Civil engineers certainly have their work cut out for them in terms of the scope of their responsibilities. In a broad sense they design, build, and maintain the many systems that power our modern way of life, which encompasses the need for electricity, potable drinking water, airports and highways, including roadways and bridges within cities.
Since the days of the first civilized societies, civil engineering, even if it wasn’t referred to as such, has been highly instrumental in paving the way for life as we know it today. Special structures such as aqueducts had to be designed to direct water for public use in the days of the Roman Empire. Civil engineering also enabled more inner-city trade, which in turn enabled advancements in transportation. As we gradually phased from foot traffic and horses to wheeled vehicles city infrastructures had to be designed to support carriages.
As you would imagine, there are several branches of civil engineering. While they all have an important role in our lives, our main interest is in transportation engineers. Transportation engineering is defined by the American Society of Civil Engineers as “the application of technology, scientific principles, and integrated strategies focused on smart and sustainable development to planning, functional design, operation and management of facilities for any mode of transportation for movement of people & goods.”
That’s a mouthful! But what it really means for you, the commuter, is easier, shorter travels in your day to day commute. The focus of these engineers is to optimize the performance and functionality of highway systems, and the reliability of structures and the infrastructure as a whole.
Would you believe that civil engineering goes hand in hand with psychology? This is because one of the driving ideas for good civil engineering is to promote well-being for residents of cities from small to metropolis. The science of ergonomics, which addresses humans and their interactions with systems, is addressed in transportation by civil engineers. The science is incorporated in the planning, design, operations and safety of all systems. In addition to the logic of design, civil engineers also consider aesthetics. You could even think of a civil engineer as sort of a feng shui expert for infrastructures, as careful planning helps to make spaces more open and relaxing, which helps to reduce stress for a city’s inhabitants.
Civil engineers carefully consider the logistics of function and safety when planning transportation systems. Forms of mass transit such as rail transit, subways and bus lanes are carefully considered when civil engineers plan the lay of roadways. And what about pedestrians? Crossings and adequate sidewalks are installed especially for foot traffic. Thoughtful transportation engineering also considers bicycles. The increasing desire to commute on bicycles urged planning to create lanes for cyclists and designate routes to have a safer trip across town.
Good civil engineering enables alternative transportation and aids regular motor-powered transportation to safely share the road with alternative transportation modes. By designing more efficient highway systems, transportation engineers really come to the rescue in improving how we travel and assisting efforts to reduce emissions with better traffic flow and shorter commute times. The Metropia app teamed up with strategic civil engineering really makes a dynamic duo for all commuters!