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Civil Engineering

Civil engineering is a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including works like bridges, roads, waterways, dams, ports, railways and buildings. Civil engineering is the oldest engineering discipline after military engineering. Actually it should have been defined as Construction Engineering, but it was termed as Civil Engineering to distinguish non-military engineering from military engineering as in the past all the Construction works were undertaken by Military forces in the Europe. So, eventually it became Civil (Non-military) Engineering.


Civil engineers typically possess an academic degree with a major in Civil Engineering. In India, the length of study for such a degree is usually four years and the completed degree is usually designated as a Bachelor of Engineering.


It is traditionally broken into several sub-disciplines including,

  Environmental Engineering   Geo-technical engineering
  Surveying   Structural engineering
  Transportation engineering   Town and Urban engineering
  Water resources engineering   Construction materials
  Coastal engineering   Building Engineering
  Construction Management   Estimation and Valuation


There is no one typical career path for civil engineers. Most people who graduate with civil engineering degrees start with jobs that require a low level of responsibility, and as the new engineers prove their competence, they are trusted with tasks that have larger consequences and require a higher level of responsibility. However, within each discipline of civil engineering career path options vary. Though they are known as Civil Engineers in general, they become specialist of particular sub-disciplines after working for some months or years in the same discipline. So, I will choose to call them based on their discipline rather than Civil Engineers, i.e. Environmental Engineers, Surveyors, etc.


1. Environmental Engineers:

Environmental engineers are responsible to improve the natural environment (air, water and land) to provide healthy air, water and land for human habitation and for other organisms and to re-mediate polluted sites. Their job involves waste water management and air pollution control, recycling, waste disposal, radiation protection, industrial hygiene, environmental sustainability, and public health issues. It also includes studies on the environmental impact of proposed construction projects.

At many universities, Environmental Engineering programs follow either the Department of Civil Engineering or The Department of chemical engineering at engineering faculties. Environmental "civil" engineers focus on hydrology, water resources management, bio-remediation, and water treatment plant design.


2. Geo-technical Engineers:

Geo-technical engineers or Soil Engineers or Geo-technicians play major role in building earth structures, soil excavations, heavy foundations, etc. Knowledge from the fields of geology, material science and testing, mechanics and hydraulics are applied by geo-technical engineers to safely and economically design the foundations, retaining walls, earthen dams, road and railway embankments and other similar structures. Environmental concerns in relation to groundwater and waste disposal have spawned a new area of geo-environmental engineering where biology and chemistry are important along with geology. One of the finest examples of great achievement of Geo-technical Engineers is Kansai International Airport, Japan.


3. Surveyors:

Any major or even minor projects are begun by surveyors. Surveyor measures certain dimensions that generally occur on the surface of the Earth. With computerization, electronic distance measurement (EDM), total stations, GPS surveying and laser scanning have supplemented (and to a large extent supplanted) the traditional optical instruments like levels, theodolites for the accurate measurement of angular deviation horizontal, vertical and sloping distances. Surveyors form crucial database of geographical information which is used by civil engineers, contractors and even realtors to design from, build on, and trade, respectively. Civil engineers are trained in the basics of surveying and mapping, as well as geographic information systems. Surveyors may also lay out the routes of railways, tramway tracks, highways, roads, pipelines and streets as well as position other infrastructures, such as harbors, before construction.


4. Structural Engineers:

Structural engineers are concerned with the structural design and analysis of buildings, bridges, towers, flyovers, tunnels, off shore structures like oil and gas fields in the sea, and other structures. To be precise they actually design the load bearing elements or parts of structures. A Structure designing that involves identifying the loads (i.e. direct load, impact load, twisting forces, buckling forces, earthquake forces, thermal stresses, etc.), dimensioning of elements, type and characteristics of material to be used to build those load bearing elements so that they can resists those loads. The structural engineer must design structures to be safe for their users and to successfully fulfill the function they are designed for (to be serviceable). Apart from designing they are supposed to inspect the execution of designs supplied by them, analysis of existing structures, etc. Due to the nature of some loading conditions, sub-disciplines within structural engineering have emerged, including wind engineering and earthquake engineering.


5. Transportation engineers:

Actually they are engineers who deal with designs, constructions, and maintenance of transportation infrastructure which includes Highways, Railways, Airports, Mass Transit Systems, Docks and Harbors, etc. So, they are concerned with movement of people and goods efficiently, safely, and in a manner conducive to a vibrant community. To be more precise their duties includes transportation design, transportation planning, traffic engineering, some aspects of urban engineering, queuing theory, pavement engineering, Intelligent Transportation System (ITS), and infrastructure construction and management.


