Civil Engineering Careers

Whatever area you choose, be it design, construction, research, planning, teaching or management, civil engineering offers you a wide range of career choices. And there's no limit to the personal satisfaction you will feel from helping to make our world a better place to live.

There are seven major, interrelated branches of Civil Engineering:

Structural Engineering
Structural engineers face the challenge of designing structures that support their own weight and the loads they carry, and that resist extreme forces from wind, earthquakes, bombings, temperature and others. Bridges, buildings, amusement park rides and many other kinds of projects are included within this speciality. Structural engineers develop appropriate combinations of steel, concrete, timber, plastic and new exotic materials. They also plan and design, and visit project sites to make sure work is done properly.

Environmental Engineering
The skills of environmental engineers have become increasingly important as we protect our fragile resources. Environmental engineers translate physical, chemical and biological processes into systems to destroy toxic substances, remove pollutants from water, reduce non­hazardous solid waste volumes, eliminate contaminants from the air and develop groundwater supplies. Environmental engineers are called upon to resolve the problems of providing safe drinking water, cleaning up contaminated sites with hazardous materials, disposing of wastewater and managing solid wastes.

Geotechnical Engineering
Geotechnical engineering is required in all aspects of civil engineering because most projects are supported by the ground. A geotechnical engineer may develop projects below the ground, such as tunnels, foundations and offshore platforms. They analyse the properties of soil and rock that support and affect the behaviour of these structures. They evaluate potential settlements of buildings, the stability of slopes and fills, the seepage of ground water and the effects of earthquakes. They investigate rocks and soils at a project site and determine the best way to support a structure in the ground. They also take part in the design and construction of dams, embankments and retaining walls.

Water Resources Engineering
Water is essential to our lives, and water resources engineers deal with the physical control of water. They work with others to prevent floods, supply water for cities, industry and agriculture, to protect beaches or to manage and redirect rivers. They design, construct and maintain hydroelectric power facilities, canals, dams, pipelines, pumping stations, locks, seaport facilities or even waterslides.

Transportation Engineering
The quality of a community is directly related to the quality of its transportation system. Transportation engineers work to move people, goods and materials safely and efficiently. They find ways to meet our ever-increasing travel needs on land, air and sea. They design, construct and maintain all types of transportation facilities, including airports, highways, railroads, mass transit systems and ports. An important part of transportation engineering is upgrading our transportation capability by improving traffic control and mass transit systems, and by introducing high­speed trains, people movers and other intermodal transportation methods.

Construction Engineering
The construction phase of a project represents the first tangible result of a design. Using technical and management skills, construction engineers turn designs into reality ­ on time and within budget. They apply their knowledge of construction methods and equipment, along with the principles of financing, planning and managing, to turn the designs of other engineers into successful facilities.

Urban and Community Planning
Planners are concerned with the full development of a community. They analyse a variety of information to co-ordinate projects, such as projecting street patterns, identifying park and recreation areas, and determining areas for industrial and residential growth. They employ their technical and people skills to co-ordinate with other authorities to integrate freeways, airports and other related facilities.

Qualifications and Trends
More and more, those entering the civil engineering field must have skills in communication, computers, management and foreign languages, as well as advanced knowledge in a speciality within civil engineering. Students increasingly need to have knowledge of foreign languages or cultures, because many civil engineering mega projects are now overseas: Petronas Towers in Malaysia, the Channel Tunnel in Europe and the new Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan, which is the longest suspension bridge in the world.

Engineers with geotechnical and environmental engineering expertise remain in strong demand because environmental concerns touch all infrastructure projects. Robotics and computer skills are also prized in civil engineering as automation and information technologies continue to evolve the civil engineering workplace. Today's engineers will see more specialisation, working in teams, globalisation, new materials and increased use of computer applications.

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