Careers in Civil Engineering

Would you like to make the world safer and cleaner? Civil engineers make sure people have safe places to live and work. They provide clean drinking water and find ways to reuse garbage, for example.

Civil engineering has five specialties:

  • Environmental engineers remove contaminants from water, reduce non-hazardous solid waste volumes, eliminate pollutants from the air and develop groundwater supplies.
  • Geotechnical engineers develop projects below ground and determine ways to support structures on and in the ground. These engineers perfect mixtures for pavements and other structures by developing methods to stabilize soil conditions.
  • Materials engineers develop concrete and pavement systems for construction and soil stabilization methods.
  • Structural engineers face the challenge of designing structures that can withstand gusting winds, extreme temperatures, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural forces. They design structures for bridges, buildings, airplanes, and more.
  • Transportation engineers determine ways to meet the increasing travel needs of people, goods, and materials on land, air, and water.

Environmental Engineers

Environmental engineers improve water quality, turn wastes to useful products, protect the environment and provide engineering solutions to environmental challenges.

With the world’s growing population and our limited natural resources, our work is extremely important in ensuring sustainable development of our resources, providing clean water for everyone and protecting our environment from pollution.

Geotechnical and Materials Engineers

Geotechnical and materials engineers investigate and plan support systems for buildings, bridges, dams, pavements, etc., and plan concrete and asphaltic mixtures for use in construction. Because the ground supports civil engineering projects, almost all require some geotechnical engineering.

Geotechnical engineers investigate rock and soil at a project site and determine the most efficient way to support the desired structure. They plan and design foundation systems.

Materials engineers design Portland cement and asphaltic concrete mixes for construction and soil stabilization methods. They also monitor the quality of material mixes used for construction, study concrete deterioration/repair methods and design and analyze pavement systems.

Geotechnical and materials engineering requires a good background in mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering mechanics and a strong fundamental knowledge of the behavior of materials subjected to various kinds of forces.

Structural Engineers

Structural engineers ensure that bridges, buildings, and dams withstand natural and man-made forces, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and the weight of cars. They develop practical, economical, innovative, and safe solutions to these complex issues, using advanced technology like mathematical modeling and computer simulation to support their design decisions. They also can design airplane structures and more.

Transportation Engineers

Transportation is a broad and growing field, giving transportation engineers many options. In the United States, transportation accounts for roughly 16 percent of the gross domestic product and 65 percent of all investments in public infrastructure. Plus, transportation is necessary for most economic and social activities.

Civil engineering graduates pursuing a career in transportation typically do one of the following:

  • Support the delivery of transportation infrastructure, operational improvements, and transportation services, conducting special studies and research as a consultant to governmental agencies and the private sector
  • Plan, develop, operate, and maintain transportation systems and services as a staff member for a local, state, or regional government
  • Administer and consult on transportation programs and services delivered by state and local governments as an employee of a federal agency
  • Conduct special studies and provide education and training to students and existing transportation workers as a teacher or researcher at a university or trade organization

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