6. Town and Municipal Engineers:

Town and Municipal engineers are concerned with municipal infrastructure. This involves specifying, designing, constructing, and maintaining streets, sidewalks, water supply networks, sewers, street lighting, municipal solid waste management and disposal, storage depots for various bulk materials used for maintenance and public works, public parks and bicycle paths. In the case of underground utility networks, also include the civil portion (conduits and access chambers) of the local distribution networks of electrical and telecommunications services. It can also include the optimizing of waste collection and bus service networks. Some of these disciplines overlap with other civil engineering specialties, however municipal engineering focuses on the coordination of these infrastructure networks and services, as they are often built simultaneously, and managed by the same municipal


7. Water Resources Engineers:

Water resources engineering is concerned with the collection and management of underground water(aquifers) above ground water(lakes, rivers, and streams), as a natural resource with respect to its quality and quantity. As a discipline, it therefore combines hydrology, environmental science, meteorology, geology, conservation, and resource management. Water resource engineers analyze and model small to very large areas of the earth to predict the amount and content of water it flows into, through, or out of a facility (like, dams). Although the actual design of the facility may be left to other engineers. They are mainly responsible for design of pipelines, water supply network, drainage facilities (including bridges, dams, channels, culverts, levees, storm sewers), and canals. Hydraulic engineers design these facilities using the concepts of fluid pressure, fluid statics, fluid dynamics, and hydraulics, among others.


8. Construction Managers:

As construction firms and organizations tend to have higher business risk than other type of businesses, many construction managers tend to take on a role that is more business-like in nature i.e., doing profit loss analysis of any proposal, drafting and reviewing contracts, scheduling and supervision of construction activities, timely availability and proper synchronization of 3Ms(Man, Material, Machines) that too at budgeted costs, getting necessary technical and non-technical approvals and sanctions, closely monitoring prices of necessary supplies, etc. Construction Managers are supposed to have deep knowledge and experience of Building Techniques and resource utilities along with core management competencies.


9. Estimation and Valuation Engineers:

Estimation and valuation is concerned with the costing side of the project or acquisition. Estimation is and has always been important part of any proposed project. It is not so technical part of the civil engineering but requires deep knowledge of civil engineering techniques and resources required to complete each and every task of the project. Remember one thing, "Construction Projects are not rejected or dropped because of lack of technical expertise or unavailability of 3Ms, they are rejected or dropped because of cost behind getting those 3Ms and technical expertise which does not fall within budgetary restrictions or profit loss analysis", so, this means estimation of any proposal is essential to check whether the proposal is profitable and within the budgetary limits or not.

Valuation itself makes it clear that those Engineers who do valuation of engineering projects or constructions are called Valuation engineers. Valuation engineers plays major role in mortgage, acquisition, and other similar transactions.


10. Software Engineers, DON’T FORGET TO READ THIS:

This is not a sub discipline of Civil engineering. With this additional paragraph, I would like to tell those students who wanted to join Computer Science Engineering or Information Technology studies, but are forced to join Civil, Electrical, Chemical or any other engineering by our Merit based admission system. Those students still have very good chances to join software industry if they follow my one "magical suggestion".

And that is after joining Civil or Electrical or Chemical Engineering; they have 6 semester in the first 3 years of their engineering studies. They are relatively having more free time in the first 3 months of each semester and 18 months in totality. They should undertake some software courses (C, C++, Java, .Net, VB, Databases softwares) during these 18 months, gain expertise. Further, they can consult their elder relatives who are already part of software industry for the courses to be studied so that they can match exact requirement of industry. Remember; develop good analytical skills, problem (not day to day problems but Engineering and Mathematical Problems) solving skills, as no software company differentiates between students of different engineering branches, in fact they will be happy to have some talents who are having knowledge of some core engineering branches as they develop softwares for core applications also.

At the end of your engineering studies and after following my magical suggestion you have two industry options to choose from, where as those CSE or IT engineers have only one, "so cheers".


Summery

So, whatever you study, do it with passion that will help you. Don’t forget the lines of 3 idiots “Jahabhi jao gyan hi gyan bat raha hai, bator lo jitna ho sake”.


Wish You All Good Luck,
Thank you for reading my view on Civil engineering patiently.
December 13, 2011 01:59:02

User Reviews / Comments / Queries :-

Sudhir Kumar :
Long but Really Helpful article.
December 13, 2011 19:08:12
Lingarajgouda :
Diploma in civil
January 04, 2012 13:39:13
buddhi :
sir, i have complete my b.tech degree from iit in civil engineering.so now i want to do a job in core sectors. so please guide me.
February 15, 2012 14:08:51
buddhi :
hi
February 15, 2012 14:12:46

About Author

Amit Jivani

Basically a Graduate in Civil Engineering From Bharati Vidyapeeth University, Pune. Born in Gujarat state of India, Loves to Read, Write, Solo Driving, Travelling, etc... An Editor of "Education in India", a Wikipedia Project. Doing a business in IT Industry with a services like IndiaCollegeInfo.com and Many future Plannings...

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