Career in Civil Engineering

Civil Engineering affects many of our daily activities: the buildings we live in and work in, the transportation facilities we use, the water we drink, and the drainage and sewage systems that are necessary to our health and well-being. Civil engineers:

• Measure and map the earth’s surface.

• Design and supervise the construction of bridges, tunnels, large buildings, dams, and coastal structures.

• Plan, layout, construct, and maintain railroads, highways, and airports.

• Devise systems for the control and efficient flow of traffic.

• Plan and build river navigation and flood control projects.

• Provide plants and systems for water supply and sewage and refuse disposal.

                   Over the past couple of decades, the broad field of Civil Engineering has been specialized in a number of areas. Civil engineers with one type of experience are able to shift to another area, but the real career growth occurs as one becomes an expert in one of these specialties:

 1) Structural engineer:

This is the classic civil engineer, concerned with designing walls, towers, bridge spans, dams, or foundations. A knowledge of construction materials and methods is combined with analytical techniques that determine how much weight or mass a structure is carrying, what forces it must withstand (such as wind or water) and, in cases where an architect is involved, how best to accomplish the architect’s vision.

2) Construction engineer:

This engineer works at the construction site, transforming blueprints and drawings into concrete and steel reality. Besides understanding the principles by which a structure was designed, the construction engineer must manage the actual work. This can involve elaborate scheduling and planning so that materials and workers are brought to the site to complete their purpose in the proper order. Time pressures and an awareness of the financial elements of a project are constant objectives. Because the work is done outdoors, sometimes in very remote areas, one must be prepared for a life-style of “camping out” in temporary quarters for long stretches of time.

3) Surveying and mapping engineer:

Even before a design is completed, and as construction progresses, teams of surveying and mapping engineers are at work. They use electronic instruments and even satellites (which provide detailed overhead views) to measure the dimensions of the project. Some construction projects can cover dozens of square miles of territory. Elevations must be determined, calculations made regarding how much earth needs to be moved, and the exact location of structure(s) must be determined.

4) Transportation engineer:

 Do you prefer to travel by plane, train, auto, or bus? Transportation engineering has provided the wealth of traveling options we enjoy today. Highway design is constantly being improved by making roads safer, and, in urban areas, making plans for handling increased traffic. Transportation engineers also oversee the design and construction of mass transit systems, such as subways, which require tunneling, railway construction, and research on commuting plans. A subspecialty within transportation engineering is the pipeline engineer, who determines the movement of water, oil, or gas through pipelines. In certain aspects, this field is comparable to highway design, with the distinction that a liquid is being conveyed, rather than vehicles.

5) Environmental (sanitary) engineer:

 These engineers specialize in water and wastewater projects, land remediation, aqueducts, and solid waste disposal. This field is currently one of the fastest growing of all engineering specialties. Billions of dollars are being allocated for water and wastewater treatment, for methods of processing solid wastes, and for cleaning up hazardous waste dumping sites.

6) Hydraulic and irrigation engineer:

Utility companies, factories, farms, and river barges depend on a steady source of water. These engineers perform the planning, design, construction, and maintenance to keep supplies available. Dam design and construction, flood control, and the design and construction of reservoirs, wells, and aqueducts are all common projects. It used to be that hydraulic engineers were concerned with draining swamps and straightening waterways. These days, they are as likely to be constructing swamps and estuaries to preserve the environment and provide reserves for fish and wildlife.

 7) Geotechnical engineer:

Along with geological engineers, these engineers help determine the underlying rock strata and soil conditions that affect roadways, water reservoirs, bridges, and other large structures. Earthquake planning and preparation also fall into this category.