If you’re thinking about going into civil engineering then you’ll be wondering where you’ll end up and what you’ll be doing. Well, there are many industries and specialisms you could get into – one thing for certain is that you’ll make a difference in the world.
Here are some of the main industries and sectors you can choose from once you’re qualified.
Many civil engineering companies, like Lagan Construction Group, work on projects to improve and modify existing airports. You could work on the runways, the maintenance and cargo facilities, the terminals and the taxiways.
If you’ve specialised in structural engineering then you could work with highway, railway, geotechnical and environmental engineers. You could go into superstructure design and building, either looking at and working on the foundations or the structure itself.
Of course, buildings are a big sector! There are the new buildings we all need, as well as all our existing buildings, both of which need to be designed, or changed and retrofitted, to meet sustainability targets.
Coastal and marine structures
Work on these types of projects usually involves devising ways to protect coastal areas from rising sea levels and from coastal erosion. There are harder defences like concrete baffles and walls, as well as softer defences like man-made beaches. Engineers in this sector also work on ports, offshore wind farms and tidal energy projects.
Our society is ever more energy-hungry so there’s lots to be done when it comes to designing and building the infrastructure we need to create it. There are newer sorts of projects, like wind and tide power farms, as well as making sure existing oil platforms are stable and safe.
Some civil engineers find their forte as environmental consultants. Everything we do and build affects the environment so it’s important to work out what the impacts of a development will be, as well as to try to reduce them.
Geotechnical engineers look at the foundations of structures – rock, boreholes, soil and so forth. They have to make sure that the ground underneath a project will be safe and stable. This field usually needs postgraduate study.
This is one of the more challenging areas to get into. Offshore civil engineering is usually within the oil and gas industry and engineers are responsible for designing and installing oil platforms, as well as undersea structures, pipelines and similar. This work also tends to involve looking at the seabed to determine its stability, as well as performing feasibility studies and designing foundations for structures.
Those railways don’t just appear! Railway engineers design, build and maintain the railway infrastructure so it runs as smoothly as possible. This involves all the earthworks, the drainage, tunnels, slopes, power and the internal communications.
This is a specialist area, with structural and geotechnical engineers needed. There are also other specialisms involved – experts in rock tunnels, digging and securing shafts, underground caverns and stations to name but a few. Engineers on these projects have to look at safety, cost and location to make sure the works don’t affect the environment or any buildings above the ground.
Public health and water
Communities, from the smallest hamlets to the biggest megacities, all need clean water coming in and dirty water taking out. To do this, huge drainage systems need to be devised and built, as do the treatment facilities for waste water, as well as flood defences.