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History of civil engineering


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G. Mark’s Answer

Actually, Civil Engineering was one of the very first types of engineering or even crafts to support human society. When people decided to settle in a particular area, they began to engage in activities to support this. They built shelters and eventually structures to support communities, roads, bridges, fences, water and waste transport, etc.. Architecture was actually a branch of Civil Engineering. As was the construction of fences and other barriers. Dams, support from erosion, the pyramids, the Great Wall -- these were all Civil Engineering projects.


In the earliest part of the 19th century, the Society of Civil Engineering was established in London, England. Later on, as central sources of public utilities including distribution of power, civil engineering branched into more technology. Very soon afterward, established educational programs came about and folks could study to be "official" Civil Engineers.


Today, CE includes a wide range of specialties because the technological needs of society have evolved and incorporated a whole host of sciences for support. It's no secret that humanity never lacks for ambition for big projects, and some of the most imporessive technological feats, including those mentioned above, were the efforts of Civil Engineers. Folks have built incredible road systems, canals, power generation facilities, beautiful buildings, changed the course of rivers and protected cities from environmental catastrophes. With the introduction of computers and now our adopting Artificial Intelligence, the future is certain to be even more impressive! I would recommend looking over the astounding amount of information on the web for examples of these current projects and future projects such as the Hyper Loop and more. And of course, once there's a mission to Mars, CE will be there building more cool stuff!


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Peter’s Answer

Civil engineering is about as old as anything humans have done once they get past the hunter-gatherer stage. Building dams, roads, houses, and now building wind farms and other advanced pubic works are all things that a Civ. E. does.

A reasonable question is, "What's the difference between a civil engineer and an architect?" One of my professors said something like, "An architect says 'I want these kinds of rooms in this kind of arrangement and I want it to look like this,' while the Civ. E. has to figure out how to hold that all up and hold it together." Old civil engineering, though, pretty much built stuff that just had to stand there, while modern Civ. E. has to build things that can adapt and protect themselves against wind or earthquake and can do their job without unacceptable environmental impact. Buildings today are in some ways as complex as airplanes, but they have to last longer with less maintenance and they have to cost a lot less. It's a field that keeps getting more interesting and uses more modern technology all the time.

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