Civil Engineers Do Great Things, Whether People Realize it or Not!

May 18, 2010 at 8:41 pm 8 comments


Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., CPC, LEED AP
Maser Consulting
Associate Civil Engineer and Professional Career & Leadership Development Coach
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We as engineers absolutely do great things!  I’ll speak specifically about civil engineers in this post because that is my background.  Wikipedia defines civil engineering as a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including works such as bridges, roads, canals, dams and buildings.

So basically, what they are saying is civil engineers design, or at least contribute to the design, of just about everything and anything you see when you walk outdoors, right?  Buildings, roadways, dams, traffic signals, traffic signs, storm water ponds and catch basins, dams, utilities, curbs, sidewalks….stop me at anytime….

I think you get the picture.  How many objects that we come in contact with each day are designed by civil engineers? A lot!  What we do is so important to everyday society; however people rarely recognize it because they take all of these things for granted.

This post was spurred on by a seminar I saw recently on the destruction caused in Haiti by the recent earthquake.  So many buildings, roadways, utility systems and other structures were destroyed.  In fact every single one of the government buildings were damaged or destroyed.  Of course, I am placing no blame on the civil engineers in Haiti, these structures were built so long ago that the Haitians just constructed these items with whatever materials they had available.

Occurrences like what happened in Haiti really show you how important our work is.  If we fail, people can die and we can lose our license and even go to jail.  If we succeed, everything is normal……
I salute all of you engineers out there who work long hours to meet stressful project deadlines and in doing so greatly improve the lives of people all over the world.

I leave you with the following excerpt from a speech made by Herbert C. Hoover, Engineer and 31st President of the United States:

Engineering is a great profession.  There is the fascination 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 ads to the comforts of life.  That is the engineer’s high privilege.

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.

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 people’s money with which to finance it.  But the engineer himself looks back at the unending stream of goodness which flows from his successes with satisfactions that few professions may know.

I know this may be a biased crowd, but are we as engineers under-appreciated for what we do?

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jay Jorgenson  |  November 14, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    I live near a town that has a lot of traffic and so the need for a civil engineer to design something to make the traffic flow better was great. I really like what you said about taking these things for granted. I have a friend who is a civil engineer and he designs and builds power plants. Imagine if they didn’t exist?

    Reply
  • 2. Ryan  |  September 10, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    I am a 4th year Civil Engineering student. I enjoy the point that is made in this article on how “If we succeed, everything is normal.” Now-a-days, the engineers that are praised are the software, electrical, chemical, and plastics engineers. It makes sense that these are the professions that receive the most attention simply because they bring the latest and greatest gadgets and enhancements to everyday life. They have, in fact, created the most interconnected world this planet has ever seen. However, now that the world is so interconnected, it baffles me to think that we have forgotten that a lot of the world is still without basic infrastructure in places such as Haiti. Perhaps we have focused our attention on making our personal lives more glamorous, that we have forgot that civil infrastructure is so important. If you agree with me, please visit my site at http://www.umlcapstone.org. We believe that Civil Engineering is most important in the numerous places in the world that need our help the most.

    -Ryan

    Reply
  • 3. Civil Engineering Portal  |  October 24, 2010 at 3:02 am

    I must agree that civil engineers do great things. After all civil engineering is also called the mother of all engineering, Its ye the oldest one too. But still a lot has to be seen in this field. We have a long way to go.

    Regards

    Reply
  • 4. Niranjana.S  |  October 10, 2010 at 11:26 am

    wow! a wonderful article Mr.Anthony Fasano 🙂
    i’m really impressed by the way you’ve put the fact about civil engineer’s importance in such wonderful words. so good. i feel proud after reading this article. 🙂

    Reply
  • 5. Civil Engineers do great things  |  October 10, 2010 at 10:48 am

    […] […]

    Reply
  • 6. Anthony Fasano  |  September 13, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Thanks Brandon and Joe. Yes Joe I agree with you. I worked very closely with an RLA in New York, who was excellent at what he did and he really brought a whole other dimension and perspective into the project to give the project some added character! and personality!

    Reply
  • 7. Joe Collins, RLA  |  September 13, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Yes I agree that exterior work is under appreciated. I do want to point out that it is not only Civil Engineers that are designing exterior spaces. I have worked with Architects, Landscape Architects, and Planners that have come up with great solutions to site issues. Should one profession over shadow another, no, absolutely not.

    I also must explain what a Landscape Architect does (and no it is not trees and shrubs).
    In my opinion, our profession that builds the exterior environment is the super-hero to all of the public and its users. Just remember, the building is only 1 component of the land or even our plantet Earth.

    Reply
  • 8. Brandon Lee  |  May 21, 2010 at 11:15 am

    This article reminds me of how many times one must explain what a Civil Engineer does to basically anyone outside of the Civil profession.

    Reply

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