What is Civil Engineering?
From Legos and erector sets to bridges and lighthouses, Tony Borrelli is designing structures for a better future.
As a child, Tony Borrelli could spend countless hours building away with his Legos and Erector set. So, when it came time to decide on a career path the logical choice for him was architecture. When it came time for college, Borrelli decided on an architecture school in Buffalo, N.Y.
At summer orientation, he got a first-hand look at the architecture program, and that was all he needed to change his mind. Borrelli's interests were more technical. "I wanted something a little more math and science oriented," Borrelli says.
Borrelli decided on civil engineering and graduated in 1991. While in college, Borrelli wasn't able to get a lot of experience in his field, but he did learn from his time with the Department of Transportation. But what is civil engineering? Let’s take a look at a day in the life of a civil engineer
What is Civil Engineering-Typical day
Even without a lot of real world experience, Borrelli was able to land a job at the firm of Bergmann Associates immediately. "I graduated on a Friday and started working on a Monday," Borrelli says.
He has been a project manager with the engineering company for eight years. Some of his day-to-day activities involve calculations, cost estimates, feasibility studies for clients and projects and general marketing. He also manages clients and supervises younger entry-level engineers and the drafting department.
"One of the greatest benefits for me is you get a chance to create something from scratch see it through the design process, see it being built and realize it's out there and it's going to last," Borrelli says.
Although Borrelli has been involved in many high-profile projects from highways to bridges and from stadium concession stands to lighthouses, his interests stretch beyond just designing. As part of the job Borrelli gets to travel around the country, meet lots of interesting people and work on some interesting projects.
The job, however, is not always fun and games. Borrelli and his co-workers often work over 50 hours a week depending on the project. When the clients want the project done by a certain time, Borrelli and his co-workers need to deliver. "When a project is due, because the design has to happen, we have no choice," Borrelli says.
Consulting also has its down side. "You don't have the final say," Borrelli says. "You can't always design what you want to."
What is civil engineering to you?
Borrelli suggests that high school students interested in engineering should shadow an engineer, visit a company, go to career fairs and talk to engineers. There are also engineering programs, clubs and contests students in both middle school and high school can get involved in.
Students interested in pursuing a career in engineering should take the time to find out about available scholarships. Borrelli also says students should make sure that the college they attend is an Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET) college.
As for the future of civil engineering, Borrelli predicts that it will be fairly constant. He says the biggest changes are going to come in the material, which will become more high tech.
What is civil engineering today may be quite different from what is civil engineering tomorrow. Borrelli also says computers will begin to play a bigger role. Any variation in the field of engineering is a solid way to make a living. While pay varies from company to company, on average civil engineers start at around $40,000 and can reach over $100,000 with experience and added responsibility.
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