What do civil engineers do? Civil engineers work within one of the major engineering fields to design and build a variety of large construction projects. Civil engineers may work on designing roads, airports, tunnels, buildings, dams, bridges, railways, water supply systems, or waste treatment plants.
The civil engineering job description usually specifies involvement in all phases of these projects, including planning, design, and construction. Civil engineers work side by side with multi-disciplinary teams of engineering professionals, members of the public, government officials, and civil engineering technicians.
Civil Engineer Duties:
- Analyze crucial data to plan project designs, such as survey reports and maps
- Determine construction expenses, possible environmental hazards, laws or regulations, and other factors that impact the planning stage
- Conduct testing on soils to establish the capability and strength of the foundation
- Test various building materials for the particular project, including steel, asphalt, and concrete, for optimal construction
- Estimate all costs associated with building materials, equipment, and labor
- Utilize high-tech design software to create designs for various infrastructures and systems, aligned with standards set by the industry and government
- Participate or supervise the surveying of the construction area to determine grades, elevations, and reference points
- Communicate findings to other professionals and the public on bid proposals, property descriptions, and statements of environmental impact
- Monitor building operations and solve problems that arise at the construction sites
Since civil engineers work on rather complex construction projects, they usually specialize in a certain area of civil engineering that suits their specific skills and interests. Geotechnical engineers focus on how constructions will interact with the earth and ensure that the soil foundations are solid. In addition, they will create designs especially for tunnels, dams, slopes, and retaining walls. Transportation engineers create designs for everyday systems like roads and interstates, as well as airports, harbors, and other traffic control systems. Structural engineers specialize in designing major projects that require extreme strength and durability, including bridges, towers, buildings, tunnels, and overpasses. Environmental engineering focuses on the environmental issues of construction, including the impact of the structure to the air, land, and water.
Civil engineers can also hold project management, supervisory, and administrative positions for managing these complex civil engineering projects. Some may be supervisors assigned to specific construction sites, while others can be city engineers that effectively manage all projects within a given municipality. Ultimately, all civil engineers are vital contributors to building long-lasting and safe structures, from skyscrapers to suspension bridges.