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Consider Challenging Yourself by Becoming a Civil Engineer

  • 11 March, 2022

Civil engineering offers one of the most unique opportunities and career paths for aspiring engineers. Many of the world's largest projects involve civil engineers and their expertise. Additionally, there are limitless avenues one can pursue within the world of civil engineering. This post covers nine of the best reasons you should consider challenging yourself by becoming a civil engineer.

Consider Challenging Yourself by Becoming a Civil Engineer

1. You Want to Solve Big Problems

Like anyone else who decides to pursue an engineering field, problem solving is the name of the game. For most, it is what drives and motivates individuals within engineering-the end goal. Civil engineering is no different. Some of the world's biggest challenges have been or will be solved by civil engineers. This includes developing infrastructure that connects society, providing clean access to drinking water for billions of people, building the next tallest building in the world, creating sustainable solutions to fight global climate change, and much more.

The list goes on and on, but civil engineers have, for centuries, been the go-to source for societal improvements. (It is, after all, one of the oldest engineering disciplines on the planet.) The ever-increasing rate of change we see globally across the world to locally within our own neighborhoods demands continued improvements of the natural and physical world around us. This is at the heart of civil engineering. How we as people interact, design, construct, and maintain the physical environment around us is the simplest definition of what civil engineers are responsible for. The world will continue to evolve and have a need to harness the natural world around us-that is where civil engineering comes into play. If you want to pursue a profession that engages daily issues society faces within the natural environment, there is even a branch of civil engineering for you.

You can challenge yourself in civil engineering by pursing big projects of your own, whether they are projects that will be well known or well used or projects that are just well needed. Civil engineering offers the chance to take on large-scale programs and projects that will affect societies as a whole.

2. You Want to Make a Difference

Civil engineering is all about helping people. It is primarily focused on improving the world for the betterment of society, and can be through environmental sustainability, transportation infrastructure, or water resource management to name a few. Civil engineers must not only be enthusiastic about problem solving, but also passionate about helping their fellow humans. Unlike many other engineering professions, civil engineers see the tangible outcomes of their work in projects that are used by billions of people around the world every day.

As a minor example, let's say you design a portion of a highway to improve traffic flow and capacity. While seemingly mundane, both this design and project could affect millions of commuters each year through saving time. Instead of wasting time waiting in traffic, they will have more time to be productive at work or spend a few extra minutes with their loved ones. Throughout the lifetime of many civil engineering projects, millions of peoples' lives have been affected for the better. While people might not notice these impacts, the results are still there, which can be one of the most rewarding aspects of civil engineering.

Challenge yourself in civil engineering by tackling problems that continue to persist in our society today, including access to clean drinking water and reliable food, access to effective broadband, and sustainability within our consumerist society. Each of these issues is significant and worthy of being solved by a civil engineer. You can be that unique perspective!

3. You Don't Like Doing the Same Thing Twice

Some people like patterns and routines and some people don't. Engineering, and specifically civil engineering, are not for those who like repeated routines. Civil engineering projects often present as unique opportunities that will likely never be explicitly repeated. During my near decade-long experience so far as a; civil engineer, I have never conducted the same project twice. This is one of my favorite aspects about my job; very project presents unique challenges and requires a fresh approach and perspective to address.

Challenge yourself by constantly working on new projects and problems. You will never stop learning in this field and will almost always discover something new each day.

4. You are a Planner

If you are like me, you like to be organized and plan out your days/weeks/months/years/ (more depending on how far you want to go here, ha)! Being an engineer requires you to be organized and plan in advance, which is generally true for most engineering professions. With civil engineering, planning can be a part of your job as well if you want! Civil engineers spend considerable amounts of time working with municipalities or other agencies planning future projects. Given the complexity of the projects at hand, they often require years of advance planning and thought from a technical expert.

Challenge yourself by engaging with local stakeholders and agencies to help plan changes coming to your community.

5. You Want to Join a Global Community

Civil engineering is a universal profession. Every country around the world benefits from having civil engineers and requires them to develop their education further. There are countless associations and organizations that are comprised entirely of civil engineers that gather and share knowledge with one another. This community has local and global groups that regularly push for the progress of civil engineering technologies and the civil engineering profession.

Try joining one of these organizations and getting involved! Even better, take a position within the organization and take on some responsibilities oriented at making progress!

6. You Like Being Creative

Creativity is a must for a civil engineer. As I've already stated, civil engineering projects are all unique, which means the solutions to these problems are also unique. There are many opportunities here to be creative and express yourself in your work in new and innovative ways. Civil engineers also often work alongside architects and get to have input on the outcomes of a collaborative project.

Use your creative traits to design and implement unique solutions to unique projects.

7. You Like Working in Teams

If you are a team player and like working with groups of people, civil engineering could be a very good fit for you. Not only do you have to work with agencies and organizations to meet their demands, you also typically work on design teams. Civil engineering projects are not completed by a single person, nor should they be. Providing and receiving team feedback is something that every good engineer should take advantage of.

Collaborating with fellow engineers to solve civil problems at hand is a challenge for civil engineers, but one that is important to overcome. Work with stakeholders and clients to meet their needs and learn to better engage communities to address their concerns.

8. You Don't Want Just Another Office Job

Some engineering jobs are white collar positions that surround you with four walls inside a cubicle. Civil engineering offers the chance to break that mold and get out into the world that you are designing. Given the nature of civil engineering, projects are often heavily dependent on the local environment and outside factors that require site visits and inspection efforts. Some issues that arise during construction of civil engineering projects often require in-person assessments and evaluations to solve. Civil engineering allows for you to get out of the office and collect real data or observe actual projects coming to life in real time.

Challenge yourself here in civil engineering by taking on jobs that require travel and allow for you to see and touch what you are designing. Compare the reality of the project to what is shown on paper in the plans or in your computer model. Gaining this perspective is invaluable to your career as a civil engineer.

9. You Want to Join a Valued and Respected Profession

Lastly, civil engineering is a highly respected and desirable career path. Civil engineers have existed for centuries and will continue to have a key role in establishing higher quality and more efficient systems that will improve the lives of millions. We will never stop engaging with the world around us-in fact, humanity will continue to evolve and require problem solving skills that civil engineers will be able to provide.

If any of these challenges interest you, you should consider civil engineering. It truly is a unique profession in which you can find true value and satisfaction.

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About the Author: John Holmes

John Holmes is a professional civil engineer who works on airport infrastructure including runways, taxiways, aprons, and terminals. He was born and raised in North Carolina and still lives there where he obtained both his BSCE and MCE from North Carolina State University. In his spare times, John loves spending time with his wife and son. He also enjoys tending to his growing farm and garden, including chickens, turkeys, and goats.

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