Civil engineers in South Africa are tasked with the design, construction, operation, supervision and maintenance of large construction projects, systems and structures. These include almost everything you can think of, roads, large buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, water purification supply and sewage systems.
As you can see in the description above, civil engineering covers such a large and diverse scope of work. So if you wanted to one day study to become a civil engineer, what exactly would you need to know?
Firstly, you would have to have a detailed understanding of mathematics, physics and geology. Engineering is a very precise discipline so your calculations need to be accurate.
You would also need to know the properties and composition of a wide range of materials commonly used in construction as you will often have to make assessments on projects based on the construction materials best suited to getting the job done efficiently. An all-round knowledge of the different types of machinery used in construction is also a must, as these will be a factor to consider when devising construction plans.
A civil engineer also needs to have a sound knowledge of mechanical and structural engineering.
While not needed in the past, being proficient with computers is almost essential for every civil engineer in today's times. This is because CAD systems are extremely popular. These CAD (Computer Aided Design) systems make it simple to generate working blueprints and modify designs, as well as significantly speeding up the drafting process.
Being skilled in all the points mentioned above will ensure that as a civil engineer, you have the required knowledge to plan and design structures that are not only reliable, but structures that will meet and even surpass durability, safety, cost and energy efficiency requirements.
You may be wondering if civil engineers will still be needed in the coming years. The best way to answer that is to ask yourself if infrastructure will always continue to degrade. Roads will always need to be repaired, bridges will always need sections reinforced and rebuilt, dams will always need to be repaired and upgraded and the list goes on. So it is safe to assume that civil engineers will be valued tomorrow just as much as they are now and just as much as they have always been valued in the past.