Civil Engineering

What is Civil Engineering?
The American Society of Civil Engineers defines civil engineering as, the profession in which a knowledge of the mathematical and physical sciences gained by study, experience, and practice is applied with judgement to develop ways to utilize, economically, the materials and forces of nature for the progressive well-being of humanity in creating, improving and protecting the environment, in providing facilities for the community living, industry and transportation, and in providing structures for the use of humanity.

What Civil Engineers Do

Civil Engineers design and supervise large construction projects, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Tasks of a Civil Engineer:

  • Manage and direct staff members and the construction, operations, or maintenance activities at project site.
  • Provide technical advice regarding design, construction, or program modifications and structural repairs to industrial and managerial personnel.
  • Inspect project sites to moniter progress and ensure conformance to design specifications and safety or sanitation standards.
  • Estimate quantities and cost of materials, equipment, or labor to determine project feasibility
  • Test soils or materials to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations, concrete, asphalt, or steel.
  • Compute load and grade requirements, water flow rates, or material stress factors to determine design specifications.
  • Plan and design transportation or hydraulic systems and structures, following construction and government standards, using design software and drawing tools.
  • Analyze survey reports, maps, drawings, blueprints, aerial photography, and other topographical or geologic data to plan projects.
  • Prepare or present public reports on topics such as bid proposals, deeds, environmental impact statements, or property and right-of-way descriptions.
  • Direct or participate in surveying to lay out installations or establish reference points, grades, or elevations to guide construction.

Tools & Technology


  • Distance meters-Electronic distance measuring devices; Rhodes arcs
  • Levels-Laser levels; Precision levels
  • Microfiche or microfilm viewers-Microfilm readers
  • Scales-Drafting scales; Rolling scales
  • Triangles


  • Analytical or scientific software
  • Computer aided design CAD software
  • Map creation software
  • Project management software
  • Spreadsheet software

Skills of a Civil Engineer

  1. Complex Problem Solving-Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  2. Critical Thinking-Using Logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  3. Judgement and Decision Making-Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  4. Mathematics-using mathematics to solve problems
  5. Operations Analysis-Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design
  6. Reading Comprehension-Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents
  7. Active Listening-Giving full attention to what other people are saying taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times
  8. Speaking-Talking to others to convey information effectively
  9. ScienceUsing scientific rules and methods to solve problems
  10. Time management- Managing ones own time and the time of others.

Quick Facts: Civil Engineers

  • 2010: Median Pay: $77,560 Per Year
  • Entry-Level Education:  Bachelor’s degree
  • Work Experience in a Relation Occupation: None
  • On-the-job-training: None
  • Number of Jobs 2010: 262,800
  • Job Outlook, 2010-20: 19% (About as fast as average)
  • Employment change, 2010-20: 51,100

In order to practice civil engineering in the professional level, there are 24 outcomes to the appropriate levels of achievement:

Outcome Number and Title-To enter the practice of civil engineering at the professional level, an individual must be able to demonstrate this level of achievement.

Foundational Outcomes

  1. Mathematics-Solve problems in mathematics through differential equations and apply this knowledge to the solution of engineering problems
  2. Natural Sciences-Solve problems in calculus-based physics, chemistry, and one additional area of natural science and apply this knowledge to the solution of engineering problems.
  3. Humanities-Demonstrate the importance of the humanities in the professional practice of engineering
  4. Social SciencesDemonstrate the incorporation of social sciences knowledge into the professional practice of engineering.


  1. Materials science-Use knowledge of materials science to solve problems appropriate to civil engineering.
  2. Mechanics- Analyze and solve problems in solid and fluid mechanics
  3. Experiments- Specify an experiment to meet a need, conduct the experiment, and analyze and explain the resulting data.
  4. Problem recognition and solving- Formulate and solve an ill-defined engineering problem appropriate to civil engineering by selecting and applying appropriate techniques and tools.
  5. Design- Evaluate the design of a complex system, component, or process and assess compliance with customary standards or practice, user’s and project’s needs, and relevant constraints
  6. Sustainability-Analyze systems of engineered works, whether traditional or emergent, for sustainable performance.
  7. Contemporary issues & historical perspectives-Analyze the impact of historical and contemporary issues on the identification, formulation, and solution of engineering problems and analyze the impact of engineering solutions on the economy, environment, political landscape, and society.
  8. Risk and uncertainty- Analyze the loading and capacity, and the effects of their respective uncertainties, for a well-defined design and illustrate the underlying probability of failure ( or nonperformance) for a specified failure mode.
  9. Project Management- Formulate documents to be incorporated into the project plan.
  10. Breadth in civil engineering areas- Analyze and solve well-defined engineering problems in at least for technical areas appropriate to civil engineering.
  11. Technical specialization-Evaluate the design of a complex system or process, or evaluate the validity of newly created knowledge or technologies in a traditional or emerging advanced specialized technical area appropriate to civil engineering.


  1.  Communication-Plan, compose, and integrate the verbal, written, virtual, and graphical communication of a project to technical and non-technical audiences.
  2. Public Policy-Apply public policy process techniques to simple public policy problems related to civil engineering works
  3. Business and public administration-Apply business and public administration concepts and processes.
  4. Globalization-Analyze engineering works and services in order to function at a basic level in a global context.
  5. Leadership-Organize and direct the efforts of a group
  6. Teamwork-Function effectively as a member of a multidisciplinary team.
  7. Attitudes-Demonstrate attitudes supportive of the professional practice of civil engineering.
  8. Lifelong learning-Plan and execute the acquisition of required expertise appropriate for professional practice
  9. Professional and ethical responsibility- Justify a solution to an engineering problem based on professional and ethical standards and asses personal professional and ethical development.

Appropriate levels of achievement

  1. Level 1-Knowledge: The remembering of previously learned material. This may involve the recall of a wide range of material, from specific facts to complete theories, but all that is required is the bringing to mind of the appropriate information.
  2. Level 2-Comprehension: The ability to grasp the meaning of material. This may be shown by translating material from one form to another (words to numbers), by interpreting material (explaining or summarizing), and by estimating future trends (predicting consequences or effects).
  3. Level 3-Application:Application refers to the ability to use learned material in new and concrete situations. This may include the application of such things as rules, methods, concepts, principles, laws, and theories. Learning outcomes in this area require a higher level of understanding than those under comprehension.
  4. Level 4-Analysis: The ability to break down material into its component parts so that its organizational structure may be understood. This may include the identification of parts, analysis of the relationship between parts, and recognition or the organizational principles involved.
  5. Level 5- Synthesis: The ability to put together to form a new whole. This may involve the production of a unique communication, a plan of operation (research proposal), or a set of abstract relations (scheme for classifying information)
  6. Level 6-Evaluation: The ability to judge the value of material for a given purpose. The judgements are to be based on definite criteria. These may be internal criteria (organization) or external (relevance to the purpose) and the individual may determine the or be given them.