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Civil, Structural & Building Services Engineering Overview
Get some structure in your life…
We are talking about building things here. Huge things! Civil engineering involves the design, construction and maintenance of anything; from roads, canals and airports, to dams, bridges and buildings. Structural engineering is often looked upon as a discipline within civil engineering, but it mainly concerns what are termed as ‘non-building structures’, i.e. structures that are not designed for continuous human occupancy.
On the other hand, building services engineering is concerned with what’s going on inside the building (a.k.a. the ‘internal environment’). They also focus on the environmental impact of a building during its construction and future use.
Why is it important? What does it involve?
So many structures make the mind boggle as to how they could have possibly have been constructed by human beings. Go to any city centre and you’re bound to find a building that is structurally hard to fathom! These buildings, ladies and gents, are created by the hard working people that pursue careers in this particular subsector. The Golden Gate Bridge, the London Eye, the Millennium Dome, Wembley, or any other structure of a similar magnitude was completed by a team of civil, structural and building services engineers.
Civil engineering has a variety of sub-disciplines; ranging from environmental, geotechnical and urban, to materials, coastal and many others. As these sub-disciplines suggest, there are a huge variety of career paths that fall under the umbrella term: civil engineer.
When it comes to building services engineering, it’s all about considering how these structures affect people. How will they interact inside? How is their safety ensured? And how will it all affect the environment? These engineers play a valuable role at all stages of the construction process; liaising with architects, surveyors, planners and the builders themselves.
Break it down for me a little bit!
When it comes to civil engineering, there are two clear divisions: consulting and contracting. Consulting civil engineers are responsible for the design of the project, whilst contracting engineers create the structure itself. A consulting engineer will work with the architect to develop detailed designs, investigate the proposed site, produce a risk assessment and any other things associated with the general project management of a construction project.
Contracting civil engineers take the plans from the architect and the consulting engineer and assess the feasibility of all aspects of the project. A lot of negotiation ensues at this stage, especially if you have an ambitious architect and a sceptical contracting engineer. However, the main focus of a contracting engineer’s role is working out exactly how to do things. It’s comparatively easy to dream up a remarkably designed building, when compared to the realities of actually creating the structure.
Building services engineering is all about ensuring that any construction is safe, sustainable and environmentally friendly. To ensure this, their role involves many things; from commissioning contractors, managing budgets and overseeing the installation of materials, to ensuring that the project is compliant with health and safety regulations.