The civil engineering projects you might witness in everyday life actually arose from ancient roots. From the time when humans first developed tools and built monuments, civil engineering in Idaho and worldwide has played a significant role in civilization. It could even be argued that early hunter-gatherer techniques arose from a rudimentary form of this discipline. This overview will explain this extraordinary history.
Civil engineering is frequently first attributed to the Egyptians and their pyramids. However, they were not the only community to apply engineering principles. When humans started becoming less nomadic and building cities, construction required good design and sturdy building techniques. Mesopotamia had its fair share of early engineers.
Other notable construction items included the Qanat water management system—which appears in several cultures—the Appian Way built by the Romans and the Great Wall of China. Aqueducts also appeared worldwide and irrigation systems with dykes showed up in the flood plains of northern Europe and the Americas. The Inca Empire added to the civil engineering spectrum with its impressive monument, Machu Picchu. As many of these efforts remain standing today—some aqueducts are even functional—it is a strong testament to the engineering knowledge of those civilizations.
Evolution to specialty
As construction of monuments started, architecture and civil engineering were one and the same. Specialization was not required, as one did not exist without the other—design and structural integrity went together, or buildings did not survive. In the 18th century, the term “civil engineering” first emerged to incorporate developments that were not exclusively for the military. In 1747, the first engineering school, The National School of Bridges and Highways, opened in France. This showed the beginnings of civil engineering becoming a discipline separate from architecture.
John Smeaton was the first to adopt the civil engineer job title after he built the Eddystone Lighthouse. He and a group of colleagues started the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers, which met informally to discuss engineering over dinner, although the purpose of that group was more social than technical. In 1818, a more education-minded engineering society, the Institution of Civil Engineers, started in London and received a royal charter in 1828.
A private college specializing in civil engineering opened in the United States in 1819 with the name Norwich University. Degrees were later issued by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in 1835, and Cornell University—which was also the first to issue an engineering degree to a woman, Nora Stanton Blatch, in 1905.
The modern approach
Civil engineering expanded into modern times as technology also evolved. CAD and CAM systems are very helpful to design, create and test structure simulations. Whether an engineer works in machinery, buildings, roads or other large projects, these technological time savers assure efficiency, safety and cost savings.
It is also very difficult to find an area or discipline where civil engineering is not part of everyday life. If you work in a new building or a retrofitted historic site, there was likely a civil engineer involved. Even the repaved highway and your local grocery store arose from the efforts of civil engineers.
Fortunately, if you require civil engineering in Idaho for your municipal project, business retrofit or private construction, you do not have to look further than Mason & Stanfield, Inc. Contact us today for civil engineering, surveying or land planning expertise.