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Civil Engineering
Thursday, 21 September 2006
Civil Engineering for Tomorow

CIVIL ENGINEERING: MEETING THE CHALLENGES OF TOMORROW

Engr. Saidur Rahman Milan

 

"When you understand civil engineering, you see the world differently"

I take the vision which comes from dreams
and apply the magic of science and mathematics,
adding the heritage of my profession
and my knowledge of nature's materials
to create a design.

I organise the efforts and skills of my fellow workers
employing the capital of the thrifty
and the products of many industries,
and together we work toward our goal
undaunted by hazards and obstacles.

And when we have completed our task
all can see
that the dreams and plans have materialised
for the comfort and welfare of all.

I am an Engineer
I serve mankind
by making dreams come true."

The Great wall of China, Pyramids of Egypt, Roman aqueducts, The Taj-Mahal, Golden temple, Gate Bridge are all engineering marvels, true testimonies to the genius of people, monuments of changing civilsations. What is common in them? They are all Civil Engineering Projects. Globalization and extraordinary technological advancement that is being made, in 21st Century demand that Civil Engineering keep equal pace with time. 

Engineering has developed from observations of the ways natural and constructed systems react and from the development of empirical equations that provide bases for design. Civil engineering is the broadest of the engineering fields, partly because it is the oldest of all engineering fields. In fact, engineering was once divided into only two fields - military and civil. Civil engineering is still an umbrella term, comprised of many related specialities.

In modern usage, civil engineering is a broad field of engineering that deals with the planning, construction, and maintenance of fixed structures, or public works, as they are related to earth, water, or civilization and their processes. Most civil engineering today deals with power plants, bridges, roads, railways, structures, water supply, irrigation, environment, sewer, flood control and traffic. In essence, civil engineering may be regarded as the profession that makes the world a more agreeable place in which to live. As Herbert Hoover said,

 "It is a great profession. There is the satisfaction of watching a figment of the imagination emerge through the aid of science to a plan on paper. Then it moves to realization in stone or metal or energy. Then it brings jobs and homes to men. Then it elevates the standards of living and adds to the comforts of life. That is the engineer's high privelege.

The great liability of the engineer compared to men of other professions is that his works are out in the open where all can see them. His acts, step by step, are in hard substance. He cannot bury his mistakes in the grave like the doctors. He cannot argue them into thin air or blame the judge like the lawyers. He cannot, like the architects, cover his failures with trees and vines. He cannot, like the politicians, screen his shortcomings by blaming his opponents and hope that the people will forget. The engineer simply cannot deny that he did it. If his works do not work, he is damned. That is the phantasmagoria that haunts his nights and dogs his days. He comes from the job at the end of the day resolved to calculate it again. He wakes in the night in a cold sweat and puts something on paper that looks silly in the morning. All day he shivers at the thought of the bugs which will inevitably appear to jolt his smooth consummation.

On the other hand, unlike the doctor his is not a life among the weak. Unlike the soldier, destruction is not his purpose. Unlike the lawyer, quarrels are not his daily bread. To the engineer falls the job of clothing the bare bones of science with life, comfort and hope.

No doubt as years go by people forget which engineer did it, even if they ever knew. Or some politician puts his name on it. Or they credit it to some promoter who used other peoples money with which to finance it. But the engineer himself looks back at the unending stream of goodness that flows from his successes with satisfactions that few professions may know. And the verdict of his fellow professionals is all the accolade he wants." 

India set itself the target of becoming a developed nation by the year 2020. A major focus of the efforts immediately and in the next decade is on infrastructure by way of highways, railways,  ports, nuclear facilities , airports, power, water, housing, sanitation and so on. Only way to fulfill this dream is the economic progress of the country, which makes its mandatory to probe the latest technologies in the field of Civil Engineering and get ready for the future. As a result the structures constructed now a days are more taller, wider and flexible and are subjected to huge environmental loads such as wind, earthquake etc.

The biggest challenge for Civil Engineering is that its entire infrastructure must be able to withstand external disturbances, which includes even militants threat, attacks, blast etc. Today's technology demands perfect approach in planning, analysis, design, construction and maintenance of these infrastructures. Thus an integrated approach is vital for Civil Engineering, which not only requires understanding of theoretical, and numerical study but also as a community of Civil Engineer, they are expected to produce useful and economical results. Apart from this the time taken to complete the project shall also be shorter. Therefore conceptual analysis and design solution, innovative material and new technology must replace the traditional materials and technology to meet these requirements of today and tomorrow which should be environmental friendly also. Therefore, Civil Engineering requires constant up-gradation of knowledge in the field of advanced building materials, earthquake resistance structure, aerodynamics, construction management, rehabilitation and maintenance of structure, intelligent and energy efficient building, ground improvement techniques, solid waste management, water harvesting and sustainable development for environmental protection, use of Information Technology in design & construction.

Civil engineering is arguably the oldest engineering profession in the world. Civil engineers have been involved for many centuries in helping people throughout the world build and maintain the basic infrastructure in which they live.The technology that civil engineers use has similarly advanced over the same centuries. With the advent of modern computers, civil engineers now have access to technology at an unprecedented scale.


Posted by srmilan at 11:03 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 9 December 2006 10:10 PM EST

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