I don’t want to start by defining what Civil Engineering is or what it fully entail. You may get bored or start to think I’m smart. Yes I do get the ‘wows’ from people followed by a raise in the eye brows and a brief moment of pause, whenever someone asks me what I do. Believe me, I’m not smart I’m just like YOU. Any course/degree is equally as challenging as the others. Now, think of everything around you.
Your house, place of work, place of exercise/sport, leisure & shopping centres, pedestrian and cyclist pavements, the roads you relentlessly drive on everyday to work, trains you hop on everyday to dodge traffic, some of the magic tricks behind your daily energy supply, the safety and soothing bedrock behind the take-offs and landing from the aeroplanes in the airports, bridges & skyscrapers.
You probably only captured the last two – ‘bridges & skyscrapers’, right? Perhaps not! In short Civil Engineering : designs, builds and maintain infrastructures around you. In what areas exactly? you may ask. Four key areas :
Structural, Geotechnical, Hydraulics/drainage & Transportation. You get your bridges, skyscrapers, buildings from the first one. This’s where you’d find the math gurus’ as they work out all the mathematics involved (using software simulations) of any structural construction ensuring it doesn’t collapse.
Before you build anything you need to ensure that the ground/soil is fit for purpose – This’s where the Geotechnical Kings walks in, making sure that your building doesn’t sink into the ground pre & post after construction. Most/some of your energy supply comes from natural and renewable sources – eg water.
Dams are built to enhance and generate the force of water which is converted from mechanical to electrical energy and in turn switches on your TV. Yes, literally switches on your TV. Potable water pipes are carefully distributed in the ground and strategically designed to allow the right amount of water to households & cyclically whenever you flush your toilets it goes somewhere safe and gets treated (sewage treatment plants) carefully.
Drainage/gutters designed to circulate and distribute surface water we get from various rainfalls – which in turn prevents flooding. This’s where the Hydraulics/drainage minds takeover. Finally, Transportation! the biggest of all where you have your roads/highways, train tracks and airports. At this point I may have bored you but hang in there.
As a Civil Engineer you could work in any of these 4 sectors depending on whether you want to be on site or in the office or perhaps a bit of both. Meaning, if you choose to be on the design side you could be designing anything from those 4.
Whereas, if you’re a more practical and hands person you’d be working on site, managing Engineering works and see everything being built from scratch and at the same time doing office/design based work (depending on who you work for). What ever floats your boat. Right…! Interestingly, before I chose this path, I was on a completely different one years back. I call it a twist. There’s always a twist to a journey.
My Engineering Journey started in Milton Keynes College. Where I spent a substantial amount of years (4yrs) studying a mixture of electrical, mechanical and a bit of design.
More like what you would call generic Engineering. To be honest I have forgotten most of what I learnt – remember I told you I’m not smart. But it created a path to which I was exposed to the different types of Engineering out there, before going to University.
My time there was great, fun, friendly and teachers were very kind and supportive. Hopefully I get to revisit there someday. I know you thought you’d be seeing pictures of bridges etc…hang in there we will get there, eventually. For now sit tight and you’d see how everything start to unfold, indeed there is more to tell and more be told.