Civil engineering is about the design and planning, construction, supervision, quality control and maintenance of physical structures, such as buildings, roads, bridges, dams, canals, sea ports, power plants and airports. Specialisations include structure, transportation, geo-technical and geo-environmental, and water resources engineering. Employers include municipal bodies, the defence forces, National Highway Authority of India, government development arms like the DDA and Noida Authority, BHEL, Larsen & Toubro, etc. The Union Public Service Commission holds the Indian Engineering Services exam for the Indian Railway Service of Engineers, Central Engineering Service, and other services
What do they do?
The mere mention of a civil engineer brings to mind the image of a yellow-helmeted person surrounded by mounds of concrete, cement dunes, cement mixers, loaders, cranes and bulldozers. But for people like Sachin Pandit, 31, these elements are not part of his everyday work environment. This deputy manager with India’s largest power equipment maker, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL), leads a team which designs structures for thermal power plants, prepares bills of quantities (based on which estimated tender cost is worked out) for new projects, does soil investigations and engineering, and sets out “civil specifications” which define, for example, which grade of concrete to use and how the entire civil works have to be carried out.
The last choice
For this IIT Delhi alumnus, civil engineering was the last choice but he settled for it due to his entrance test rank. Till about 10 years ago, high-ranking students avoided civil engineering. That was 1999, computer science was in demand, even electrical and mechanical were giving well-paying jobs.
But the economic climate has changed since then. “Things are looking up” in the infrastructure sector, says this MTech (civil engineering - structures).
he Central government launched the Rs 1.25 lakh crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. The Golden Quadrilateral, network of highways linking the four metros, is to be six-laned. Delhi is moving a lot of earth to get a facelift for the Commonwealth Games. Delhi and Mumbai airports are expanding. New greenfield airports are coming up in different cities and towns. Railways are going to build freight corridors and add more lines. The government intends to accommodate slum-dwellers in proper housing in the next five years.
Says O P Goel, former president, Institution of Engineers (India) and retired director general, Central Public Works Department (CPWD), “Today, mega projects costing lakhs are being taken up.” R R Singh, Director General, National Real Estate Development Council, says that there are great employment prospects in a developing country like India in the long-term.
Money has been a big factor in why bright students gave this discipline the cold shoulder. But according to experts, there’s a revision in the trends – due to higher scales under the sixth pay commission and the dips in the downturn-hit computer and IT spheres.
A K Nagpal, Head, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Delhi, says that unlike student preferences in years past, “civil engineering has improved in the last one or two years.” A fresh civil engineer’s salary, is somewhat close to their computer science and IT counterparts. The starting salary for IT engineers in general used to be Rs 3 lakh-Rs 3.5 lakh a year; now it’s Rs 2.5 lakh for IT professionals and Rs 2 lakh-Rs 2.5 lakh for civil engineers.
Demand ‘picking’ up
Singh says the manpower demand has dropped but this is “a temporary phenomenon. Now, it has started picking up. It will take a minimum of one to one-and-half years to come to 2007 levels.” The slowdown notwithstanding, there is a demand for quality professionals.
S.K. Singh, professor of civil engineering at Delhi Technological University (formerly Delhi College of Engineering) says. “There’s a lot of scope for consultancy for infrastructure development.” Environmental engineering is coming up, too, as projects require the “green” signal, literally, he adds.
Source: HT Horizons
. Spatial thinking – ability to visualise a design
. Quantitative skills
. Quick decision-making skills
. Physical stamina
How do I get there?
Take up science with maths at the plus-two level. After this you may go for a BE/BTech degree in civil engineering or a diploma. Admission to degree programmes is usually through a competitive test. Diploma-holders have the option of upgrading to the Bachelor’s level through the Associate Membership of the Institution of Engineers (AMIE)
Typical day in the life of a Civil Engineer
Civil engineers sometimes work a typical full-time week. However, one-fourth of all civil engineers work more than 40 hours a week. Additionally, it is typical that you would spend a good amount of time on the road. You spend some of the week in your office planning. Other work time is spent on site communicating with construction workers, overseeing projects and monitoring progress.
At times, deadlines or design standards may bring extra pressure to a job, sometimes requiring engineers to work longer hours. Some projects will turn over in a week, some in six months or a year, and projects may run concurrently. Workload can change as a project advances or encounters obstacles. Diversity and challenge are among the things that mechanical engineers like about their work.