What is the Main Focus of a Civil Engineer?

“Civil engineering is the oldest and most diverse branch of engineering. In its broadest sense, the civil engineer adapts the physical features of the earth to the needs of society. According to the University of Florida, approximately one out of four engineers is engaged in civil engineering.”

Civil engineers design, construct, maintain, and operate infrastructures, while simultaneously safeguarding public and environmental health and upgrading neglected structures and systems.Civil engineering reaches from the natural environment to the constructed environment, focusing on interactions between the two, with an emphasis on sustainability.

Combining atmospheric and energy sciences, civil-engineers study climate, air pollution, and weather, addressing problems which might be solved through renewable energy systems. They examine the availability of renewable resources (wind, hydropower and solar), and best practices for their combinations. These kinds of research brought about the first data based wind map and examine the effects of alternative fuels on air pollution..

What Types of Degrees in Civil Engineering Are There?

Universities specializing in engineering fields offer master of science, master of engineering, and doctor of philosophy degrees in civil engineering as well as other branches of engineering technology.

A well-rounded civil engineering program prepares students for careers in civil engineering or for advanced study in the field.

What Are the Prerequisites for a B.S.?

Schools of engineering can vary, but as a rule their requirements are similar. Universities of engineering typically offer the CEE (civil and environmental engineering) degree, and a B.S. in environmental engineering (BS EnvE). The curriculum gives students the fundamentals to address emerging issues regarding air and land resources, human health, water, and environmental restoration.

During the first 2 years, studies include English composition, physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, and introductory engineering. Advanced engineering courses in the third year including solid and fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and laboratories in engineering materials, hydraulic engineering, and environmental monitoring and process engineering.

Student electives are the central focus of fourth-year studies.

All prerequisites must be met before receiving a B.S. Acceptable letter grades in math, physics, chemistry, and COE are required for the B.S. EnvE degree.

What Kinds of Classes Do I Take, and How Long Does it Take Earn a Degree in Civil Engineering?

A typical curriculum for a B.S. in engineering covers a 4-year study agenda. Students who attend school full-time and are successful with their classes can expect to graduate in 4 years. Below you will find a sample of curriculum from UC Berkley.

The classes required for this degree typically line up as follows:

Freshman Year

  • Chemistry
  • Introduction to Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Introduction to Applied Computing
  • Mathematics (Calculus)
  • Physics
  • Reading and Composition
  • Free Electives

Sophomore Year

  • Basic Science Elective
  • Introduction to Solid Mechanics
  • Structure and Properties of Civil Engineering Materials
  • Engineering Data Analysis
  • Engineering Science and Sustainability Elective
  • Mathematics (Calculus, Linear Algebra and Differential Equations)
  • Physics
  • Humanities/Social Studies
  • Free Electives

Junior Year

  • Elementary Fluid Mechanics
  • Mechanics of Structures
  • Elective Core Courses
  • Engineering Science Elective
  • Humanities/Social Studies

Senior Year

  • The Art and Science of Civil and Environmental Engineering Practice
  • Design Elective
  • Engineering Electives
  • Humanities/Social Studies
  • Free Electives

Can I Get a Degree through Online Study?

Online schools for B.S. degrees in engineering are available, but will not be reviewed here. Engineering degrees require laboratory and field classes which are not readily available through online studies. When considering an online degree, keep in mind the course requirements.

What Are Some of the Jobs for Civil Engineers?

Civil Engineers focus on six basic infrastructure systems. The structural engineer focuses on design and analysis of buildings and bridges. The geotechnical engineer designs and builds tunnels, pipelines, embankments, and foundations. The environmental engineer analyzes and solves problems involving air and water quality and management of waste and hazardous materials.

Water resources engineers seek ways to improve water sources through hydrology, meteorology, and fluid dynamics. Construction engineers manage projects for erecting buildings, digging tunnels, and laying roads. Transportation engineers design, construct and maintain highways, railways, airfields and ports.

Graduates work for nongovernmental organizations, private companies, government agencies, public or private institutions, national research laboratories, or educational institutions. As for research, while masters-degree graduates can be involved through projects or assignments, it is primarily only those at the Ph.D. level who perform research in this field.

How Much Does a Civil Engineer Earn?

Bureau of Labor Statistics for Occupational Employment and Wages (BLS) show civil engineers as those who perform planning, designing of building structures and facilities, and overseeing their construction and maintenance. These structures include water and sewage systems, roads and railroads, airports and harbors, bridges and tunnels, channels and dams, irrigation projects and pipelines, and power plants. The Bureau’s data include engineers for geo-technical, architectural, structural, traffic and ocean expertise. Hydrologists are not included.

The mean annual wage for civil engineers in 2011 was $82,710 according to the BLS.

Professional Organizations

There are countless associations for those who have attained their degrees. Professional organizations offer career resources, resources for employers, research opportunities, databases, libraries, web resources, professional networking, and many other opportunities for those with a degree in civil engineering.

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