Schools Training

Two Types of Civil Engineering

29 MAY 2012
Career Path : Civil Engineering

Civil engineers are behind the scenes on pretty much every detail that goes into city development. From street plans to bridges, and power lines to sewer systems, we rely on civil engineers to come up with ideas that make our everyday lives both liveable and enjoyable.

But what exactly do they do? Here is a quick look at two (of many) types of civil engineering specializations to help you get a better idea of what the profession involves.

Urban Planning

Admittedly, it can be surprising at first to think of urban planners as engineers, or vice versa. But the fact of the matter is that the two are so inter-related that they can’t function without each other.

Engineers detail every aspect that goes into the design of a land span. From the width of sidewalks and alleyways to the height of skyscrapers, engineers need to consider every last inch of space covering whatever grounds they are working on.

A more concrete example of how civil engineering and urban planning are indeed fused disciplines is the emergence of bike paths in urban areas. The urban planning element lies, of course, in the goal to integrate a more green and healthy mode of transit into the lifestyles of the urban demographic.

The civil engineering element lies in the actual design and construction of the path. It isn’t enough for a city to agree to implement a bike path into their city structure. Special care has to be taken to ensure that the path sits on the proper terrain, and is designed so that cyclists can be integrated without interfering with auto traffic and in such a way that the bike path route allows them safe and open access into the city as they would have with a car.

So, civil engineers who want to focus on urban planning will definitely need to take  a few technology courses to help them master both the theoretical and practical aspects of design.

Structural Design

Structural design is among the most complex of civil engineering specialisations within technology programs and the career at large.

Experts within the field are the ones we rely on to build our bridges, tunnels, canals and dams. That said, structural engineers have a lot riding on their designs. Apart from the pressure to adorn a city with a beautiful structure, they are also responsible for ensuring that a structure is safe in every way possible. There are so many factors that are considered when a design is being developed, including climate, terrain, air quality, and even levels of traffic that will exist around the structure. All of these elements determine what material will be used, the size and shape of the structure, and its ultimate functionality.

One of the most exemplary structural engineering designs is the Panama Canal, which is a ship channel that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. Taking over 30 years to build, the canal optimized travel time for trade ships, and has become an essential element in economic expansion for countries worldwide.

To be frank, our cities would be desolate flat-grounds without all of the incredible civil engineers. And even though they are behind the scenes and rarely get public recognition for what they do, our lives would be completely different without them.