This article presents and describes some qualitative changes that have occurred in the engineering design of building structures over the last forty years. With widespread access to computers and the development of software tools, optimization problems, which in the nineteen- seventies were solved analytically or, when justifiable, using mathematical machinery (e.g. first Polish minicomputers type Odra 1,300) are now often settled through the use of specialized add-ins to spreadsheets. This state of affairs has created a basis for significant changes in the quality of educational opportunities in the context of construction faculties within technical universities. These changes are illustrated with a simple example of the optimization (determination of the dimensions of the beam subjected to bending).