Nov 262012
By Jan Burns, Jobs Correspondent | November 20, 2012
The work of civil engineers is evident in all kinds of industries, from buildings and infrastructures such as roadways, reservoirs, bridges to commercial high-rises. Photo: Marco Richter / iStockphoto

A “U.S. News and World Report Money” article recently placed civil engineering in the Top 10 Best Jobs in Technology for 2012.

“We see the work of civil engineers everywhere, in all kinds of industries, from buildings and infrastructures such as roadways, reservoirs, bridges to commercial high-rises,” said Rene Divina, discipline chief at Foster Wheeler USA Corp.

There are a number of career opportunities in this field depending on an individual’s interest and skills. One may end up designing high-rise buildings; or in the water sources industry, designing reservoirs; or in the transportation industry, designing roadways and bridges.

Some civil engineers pursue careers in construction or teaching. Specialist work includes structural analysis, architectural, traffic, geotechnical engineering and others.

“The best reward is to be able to witness the fruit of labor before our eyes and having impact on the lives of ordinary citizens,” Divina said.

Divina said civil engineers are not limited to infrastructures such as roadways and bridges. Civil engineers serve in all kinds of industries, and the energy sector in particular. Civil engineers also are involved in industrial plants.

“Civil engineering is rewarding because civil engineers have the privilege of seeing their designs turn from thoughts and concepts into huge, actual monuments due to their creativity,” said Curtis Stroup, manager, Civil/Structural Engineering and Design, Wood Group Mustang.

Civil engineers not only enjoy the challenge to their knowledge, skills and creativity, but have the satisfaction of seeing the positive effect they have on quality of life on a local, national and global level in their everyday lives, Stroup said.

They work for companies and governments, including the military. The types of companies are numerous and include those that provide a service, such as consulting or construction; and those that request the service, such as developers, energy companies and government entities.

“The name ‘civil engineer’ is misleading as it carries with it the assumption that all of their work is with civil (earthwork) projects. This is not the case,” Stroup said. “A civil engineer may have an emphasis area of aerospace, energy, environmental, forensics, geotechnical, marine, pipeline, structural, transportation, or water resources.”

Besides designing major infrastructure projects, their skills are needed in many types of projects and industries, including offshore oil and gas platforms, petrochemical facilities, airplanes, the scientific research dome at Antarctica, ships, housing developments such as The Woodlands or Cinco Ranch, pipelines, dredging of the ship channel, transmission towers for electrical lines, the new roller-coaster at Kemah, restaurants and piers.

Stroup said all business sectors that require design of structures, foundations, earthwork, drainage, dams, retaining walls, sewer systems and paving need civil engineers. The energy sector is a great employer of civil engineers. Offshore platforms taller than the Empire State Building, as well as chemical plants and refineries all need the talents of civil engineers for the structure, foundation, sewers, drainage and paving designs.

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