The Differences Between a Civil Engineer and a Construction Engineer

A common question when building anything from a Dam to a home, is; what types of engineer do you need in order to insure the project will be properly built? The answer used to easy, and was generally; hire a top notch civil engineer like V. Reddy Kancharla.

But as projects have gotten more complex with often hybrid types of skill sets needed, different disciplines that were once part of the daily chores of civil engineers have developed their own categories. One of these is structural engineer, which used to be a job description specifically of a civil engineer. Today, the difference between civil engineering and structural engineering is distinct but tricky. The task of discerning the two fields of expertise would be difficult, without first understanding the concept behind each line of work.

The Civil Engineer

Civil Engineering dates back to when people started building a shelter for themselves and as such, is one of the oldest fields in engineering. This engineering field is offered in universities as a bachelor degree course, because it sets the foundations needed for so many specialized engineering disciplines such as transportation engineering, Geotechnical engineering, environmental engineering and structural engineering.

Civil Engineering deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including works like roads, bridges, canals, dams, and buildings. It is defined to distinguish non-military engineering from military engineering and takes place in the public sector from municipal through to national governments, and in the private sector from individual homeowners through to international companies.

The civil engineer is the person who designs the foundations, develops the structural scheme, sizes structural members, designs wastewater and storm water systems, etc. Some civil engineers are on-site on larger projects, where they have the title of resident engineer or something similar.

The Structural Engineer

Civil Engineering and Structural Engineering are both disciplines in the field of engineering that deal with evaluation, design construction and preservation of elements. Structural engineering is has most often been categorized as an area of specialization of civil engineering. But through the years, modern development in science and architecture has made structural engineering into a separate discipline. Structural engineering involves the analysis, design, construction and maintenance of structures that reinforce or counteract loads, such as skyscrapers, dams and bridges.

Although they may belong to the same field of engineering, they differ in several aspects. For example, civil engineering focuses more attention in design elements, while structural engineering is more concerned with inspecting materials to be used for the construction. Structural engineers ensure that the materials being used for construction can support the design of the structure.

To sum it up, civil engineering is a broad subject which covers structural engineering. It’s a first degree course offered in universities which results in a bachelor degree. On the other hand, structural engineering is a subject under civil engineering and is taught to students taking up the course. However, it is also a specialization which leads to a master’s degree or a doctorate.


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