About the discipline

What is Civil Engineering?

Civil Engineers create facilities that improve the quality of life of man and the environment. This process entails:

  • research into the proposed facility
  • the planning
  • design
  • construction and
  • continual maintenance.

What can students do with the degree?

Civil Engineers design, build and maintain constructions such as tower blocks and skyscrapers, dams, canals and pipelines, roads, bridges, tunnels, railway lines, airports, power stations, television towers, water works and outfall installations.

Civil Engineers are increasingly involved in financial modelling, feasibility studies of projects and the management and rehabilitation of large asset portfolios.

Behind the scenes

The average person is probably aware that civil engineers, plan, design, construct, maintain and demolish or rehabilitate basic infrastructure. This includes aspects such as water supply, sanitation, roads, bulk services, structures and dams. These facilities have a long lifespan, with a direct impact on man and the environment. Hence, civil engineers are trained to deal not only with the analytical aspects of design, but also to liaise and consult directly with communities and individuals in order to design, build and maintain such facilities cost-effectively to the benefit of humankind. Most of the facilities that the civil engineer helps to create are the infrastructure for wealth and job creation in other industries, such as factories and housing.

The nature of civil engineering has changed drastically over the past decade or two with the utilisation of information technology and computer software. Mathematical modelling and designs are now being executed more effectively. This enables the civil engineer to concentrate on the more fundamental aspects of developmental work and design. The worldwide trend towards environmental awareness has a growing impact on the civil engineer’s working methods. Both IT and environmental engineering and management increasingly form a greater part of training so that a civil engineer can still be provided with broad-based qualification that offers challenging, fulfilling and highly adjustable career opportunities throughout an entire career lifespan of 40 to 50 years. 

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