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Civil Engineering Easy?

numba1numba1 Posts: 85Registered User Junior Member
edited March 2011 in Engineering Majors
Is civil engineering perceived as easy and "not real engineering?"
Post edited by numba1 on
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Replies to: Civil Engineering Easy?

  • CorbettCorbett Posts: 1,599Registered User Senior Member
    Is civil engineering perceived as easy

    It's been suggested that civil engineering programs are less obsessed with "weeding out" undergraduates, and are less likely to have killer grading curves, than other engineering programs.

    But if this is true, it may because CEs typically have to undergo a rigorous licensing program after graduation, while other engineers typically do not. Most engineers will never take another exam after they graduate from college. For CEs, the exams continue -- and get harder -- after college.
    "not real engineering?"

    Most engineers design industrial or consumer products at firms run by MBAs. In this environment, engineering opinions are often secondary to those held by the accounting, legal, and marketing depts. If you don't believe this, then you haven't been reading "Dilbert".

    Civil engineering firms are typically run by a partnership of PEs, who have the final say on all designs. A PE takes personal responsibility for his or her design or report, and under state law, nobody but another licensed engineer can legally change it.

    You can decide which is "real engineering".
  • sakkysakky Posts: 14,759- Senior Member
    It's been suggested that civil engineering programs are less obsessed with "weeding out" undergraduates, and are less likely to have killer grading curves, than other engineering programs.

    But if this is true, it may because CEs typically have to undergo a rigorous licensing program after graduation, while other engineers typically do not. Most engineers will never take another exam after they graduate from college. For CEs, the exams continue -- and get harder -- after college.

    This also gets to what you want to do with your degree. Plenty of engineering graduates, whether in CivE or any other engineering discipline, will never work a day in their lives as engineers. It's become something of a running joke at MIT that many of the best engineering students will never work as engineers, but instead opt for management consulting or investment banking. Then there are those engineering students who head off to grad school in other fields, i.e. law or medicine.

    One might reasonably ask why would you even get an engineering degree if you don't actually plan to be an engineer? The most straightforward answer is probably that the degree gives you a backup career. If your other options don't work out, then you can just take a job as an engineer.
  • CorbettCorbett Posts: 1,599Registered User Senior Member
    For CEs, the exams continue -- and get harder -- after college.

    Just for context, note that the NCEES Civil PE exam is 8 hours long. Complete national statistics aren't available, but for California, the overall pass rate was 38.7% for the October 2006 exam.

    You can expect some tough exams in any college engineering program. But probably not 8 hours long, with a flunk rate in excess of 61%.

    If that's not hard enough, consider specializing in structural engineering. In this case, California requires 16 additional hours of testing, and the additional tests are generally considered harder. For example, the flunk rate on the 8-hour SE-II exam in April 2006 was 77.1%.

    Of course, there are PE exams in other engineering disciiplines too, and they are also tough. But for most non-civil engineers, PE exams are not required, and are typically not pursued.
  • toronto_guytoronto_guy Posts: 261Registered User Junior Member
    Civil engineering is very challenging, like other branches of engineering. I think the ease or difficulty of a type of engineering depends on one's aptitude, or lack thereof, for the subject matter.
  • Macaxeira33Macaxeira33 Posts: 3Registered User New Member
    No way!

    CE is very challenging and demands a lot of responsibility. I would say is one of the hardest.

    Do you think is easy to design a Skyscraper (Sears Tower)? A hydroelectric Dam (Hoover Dam)? A bridge capable of withstand tornados, etc…?
  • Macaxeira33Macaxeira33 Posts: 3Registered User New Member
    Do you think Skyscrapers, hydroelectric Dams, Power plants, tall bridges, etc… is not real engineering? So, what it is real engineering for you?

    Civil engineering is the real thing. It takes balls to be a Civil Engineer. It is not like CE. Oops, I made a mistake. All I have to do is update my software.

    As a Civil Engineer there’s no room for “Oops, I made a mistake”.

    I had to study genetic algorithms to develop reservoir operation rules for a hydropower station. Many CE would brush-off Computer and EE geeks.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 34,788Registered User Senior Member
    As others have mentioned, civil engineers continue to take tests for Professional Engineer.

    In many cases, other engineers can make real life prototypes for testing before sending the final design off the manufacturing (though mistakes sometimes do get through, such as computer chips with bugs, cars or parts of cars that are unreliable, etc.). That can be impractical or expensive for a civil engineer's project that is a one of a kind large building, bridge, dam, etc.. And a failure can have much more catastrophic consequences, so the design has to be right the first time (although some electrical, mechanical, and computer engineers work on things that have very catastrophic consequences of failure, like airplanes and spacecraft).
  • GLOBALTRAVELERGLOBALTRAVELER Posts: 2,846Registered User Senior Member
    Usually we would "ice cream" threads like these, but....there is nothing easy about...

    Calculus I
    Calculus II
    Calculus III
    Differential Equations
    Linear Algebra
    Probability
    Statistics
    Chemistry I
    Physics I: Mechanics
    Physics II: Electricity & Magnetism
    Physics III: Intro to Quantum and/or Modern Physics

    Within your first 5 semesters of college
  • ShacklefordShackleford Posts: 609Registered User Member
    Do all civil specialties require a PE?

    Why would CivE take Modern Physics/QM? It's not required at my university, nor is probability and statistics.
  • GLOBALTRAVELERGLOBALTRAVELER Posts: 2,846Registered User Senior Member
    Why would CivE take Modern Physics/QM? It's not required at my university, nor is probability and statistics.

    Actually my post was generalize most engineering/math/physical science majors...so there may be a course or two that does not apply to all. Still, U-Texas may think Prob & Stats is needed.
  • ShacklefordShackleford Posts: 609Registered User Member
    I see.

    Do all civil specialties require a PE?
  • GLOBALTRAVELERGLOBALTRAVELER Posts: 2,846Registered User Senior Member
    Do all civil specialties require a PE?

    Oh, I am sorry. I would not know but I can ask some CE's. I know about Math, CS and Systems/Industrial Engineering. I only know about Civil as it relates to general coursework and maybe some math applications.
  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn Posts: 17,146Super Moderator Senior Member
    I wasn't required to take Probability or Statistics, but I wish I had! I took the first two semesters of physics. I think that's still the requirement.

    Most civil engineers get a PE, because they have to put their engineering seal on drawings.
  • Aggie10Aggie10 Posts: 60Registered User Junior Member
    I agree with the OP. Civil Engineering is not "real engineering." Bridges, buildings, roads, dams, water treatment systems, storm water systems, foundations, offshore platforms, and many other things in the built environment typically design and build themselves. The civil engineer just "pretends" to engineer them.
  • CorbettCorbett Posts: 1,599Registered User Senior Member
    Do all civil specialties require a PE?

    Basically, yes. There are different types of civil engineers, but they all design and build various forms of infrastructure. In general, state law requires that you be licensed to work on infrastructure.

    It's true that in some states, there are certain civil specialties that don't require a PE -- but that's only because they have an alternative, even more rigorous, form of licensing. For example, many states have a separate or supplemental licensing track for structural engineers, in which case you need an "SE" license. A few states also have a separate or supplemental "GE" licensing track for geotechnical engineers.
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