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Motivation on CE

In our days we had a one month survey.

Interview Date:01/08/2013

Dr.Jamilur R Choudhury

Former Professor, Department of Civil Engineering
Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology:BUET.

Introduction and prerequisites...

Civil Engineering is the oldest among all the engineering disciplines. Since the dawn of civilization, civil engineers apply their education and practices in the development and construction of roads, highways, houses, water supply system etc. Civil Engineering as a discipline of a university is not that old. It has been like 200 years that Civil Engineering has been added as a discipline in university curriculum. Likewise, in our country, Civil Engineering is also the first engineering discipline to be introduced. The prerequisites are similar to other engineering subjects. First of all, its mathematics. One needs to be good at mathematics if he/she wants to be good at engineering. Second comes physics. So mathematics and physics are the prerequisites. During the 4 years B.Sc course, students will gradually learn other aspects of civil engineering. For example Mechanics of solids is an important subject for a civil engineer. He needs to know physics in order to study mechanics of solids. Especially in understanding the materials of construction, be it a bridge, a house or a transmission tower, he needs to know physics in order to understand the material. Until recently, statistics has grown to be an important subject as well in every engineering discipline.

Branches of Civil Engineering...

There are several branches in civil engineering. These are gradually becoming specialization fields. One of them is Structural Engineering. Designing a structure needs a structural engineer. Then comes Geotechnical Engineering. Whenever there is a structure related issue, there comes a matter of load on the soil, so the study of soil properties is an important field. Another is Water Resources Engineering. Though in some cases it is itself a separate department, yet a civil engineer needs to understand fluid mechanics. Fourth comes the Transportation Engineering. Specialization on different modes of transportation like roads and highways, airports, railways, waterways etc. are included in Transportation Engineering. Environmental Engineering is also an important branch since environment is a burning issue now. So whoever wishes to study on environment can take Environmental Engineering branch. In that case, the knowledge of chemistry is necessary.

Specific talents that motivate a student to Civil Engineering...

Interests in construction and design of bridges, houses, monumental etc. can help a student get motivated in Civil Engineering. It is seen that, when a child plays with building blocks in his childhood, then people usually comments that he will be a civil engineer. If someone is willing to design structures that can withhold different natural calamities, earthquakes; if he is curious to know how to tackle these calamities, he can take civil engineering.

Interesting events and competitions...

There are international competitions. Unfortunately there are none in our country. For example, students are given a certain material, and they are asked to design a bridge (small scale model) with that material only. Then all the designs are load-tested and the design that withholds maximum load becomes the winner. The challenge is here, using the same material, you have to design the better bridge. Similarly there are design competitions that can withstand earthquake, minimizing the after-effects and damages of earthquake etc. Another competition is the software designing. Civil Engineering software are designed by civil engineers. When computers were first invented, it was the civil engineers who used to do maximum of the software developments.

We also have field trips. Like I said before, the construction of buildings and bridges should also be seen at the construction site, these cannot be demonstrated in the class or laboratory only. Survey is also important and interesting. In our days we had a one month survey. Constructing a 5 or 6 kilometers road, starting from route leveling to route alignments, materials to be used, amount of soil needed are all part of this survey. Apart of studying, staying with friends in a camp is an adventure. I can still recall those days 50 years back. The field survey was at Savar. So this field survey can be both educative and an entertainment avenue.

Is the subject mathematical/logical/theoretical?

Like other engineering subjects, it is mathematical, logical and theoretical. But the most important is practice. One should not only know theory, but should also be able to apply it in practical life.

Goals that can be reached...

