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Introduction to Civil Engineering

Civil Engineering is the oldest branch of engineering which is growing right from the stone-age civilization. American Society of Civil Engineering defines civil engineering as the profession in which knowledge of the mathematical and physical sciences gained by study, experience and practice is applied with judgement to develop ways to utilize economically the materials and forces of the nature for the progressive well-being of man.

In this chapter various civil engineering infrastructure projects for 21st century are listed and the role of civil engineer are presented. Apart from civil engineering there are other infrastructural facilities required by the public which need coordination with other engineers. Importance of this interdisciplinary approach in engineering is also presented in this chapter.



The world has realised that a government should not involve itself in production and distribution but develop infrastructure to create an atmosphere for economical development. Civil Engineer- ing activities in the infrastructure development are as under:

1. A good planning of towns and extension areas in the cities is required. Each extension

area should be self-sufficient in accommodating offices, educational institutions, markets, hospi- tals, recreational facility and residential accommodations.

2. Fast rate of urbanization and increase in the cost of land has forced civil engineers to go

for vertical growth in cities. In metropolitan cities, 25 storey buildings have become common. Even in small towns multi-storey buildings have become necessity. These requirements have brought in new building technologies and sophisticated analysis methods. Civil Engineers have to solve the problems of rural areas and poor people also. Low cost housing is the need of the day to make poor people afford their own houses.

3. Water is an important need for all living beings. Civil engineers have to exploit various

water resources and ensure water supply to urban areas throughout the year. Rural areas need

dams and tanks and bring water

water for agriculture also. Hence civil engineers have to build

to houses through pipes, and to fields through canals and distributories.

4. Another important amenity that public require is good roads. Design of appropriate base

course thickness, finishing surfaces, cross drainage, design of horizontal and vertical curves are the duties of civil engineers. Proper design of intersection of roads is necessary. Construction of




culverts, bridges and tunnels became part of road works. Railway is an important long distance facility. Construction of railway lines and railway station is an important infrastructure activity. Globalization has resulted in need for building airports and harbours also.

5. Other important infrastructural activities of civil engineering are controlling air pollu- tion, noise pollution and land pollution.



A civil engineer has to conceive, plan, estimate, get approval, create and maintain all civil engi- neering infrastructure activities. Civil engineer has a very important role in the development of the following infrastructures:


Measure and map the earth’s surface.


Plan and develop extensions of towns and cities.


Build the suitable structures for the rural and urban areas for various utilities.


Build the tanks and dams to exploit water resources.


Build river navigation and flood control projects.


Build canals and distributories to take water to agricultural fields.


Purify and supply water to needy areas like houses, schools, offices etc.


Provide and maintain communication systems like roads, railways, harbours ports.

and air-


Devise systems for control and efficient flow of traffic.


Provide, build and maintain drainage and waste water disposal system.


Monitor land, water and air pollution, and take measures to control them. Fast growing industrialization has put heavy responsibilities on civil engineers to preserve and protect environment.



Infrastructure facility includes suitable electricity supply. Internet and telephones are also desir- able features.

Educational facility also forms part of infrastructure. The proximity of good primary and secondary schools to residential areas is desirable. Collegiate and professional education also form part of infrastructure of a city.

Good health care is a necessity. Good primary health centres, specialized hospitals and clinical facilities add to the infrastructure facilities.

If a city/town has good infrastructure, it satisfies a citizen and he contributes to the devel- opment activity of the nation well. Many private entrepreneurs start industries and other eco- nomical activities. Employment opportunities increase and there is all round development.

Hence there is need for civil engineers to interact with the following people and plan the civil engineering infrastructure facilities.

1. Architects and town planners.

2. Electrical engineers.



4. Mechanical and automobile engineers.

5. Doctors and health care officers.

6. Educationalists.

7. Municipal officers.

8. Taluka and district administrators.

Thus civil engineers should understand importance of an interdisciplinary approach in their planning and construction activities so that there is no complaints from any corner of the society. It should be noted that correcting mistakes is always costly and time consuming. A little bit extra care will avoid such mistakes.

QuestionsQuestionsQuestionsQuestionsQuestions What is Civil Engineering ? Discuss various civil engineering infrastructures required. Write short notes on:

(i) Role of Civil Engineers.

(ii) Importance of interdisciplinary approach in the development of infrastructures.