What is Civil Engineering?

What Civil Engineers Do

Civil Engineering is a challenging and dynamic profession serving society to improve the quality of our life, the health of our social system, the continuity of our economy and business activities, and our competitive position in the international market place

Pushed by the constant desire and challenges of both developed and developing societies to improve their standard of living and economic strength, there will always be a strong global demand for Civil Engineers to meet these challenges and responsibilities.

Civil Engineers are responsible for the planning, design, construction, and management of the built environment, more generally called the infrastructure. That is, "the system of public facilities which provide for the delivery of essential services and a sustained standard of living".1 This system is the nation's highways, bridges, railroads, airports, and mass transit systems. It is our sewage treatment plants, water supply systems, and reservoirs. It is our industrial plants and power producing plants. It is our waterways, coastal areas and ports. It is our homes, schools, and commercial complexes.

In addition, Civil Engineers are also responsible for the compatibility of the infrastructure with the natural environment: the ground, water and air. That means, for example, that they are responsible for the management and treatment of flood prediction and routing, urban runoff, air pollution from transport systems, surface and subsurface fate and remediation of contaminants, discharge into lakes and rivers, the management of coastal processes and the protection of sensitive wetlands and animal habitat.

1Hudson, W.R., Hass, R. and Uddin, W., Infrastructure Management, McGraw-Hill, New York, N.Y., 1997

Civil Engineering What's in the future?

Civil Engineering is advancing to meet the challenges of our ever-changing world:

  • A more integrated world leads to increased interaction with international partners.
  • The integration of financial, social, economic, and policy issues are now part of the professional responsibility of the Civil Engineer.
  • The growing role of public-private partnerships presents new opportunities for long-term growth in the Civil Engineering industry.
  • New developments in Information Technology will give us "smart highways and vehicles", and "intelligent structures". These developments are revolutionizing the Civil Engineering Industry.
  • Researchers in universities and business are introducing new design concepts that will reduce the cost of construction, operation and management of the infrastructure, while reducing the impact of society on the environment.