Sky is the limit. It depends on the individual how much further he shall go. Like a high rise building, there is no end to its limit. He can do governmental services, private sector jobs etc. But the most important is being self-employed. In a developing country like Bangladesh, where infrastructural development is still weak, the scopes of development are still huge. Developed countries already have roads and bridges, so there are few opportunities. But in our country, opportunities are huge. So civil engineers can do something on their own, it can be design, structure etc. Another important thing to mention, civil engineers can switch profession quite easily. As for example, a civil engineering graduate of BUET completed his PhD at USA, and now he is one of the best known Professors of Mechanical Engineering in Nanotechnology. Besides, civil engineering softwares were earlier developed by civil engineers.

Average salary...

Government service holders are paid under government pay-scale. In private sectors, a good civil engineer can expect 20-25 thousand taka as a starting salary. But if the performance is good, we have seen it to grow more.

Chances of entrepreneurship...

In Bangladesh, within the next few decades, there will be huge construction and development works. There will be new roads and highways, airports etc. We have so many rivers and canals, so construction of bridges is inevitable.

Higher studies...

More researches are going on in many different countries. So getting research assistantship is not that difficult. Proper analyses should be made regarding the universities, their research interests and sectors etc.

To the newcomers...

Consider the things which I have said before. If anyone is interested in Civil Engineering, he/she should get admitted here, and after 2nd or 3rd year, he/she will learn which specializing field to take among the five. This also depends on the current demand and trends, because the opportunities here sometimes vary. Once upon a time we had very few people in Geotechnical Engineering. So the job demand was also higher. Still now Geotechnical Engineering is a demanding field. Environment, Transportation etc. are also important and I think the demand is still there. So when someone is at the final year, it depends on his/her choice, willingness and also the current demand of that subject.

Subject Demand

The demand for Civil Engineers in a developing nation like Bangladesh is worth mentioning. The real estate business has been profitable ever since people started thinking of living in a decent household. Large numbers of real estate companies have flourished in Bangladesh, and the demand for CE graduates have been consistent. Other paradigms of Civil Engineering like Transportation, Geo-Technical and Environmental enjoy their demand in both local and oversees companies.Most often, these engineers enjoy the status of being a consultant in different firms that construct roads, culvurts, bridges, airports, flyovers etc.

Interesting Fields

Career Roles

Environment Engineering: Although a relatively new field, this branch of civil engineering is rapidly gaining importance with the growing emphasis on environment protection and sustainability. These engineers have to develop strategies for protecting the environment from air, water and land pollution. They have to manage issues such as solid waste management, water treatment, air and water pollution, safe disposal of hazardous materials. Another dimension of this profile is the construction of buildings that are environmental friendly, energy efficient and green.

Urban Engineering: Engineers responsible for the design and development of urban public utilities are categorized as urban engineers. Public works include structures such as city roads, pavements, fresh water pipelines, waste water disposal systems, public parks and so on. These engineers play an important role in urban planning as they are primarily responsible for setting up the core infrastructural requirements of an urban area.

Structural Engineering: Structural engineers are responsible for analyzing different types of stresses and strains that a structure has to endure during and after it has been built. The study generally involves the identification of different types of loads that would act upon a structure and plans for making the structure safer from these loads. Structural engineers are also concerned about the overall strength of a structure when it is built so that it can withstand the onslaught of natural elements as well as human intervention.

Transportation Engineering: Engineers in this branch are concerned about the development of city roads, interstate highways, railroads, airfields, pavements, canals and urban mass rapid transport systems. They also play an active role in urban development and planning, traffic management and betterment of the transport system in the country.

Construction Engineering: This branch involves construction of highways, railroads, airports, power plants, bridges, tunnels, skyscrapers and so on. As per their abilities and position, engineers generally take care of different aspects of construction as well as business management. They have to manage project planning, costing and budgeting, scheduling, quality assurance, quality control, on site layout survey, material testing, material procurement, etc.

Job Fields

Civil Engineers can work in firms that undertake construction of bridges, flyover, roads and highways etc. Primarily these works are done under the Government. Besides, in real estate firms, Civil Engineers are essentially the core performers. Recent trends shows that CE graduates are more interested in jobs involving real estate business.