Civil engineers take pride in the fact that their work contributes to society, helping people get places quickly and safely, and providing them with ...
Building Big: "Thinking Big, Building Small"
This resource was adapted from Building Big: "Thinking Big, Building Small."
Auditory, Textual, Visual
©2000 WGBH Educational Foundation. All rights reserved.
Adapted from Building Big: "Thinking Big, Building Small". Footage courtesy of Boston Properties.
Civil engineers use creativity and a strong foundation in math and science to design and maintain our infrastructure. It helps to think of them as problem solvers. They assess problems, envision solutions, and apply practical knowledge to make their ideas reality.
There are several disciplines within the field of civil engineering. More often than not, professionals in the different disciplines work together to complete a project. Transportation engineers, for example, deal with analysis and planning of highways, railways, and traffic control systems, while geotechnical engineers determine the suitability of rock and soil to safely support building activities.
Structural engineers are most closely associated with bridges, tunnels, buildings, and dams. With a thorough understanding of calculus, physics, and chemistry, they arrange structural elements to manage the pushing and pulling forces that act on suspension bridges and skyscrapers alike. They also know which building materials are best for the job from both a safety and a cost-management perspective. Advanced computer programs assist today's structural engineers in design procedures, but they still rely on their experience, expertise, and judgment when difficult decisions must be made.
Though trial and error has provided the engineering field with numerous lessons throughout the years, education and training are what best prepare civil engineers to do their job. That and a willingness to abide by a strict code of ethics that emphasizes safety and human welfare before all else.