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Construction Engineering- Needs and Future

Construction engineering is a professional discipline that deals with the designing, planning, construction and management of infrastructures such as roads, tunnels, bridges, airports, railroads, facilities, buildings, dams, utilities and other projects.

Civil engineering is a related field that deals more with the practical aspects of projects. Construction engineers learn some of the design aspects similar to civil engineers as well as project site management aspects.

At the educational level, civil engineering students concentrate primarily on the design work which is more analytical, gearing them toward a career as a design professional. This essentially requires them to take a multitude of challenging engineering science and design courses as part of obtaining a 4-year accredited degree. Education for construction engineers is primarily focused on construction procedures, methods, costs, schedules and personnel management. Their primary concern is to deliver a project on time within budget and of the desired quality.

 

The difference between a construction engineer and a civil engineer is that construction engineering students take basic design courses as well as construction management courses.

Work Activities

Being a sub-discipline of Civil Engineering, construction Engineers apply their knowledge and business, technical and management skills obtained from their undergraduate degree to oversee projects that include bridges, buildings and housing projects. Construction Engineers are heavily involved in the design and management/ allocation of funds in these projects. They are charged with risk analysis, costing and planning. A career in design work does require a professional engineer license (PE).

 

Individuals who pursue this career path are strongly advised to sit for the Engineer in Training exam (EIT), also, referred to as the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE) while in college as it takes five years’ (4 years in USA) post-graduate to obtain the PE license. Some states have recently changed the PE license exam pre-requisite of 4 years work experience after graduation to become a licensed Professional Engineer where an EIT is eligible to take the PE Exam in as little as 6 months after taking the FE exam.

 

Entry-level construction engineers position is typically project engineers or assistant project engineers. They are responsible for preparing purchasing requisitions, processing change orders, preparing monthly budgeting reports and handling meeting minutes. The construction management position does not necessarily require a PE license; however, possessing one does make the individual more marketable, as the PE license allows the individual to sign off on temporary structure designs.

Abilities

Construction engineers are problem solvers. They contribute to the creation of infrastructure that best meets the unique demands of its environment. They must be able to understand infrastructure life cycles. When compared and contrasted to design engineers, construction engineers bring to the table their own unique perspectives for solving technical challenges with clarity and imagination. While individuals considering this career path should certainly have a strong understanding of mathematics and science, many other skills are also highly desirable, including critical and analytical thinking, time management, people management and good communication skills

Need and Future of Construction Engineering

The employment of Construction engineers is projected to grow 2 percent from 2019 to 2029, slower than the average for all occupations.

 

Thus, as these new projects gain approval, construction engineers will be further involved in overseeing the construction of structures such as wind farms and solar arrays.

 

Civil engineering is one of the oldest branches of engineering that deals with the design and construction of buildings, roads, bridges, and other large-scale structures. It has existed since the first human settlement and has advanced with the construction of large projects such as the Pont du Gard in France and the Great Wall in China. More recently, emerging fields such as artificial intelligence and nanotechnologies have been making shockwaves in numerous fields, civil engineering included. Continue reading below for more details on the future of the civil engineering field.

Reshaping Transportation Engineering

Transportation engineering is a discipline of civil engineering that deals with the infrastructures required to transport people and goods around. With the emergence of semi-autonomous and electric vehicles such as those made by Tesla, roads will have to be changed to adapt to these self-driving vehicles. For example, highway lanes could be organised by the different types of traffic on the road to separate autonomous vehicles from commuter cars and bicycles. The number of charging stations will also need to be increased as more people make the switch to electric vehicles.

Additionally, new ideas such as the Hyperloop can change the future of how people travel. This concept was proposed by Elon Musk and involves the construction of massive tubes extending from one place to another, with pods travelling inside these tubes at speeds of over 700 mph. Since this project involves the construction of massive tubes to house a low-pressure environment, new infrastructures will have to be designed to accommodate these tubes and terminal stations.

Artificial Intelligence and Construction Engineering

Artificial intelligence, or AI, involves machines learning by themselves from previous experience. Some famous examples of AI include chess-playing computers and self-driving cars. In the construction industry, AI has the potential to replace many professional tasks normally delegated to younger engineers. This is because big data, which are large amounts of data banks collected from various projects, can be processed by computers to use as learning experiences. This means that AI can help make many of the crucial decisions traditionally delegated to engineers on a construction site. This will result in huge improvements in the speed of the project delivery and reductions in the overall costs and carbon emissions.

Structural Engineering and the High-Tech Revolution

Structural engineering is another discipline of civil engineering that is facing major changes due to high-tech advancements in the industry. In fact, the future of structural engineering might see structural engineers being made completely redundant. This is mainly due to the advancements in computer modelling that enables the generation of highly complex structures via AI without the help of human power. Cloud computing can enable access to enormous calculating power which will reduce the time and skill required to make these complex designs. For example, the selection of member sizes used in steel-frame structures can now be done within seconds via a computer instead of many days as required by a structural engineer using traditional methods.

One such example of a high-profile project is the construction of the Burj Khalifa, which is the world’s tallest building located in Dubai. The building was designed by structural engineers using computer simulation and modelling to choose the best form after many possible iterations. This final design has been optimized for minimal wind loads and material quantities. Engineers were also able to work on the proposed form directly with architects instead of waiting until the architects’ plans were drawn up.

Nanotechnology in Civil Engineering

Nanotechnology involves the study of materials that are 0.1 to 100 nanometers in size. It is a field that emerged in the past several decades and has numerous applications across a wide variety of fields, including civil engineering. In the construction industry alone, investments have been made by venture capitalists and corporations in the concrete and steel used to build structures. For example, incorporating nano silica, nano-clays, or nano iron particles in the concrete can improve the pore structure of the concrete as well as combat the problem of low strength at the early stages. In the production of steel beams, copper nanoparticles can be added to the surface of the finished product to reduce the roughness which will then reduce the overall stress and fatigue of the structure. Other problems such as corrosion and fatigue can also be reduced with the addition of various types of nanoparticles.

Nanosensors

Nanosensors for Water Quality Monitoring

Sensors have been developed and used in construction to monitor and/or control the environment condition and the materials/structure performance. One advantage of these sensors is their dimension (10 -9m to 10-5m). These sensors could be embedded into the structure during the construction process. Smart aggregate, a low cost piezoceramic-based multi-functional device, has been applied to monitor early age concrete properties such as moisture, temperature, relative humidity and early age strength development. The sensors can also be used to monitor concrete corrosion and cracking. The smart aggregate can also be used for structure health monitoring. The disclosed system can monitor internal stresses, cracks and other physical forces in the structures during the structures’ life. It is capable of providing an early indication of the health of the structure before a failure of the structure can occur.

About the Author

This article is written by Engr. Sher Ali.  

Who is a Civil Engineer by Profession.


(c) Some Rights Reserved.

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