Essay, Research Paper: Civil Engineering


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Why do I want to be a civil engineer? Until recently, I did not know the answer
to this question myself. I was lost when choosing a career. Then, I read about
civil engineering, an occupation involving the construction of buildings, roads,
and bridges. As I looked farther into civil engineering, I liked many of the
other aspects involved with the career. Although the education will be
difficult, I have determined that civil engineering is the career that I want to
pursue. What is civil engineering? This career can not be defined using just a
few words. The many obstacles that civil engineers must overcome cover a vast
area of responsibilities. “Civil engineers conceive, plan, construct, and
operate facilities that meet basic human needs and reach out toward the
realization of society’s most noble goals” (Auburn 106). Civil engineers
solve real world problems with the combination of applying mathematics and
natural sciences (Hagerty and Heer 2-3). Upon deciding to pursue a career in
civil engineering, I must have many attributes that help me decide for myself if
I am right for this career. Probable civil engineers can be found occupying
their childhood time with mechanical toys and structural sets instead of
traditional toys. These people will get enjoyment from planning, designing, and
constructing works or facilities. They also have the ability to see how
intelligent use of nature has made our civilization today possible and have the
desire to want to improve it (Golze 41). As a child building blocks filled my
toy chest, and erector sets filled my playroom. I loved the challenge of
building things and making things work. A young passion for the work of a civil
engineer leads me to believe I could succeed in this field. The education of a
civil engineer deals mainly with math and natural sciences. The first four
semesters of curriculum required, which I will take at Northeast Alabama
Community College, are the basics such as Calculus I - IV, differential
equations, statistics, English, history, literature, speech, chemistry, and
physics (Northeast 40). After completion of the requirements at Northeast
Alabama Community College, I plan to attend Auburn University. “Auburn
University’s institutional mission is to prepare students for the ethical
practice of civil engineering” (Auburn 106). When beginning my studies at
Auburn University, I will be required to take classes that go even deeper into
civil engineering. Classes such as hydraulics, statics, and water treatment, are
required to give an engineer a base to help solve problems in real world
situations (Auburn 106). By taking classes such as these, I will be more
prepared to face any problems encountered on the job. At many schools, students
are able to study and gain work experience at the same time through cooperative
programs. These programs allow students to get a first-hand look at experiences
related to the job while still pursuing their education in that career. The
close relationship between the school and the industry is important because both
continue to educate the student (Hagerty and Heer 47-50). After completing my
requirements at Northeast Alabama Community College, I plan to attend Auburn
University and enter its cooperative program and engineering school. I hope that
the knowledge I will gain from both institutions will lead me into a successful
career as an engineer. Civil engineers use their knowledge of material science,
engineering theory, and economics to devise, construct, and maintain our
physical surroundings. The work duties depend on many different areas of
specialization in engineering. A structural engineer, who is concerned with
loads to which the structure is exposed, must calculate the maximum load that
the structure can hold. On the other hand, a public works engineer must
anticipate and be responsive to social needs. A company will start a young,
inexperienced engineer out with few responsibilities. As the engineer gains
experience, he or she will also gain additional responsibilities (Hagerty and
Heer 89). The practice of civil engineering pays the lowest salary of all
engineering fields. However, over the past few years, civil engineering
graduates have seen a 2.7 % increase in their starting salaries. The average
annual starting salary, according to an article in the Memphis Business Journal,
is $30,618 dollars (Scott 4). Those who pursue a career in civil engineering do
not make their decision based on salary. Instead, they derive satisfaction from
the good done by helping meet the social and economic needs of the people (Hagerty
and Heer 88). Aiding the public’s most common needs is what interests me the
most. The task of creating a more efficient and safer way of producing and
transporting water to an ever-increasing population is just one of the problems
I hope to solve as a civil engineer. One of hardest decisions I made in my
choosing civil engineering as a career was the acceptance of earning a lower
salary. However, I could not place a numerical value on the satisfaction I
believe this career will bring me. There are many different specialties involved
with civil engineering that need to be considered when choosing this career.
Some of these specialties are transportation engineering, structural building,
and water resource management. A closer look into all of the fields lead me to
the conclusion of specializing in water resource management. This occupation is
concerned with the safe and adequate transportation of water to the public.
Currently, I am employed by the Waterworks Board of Section and Dutton as a
general laborer. On the other hand, I would love to delve farther into all
aspects of water resource management. In his 1966 essay on civil engineering,
Eliassen predicted “the field of water resource management will be great”
(92). Eliassen’s statement has been proven factual and the many problems that
will arise in the future offers great job security. One of the task may involve
getting a sufficient amount of clean, healthy water to an ever-growing
population. Solving these problems will take people who have specialized in
economics, statistics, political science, system analysis, and management. What
predictions could be made about the future of engineering students? In his 1969
book, Beakley predicted that employment would be no problem and that more
engineers would be needed than colleges could supply (25). However, Scott’s
1996 article in the Memphis Business Journal states that employment outlook is
not as promising as it was 15 to 25 years ago. Still, engineers will not be
hungry for work. Many feel that they will be able to find jobs. Enrollments in
schools of engineering across the country have dropped, but as jobs and salaries
increase, so will students enrolling with hopes to make better lives for
themselves (Scott 1-4). Advancement is almost certain as a young engineer
develops his or her skills and as the employer gains confidence in his or her
ability. Some civil engineers might stay with a company their entire
professional lives. In contrast, others could choose to move around looking for
advancements. Upon the retirement, replacement, and advancement of more
experienced engineers, the younger engineers will have the chance to slowly move
their way up the corporate ladder. In any circumstance, an ambitious, young, and
qualified engineer should seek advancements both personally and professionally (Hagerty
and Heer 129). Why would I want to be a civil engineer? The desire of new
challenges, the longing to help the overall public, and the need to do something
positive with my life are three main reasons that I want to be a civil engineer.
After extensive research, I have concluded that civil engineering is an ideal
field for me. I believe that I have the personal attributes and intelligence
required to be a civil engineer. I also believe that I possess the work habits
and drive to be a successful engineer. This is why I have chosen to pursue this
as a career.

Auburn University 1999-2000 Undergraduate and Graduate Bulletin. Auburn, AL,
1997. Beakley, George C., and H.W. Leach. Careers in Engineering and Technology.
London: Macmillan, 1969. Eliassen, Rolf. “Civil Engineering.” Listen to
Leaders in Engineering. Ed. Albert Love and James Saxon Childress. Atlanta:
Tupper, 1966. Golze, Alfred R. Your Future in Civil Engineering. New York:
Richards, 1965. Hagerty, D. Joseph, and John E. Heer, Jr. Opportunities in Civil
Engineering Careers. Skokie: VGM, 1977. Northeast Alabama Community College
1998-1999 Catalog. Rainsville, AL, 1998. Scott, Jonathan. “The Ups and Downs
of Engineering.” Memphis Business Journal 17(12 Feb. 1996): 41-2. Electric
Library 16 Nov. 1999.

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