There are seven major disciplines within civil engineering that are closely interrelated:
As a structural engineer, you will face the challenge of designing structures that support their own weight and the loads they carry, and that resist wind, temperature, earthquake, and many other forces. Bridges, buildings, offshore structures, space platforms, amusement park rides, and many other kinds of projects are included within this exciting discipline. You will develop the appropriate combination of steel, concrete, timber, plastic, and new exotic materials. You will do the planning and design, as well as visit the project site to make sure the work is done properly.
The skills of environmental engineers are becoming increasingly important as we attempt to protect the fragile resources of our planet. Environmental engineers translate physical, chemical, and biological processes into systems to destroy toxic substances, remove pollutants from water, reduce non-hazardous solid waste volumes, eliminate contaminates from the air, and develop groundwater supplies. In this field, you may be called upon to resolve issues of providing safe drinking water, cleaning up sites contaminated with hazardous materials, disposing of wastewater, and managing solid wastes.
Geotechnical engineering is required in all aspects of civil engineering, because most projects are supported by the ground. As a geotechnical engineer, you might develop projects below ground, such as tunnels, foundations, and offshore platforms. You will analyze the properties of soil and rock that support and affect the behavior of these structures. You may evaluate the potential settlements of buildings, the stability of slopes and fills, the seepage of ground water and the effects of earthquakes. You will investigate the rocks and soils at a project site and determine the best way to support a structure in the ground. You may also take part in the design and construction of dams, embankments, and retaining walls.
Water is essential to our lives, and as a water resources engineer, you will deal with issues concerning the quality and quantity of water. You will work to prevent floods, to supply water for cities, industry, and irrigation, to treat wastewater, to protect beaches, or to manage and redirect rivers. You might be involved in the design, construction, or maintenance of hydroelectric power facilities, canals, dams, pipelines, pumping stations, locks, or seaport facilities.
Because the quality of a community I directly related to the quality of its transportation system, your function as a transportation engineer will be to move people, good, and materials safely and efficiently. Your challenge will be to find ways to meet our ever-increasing travel needs on land, air, and sea. You will design, construct, and maintain all types of transportation facilities, including highways, railroads, airfields, and ports. An important part of transportation engineering is to upgrade our transportation capability by improving traffic control and mass transit systems, and by introducing high-speed trains, people movers, and other new transportation methods.
As a construction engineer, you are the builder of our future. The construction phase of a project represents the first tangible result of design. Using your technical and management skills will allow you to turn designs into reality – on time and within budget. You will apply your knowledge of construction methods and equipment, along with the principles of financing, planning, and managing, to turn the designs of other engineers into successful projects.
As a professional in this area, you will be concerned with the entire development of a community. Analyzing a variety of information will help you coordinate projects, such as projecting street patters, identifying park and recreation areas, and determining areas for industrial and residential growth. To ensure ready access to your community, coordination with other authorities may be required to integrate freeways, airports, and other related facilities. Successful coordination of a project will require you to be people-oriented as well as technically knowledgeable.