now offering many of their products in a multi-media format on CD-ROMs. This technology also addresses the needs of student with certain learning disabilities by removing the huge hurdle they face of having to spell a word exactly before they can retrieve the information. By using the computer to help with a search, one can typically find the information they desire by just being close to the correct spelling of a term. Then once the information is found, the student is able to connect the terminology (with the correct spelling) with visual images, which usually enhances their ability to remember the information.

Current Information (August 2000)

  • The current version of SEVE is Version 1.0 and was released by John Wiley & Sons, in the spring of 2000 (

  • It is anticipated that updates will be available on a regular basis. There are many topics such as: shop drawings, residential construction drawings, new terms, symbol and material libraries, abbreviation library, more 3-D solid models, more animations, additional homework assignments, etc. Anyone wishing to suggest an idea, please go to the feedback section via the SEVE web page.
  • The software is being used at several locations including: University of New Hampshire, Cal. State - Northridge, Lawrence Technological University and Heriot-Watt University (Scotland).
  • In November 1998, SEVE-UNH received the Premiere Award for Excellence in Engineering Education Courseware sponsored by NEEDS (National Engineering Education Delivery System) and John Wiley & Sons.
  • Anyone interested in getting a copy of SEVE software should contact John Wiley & Sons, Inc.