Civil engineering is one of the oldest disciplines and industries in the world. Civil engineering deals with conceptualizing, designing, constructing, and maintaining a physical environment that includes various types of infrastructures. This includes structures such as airports, dams, sewerage, railways, roads, bridges, and many more. Evidently, a civil engineer has a significant impact on the things we use daily and the things we observe in our surroundings.
In today’s blog, we will dive into the relevance of Civil Engineering by covering all its major branches and the different infrastructures that have been made possible because of this discipline. Whether you are a Civil Engineer yourself, an aspiring one, or just anyone interested in the extensiveness of civil engineering and its role in construction in our world today, this article will be helpful for you.
What Are the 9 Major Sub-disciplines of Civil Engineering?
Generally, there are nine major civil engineering sub-disciplines. Each of these branches requires extensive knowledge of math and physics and the ability to solve problems creatively and quickly.
1. Construction and Management Engineering
Construction and management engineering (CEM) is about building things like buildings, roads, bridges, and railways. Construction engineering aims to build these structures in the most efficient, economical, and environmentally friendly, safe, sustainable way possible. Following the construction phase is a project management phase. In this phase, you outline the operation, maintenance, construction crew management, and refurbishment over the lifespan of a particular project. These things need to be properly managed so that the project owner can make sure that there would be a return of investment once the infrastructure is constructed.
Construction Managers or Engineers oversee many types of projects, and their duties include the following:
- Creating construction budgets for projects
- Gathering four resources of construction: staff, equipment, time, and tasks
- Overseeing safety and productivity on project job sites
- Incorporating project management for construction in general
2. Geotechnical Engineering
Out of the nine types of civil engineering sub-disciples, geotechnical engineering deals with understanding how an infrastructure interacts with the ground out that involves the rest of the eight sub-disciplines. Geotechnical engineers assess the different types of ground of all civil projects. Whether it’s made out of soil, sand, or rock, it is the responsibility of the geotechnical engineer to assess how it will interact with a project. This aspect excites most geotechnical engineers because no two grounds are the same regardless of location and type of structure.
Geotechnical engineering involves complex and demanding responsibilities such as:
- Analyzing various soil samples in subsurface investigations
- Conducting on-site tests to determine issues that can be potential safety risks on projects
- Assessing subsurface investigation and on-site tests with computer software
3. Structural Engineering
Designing, analyzing, managing construction projects and other structure’s stability are some of the jobs of a structural engineer. These civil structures need to be built in a way that is certified safe, economical, sustainable, and somewhat pleasing to the eye. Like construction and management engineering or CEM, structural engineering also maximizes math and physics to do the required job. With the use of math and physics, structural engineers can see if all parts of a project have enough strength to take necessary loads, determine a structure’s lifespan, and know if the structure is stable or unstable. Of all the types of civil engineering sub-disciplines, structural engineering plays the most significant role in designing and selecting all the materials for a project.
Some responsibilities that structural engineers are responsible for are the following:
- Calculating the loads and stresses that structures can safely endure
- Assessing and monitoring structures during and after construction
- Surveying job site before the operation even begins to determine requirements
4. Transport Engineering
Transport engineering is the designing, planning, and operation of large transport systems that we often use daily. Whether it’s public or private, everybody needs to have easy access to all available modes of transportation to get anywhere in the world we live in today. There are many ways of transportation, such as road, air, water, and railway. A transport engineer’s role is to ensure that these forms of transportation meet specific building standards and codes. Standards like safety and sustainability need to be met. With the technology we now have, transport engineers are trying to reduce energy and emission use by making them environmentally friendly. Of all the types of civil engineering sub-disciplines, transport engineering is about looking for a way to improve our transportation systems for this year and beyond.
