Civil engineering and Its History

The Pre Era of Engineering and Construction

Civil engineering is the broadest of the engineering fields. Civil engineering focuses on the infrastructure of the world which include Water works, Sewers, Dams, Power Plants, Transmission Towers/Lines, Railroads, Highways, Bridges, Tunnels, Irrigation Canals, River Navigation, Shipping Canals, Traffic Control, Mass Transit, Airport Runways, Terminals, Industrial Plant Buildings, Skyscrapers, etc.

Among the important subdivisions of the field are:

  1. Structural Engineering,
  2. Construction Management,
  3. Irrigation and Water resources Engineering,
  4. Transportation Engineering,
  5. Geo-technology and Foundation Engineering,
  6. Environmental Engineering,
  7. Hydraulic Engineering,
  8. Coastal and Ocean Engineering.

Civil engineers build the world’s infrastructure. In doing so, they quietly shape the history of nations around the world. Most people can not imagine life without the many contributions of civil engineers to the public’s health, safety and standard of living. Only by exploring civil engineering’s influence in shaping the world we know today, can we creatively envision the progress of our tomorrow.

The History

Civil engineering is the oldest branch of engineering. Not only do civil engineers design systems that interact with one another, but they are also concerned with the environment’s well-being. The term “civil” was added to separate these licensed professionals from other engineers who worked on military, electrical, or mechanical projects.

Know how the word Engineer originated here: "Engineer" Origin

Civil Engineers and Architects

In ancient times, architects and builders were one and the same. Engineering was a huge part of the architect’s or builder’s role, especially with large construction projects such as the pyramids, the Parthenon, the Appian Way (an ancient Roman road), bridges, the aqueducts, and the Great Wall of China. Until modern times there was no clear distinction between civil engineering and architecture, and the terms were used interchangeably.

Ancient human

Architecture was born when people began to live in constructed dwellings and within communities. Caves were last used as habitats around 8000 BC.

Early engineering was centered around food. The development of tools and ways to increase the efficiency of farming and hunting were documented, first in cave paintings and later in Egypt with hieroglyphics.

There are great structures in history which took Centuries to built. Not 100 or 200 or 300, it took almost 2000 years for the present day GREAT WALL OF CHINA to built. Not only great wall, several other world famous structures like Leaning Tower, Milan cathedral, and many other structures took centuries to construct.

Watch this video why these structures took 1000's of years to built:

The history of civil engineering and architectural projects is regional in nature. The development of building design and construction on an African grassland differs greatly from building design and construction in Alaska or the mountainous regions of Peru. A major reason for differences in the development of construction techniques is the availability of local materials. 

Although it is possible to import materials from great distances, the historic reality is that people often used what was easily available to them when constructing buildings. This influenced architectural style and the selection of structural elements. Of course climate also has an effect on the design and construction of buildings. For example, sun dried bricks can support loads in a dry climate but will disintegrate in wet climates.

Current day Iraq consists mostly of alluvial plains – no stone and wood is scarce. Sun-dried bricks (clay-rich soil mixed with straw) was used as early as the 4th millennium BC. The ruins of the famed city of Babylon illustrate the use of mud-bricks.

Greece consists almost entirely of limestone and has many sources of marble. The finest source of marble is Mount Pentelicus from which the marble used in the Parthenon was cut.

The pre-Columbian Inca site of Machu Picchu sits on a mountain ridge in Peru. The central buildings of Machu Picchu use the classic architectural style of dry stone walls in which blocks of stone are cut to fit together tightly without mortar.

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