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The Future of Civil Engineering
4

The Future of Civil Engineering

The Future of Civil Engineering

(OP)
Hello everyone,

I hope you are all doing fine and you are all safe.

My name is Dany and I'm a Lebanese 4th year Civil Engineering student. I know this is a cliché question, but I really want to know, there are a lot of experts here, what do you think will be the future of our profession ?

When I ask Lebanese Engineers, they all seem to be very pessimistic (maybe it is because of the economical crisis we have here). However, having read some online discussions, I sometimes see very positive and optimistic answers.

I really want to know what is the status of Civil Engineering in Europe and the Americas, because I have 2 options: continuing in Civil Engineering, or in Business Consulting. In the Civil Engineering field, and am interested in Geotechnical Engineering and Transportation Engineering.

I would really appreciate you giving me your honest point of view as it could really help me in choosing a good option.

Thank you in advance !

Regards,

Dany

RE: The Future of Civil Engineering

2
Don't depend on professors or grad students for a meaningful answers. You are much better off than an Arts and Science student for a future job. Much of Civil Engineering work depends on public works required by governments. Private work depends on the general economy., but likely pays more. Jobs in public transportation, mainly roadways and bridges as well as all sorts of public engineering are rather steady and comfortable.
In consulting in USA there is more variety and better pay, but can be variable as to steady work.
However there generally are two "branches" of civil engineering. They are routine design and management. Management pays more and is more demanding. If you are a "pusher" gradually move from routine beginning work to management. If you are content to steady 40 hour weeks stay in design. I spent most of my time in geotech field, both the routine and later management of my own firm. It takes time to get there. At 92 years young I still dabble a little with occasional help to a few firms.

RE: The Future of Civil Engineering

(OP)
I see.

Now one question concerning the branches. When you say management, do you mean the site engineering aspect, or is it the project management aspect (planning of the project, dealing with money, etc...)?

Concerning Road Engineering, it is pretty much impossible to work in this field here in Lebanon unless you know a government guy (unfortunately)

The geotechnical engineering career is really interesting. I really enjoyed the soil mechanics and foundation engineering courses, and I do believe they are really the core of Civil Engineering. But I found it very repetitive. Other than lab testing, I found that work consisted of ground piles, anchors and nails, and DWalls only. I don't think new techniques are going to be discovered, at least in the near future.

RE: The Future of Civil Engineering

"or is it the project management aspect (planning of the project, dealing with money, etc...)?" Answer YES. Where ever you work become acquainted with the local contracts for various projects. The job specifications might be given by a government agency or other authority. You need to be familiar with all aspects dealing with getting the work, mainly the paper work, bidding the work, hiring, in addition to engineering specification and directing a group. Many times you are the owner's representative, in charge. You will have to be able to direct a group of people under you. This all takes time to develop and may take several years (10 or so minimum ).

RE: The Future of Civil Engineering

In my case I didn't go that far, but had a materials testing lab business that was developed from a small business of only doing soil testing and writing engineering report as related to soil, rock, support, etc. Some of these testing firms get very varied in what sort of testing and reports are required. That takes quite a lot of costly equipment including drill rigs..

RE: The Future of Civil Engineering

From my experience working in canada as a consultant. Foundation design is pretty routine any growth is with proprietary foundation solutions typically micropile solutions. Earth dam engineering is moving from limit equilibrium stability analysis to instrumentation with iterative deformation modelling in different stages. In transportation roads and railways are still pretty boring the only excitement is in the swamps, bridges and embankment designs with the future looking at precast concrete and geosynthetic reinforcement solutions.

In terms of a career you will find that geotechnical engineers work for the love of the profession. You will find senior technical engineers that have over 40 years of experience choose to retire which essentially means they reduce there working hours and only work on jobs they find interesting or when there close contacts ask for input. You will also see the senior management engineer that has become excellent at client communication and enjoys travelling to meet with client CEOs and senior management to explain engineering to business professionals as well as deal with the headaches of the business. The management track does compensate more than the technical track but is more demanding on time and I find has a lower quality of work life balance as well as more stress.

In choosing between engineering and business, it depends on your goal of finding a career you enjoy working in or just working to make money. I tell my junior engineers that if they don't enjoy doing the work in geotech they should switch to financial services to make money.

RE: The Future of Civil Engineering

DanyGebran:
Whether it be in design, field work or management, with all of the infrastructure building, rebuilding and improvements which we all need to do in all of our countries, I can’t imagine a much better technical profession to be in than Civil and Structural Engineering. Of course, you do need to be interested in this general kind of work. Thus, apparently, your educational direction so far. While you may have some inclination of your interest from your schooling, you might be better able to make a serious determination if you have a few years of real work experience under your belt. At first, try for a job which gives you a variety of experiences rather than a very narrow job description. In your own country, if your government ever gets its act together, and also gets some financial help, you would think that there should be plenty of opportunity for civil/structural work and projects. Wherever you go or whatever you do, you kinda gotta ‘know a guy,’ and that means have contacts (networking), and lots of good experience, so you’ve got something to sell and someone to sell it to. ‘Knowing a guy’ should not mean bribes and pay-offs just to get work. That’s no way to learn and develop. Find work with an established engineering firm, either local or foreign, doing interesting work in your country or elsewhere, which will give you lots of varied experience, so you can determine what you really like. If you have a well-rounded civil degree, it sets you up to learn 10 times more on the job, during your early career. That’s where you learn to put the simple test results or problem answers together for a meaningful solution to the whole problem. That’s where you learn what tests to run, which simple calcs./problems to rough-out to start to find a direction to solve your or your clients problem.

RE: The Future of Civil Engineering

(OP)
dhengr:
First of all I would like to thank you for your answer.

The thing with consulting is that big firms usually come each year to our university to recruit Engineers (Bain & Co., Deloitte, Booz Allen, etc...). No applying in this specific year could mean forgetting about consulting, since you cannot apply as you would for any other job. You will need a referral or some kind of invitation.

This is where I'm lost actually. Having to choose whether to continue in Civil Engineering (which I really like) or Consulting is a difficult choice to make. This is why I'm here asking for some opinions on what the future of Civil Engineering will bi like in the next few years. I know this is a field of ups and downs, but the fact that these recent years this profession was "dead" I would say (especially in the Middle East), troubles me.

RE: The Future of Civil Engineering

When the economy sucks, it sucks for almost everyone. At least engineering gives an opportunity to improve things and therefor is in demand when times are bad. The 2 main things I have seen over the years that are in demand when times are hard are 1) the ability to improve the situation 2) the ability to make you forget the situation

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