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Civil engineering

  1. Oct 27, 2004 #1
    Does anyone have any advice on civil engineering as a career? What are the good/bad sides of the profession? Any advice would be greatly appreciated:)
     
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  3. Oct 27, 2004 #2

    brewnog

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    I was all set on going into Civil Eng before choosing mechanical. The attractions with civil were mainly in construction project management (let's face it, we all love building sites). I did a few work experience placements with a few different interdisciplinary engineering firms before deciding that I wanted to do something much broader, hence choosing Mech.

    If you're not sure (or even if you are), I'd definitely say that the best advice is to get some practical work experience. I reckon if I hadn't done that then I'd be stuck working on sewage systems or something, but if that's your cup of tea...
     
  4. Oct 28, 2004 #3
    i am also thinking about whether to become a civil engineer. if not a civil engineer i am looking at electrical/computer engineering. I don't know much about civil engineering and i guess that is why i can't really make up my mind about any of them.
     
  5. Nov 1, 2004 #4

    Phobos

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    The key to your decision may be in looking at the types of civil engineering that are available. Broad categories include things like environmental engineering, transportation engineering, construction engineering, etc. And then there are specializations within those categories. For example, an environmental engineer may focus on water/wastewater treatment or hazardous waste or air pollution, etc.

    If you have an idea of what kind of work you would like to be doing, then that would help pick which type of engineering to aim for. If you're just entering college, then you'll probably just sign up for "civil engineering" and they'll give you a bunch of introductory classes. As you move through college, you'll start to select specific courses that interest you.

    Identifying good/bad sides depends on the situation.

    In general, engineers get paid more than scientists and there are more job opportunities available. My impression is that civil engineers get paid a little less than other engineers (but the pay is still good). Civil engineers often get to work outside of the office. There are good professional societies too (networking, training, benefits). The work often has some noticeable impact on the world, which can feel good.

    BTW, yes, I'm a civil (environmental) engineer. I'll try to keep an eye on this topic in case you have more questions.
     
  6. Nov 1, 2004 #5
    women in civil engineering

    Hello, thanks for your reply. I'm so happy to actually get advice from an actual civil engineer. I've been looking into civil for a while now, and I think I would be interested in transportation engineering and maybe even environmental. I'm not sure about construction engineering but I haven't ruled it out. My question for you is do you often work with women civil engineers, or any other type for that matter? I have to admit that I am a little hesitant to go into it because i've heard about it being a "boys club" and I fear I won't have the same opportunities as men. I am also african american so that will make me stand out even more. I don't know if that would be a good thing or a bad thing :)
    Also, do you move around often? I've heard that civils often have to relocate to find a new job or project. Has this been the case with you or anyone you know? Alright, I guess I've thrown enough questions your way for now! Thanks in advance for your reply.
     
  7. Nov 2, 2004 #6
    hey phobos which college did you study civil engineering at? which do u think is the best and most affordable?
     
  8. Nov 9, 2004 #7

    Phobos

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    I suppose circumstances vary on that. Back when I was in college (early 90s), boys outnumbered the girls in engineering classes (perhaps 10:1?) but the ratio was getting better over time. The college you're looking into should be able to provide that statistic. When I went to grad school, the ratio was better too (maybe 4:1?).

    Personally, I have not seen a glass ceiling for women engineers (but perhaps I wouldn't notice it, since I'm male). My female supervisor says she has a harder time getting into upper management, but that's the only complaint I've heard. In the company I work for, the ratio (even in management) seems about the same as college. Pay scales are the same as far as I know.

    Standing out can be a good thing, politically speaking.

    For what it's worth, the current president of the American Society of Civil Engineers is a woman. (by the way, be sure to check out the ASCE website)

    Depends on the job/company. I've been lucky & have been very stationary (except for the first couple years...new employees just out of college tend to get shipped around...other than that I might travel once per year). I found a company with several offices nationwide & a nice big contract to work on. That means I get to work locally a lot. Most engineering firms take local work.
    From where I sit, it's the scientists & upper management in the company that does most the long-distance/long-duration travelling.

    One thing to watch out for is a company with a lot of small projects or a sudden big one. Small projects may have you shift around more. And some companies will hire an employee at the start of a project and then do a layoff at the end of the project. Other companies keep their employees for as long as possible.
     
  9. Nov 9, 2004 #8

    Phobos

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    I attended a couple colleges in the Northeast U.S, so I'm really only familiar with that region. One was a private engineering/science college and the other was a state school. Both were excellent. If you really want to know which ones, send me a PM. I don't know of any "bad" engineering schools...just make sure the one you pick is accredited!

    Affordable? They all seem expensive! :surprised I had lots of student loans & parental help for my bachelor's degree and I was able to find a research assistant grant to pay for my master's degree.
     
