On many levels, civil engineers are designers and visionaries. They need to consider current needs but also anticipate growth and change. They’re responsible for constructing almost every kind of infrastructure, much that we take for granted. Highways, roads, bridges, airports, tunnels, and dams are all designed and constructed by civil engineers. What makes a good civil engineer and how do you find the best one for your project?
The most basic requirements are a degree in civil engineering and licensure with state and local governments. An additional qualification is an engineer who has earned the designation professional engineer (PE). This designation requires years of work, study, and testing in their field.
Due to the wide variety of projects a civil engineer oversees, many specialize in a particular area of engineering such as structural or transportation engineering. Look for an engineer who specializes in your type of project. The more experience they have, the better able they are to anticipate and solve challenges that arise during planning and construction.
The civil engineer you hire needs to be a problem-solver with a can-do attitude. Anyone who throws up their hands at the first sign of trouble, or relies on the client to solve the problem isn’t a good choice. You want an individual who can work within the guidelines of the project but who can also make quick and considered decisions when necessary.
In addition to education and experience, a civil engineer should be a good project manager. While planning occurs in an office with interested parties, when the work gets started on-site, the civil engineer is the team leader. It’s important to keep a project on schedule and on budget, as well as manage a team of workers to produce quality work. If the civil engineer you meet with ranks low on the personality scale, consider finding someone else.
In any project, the budget moves everything forward, and you want an individual who estimates costs efficiently, keeps an accurate accounting of expenditures and works to avoid waste. Ask for references and inquire specifically about their budget management skills.
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