Thursday, February 7, 2008

Career, Civil Engineering!

Today I would like to talk about what do in life, how we earn for a living, many would call it as a job but some would call it a career. The difference between a job and career in my point of view is that a job is what you are doing in the present while the latter is what you are doing now and what you intend to do in the future or maybe for the rest of your life. Let me start with civil engineering.

As you can see in my profile, I am a civil engineer. For the sake of those readers who have less knowledge about what civil engineers do, I would give you some of the fields where we can work or we can fit into.

I always argue with friends that are not in the same engineering field as mine (mechanical, electrical, chemical, etc.) that civil engineering is the broadest of all the engineering disciplines. Because of that I would tell them that it is the most difficult of all because of its scope. Besides, if you would pursue the master’s study in C.E., this field is the one that have the most number of specialization. Fellow civil engineers are you with me? Let me just give you some of the fields where we could be of use. (This is as far as I know because there are still areas which civil engineers could work that I dont know.)


A civil engineer who is very adept with the theories and laws behind civil engineering can be a good candidate in this field. Not only the laws and theories but also the latest technologies and/or softwares used in engineering. Nowadays, it is already a must that an engineer knows how to create or read drawings using the AutoCAD software. Thanks to Autodesk, drawings have become much easier and finer than the convetional way of doing it. I started with this field because my family and relatives are educators and I have also been into this field. Let us face it, we could not be here if not of these educators who unselfishly thought us to become what we are now.

Structural Engineering

Who knows Michael Scofield? Prison Break? Well to those who dont know him, Michael Scofield is a character played by Wentworth Miller in the suspense series Prison Break. He is a civil engineer and is specializing in structural engineering. The is the most complex and the most difficult because here, you would most probably use almost all the theories behind civil engineering. You would basically do all the math and design in this field. The very main purpose of structural engineering is the stability of every structure, how to make it strong that it would not collapse upon application of loads. No, no, no, I will not discuss any further. Some readers might not want to read all the technical aspects of it.

Geotechnical Engineering

Somewhat related to structural engineering for this talks about the properties of the soil that would be needed in foundation design of the structure. A soil test is usually what the engineers in this field do. They test the soil for its properties and makes appropriate recommendations on what would be the best type of foundation to be used for a certain construction. Still, I would not discuss the types of foundations because of its technicalities.

Water Resources

I think the most qualified person to discuss matters regarding water are not chemical engineers or chemists but civil engineers in the field of water resources. For those of you who dont know, fluid mechanics and hydraulics which are major sbujects is one part of our board exam. Civil engineers study properties of water both in statics and dynamics. Piping, dams, channels what we do in this field.

Transportation and Traffic Engineering

I don’t have much exposure in these fields but from the word itself I would say that it would tackle on horizontal structures which would be used in transportation. Both of these are also subjects in civil engineering and can be a specialization in civil engineering.

Project/Construction Management

This phase comes when actual construction of a project is on going or about to start. Although engineers here say that project and construction management is different from each other, it does resemble one objective, to make the project coordinated and finished on time. Project management is more of coordinating indifferences between the client/owner, consultants, contractors, etc. while construction management manages problems on site and coordinates works on site to arrive at the most efficient output and do the job right at the scheduled time.

Earthquake Engineering

This engineering specialization is still somewhat related to structural engineering. Earthquate engineers study the relative effects of earthquake movements to the structure. They define the earthquake loadings to a certain structure that is needed in the structural analysis of that structure.

Wind Engineering

Still related to structural engineering. Engineers responsibility in this field is to give the most possible wind loads that a structure would resist. They do wind tunnel test to come up with these loads. Wind tunnel testing is not only used in structures but also in doing race cars. They do wind tunnel testing to automobiles for it to resist the wind effects as it moves.

Design and Detailing

Most of the companies in engineering are making big bucks in this field of engineering. Although you can be a detailer even if you are not an engineer, I think the most capable person of doing such are engineers for they possess all the needed knowledge in detailing. There are different detailing which can be done in civil engineering. We have steel detailing, rebar detailing, facade detailing to mention a few of these detailing.

Sanitary Engineering

Although this field is already separate from civil engineering, the core subjects here are those from civil engineering. Here in the Philippines, if a civil engineering graduate would take up this course, he would just have to take a few subjects most of which are only specialized subjects in sanitary engineering. You may be able to finish the course in one and half year and to some schools, maybe a year would do. Sanitary Engineers have a different licensure though.

Geodetic Engineering

Before Civil Engineering students who finished their surveying subjects in their third year can take the junior geoditic engineer licensure examination already but this was abolished already a few years back because of the petition of senior geodetic engineers in Congress to abolish the junior geoditic licensure examination. You can also take up this course for the same duration as that of sanitary engineering.

Because of the complexities of the specializations that civil engineering have. It becomes very difficult for civil engineers to specialize in their field. Maybe I am speaking through my experiences. So fellow civil engineers, which would you want to specialize on? At this point in time, I want to specialize still in structural engineering. It is where I would be satisfied as a civil engineer. I may not be involved in such field fully but that time will come. I do hope.

What I can advise to my fellow civil engineers and professionals on other fields is just do their job however small that be because all objectives can be reached by your institution if each and every one of you would do his job. Be a role player. Just do it says NIKE. After all you are just employees of your respective companies, do what they ask you to do. If it is not agreeable to you then find another job or create a job that suits your need and makes you happy and fulfilled. Have your own business if you can. That I intend to do in the near future.

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