This week we have been paying particular attention to the many branches of engineering and what each of them entails, and today we are going to be specifically looking into civil construction. The official definition for this wide-ranging branch of engineering is as follows:
“The discipline that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including public works such as roads, bridges, canals, dams, airports, sewerage systems, pipelines, structural components of buildings, and railways.”
Engineers are the ultimate creators and they are consistently being tested to find solutions to world problems, and they more often than not succeed in doing so.
The large majority of civil engineering projects which are taken on around the world are focused on addressing problems but not all of them are done, for this reason, very often these projects are about seeing what we are able to achieve.
Reddy Kancharla is a man who has spent his life in civil engineering and he was kind enough to spend a short time with us chatting about what challenges engineers face when they are designing and working on a particular project.
This is the bit that the average person has no comprehension of which is why we are going to take a deeper look into it today, and these are some of the biggest challenges faced by civil engineers.
The Earth is often one of the biggest roadblocks which hamper engineering projects and the landscape is something that will regularly test an engineer. Sometimes it is far easier than we think, such as the Channel Tunnel.
The Chunnel is seen as one of the finest feats of modern engineering and the engineers themselves were incredibly surprised to learn just how easy it was to part with all of the rock on the seabed. They anticipated some sub-layers of extremely tough rock which they would have had to get through, but it never appeared.
This is why they were able to complete the tunnel in 6 years when they had previously thought that it would take 8. Engineers are constantly battling against the landscape when they are working on projects.
The issue for engineers is not to understand the goal, this is what they find extremely easy, their job is to work out how to get to where we are now, and arrive at that goal, and sometimes we just don’t have what it takes in order to it.
There are limitations in this world and this is something which the engineers have to get around and the topic of machinery and equipment is often a very pertinent one. If we look into some of the world’s megastructures, in the main these structures have been completed by brand new equipment which was invented for the sole purpose of getting the job done.
Take the world’s tallest building the Burj Khalifa, there was no crane big enough to achieve what the team wanted to do here, and so a new crane had to be designed and built just for this. When we talk about limitations this is what we mean, and as much as engineers may wish to build something between point A and point B, they very often haven’t got the means to do it, so that needs to be invested first.
Civil engineers are also greatly affected by the elements and they need to incorporate this into their design. Going back to the example of the Burj Khalifa, civil engineers couldn’t just design a great looking to structure which would reach up into the skies, they also had to consider the heat, the desert winds and how they may play a role in the movement and the performance of the structure.
In Mexico City and Shanghai, they understand how common earthquakes are and so they have to design buildings, multiple stories high, which have the ability to move with the ground. We have seen all manner of incredibly innovative designs that have been built to co-exist with the elements, another challenge for engineers.
Contrary to what any of us may believe, engineers also need to be sure that their project is going to stay under budget because they do not have a blank check with which to chase their dream project.
Very often these innovations have a tight budget and engineers will have to ensure that the materials which they use and the length of time that the project takes are planned with this budget in mind.
Naturally, there are some projects which are of such importance that money is not an issue, but in the main, this is certainly something which engineers need to bear in mind when they are looking to create something special.