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Civil engineering deals with non-military engineering projects of all sizes—from building a footbridge across a stream to the International Space Station. This article provides a high-level overview of the work of a civil engineer and explains why you may need one on your next construction project.
Civil engineering is both a pure and an applied science. The classic example is of a bridge builder – before starting work, the engineer plans and calculates, considering various designs, materials and the strains upon them in a theoretical way. And yet, once the construction is in progress, the engineer will be expected to react to any problems that arise and adjust their plans accordingly.
While it may seem like civil engineers are only required for large projects, such as setting up a new railway system, they actually work on a wide range of projects and large projects will often feature a whole team of engineers.
Local governments often have several engineers on staff as they are constantly dealing with wear-and-tear to bridges, roads, railways and so on.
Building a single-family home or extending one will not usually require a civil engineer. However, you may still need to at least consult one for:
A civil engineer is an educated professional, holding a university degree in engineering or civil engineering. In many countries a student must also undergo further training or pass an exam to be licensed as a civil engineer.
There are many sub-disciplines of civil engineering so a civil engineer may have done post-graduate study or have further licenses and qualifications.
All civil engineers should be part of a professional organization. In addition, larger construction companies will often have an engineer on staff, and larger engineering companies may contract engineers for work on smaller projects.
Many civil engineers work directly with architect and building contractors and construction site manager.