Civil Engineering

Civil Engineering is the oldest and quintessential engineering profession. It encompasses a variety of sub-disciplines and jobs. Civil engineering is the oldest branch of engineering which is growing right from the stone age civilization. American Society of Civil Engineering defines Civil Engineering as the profession in which a knowledge of the mathematical and physical sciences gained by study, experience and practice is applied with judgment to develop ways to utilize economically the materials and forces of nature for the progressive well-being of man.

Civil Engineering work in Progress
Civil Engineering work in Progress

The Past

From the pyramids of Egypt to the exploration of space, civil engineers have always faced the challenges of the future – advancing civilization and building our quality of life. Engineering has developed from observations of the ways natural and constructed systems react and from the development of empirical equations that provide bases for design. It is the broadest of the engineering fields. In fact, engineering was once divided into only two fields; military and civil. Civil engineering is still an umbrella field comprised of many related specialties.

The Present

In modern usage, it is a broad field of engineering that deals with the planning, construction, and maintenance of fixed structures, or public works, as they are related to earth, water, or civilization and their processes. Most civil engineering today deals with power plants, bridges, roads, railways, structures, water supply, irrigation, environment, sewer, flood control and traffic.

The first self-proclaimed civil engineer was John Smeaton (1724- 1792). In 1818 the Institution of Civil Engineers was founded in London and received a Royal Charter in 1828, formally recognizing civil engineering as a profession. The first degrees in Civil Engineering in the United States was awarded to William Clement, Jacob Eddy, Edward Suffern and Amos Westcott by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1835. The first such degree to be awarded to a woman was granted by Cornell University to Nora Stanton Blatch in 1905. In essence, civil engineering may be regarded as the profession that makes the world a more agreeable place in which to live. CE is about community service, development, and improvement.

The Future

Our future as a nation will be closely tied to space, energy, the environment, and our ability to interact with and compete in the global economy. As the technology revolution expands, as the world’s population increases, and as environmental concerns mount, your skills will be needed. Whatever area you choose, design, construction, research, teaching, or management, civil engineering offers you a wide range of career choices. ASCE estimates that $3.6 trillion is needed by 2020 to bring the nation’s infrastructure to a good condition. Establishing a long-term development and maintenance plan must become a national priority. But in the short term, small steps can be taken by the
Congress, as well as state legislatures and local communities, to improve our nation’s failing infrastructure.

Civil Engineering Graduate

As a Graduate student you will be prepared to perform at the entry level in civil engineering practice so that, some years after graduation, you can become licensed professionals having responsibility for the planning, design, implementation, operation and continuous improvement of civil engineering structures and infrastructure. You will be provided with skills and tools for life-long learning, continuing professional development, and to pursue advanced degrees. A bachelor’s degree in civil engineering prepares you for a broad variety of careers in the field, including transportation engineering, environmental/water resources engineering, geotechnical engineering, land development and structural engineering.