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Learn civil engineering

Civil engineers design, construct, and maintain many of the spaces people use, from buildings to roads to water systems. Learn civil engineering with online courses delivered through edX.

What is civil engineering?

Civil engineering addresses the infrastructure needs of society. Using physics and mathematics, civil engineers build and conserve all of the elements of a functioning society from sewage systems and pipelines, to bridges, dams, and railways. 

In order for your tap to dispense fresh water, the pipes leading from the water treatment facility to your home must be in working order. Before you’re able to take a train, the rails need to be mapped out for maximum cost and time effectiveness. Civil engineers lay the groundwork for these systems, integrating them with the existing environment.

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Why is civil engineering important?

Throughout history, civil engineers have helped to advance societies, and produced some of our most enduring artifacts. For example, both the Egyptian pyramids and the Roman aqueducts stand as enormous feats of civil engineering. 

Today, advances in technology and environmental changes present new opportunities for civil engineers to enhance the built environment. Structural engineers, for instance, design structures that can withstand natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes.

Civil engineering courses and certifications

Civil engineering jobs require a four-year degree with ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) certification. The courses that comprise a degree may cover mechanical engineering, mathematics, statistics, and geology. Specialty courses in water engineering can cover the latest innovations for the management of rivers, coasts, and the urban environment. Being able to think critically and develop a strategy on both the micro and macro levels are also important skills for success in the industry.

Careers in civil engineering

As infrastructure ages, civil engineers will be needed to manage the projects to rebuild, repair, and upgrade bridges, roads, airports, buildings, and structures of all types. Engineering can spur technological advancement, ensure human survival, and result in effective sustainability efforts. 

Some careers in civil engineering include:

  • Structural engineer

  • Geotechnical engineer

  • Environmental engineer

  • Water resource engineer

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