The Multiplicities of Civil Engineering

 In S.T.E.M Careers

This week we tackle the lifestyle of civil engineers. Probably the most diverse of all engineering fields, civil engineers tackle a multitude of duties. Before we get into the all of the different ways civil engineers impact society, let’s first get an understanding of exactly what they do.

John Westphal, a State Construction Structures Engineer for the Florida Department of Transportation states that “The civil engineer’s greatest contribution to society is that he serves countless people, providing a safe and durable infrastructure, the integrity and safety of which is taken for granted by those who use it.”

Civil engineering is arguably the oldest engineering discipline. It is defined as the application of physical and scientific principles for solving the problems of society. The history of civil engineering is linked to advances in science and mathematics, specifically material science, geography, geology, soils, hydrology, environment, physics and mechanics.

Civil engineers have the strenuous task of dealing with the design, construction, and maintenance of physical and naturally built environments. Such tasks include projects like designing and maintaining roads, bridges, canals, dams, and buildings. Since civil engineers work on such a vast array of projects, the field is typically broken down into multiple subdivisions, with individuals specializing in one of the many branches.

Construction engineers:

This civil engineering branch deals with the planning, construction and maintenance of structures. Construction engineers work with designs from other engineers to ensure that all plans are implemented to their exact specifications. They can be considered a cross between an engineer and manager as they will oversee their project from start to finish. They work with designs from site developers as well as environmental, structural, and transportation engineers.

Geotechnical engineers:

In geotechnical engineering, the engineer studies soil, foundations, and bearing capacities. The engineer will study the behavior of the earth materials and how they will affect a structure that is to be constructed. They will also evaluate pre-existing structures that are showing signs of problems with the earth materials under or near the structure.

Structural engineers:

This branch of civil engineering encompasses the structural analysis and design of structures. It is the responsibility of the structural engineer to analyze and design a structure that will safely bear or resist the stresses, forces and loads placed upon it. The design must satisfy the project specifications while meeting all safety regulations. Structures are designed to endure massive loads as well as natural disasters and climate changes.

Transportation engineers:

Civil engineers that specialize in transportation engineering work with the planning, construction and management of transportation facilities. They design and implement the infrastructures that deal with transportation in order to provide a safe, comfortable, convenient, economical and environmentally-compatible mode of transport. There are six divisions related to transportation engineering: highway, air, waterway, aerospace, coastal & ocean, and urban transportation.


This type of civil engineering branch handles the surveying and leveling of land by using different instruments to map and contour the terrain. This is done to locate and measure property lines, layout buildings, bridges, channels, highways, and pipelines for constructions. Surveyors are generally classified into two categories: plane surveying and geodetic surveying.

Water Resource Engineering:

These engineers deal with the design and construction of hydraulic structures. These structures include dams, canals and water-distribution systems. The engineer is responsible for the design of the structure as well as the implementation and safety precautions that must be closely adhered to when dealing with hydraulic structures.

Environmental Engineering:

Environmental engineers study pollution, sewage management, and the environmental effects of different factors. Many engineers focus solely upon the crisis of pollution and coming up with solutions thereto as well as determining new and inventive ways for sewage management and other environmental entities. They seek to create a more sustainable environment.

Municipal Engineering:

These engineers will work with urban or city governments on the planning and management of the township. They ensure that the structures within the municipality are properly designed and implemented. Most of these engineers work directly with government officials to improve upon issues involving specifying, designing, constructing, and maintaining streets, sidewalks, water supply networks, sewers, street lighting, municipal solid waste management and disposal, and storage depots for various bulk materials used for maintenance and public works.

Coastal Engineering:

This branch of civil engineering deals with coastal and marine structures. These structures include groynes (a rigid hydraulic structure built from an ocean shore or from a bank (in rivers) that interrupts water flow and limits the movement of sediment) and embankments. These engineers not only ensure that the structures are erected correctly, but also safeguard the ecology of the coastal regions.

Tunnel Engineering:

Civil engineers who specialize in tunnel engineering are responsible for the planning, designing, construction, safety and maintenance of tunnels. There are specifications that must be adhered to when working with tunnels for roadways, waterways or trains.

Earthquake Engineering:

Earthquake engineers study the seismic forces and earthquake resistant structures. In regions that are known for seismic activities, engineers must design and construct structures based on how well they will react within an earthquake situation.

Material Engineering:

This branch of civil engineering deals with the study of material strength, properties of materials used in construction and ceramics. These engineers will determine the best possible materials to be used for a project based on that project’s specifications.

The American Society of Civil Engineers, founded in 1852, has over 150,000 members. The ASCE’s motto is “Civil engineers are global leaders building a better quality of life.” As you can see by the field’s diversity, this motto holds true.

The employment of civil engineers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2014 to 2024. We at believe that civil engineering is the cornerstone of progression when it comes to developing, building, and maintaining the world’s infrastructures and we are doing our part to ensure that the future will not lack the civil engineers it will need. Below are a few of our STEM kits designed to ensure that our roles as motivators and educators are fulfilled.

Marble Tracks Kit

Let your students discover principles of motion with this exploratory kit. Its open-ended design makes it perfect for both guided lessons as well as student-directed stations. Designed to fit a standard marble, simply insert the marble into the track, apply a force and watch the change in motion. Have students anticipate the behavior of the marble once it leaves the track and set up games and goals for students to accomplish. This kit also makes a great backdrop to investigate pipe and tunnel studies, investigating the benefits and disadvantages of different track designs.

Stacking Blocks Kit: Engineering Expansion (COMING SOON)

Let your students become engineers with this adaptable kit! Build and test bridges or create skyscrapers that can withstand natural forces. Add weights to investigate load-bearing capabilities, or place in front of a fan to determine stability. Also great for cost-benefit analyses as the students have to compare materials cost with functionality to determine the best solution in a multi-dimensional, real-world environment.

Extended New York Balance Kit

This hands-on kit allows for an exploratory look at the effectiveness of lever arms and creates an interactive environment for students to casually learn and understand complex interactions within simple machines. Extending the function of the New York Balance, this kit allows for additional applications of physics principles and proportional reasoning. Includes parts to investigate type 2 levers.

Urban Ecology Kit (COMING SOON)

Design your own cities to accommodate businesses, urban housing, traffic flow, and more, all while considering the ecological impact of different design features. Look at how different designs impact a variety of wildlife to create the most environmentally-friendly city!

Civil Engineer is #22 on US News list of Top STEM Jobs.

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