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Four Amazing Things Civil Engineers Do

Civil engineering. You’ve heard the term, but what does it mean? You might even know someone who IS one. But even if you do know one, do you know what they do all day? If not, don’t feel bad–it’s complicated. Civil engineering is a broad term that encompasses diverse skills and facets of project management. In essence, civil engineers are involved in the start of almost any building, development or infrastructure project. Civil engineers work in both the public and private sectors, seeing building and development projects from conception to completion, and they are involved in just about every phase in between.

Civil engineers have been helping improve the built environment around us since about 4000 BC, when the ancient Egyptians first started trying to create roads and shelters. Today, civil engineering is a multidisciplinary field that makes our lives easier, better and safer in a lot of ways. Let’s take a look at four amazing things civil engineers do.

1. They figure out how to get clean water to us.

Wastewater Consulting: Civil engineering firms that specialize in wastewater consulting figure out how to get clean, safe drinking water to homes and businesses around the world. They work with wastewater treatment facilities to process wastewater safely and effectively. In developing countries, organizations like Engineers Without Borders work to find ways to get clean water into remote villages and other places where water is not available.    

2. They figure out where and how we can build things.

Civil EngineerCivil engineering firms that offer land surveying and site design services help assess building and development projects to ensure that land parcels are acceptable for their intended uses.

Boundary Surveys: By performing boundary surveys, they will determine the exact boundaries of a land parcel and identify any easements or encroachment issues with adjoining pieces of land.

Topographic Surveys: Through topographic surveys, they check to make sure that the elevations, along with all natural and man-made elements of the parcel, will not impede the project as it moves forward.

ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys: ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys take the process one step further by also identifying neighboring property owners, encumbrances, cemeteries, water features and access routes. Zoning classifications and floodplains can also be included in an ALTA/NSPS survey.

Construction Staking: Construction staking, also known as site layout surveying, is completed by taking the plans for a building project and physically staking it out on the land it will be built on. This process ensures that the physical properties of the parcel align with the blueprints to make sure construction will proceed smoothly.

 3. They make sure that land is properly used and that buildings are safely designed and built.

civil engineersSite Feasibility Studies and Land Use Planning: Civil Engineers conduct site feasibility and land use studies before plans for a building are even drawn up. They’ll consider physical issues like site topography, utilities and boundaries along with regulatory issues such as zoning and permitting.

Site Design: Once they’ve analyzed all of that data, they’ll create a site design plan and consult with the architects of the project to confirm that the vision can, in fact, become a reality.

As-Built Surveys: As-Built Surveys (also known as in place surveys) can be performed midway through construction and are required when construction is complete in order to show the building’s compliance with local building standards and safety regulations.

4. They make sure our buildings are accessible and, in some cases, green.

Accessibility and ADA Compliance: Civil engineers can assist with accessibility issues on new construction as well as retrofitting existing buildings. They can procure the necessary permits and help navigate the regulatory maze of local, state and federal laws that pertain to ADA issues.

LEED (Green) Design: Civil engineering firms that specialize in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) or “green” design, make sure that new building projects are making the best use of resources like water and energy with a low carbon footprint. LEED design also focuses on improving indoor environmental quality as well, to ensure that those who occupy the building are comfortable.

So, the next time you’re enjoying a cold glass of water from the tap, admiring a new construction project, or visiting an accessible or green building, you’ve got a civil engineer to thank for that. So go ahead… ask them what they do all day. It’s really quite interesting.

About Roger Ward Engineering:

Roger Ward Engineering (RWE) is a locally owned civil engineering and consulting firm based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Roger Ward is a veteran-owned business that specializes in: