When the Neanderthal man first used stones and rocks to build a shelter for himself, little did he know that he was the first civil engineer that the world would be aware of!
One of the oldest forms of engineering, civil engineering deals with the planning, design, construction, and maintenance of sustainable infrastructural developments like roadways, railways, airports, bridges, dams, canals, high rise buildings to single-storeyed houses and so on and so forth.
Focused at making the world a better place through innovation, ideation, and creation; civil engineering is both a science and art of exploiting mathematical calculations and scientific knowledge to construct a better place for humans to dwell in.
Civil engineering is a profession that has existed well beyond chronological scopes and will exist until dystopia sets in. Hence, innumerable opportunities await adequately adapt and sensible professionals from civil engineering in the future because the whole world is going through colossal infrastructural development and thus the scope of civil engineers is on the rise. With the growth in population, the demand of sustainable infrastructure in the form of high-end road and railway network, better water supply arrangements and concept buildings, is growing and the appropriate skill sets coupled with a progressive attitude can elevate a civil engineer to the pinnacle of professional success.
This brings in focus the skills that a civil engineering graduate needs to acquire or possess to secure the topmost positions in the industry. The skills can be broadly divided into two categories. Let us discuss these in details.
Professional Skills :
1. Management skills :
A planning and site civil engineer is generally bestowed upon with the supervision of a project. Thus the person ends up as a supervisor or the manager of the project, or a sub-team or even the entire division. This calls for the development of his managerial as well as leadership skills by which he is being able to motivate his team and bring out their best by utilizing their strengths, enforcing discipline during a project as well as managing different personalities and backgrounds on important projects.
2. Communication skills :
Though communication skills are of paramount importance in any job role, a civil engineer, in particular, has to interact with a number of stakeholders, including construction managers, architects, investors to laborers. It is imperative that they get clearly get across any technical issue as well as take on board the ideas and suggestions of others in the team.
3. Leadership skills :
A civil engineer is in charge of surveyors, construction managers, technicians, architects, contractors, urban planners, transportation engineers and is also entrusted with the job of maintaining the trust of government planning authorities. To safely complete a project within the stipulated time, an adept civil engineer must lead and mobilize all of his team effectively.
4. Negotiation skills :
A successful civil engineer has one thing in plenty: the skills to negotiate. When it is conflict arising within the project team, the skilled civil engineer must be able to negotiate terms and settle any conflict of interests and reconcile the members. When it is related to supplies, a civil engineer should be possessing the necessary negotiating ability to successfully deal with a supplier and reduce the cost of the resources.
5. Ability to function in teams :
The civil engineering profession is not something where you can achieve singular accolades through solo brilliance. The upsides of creating something and facing challenges together is that it accompanies a great sense of teamwork. So it is necessary that an individual has the ability to perform as a team player and even for various teams, that help develop better infrastructure.
6. Passion for life-long learning :
It is important in any profession to have an unquenchable thirst for learning and thereby constantly expanding the horizons of knowledge. Civil engineering is no different to this. In this way, an individual will always be updated to the cutting edge technology used in the industry, as well as cultivate professional growth and add desirable skills to his resume.
7. Enthusiasm and commitment :
Surviving in the civil engineering industry is quite a challenge in itself. It does not comply with the normal working hours and one may find himself working at the wee hours of the morning or the dead of the night in order to meet with the deadlines. Hence one should stay motivated and keep a rewarding end goal in sight to never lose focus.
Technical Skills :
1. Problem-solving skills :
Problem-solving skills find their usage on a daily basis in the construction industry. A civil engineer has to deal with unexpected problems like breakage of materials to delivery delays or staffing issues and he should take the initiative to include his team to solve the problems within time to prevent further delays.
2. Strong mathematical skills :
A skilled civil engineer should be well versed in mathematics and physics and should also be able to apply them in different scenarios to identify and solve complex engineering problems.
3. Design skills and skills in other tools and techniques :
A skilled civil engineer should be well versed in various design techniques and also understand the societal, financial and environmental impacts while designing projects. A civil engineer should also know how to work with maps, models, drawings, blueprints and essentially the CAD software. They must efficiently predict any possible problem that might occur in the future and devise strategies to prevent them.
4. Analytical thinking :
Every engineer is gifted with excellent analytical skills and are strong at devising ways and implementing them so that the elements of a project work seamlessly. They are naturally inquisitive and have an affinity to solve complex problems.
5. Critical thinking :
It is common for a civil engineer to be confronted with challenging problems and they should take the onus of devising the most effective and reasonable approach when combating such problems. In order to do this smoothly, they should be able to think precisely and able to apply concepts and rules to specific problems.
6. Creative mindset :
A civil engineer is expected to devise innovative solutions to problems and follow them through. A creative mind and an ability to think out of the box is extremely beneficial in developing and implementing new projects.
7. Visualizing skill :
The ability to visualize is of paramount importance to a civil engineer. While an architect is responsible for the aesthetic design of the project, the civil engineer should be able to bring the picture to life and imagine how the concept would functionally operate.
8. Attention to detail :
Though being attentive to detail is a mandatory skill that every professional should possess, in civil engineering it is of maximum weightage. Every small piece of designing and implementing infrastructure needs to be precise or it may jeopardize the career of the civil engineer.
9. Time management skills :
Complex construction projects require effective organization and time management if they are to be delivered in time and within budget. Therefore the civil engineer and all his associated staff should keep to schedule and not afford to slip deadlines away.
These skills if adhered to, have the power of building a responsible and dexterous civil engineer out of any person.