Transport engineers tackle complex tasks that include the following:
- Evaluating project plans and proposals
- Offering recommendations for traffic policies
- Analyzing schematics and data from engineers of other disciplines
5. Water Engineering
How does water interact with bodies with civil structures? Water engineering is all about understanding why natural water systems, like rivers and lakes, behave the way they do. This type of civil engineering involves designing ways to direct and store water. Water engineers design, build and maintain hydraulic structures like dams, canals, and other water distribution systems. Understanding how water bodies work creates a way for people to conserve water. Right now, water engineering is highly focused on dealing with groundwater, floods, and the nature of coastal waters.
Water engineers involve the following responsibilities:
- Designing flood mitigation plans and sewer improvements
- Crafting strategies for mitigating flood issues
- Keeping up to date with water-related policy and developments
6. Environmental Engineering
Environmental engineering focuses on creating innovative ways to conserve highly populated areas and mitigating pollution from destroying the natural resources and the overall environment. Technically, environmental engineers employ detailed analysis on a wide range of environmental issues and provide solutions to these problems. Structures and other projects under environmental engineering help address pressing global issues and enhance control of public health, recycling, pollution, and water.
Environmental engineers are responsible for duties that include but not limited to:
- Studying environmental investigation report
- Conducting quality-control checks and analyzing scientific data
- Monitoring developments on environmental improvement programs
- Designing civil projects that lead to global environmental protection
- Advising government and private agencies about procedures on addressing contaminated areas
7. Earthquake Engineering
Earthquake engineering is a sub-discipline of engineering that concentrates on mitigating potential hazards involving earthquakes for civil structures. Earthquake engineers take the information of earthquake sources to characterize the structural responses and project site effects. Like the other types of civil engineering, earthquake engineering calculates a structure’s seismic safety by considering the same processes: design, location, and construction.
For earthquake engineers, location is everything. For instance, the West Coast is highly prone to earthquakes, for it sits upon the San Andreas Fault.
- Operating specialized instruments such as strong-motion seismographs to analyze ground motions from earthquakes
- Applying their expertise to plan, design, and construct earthquake-resistant structures.
- Checking the stability of structures
8. Forensic Engineering
Forensic Engineering is basically all about identifying what went wrong. By applying civil engineering concepts, forensic engineering determines the cause of machine or structure failure. With reverse engineering, forensic engineers are able to detect the reasons of why a machine, component, or structure failed performance.
Forensic engineers responsibilities involve the following:
- Collecting evidence and data to determine the hypotheses of failure
- Identifying the cause of failure of product, machine, structure
- Offering a scientific conclusion to the likely reason of the failure from analysis
9. Coastal Engineering
This is a sub-type of civil engineering that incorporates coastal geology and the sciences of oceanography to manage erosion where civil structures reside. Coastal engineering nourish beaches, monitors coastal structures, and maintains ports, harbors, and other related coastal navigation properties. In a positive attempt to address ecological and environmental issues, coastal engineering plays a vital role in protecting coastlines.
Some responsibilities that coastal engineers deal with include the following:
- Mitigating shoreline erosion
- Enhancing navigation harbors and channels
- Developing coastal recreation
- Managing pollution in near marine environments
- Protecting structures from a flood brought on by waves, tides, and storms
What Are the Types of Infrastructures Civil Engineers Work On?
Infrastructure projects are what keep the crucial functions of our world alive. These construction projects are responsible for keeping water and electricity flowing to our homes and businesses. Additionally, they manage construction projects like the roads, bridges, and other mass transit modes used to deliver people and goods across the nation. Here are the various types of infrastructure construction projects across the world today.
- Highways, Streets, and Roads
- Mass Transit, Airports, and Airways
- Water Supply and Resources
- Waste Management and Waste Water Management
- Power Generation and Transmission
- Hazardous Waste Removal and Storage
Civil engineers across the world are responsible for many structures we see every day. Bridges, roads, railways, highways, dams, and more have all been created by civil engineers of the past. To say this discipline has a significant impact on our lives would be an understatement. With the development of technology and the emergence of engineering tools such as construction scheduling software, specialized engineering platforms, and never heard before equipment, the future is looking better than before for civil engineers.
There are many sub-disciplines under civil engineering, but each one has an important role to fill. Without these engineers, our society would not come close to being as advanced as we are today.