  10. Nov 9, 2004 #9
    outsourcing

    One more question! Do you think that there is potential for civil engineering to be outsourced to other countries?
     
  11. Nov 10, 2004 #10

    Phobos

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    No problem. Keep them coming.

    Yes, but only up to a point. Engineers from other countries can work on a specific design assignment, but they can't visit a construction site, coordinate with clients, etc.

    Outsourcing is happening in the engineering world, but it doesn't seem to have really impacted my field of environmental engineering yet (which requires a lot of face-to-face work & first-hand observations). My impression is that outsourcing is a not a major problem yet for other engineering fields, but perhaps you could start a new topic on that question to see what other engineers have to say.
     
  12. Nov 10, 2004 #11

    Phobos

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    Funny coincidence...I just now received an email from ASCE saying:

    "The American Society of Civil Engineers*is*leading*a coalition of*80 engineering societies, universities, and corporations to develop and implement*the Extraordinary Women Engineers Project, a national initiative to encourage girls to consider pursuing a degree and subsequent career in engineering."
     
  13. Nov 14, 2004 #12
    Working the the government

    Depsite my fears, I am going to go for civil. I've been doing a lot of thinking and it seems to be the only thing that fits me. I am hoping to work in the southern california area if I get lucky. The only thing I don't like is the fact that you move where the jobs are, they don't really come to you. I am really interested in transportation engineering, so if I end up working for the government, do they take local work also? Or do you relocate in order to finish the project? Thanks again for all your help.
     
  14. Nov 14, 2004 #13
    ASCE elects Galloway first woman president

    ASCE elects Galloway first woman president
    http://www.diversitycareers.com/articles/pro/03-octnov/newsviews.htm

     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2004
  15. Nov 15, 2004 #14

    Phobos

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    Good! At least give it a try. If you’re just entering college, you still have time to change directions if you find out that it doesn’t fit you. My B.S. degree and M.S. degree are in totally different types of engineering (mechanical & civil). You’ll find that many of the introductory engineering courses overlap into many different types of engineering.

    Then just be careful where you decide to work. If you work for a city, then your jobs will have to be local to that city. If you work for the state, then you might work within a particular county/region. If you work for a small company, then you might mainly have small local projects. If you work for a big company, then they might send you many places. (Word of advice: When interviewing, be careful how you ask about travel requirements. Employers will want you to be flexible in job assignments, but it’s a common concern, so it’s ok to ask about if you phrase it right.)
     
  16. Nov 15, 2004 #15
    civil

    O.K. Thanks for the advice. Would you consider working for the government to be more stable than engineering firms? And from your experiences, would you consider civil to be a fairly stable profession?
     
  17. Nov 17, 2004 #16

    Phobos

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    Yes. But, like everything, there are pro's and con's. I have not had a government job, but my impression is this...

    pro's - - More stable, more holidays, working with many experts in many areas, local job assignments, easier to get into, provides valuable experience (even if you want to switch to a private company later)

    con's - - more beaurocratic, lower pay, less room for advancement, less emphasis on individual development, less individual authority, budgets (and therefore staffing) are very susceptible to politcal whims

    Civil engineers will always be needed. With global technological development, it's a growth industry. Specific displicines may have high and low times (for example, my discipline of environmental engineering had a boom in the 1980s/early 1990s when a bunch of new regulations came out but has since slowed down and is more competitive). Some companies do hire/fire on a project-by-project basis, but my impression is that this is no different than other types of engineering jobs. It's normal for an engineer to change companies (or for companies to change due to buy-outs/mergers/etc.) every few years. That can be difficult, but it seems to be the norm. I've been fortunate with my current job (10 years and still going).
     
  18. Sep 15, 2009 #17
    Just curiousity, how is civil engineer different fromEnvironmental ? In my school, we study same courses through first 2 years.
     
  19. Sep 15, 2009 #18

    PhanthomJay

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    I guess things haven't changed too much since I graduated as a civil engineer several decades ago. At the time, all engineering students.....Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, etc., .... took - more or less -common courses during the first 2 years, like Calculus, Physics, and the Engineering Sciences (and a few Humanities that brought down our grades a notch). Then in the 3rd year choices were made as to which branch of Engineering you would major in, and in the Civil Engineering field in particular, you could choose between Environmental, Transportation, or Structural Engineering, etc.
     
  20. Sep 15, 2009 #19
    So have you ever worked with environmental engineers b4?
     
  21. Sep 16, 2009 #20

    PhanthomJay

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    I am a structural engineer, but I work closely with all disciplines, including Electrical, Construction, Legal, and other functions, and including working with Environmental Engineers, Environmental Scientists, and Environmental Permitting Specialists. With Environmental laws getting tougher and tougher, they keep me pretty busy in ensuring that structural design and construction issues are addressed in accordance with evironmental regulations.
     
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