A closer look at civil engineering

Civil engineering has been around for a very long time. It’s one of the oldest types of engineering (second only to military engineering), and it deals with the design and construction of infrastructure like roads, dams, bridges, and sewage systems. In fact, the construction of the pyramids of Giza, between 2550 and 2490 BC, could be considered one of the earliest examples of large-scale civil engineering.

Putting the civil in engineering

Civil and military engineering were grouped together until the mid-1700s, when the term ‘civil engineering’ was introduced to differentiate the disciplines. British engineer John Smeaton – aka the father of civil engineering – was the first person to adopt the title of civil engineer. Smeaton founded the first engineering society in the world in 1771 (which is still going strong) and played an important part in the development of cement. 

It’s a broad umbrella

Today, civil engineering is an extensive field with plenty of sub-specialities, including environmental, structural, transportation, geotechnical and construction engineering. It even encompasses earthquake engineering, which, as the name suggests, focuses on making buildings, roads and bridges more resistant to earthquake damage. 

We can thank civil engineers for these modern wonders

In 1997, the American Society of Civil Engineers named their Seven Wonders of the Modern World to celebrate the feats of modern civil engineering. Here are the projects that made it onto the list:

  • Channel Tunnel (England and France)
  • CN Tower (Canada)
  • Netherlands North Sea Protection Works (Netherlands)
  • Empire State Building (USA)
  • Itaipu Dam (Brazil and Paraguay)
  •  Panama Canal (Panama)
  • Golden Gate Bridge (USA)

Speaking of the Golden Gate Bridge…

This iconic structure was the world’s tallest and longest suspension bridge when it opened in 1937. Here’s a look at some of its impressive facts and figures:

  • Its two main towers stand at 227 m above the water, and its roadway is suspended 67 m above the water.
  • From tower to tower, the suspended section of the bridge is 1 280 m long. 
  • It has two main cables (which are held up by the two towers) and 250 pairs of vertical suspender ropes. 
  • Today, about 112 000 vehicles travel across it daily.

Instantly recognisable, the Golden Gate Bridge truly is an engineering marvel – it’s no wonder that it inspired Lithon CEO Gert Maritz to become a civil engineer!

Have you seen our civil engineering portfolio?

At Lithon Project Consultants, we offer comprehensive civil engineering services. And we develop sustainable and practical solutions to create spaces where people, communities and industries can thrive. Our project portfolio is diverse and includes the Windhoek-Rehoboth Carriageway, Oshakati Open Market, Husab Mine Access Road, Windhoek Water and Sewer Reticulation and much more. If you’re planning your next project and need civil engineering services, please get in touch with a member of our team. We’d love to discuss your requirements.