For centuries, civil engineering has played an influential role in communities worldwide. From Machu Picchu to the Golden Gate Bridge, and many more before and after, the structures of yesterday drove our society to where it is today.
In short, civil engineers are world builders. The job is about math and science, sure. But it’s also about so much more. It’s about making a difference in people’s lives.
As our world frequently undergoes new eras of transformation, so too does the profession. Twenty-first-century civil engineering is becoming more cross-disciplinary and inclusive of new specialties, technologies, and practices.
Today’s civil engineers have a unique opportunity to shape the future, not just through the structures they build, but through the next generation of civil engineers they build up.
ASCE teamed up with the Discovery Education STEM Career Coalition to develop a collection of career profiles to help current professionals guide aspiring civil engineers by introducing them to future-focused specialties within the profession.
Here’s a look at four young civil engineers changing the world today, shaping a better tomorrow:
Elizabeth Ruedas – water quality engineer
Water quality engineers like Elizabeth Ruedas address environmental problems related to water, such as pollution, water treatment, and access. They also study how industrial and residential water treatment and irrigation systems interact with natural processes.
According to Discovery Education, as concerns regarding water scarcity rise in the United States and globally, this field is expected to see growth. Many state and local governments will be tasked with developing more efficient water systems in their communities. Additionally, the demand for wastewater treatment experts may also increase in areas where drilling shale gas is prevalent as this work requires large volumes of water.
Learn more about water quality engineers, and use these resources to help with your pre-college efforts:
Paul Lee – renewable energy engineer
Renewable energy engineers like Paul Lee are constantly looking for new ways to harness energy from sustainable sources. They learn how to use sunlight, wind, water, and geothermal energy to reduce the environmental impacts of energy production.
Discovery Education notes that the renewable energy engineering field, much like environmental engineering, is projected to grow at a slightly faster rate than average. However, as the global population continues to increase and the world’s sources of nonrenewable energy continue to deplete, those figures are likely to increase.
Want to know more about renewable energy engineers? Read these resources and share them with future civil engineers:
Jose Aguilar – drone pilot
Drone pilots like Jose Aguilar, who uses drones in his work as a transportation and aviation engineer, are certified remote pilots responsible for safely operating unmanned aerial vehicles. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts minimal job growth for drone pilots. However, drone pilots usually obtain skills that make them versatile and valuable in avionics mechanics, advanced electronics, or commercial piloting.
Throughout this period of technological advancement, the use of drones can be especially helpful in a variety of civil engineering projects, from emergency rescues to construction site planning. And this type of expertise is useful across many civil engineering disciplines, including the transportation and aviation sector that Aguilar is a part of. Both the U.S. military and the CIA even use drone technology as part of their strategies.
Know a tech-savvy student who might be interested in a career with drones? Pass along these resources to them to help guide their journey:
Aaron Opdyke – humanitarian engineer
Humanitarian engineers like Aaron Opdyke use their strong technical and interpersonal expertise to support marginalized and low-income communities, and those impacted by disasters and severe weather events. From projects addressing flood risk preparation and reduction to accessibility through roads and bridges, their work encompasses civil engineering work more holistically.
As a professor who is specialized in humanitarian engineering, Opdyke helps civil engineering students better understand complex engineering concepts while bridging the gap between abstract ideas and real-world problems.
Find out more about humanitarian engineering and the academia sector. Direct aspiring engineers to these resources:
Changing the world today
ASCE is not only positioned to help civil engineers make a difference in the world but also to recognize those who are actively making a difference for the future.
This is something that’s done annually through the New Faces of Civil Engineering program. The four civil engineers featured in this career profile collection happen to be New Faces alumni.
Know anyone who might be on their own path to world-changing civil engineering? Encourage them to apply for the 2023 program by midnight Dec. 6, 2022.
This video series, Civil Engineers Changing the World, is produced by ASCE in collaboration with the Discovery Education STEM Careers Coalition and is brought to you by funding from the United Engineering Foundation.