What is Civil Engineering

Institution of Civil Engineers, One Great Geor...

Institution of Civil Engineers, One Great George Street, London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Civil engineering is a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including works like roads, bridges, canals, dams, and buildings. Civil engineering is the oldest engineering discipline after military engineering and it was defined to distinguish non-military engineering from military engineering”. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Civil Engineering is really the application of physics and mathematics in to real life needs. This subject has been existed from the beginning of the human. But, people really needed this subject after they began to live in shelters. The oldest structures in which civil engineering principles had been used are found in ancient Egypt. Pyramids and many of the buildings constructed during this period fall in to this category. With the invention of the wheel, people needed better quality roads. This way, with the improvement of the science, the civil engineering disciplines expanded in to several branches. When the population is increased, their needs increased more rapidly and at the same time due to the limitation of space and resources, people needed to construct larger or complex structures like high-rise buildings, dams, harbors and so on. So, the people needed civil engineering more and more.

With the development of the world, people experienced not only scarcity of natural resources, but also many natural and manmade disastrous situations. For all these things, they needed to find solution through civil engineering. Therefore, civil engineering disciplines such as structural engineering, transportation engineering, environmental engineering, coastal engineering, material engineering, geotechnical engineering, earth quake engineering, surveying etc. became not only more and more popular but also more and more useful.

With the establishment of the Institution of Civil Engineers in London in 1818, the civil engineering was given recognition as a profession.  Accordingly, a person who needs to become a professional Civil engineer should possess a certain minimum level of studies and experiences.   A professional civil engineer should follow certain set of principles as recognized by the professional bodies like the Institution of Civil Engineers in London and should be responsible for the work he does.

As defined by the Institution of Civil Engineers’ original charter, 1828 Civil Engineering is “…the art of directing the great sources of power in nature for the use and convenience of man, as the means of production and of traffic in states, both for external and internal trade, as applied in the construction of roads, bridges, aqueducts, canals, river navigation and docks for internal intercourse and exchange, and in the construction of ports, harbours, moles, breakwaters and lighthouses, and in the art of navigation by artificial power for the purposes of commerce, and in the construction and application of machinery, and in the drainage of cities and towns.”

As a whole, what is expect from the civil engineering is planning, construction and maintenance of a fixed structures or a public work as they related to earth, water or civilization and their processes. So, in Civil Engineering, it is expected that the person whom the product is to be owned deserve five ‘Right’s. Accordingly, the respective work should be for Right person at the Right place using the Right materials at the Right time and at the Right Price. Therefore, the satisfaction of the person or the people who need the product or the service is very important while respecting the rights and the needs of the rest of the people.

N. Wimalsiri
Freelance Writer
Consultant on Planning and Construction of Buildings and Roads
Consultant on Geotechnical Engineering problems


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