What is Civil Engineering? 10 Definition That Answers Your Question!

What is Civil Engineering? – Civil Engineering is a science and technology-based discipline which deals with the designing, construction and the maintenance of physical structures.  These structures include anything from deceptively simple roads, canals, and dams to enormous skyscrapers and world wonders such as the Pyramids, The Great Wall, and more!!  

As one of the oldest disciplines in the world, civil engineering has come a long way since the dawn of civilization and mankind. Civil engineering was born the day mankind first started to construct houses and other large structures.

Unlike today, the notion of an “architect” and civil engineer was one and the same in the old world. However, during the eighteenth century, the two disciplines were suddenly acknowledged as distinct and prestigious professions.

Today, civil engineers play a vital part in planning and executing every aspect and detail of infrastructure in the modern world.  From small suburban houses to booming skyscrapers in the New York City skyline, civil engineers play a role in all corners of society.

Civil engineering itself has been sub-divided into many categories and specializations, like many other science-based disciplines.

What Is Civil Engineering?

Civil engineering is, without a doubt, the most ancient engineering discipline. It is concerned with the built environment and can be traced back to the first time someone put a roof over their head or crossed a river by laying a tree trunk.

Much of what defines modern civilization is found in the built environment. Buildings and bridges are often the first structures that come to mind because they are the most visible creations of structural engineering, one of the major sub-disciplines of civil engineering.

Transportation engineers, a subset of civil engineers, design roads, railroads, subway systems, and airports. Then there are the civil engineers’ less visible creations. When you turn on a water faucet, you expect water to flow without thinking about the civil engineers who made it possible.

New York City’s water supply system is one of the world’s most impressive, receiving billions of gallons of high-quality water from the Catskills, which is over a hundred miles away.

Similarly, few people appear to be concerned about what happens to water once it has served its purpose.

Most academic departments have changed their names to civil and environmental engineering as the old civil engineering discipline of sanitary engineering has evolved into modern environmental engineering of such importance.

These examples demonstrate that civil engineers are responsible for much more than the design of buildings and bridges. They can be found in the aerospace industry, designing jetliners and space stations; in the automotive industry, perfecting a chassis’ load-carrying capacity and improving the crashworthiness of bumpers and doors; and in the shipbuilding, power, and many other industries where constructed facilities are involved. As construction managers, they plan and supervise the construction of these facilities.

Civil engineering is an exciting field to work in because you can see the results of your efforts at the end of the day, whether it is a finished bridge, a high-rise building, a subway station, or a hydroelectric dam.

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What is Civil Engineering?

Different sub-categories of civil engineering

Transportation engineering

The discipline involves the surveying, design, construct and maintenance of transportation mediums such as canals, roads, rail systems and the other components of mass transit.

Water Resources Engineering

Water Resource Engineers seek to optimize the best possible utilization of water resources.

Structural engineering

Structural engineers concern themselves with analyzing and designing the structure of bridges, tunnels, buildings and towers.

Environmental Engineering

One of the newest branch of engineering, environmental engineering deals primarily with the management of various wastes, which can be highly toxic and hazardous for human beings.

Geotechnical engineering

This branch of civil engineering is concerned with the study of geological factors in construction, such as tectonic plates and earthquakes.

Materials Engineering

This branch of civil engineering deals with the compositions and properties of the different materials which are used in the construction of various structures.

Surveying Engineering       

One of the bases of civil engineering, this branch deals with surveying land that has been designated for use in future construction projects

Construction Engineering

Construction Engineering involves the final planning and the execution of various structures such as dams, tunnels, and other construction projects.

Coastal Engineering

This branch of engineering involves the study and the management of areas prone to water and flood damage


Urban or Municipal Engineering

This discipline involves the study and planning of the municipal structures such as roads, drains and other public facilities.

Civil engineering is related to all the aspects of the building and the maintenance of the various infrastructures. One of the oldest engineering disciplines in the world, civil engineering can trace its beginning to the dawn of the civilization, when mankind moved from living in the caves to the building the various structures and start living in them. 

In the olden days, civil engineering and the architecture were the two faces of the one profession. With the times, these two faces were gradually separated to become the different disciplines.

Now, with the specialization of each profession, civil engineering has been further divided into different specializations depending upon the resource which is being utilized.

Read – How To Become A Civil Engineer In Hindi

I hope this serves as a good primer FAQ for anyone interested in pursuing a career in civil engineering.


What is civil engineering and What do engineers do?

Er. Mukesh Kumar

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Er. Mukesh Kumar is Editor in Chief and Co-Funder at ProCivilEngineer.com Civil Engineering Website. Mukesh Kumar is a Bachelor in Civil Engineering From MIT. He has work experience in Highway Construction, Bridge Construction, Railway Steel Girder work, Under box culvert construction, Retaining wall construction. He was a lecturer in a Engineering college for more than 6 years.

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