Civil Engineering

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Civil engineering is a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction and maintenance of the physical and natural built environment, including works such as bridges, roads, canals, dams and buildings.[1][2][3] Civil engineering is the oldest engineering discipline after military engineering,[4] and it was defined to distinguish it from military engineering.[5] It is traditionally broken into several sub-disciplines including municipal engineering, environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, transportation engineering, wind engineering, geographic information system, water resources engineering, materials engineering, coastal engineering,[4] surveying, and construction engineering.[6]

Engineering has been an aspect of life since the beginnings of human existence. Civil engineering might be considered properly commencing between 4000 and 2000 BC in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia when humans started to abandon a nomadic existence, thus causing a need for the construction of shelter. During this time, transportation became increasingly important leading to the development of the wheel and sailing. The construction of Pyramids in Egypt (circa 2700-2500 BC) might be considered the first instances of large structure constructions. Other ancient historic civil engineering constructions include the Parthenon by Iktinos in Ancient Greece (447-438 BC), the Appian Way by Roman engineers (c. 312 BC), and the Great Wall of China by General Meng T’ien under orders from Ch’in Emperor Shih Huang Ti (c. 220 BC).[6]

Until modern times there was no clear distinction between civil engineering and architecture, and the term engineer and architect were mainly geographical variations referring to the same person, often used interchangeably.[7] In the 18th century, the term civil engineering began to be used to and exchange, and in the construction of ports, harbours, moles, breakwaters and lighthouses, and in the art of distinguish it from military engineering.[5]

The first self-proclaimed civil engineer was John Smeaton who constructed the Eddystone Lighthouse.[6][4]
In 1771 Smeaton and some of his colleagues formed the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers, a group of leaders of the profession who met informally over dinner. Though there was evidence of some technical meetings, it was little more than a social society.

In 1818 the Institution of Civil Engineers was founded in London, and in 1820 the eminent engineer Thomas Telford became its first president. The institution received a Royal Charter in 1828, formally recognising civil engineering as a profession. Its charter defined civil engineering as:[8]

“…the art of directing the great sources of power in nature for the use and convenience of man, as the means of production and of traffic in states, both for external and internal trade, as applied in the construction of roads, bridges, aqueducts, canals, river navigation and docks for internal intercourse navigation by artificial power for the purposes of commerce, and in the construction and application of machinery, and in the drainage of cities and towns.”

The first degree in Civil Engineering in the United States was awarded by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute[9] in 1835.

The building of large structures can be traced back to Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece, following the Ancient Egyptians. They include the Lighthouse of Alexandria and the Great Pyramids as well as countless temples and funerary monuments, such as obelisks. The Romans developed the most useful structures throughout their empire, including especially aqueducts, insulae, harbours, bridges, dams and roads.

Civil engineering is the application of physical and scientific principles, and its history is intricately linked to advances in understanding of physics and mathematics throughout history. Because civil engineering is a wide ranging profession, including several separate specialized sub-disciplines, its history is linked to knowledge of structures, materials science, geology, soils, hydrology, environment, mechanics and other fields.

Throughout ancient and medieval history most architectural design and construction was carried out by artisans, such as stone masons and carpenters, rising to the role of master builder. Knowledge was retained in guilds and seldom supplanted by advances. Structures, roads and infrastructure that existed were repetitive, and increases in scale were incremental.[10]

One of the earliest examples of a scientific approach to physical and mathematical problems applicable to civil engineering is the work of Archimedes in the 3rd century BC, including Archimedes Principle, which underpins our understanding of buoyancy, and practical solutions such as Archimedes Screw.


Archimedes Screw

One thought on “Civil Engineering

  1. Veenesha says:

    Are you a graduate professional civil engineer ? Well there is an exciting opportunity to engineer the success of your career. Our client is an industry leader and they are looking for graduate civil engineers to join their dynamic team in Perth Australia. Please email me your CV if you have a degree in civil engineering. veenesha@gse.sg

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