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Do civil engineers design anything?

MadLad0913MadLad0913 7 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
For example, can a civil engineer design governmental buildings, airports, bridges, etc.? And if I do become a civil engineer will I only be limited to building one thing like airports (specialization)?
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Replies to: Do civil engineers design anything?

  • ClassicMom98ClassicMom98 142 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I'm sorry. Your title me laugh. No, we just go to an office and sit there and tap at a keyboard. That's probably what my kids would say I do. :)

    Civil Engineering is a very broad field. The major groupings are (roughly) structures (bridges/buildings), transportation, water/gas (pressure pipes), storm/sanitary sewer, soils (geotech), environmental, and site design. Larger private firms can be broken into areas/teams. So they might have a group that does bridges. Another group does site work. Another group does environmental. You probably could transfer between groups when starting out, but likely as you get more experience, you'll become more specialized in one general area.

    I have worked for a small municipal government for 22 years. For most of this time, I was the only design engineer, so I became the jack of all trades. I've done typical engineering stuff such as roads, our trail system, all kinds of parking lots, stormwater, & sanitary sewer. I'm the person they go to to decide whether or not we need a new traffic light or if a speed limit should be raised/lowered (though politics can override me). I am the one the ec dev office comes to when they have a client arriving tomorrow and want to see what their building would look like on a site and how much will it cost. I also have helped develop, build, and maintain our GIS system. I've done everything from collecting the data myself to administering contracts for larger/more intensive layers. (I adore GIS since I had to work before it existed. Life is so much easier now!)

    But, the stuff I like to work on the most are projects that do not fall into the typical engineering realm. For several years, I helped the police convict criminals. How? I was the one who took the suspect's cell phone location data and plotted it out on a map to see where they had been. Now, they have there own analyst (boo!) I also am the one who designed all of the large "you are here" maps/signs around town. I also do a lot more, but my H wants to watch a movie. but any other questions, just ask...

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  • MadLad0913MadLad0913 7 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
    If I decide to pursue a civil engineering degree, could I become an architect? The reason why I asked this question is because the college I'm currently planning on attending does not offer architecture (only interior), and switching is not an option due to the tuition waiver they have for native americans.
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  • ClassicMom98ClassicMom98 142 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Wow. Generally, I'm going to say no. Even those building civils and architects both work on the same building, it's really two different jobs. Architects are your dreamers. They are the ones who worry about what it's going to look like and if it's aesthetically pleasing. Civils are your practical, down to earth types. They have to reign in the architects at times, because they are the ones who have to make sure it will stand up and work in reality. Being a licensed architect involves a whole different set of tests and education than civil. But, if there are any building companies that let civil engineers have a say in how it looks, that I really don't know. I believe @MaineLonghorn works more in this field.
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  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 38447 replies2106 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    Yes, it's structural engineers (subset of civil) who design the building structure. @ClassicMom98 describes it well. A very few people become certified as engineers AND architects, but it's rare. The skills needed really are different. I had to take architectural design since I was an architectural engineering major. Even though I was an honors student, I barely squeaked by with a C! I'm not very artistic.

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