Bringing Probabilistic Analysis Perspective into Structural Engineering Education: Use of Monte Carlo Simulations

Alhan C., Gazi H.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ENGINEERING EDUCATION, vol.30, no.5, pp.1280-1294, 2014 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 30 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.1280-1294
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


In structural engineering education, particularly at the undergraduate level, it is customary to teach analysis of structures with a deterministic approach where applied loads are assumed to be constant. The possibility of variability in these loads is typically taken into account by using load amplification factors at the design stage. Unfortunately, these load factors are accepted by students without questioning what they really are. Besides other complex methods, use of Monte Carlo Simulation Method has the potential to teach students probabilistic structural analysis without expecting a solid background in the theory of probability. As a final outcome, it is expected that structural engineering students will gain a new perspective aside from their traditional deterministic perception of structural analysis. In this article, use of Monte Carlo Simulation Method in teaching probabilistic structural analysis is demonstrated via examples with different complexity levels including a simple beam under gravity loading and a frame under combined gravity and earthquake loads. Proposed subject was taught at different classes of different levels varying from Sophomore to Graduate level students and a very positive feedback was obtained. It is concluded that Monte Carlo Simulation can be used to bring a probabilistic analysis perspective to structural engineering education.