Construction engineering concerns the planning and management of the construction of structures such as highways, bridges, airports, railroads, buildings, dams, and reservoirs. Construction of such projects requires knowledge of engineering and management principles and business procedures, economics, and human behavior. Construction engineers engage in the design of temporary structures, quality assurance and quality control, building and site layout surveys, on site material testing, concrete mix design, cost estimating, planning and scheduling, safety engineering, materials procurement, and cost engineering and budgeting.
Construction engineering is differentiated from construction management from the standpoint of the level of mathematics, science and engineering used to analyze problems and design a construction process.
Construction engineers have a wide range of responsibilities. Typically entry level construction engineers analyze reports and estimate project costs both in the office and in the field. Other tasks may include: Analyzing maps, drawings, blueprints, aerial photography and other topographical information. Construction engineers also have to use computer software to design hydraulic systems and structures while following construction codes. Keeping a workplace safe is key to having a successful construction company.
It is the construction engineer’s job to make sure that everything is conducted correctly. In addition to safety, the construction engineer has to make sure that the site stays clean and sanitary. They have to make sure that there are no impediments in the way of the structure’s planned location and must move any that exist. Finally, more seasoned construction engineers will assume the role of project management on a construction site and are involved heavily with the construction schedule and document control as well as budget and cost control. Their role on site is to provide construction information, including repairs, requests for information, change orders and payment applications to the managers and/or the owner’s representatives.
Construction engineers should have strong understanding for math and science, but many other skills are required, including critical thinking, listening, learning, problem solving, monitoring and decision making. Construction engineers have to be able to think about all aspects of a problem and listen to other’s ideas so that they can learn everything about a project before it begins. During project construction they must solve the problems that they encounter using math and science. Construction Engineers must maintain project control of labor and equipment for safety, to ensure the project is on schedule and monitor quality control. When a problem occurs it is the construction engineer who will create and enact a solution.
Construction engineers need different abilities to do their job. They must have the ability to reason, convey instructions to others, comprehend multi variables, anticipate problems, comprehend verbal, written and graphic instructions, organize data sets, speak clearly, visualize in 4D time-space and understand Virtual Design and Construction methods.
A typical construction engineering curriculum is a mixture of engineering mechanics, engineering design, construction management and general science and mathematics. This usually leads to a Bachelor of Science degree. The B.S. degree along with some construction experience is sufficient for most entry level construction engineering jobs. Graduate school may be an option for those who want to go further in depth of the construction and engineering subjects taught at the undergraduate level.
In most cases construction engineering graduates look to either civil engineering, engineering management, or business administration as a possible graduate degree. For authority to approve any final designs of public projects (and most any project), a construction engineer must have a professional engineers (P.E.) license. To obtain a P.E. license the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and Principles and Practice in Engineering Exam must be passed and education and experience requirements met.