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What is civil engineering? Civil engineering deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment. Civil engineering is actually the 2nd oldest engineering discipline. Because it has been around for so long, there have been many common misconceptions about civil engineers. This post discusses our top five.

1. They wear pocket protectors. This is a common stereotype. Because engineers are perceived as being geeky or nerdy, many assume they dress like Bill Nye the Science Guy and are socially awkward. The truth about civil engineers is that they are intelligent, passionate, and a lot of fun. Everyone has their own personality, style, and great sense of humor. Our fun days are developed around common interests of the employees. Whether it’s rock climbing, golfing, or enjoying the company of others at a picnic, they are outgoing and

entertaining individuals.

2. They design and build buildings. Civil engineers are not construction contractors or architects. When I tell people I work at a civil engineering firm, they automatically describe an architectural firm and think that we design buildings inside and out. And my answer is no. Long story short, an architect designs a building, a civil engineer designs the site, and the contractor builds it from the designs. Short story long, civil engineers…just kidding, that pretty much sums up the difference!

3. Civil Engineering is the only kind of engineering. What do you think of when someone tells you they are an engineer? My first thought is that an engineer is someone who asks the question, “how does this work?” and figures it out. Mechanical, chemical, electrical, computer, agricultural, etc. are only a few types of the 100 types of engineers. Civil engineering itself includes over 20 types such as environmental, geotechnical, structural, transportation, and water resources.

4. They are not creative. While some civil engineers may have trouble replicating Monet’s Water Lilies, they are very creative at problem solving. Give them a tough topography and they will make the site work. They take all the pieces of the site puzzle and make them fit. For example, they think of how a trail can navigate through trees with the least amount of disturbance, how a person in a wheelchair can safely make it from their car to the front door, and how rainwater flows away from a building to a designated area. They come up

with alternative solutions that not only please the client, but the local

jurisdiction and community as well.

5. They hand-draft blueprints. It’s 2014. AutoCAD and Civil 3D are the way to be!

About Foresite Group

Foresite Group is a multidisciplinary engineering, planning, and consulting firm providing services to public and private sector clients nationwide. Our team’s collaborative process results in creative products and services that help our clients achieve their goals. Our team takes pride in enhancing and developing the cities and communities where we live, work, and raise our families.


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