Civil Engineering Explained

civil engineer

From the roads that we drive on, to the bridges we cross, and the homes we live in – all of these are planned and designed by civil engineers. Some of the most elegant architectural wonders such as the iconic Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge are possible thanks to the experience and talents of civil engineers, who use a combination of advanced mathematics and modern technology to lay the foundations of breathtaking structures across the globe.

Civil engineering is a specialized profession that combines creativity, innovation, and age old techniques to develop the infrastructure we depend on for daily living. Beijing’s Bird Nest National Stadium, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and government infrastructure projects receive their planning, design and development plans from civil engineers. These professionals are also accountable for transport infrastructure, commercial and residential buildings, water and gas systems, sewage, mines, irrigation, and much more.

Civil Engineering Defined

A civil engineer is responsible for maintaining infrastructure, building new structures, and designing new facilities. They help develop airports, bridges, railways, dams, ports, harbours, direct water flow, and design flood mitigation networks. This vocation is based on physics, mechanics, and mathematics, with a strong emphasis on problem solving and the ability to come up with creative solutions. Since many civil engineers advance to management positions within the companies they work, it’s a career that also requires exceptional leadership and time-management skills.

Different Types of Civil Engineering

There are six unique disciplines or areas of speciality within civil engineering. Each one demands a different level of commitment, skills, education, and on-the-job training.

1. Construction Engineering

This speciality involves the management and planning of construction-related projects including airports, highways, bridges, railways, reservoirs, and dams. It specialty involves working with surveyors and other developers, a strong knowledge of infrastructure and engineering principles, economic and budgeting requirements, as well as an understanding of human behaviour.

2. Environmental Engineering

An environmental engineer works on resolving problems within infrastructure projects that deal with biological, chemical, thermal waste by-products, remediation, and air or water purification systems. They also resolve environmental concerns due to accidental contamination or poor waste disposal methods. The environmental engineer can also be responsible for the transportation of waste, reduction of air pollution, and hazardous and solid waste treatment and management.

3. Geotechnical Engineering

The Geotechnical engineering discipline is a division of civil engineering that focuses on soil and rock-based systems. It specializes in geology, mechanics, hydraulics, material testing and science. These skills are used to help design natural foundations, retaining or supporting walls, natural dams, and other natural structures. A relatively new area of focus within geotechnical engineering is geo-environmental engineering, which combines additional knowledge of chemistry and biology to resolve environmental concerns.

4. Water Resources Engineering

The water resource engineer manages water-specific tasks. Mainly, they focus on improving water flow and allocation for agriculture and urban environments. This discipline demands a strong knowledge and understanding of meteorology, hydrology, resource management, environmental science, and conservation.

5. Structural Engineering

This is a profession for those who love designing and analysing bridges, tunnels, and oil and gas exploration. This speciality focuses on studying the load-capacity of structures as they are developed. They must factor in environmental layout, materials used, and design elements to create a structure that will be safe and serviceable for years.

6. Transportation Engineering

This speciality focuses on transporting people. Transportation engineering involves designing, building, and maintaining infrastructure that involves the movement of people, water, or equipment. Projects they work on can include highways, canals, airports, water ports, mass transit systems, and streets. This speciality requires a focus on infrastructure management, urban engineering, pavement engineering, queueing engineering and theory, and Intelligent Transportation Systems.

Demand for Civil Engineers in Australia

Civil engineering is a booming market in Australia. As the mining industry continues to grow, there is an increased demand for efficient and environmentally sound infrastructure and processes, and so the need for qualified civil engineers is expected to grow. In fact, many industry experts believe that the current supply of existing civil engineers is restricting the ability to complete current or future infrastructure or development projects.

Design engineers, civil engineers, and railway engineers are three specific skills that are in high demand. This is mainly due to the need to improve or expand existing railways networks, growth within mining, and the need to improve metropolitan infrastructure. A major hurdle to the growth of this industry is a frequently poor work/ life balance, which can deter would-be civil engineers.

Though many major road and railway projects in NSW and Victoria are demanding qualified civil engineers, many of these positions are being filled by contract workers.  The main reason for this is that many highly qualified civil engineers are taking other jobs that have stronger work-life balance.

Additionally, civil designers, MX designers, and civil engineers are likewise needed for highway and road infrastructure projects. Transportation planners specifically are needed to improve the structure of roadways due to elevated levels of cars, trucks, and other commuter vehicles in metro areas and surrounding cities within Australia.

Structural design engineers in Australia are also needed for improving the aesthetics and efficiency of buildings in urban and outlaying communities.

Today, civil engineering and renewable energy roles are converging, especially because of the Federal Government’s support of the Paris Climate Summit. Specialised roles such as Ecologically Sustainable Design consultants will become even more important due to expansion of renewable energy projects. Bizcover can help your business choose insurance for civil engineering options, which can include professional indemnity insurance.

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