Civil engineering is one of the oldest types of engineering. It is a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment. Civil engineers design and supervise the construction of infrastructure. Some examples of these infrastructures are:
- The paths and roads we travel are civil engineering projects.
- The construction of the dams and power stations that provide the electricity we use every day requires civil engineers.
- The water and sewage treatment plants that provide us with safe water supplies require the expertise of civil engineers.
In fact most structures, large and small, require the help of a civil engineer whether in the designing, planning or managing of the project.
Civil engineers work as part of a team with a wide range of backgrounds and often use theory and models to predict how a design will perform. They generally test ideas in the field using scale mockups, so they can prove new design theories without endangering lives or jeopardizing project budgets.
The diversity within civil engineering creates a wide choice of careers for its graduates. Most civil engineers work for consulting firms, manufacturers or government agencies. Many civil engineers manage people and projects. A civil engineer may oversee a construction site or be a city engineer. Others may work in design, construction, research, and teaching. There are many specialties within civil engineering, such as structural, construction, environment, and transportation.
Typical courses in a Civil Engineering Degree
Civil engineering is inherently an interdisciplinary field. Often, students select courses in related application areas, such as computer science, applied mathematics, urban and regional planning, economics, chemistry and management.
The curriculum, for a civil engineering degree spans about four to five years. In a typical college, the first 2 years are for studying mathematics and computational methods, science, engineering basics, the arts, and social sciences. These subjects will provide the foundation for more specialized subjects in the final two years. In the last 2 years, students gets to specialize into the sub –disciplines within the area of civil engineering:
- environmental engineering
- geotechnical engineering
- structural engineering
- transportation engineering
- municipal or urban engineering
- water resources engineering
- materials engineering
- coastal engineering
- surveying, and
- construction engineering.
Upon completion of the degree, the student is usually designated as a Bachelor of Engineering, though some universities designate the degree as a Bachelor of Science.
What does it take to be a civil engineer?
In general, engineers need to enjoy the challenge of solving problems. Engineers should be creative, curious, analytical, and detail-oriented. They have to possess an aptitude for math and science.
Civil engineers usually work as part of a team from a wide range of fields. Therefore, apart from having good technical knowledge and aptitude, people skills are important. A good civil engineer have to demonstrate the ability to work with other people, good communication leadership skills.