The Changing Face of Civil Engineering; Engineering Wales Ice Institution of Engineers

Article excerpt

Civil engineers are responsible for the built environment. We plan, design and build basic infrastructure, then maintain, modify and sustain it throughout its useful life, before finally arranging its eventual demolition or decommissioning. Infrastructure supports all our daily lives, be it roads and bridges, railways and airports, hospitals, sports stadiums and schools, access to drinking water and shelter from the weather. Infrastructure adds to quality of life, and because it works, it is taken for granted. Only when parts of it fail, or are removed, do people realise its value and recognise the work of the civil engineers who create and maintain it.

The work of civil engineers affects everyone, often many times a day. Every morning we turn on a tap, boil a kettle, take a shower, walk along a road, cross a bridge or take a train. Without civil engineering, we would not be able to do any of these.

Historically we remember great civilisations such as the Romans and Egyptians, or the achievements of great engineers such as Thomas Telford or Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Today's civilisation relies more than ever on teams of people to design, build and maintain the sophisticated environment that surrounds us. In this complex world, civil engineers help to create environmentally sustainable solutions for managing waste and lessening industry's impact on our lives. We are at the forefront of the sustainability agenda, as demonstrated by our role in developing and building alternative technologies for generating energy, including those based on wind and wave power.

Civil engineers are problem solvers, meeting the challenges of pollution, traffic congestion, drinking water and energy needs, urban redevelopment, and community planning. …