Civil Engineering(5)

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         Kane – per. 6
                          Field Description
       Civil engineers have a wide range of important functions. They design and supervise the

construction of buildings, roads, dams, airports, tunnels, bridges, and water supply and sewage

systems. There are many specialties within the field of civil engineering. These include

construction, environmental, geotechnical, structural, transportation, urban planning, water

resources, and construction engineering. (1)

       Construction engineering deals with the construction of buildings. The construction phase of

a project represents the first tangible result of a design. Construction engineers, using technical and

management skills, help turn designs into reality. These people need knowledge of construction

methods and equipment, along with principles of financing, planning, and management, to turn the

designs of other engineers into successful facilities.

       Another specialty is environmental engineering. The skills of environmental engineers are

becoming increasingly important as we attempt to protect the fragile resources of our planet.

Environmental engineers translate physical, chemical, and biological processes into systems to

destroy toxic substances, remove pollutants from the air, and develop groundwater supplies.

Engineers in this field are called upon to resolve problems of providing safe drinking water,

cleaning up sites contaminated with hazardous material, cleaning up and preventing air pollution,

treating wastewater, and managing solid wastes.

       Geotechnical engineering is the discipline that deals with applications of technology to solve

problems related to earth materials. These engineers are extremely important because almost all of

the facilities that make up our infrastructure are constructed in, on or with these earth materials.

Examples of facilities in the earth are tunnels, deep foundations, and pipelines. Highway pavements

and many buildings are supported on the earth. And earth dams, levees, embankments, and slopes

are constructed with the earth. In addition, many soil-like waste materials are deposited in
containment areas. To design these facilities, geotechnical engineers must conduct analyses based

on the principles of mechanics and mathematics. These analyses require input data to quantify the

properties of the earth materials, and this information is usually obtained form laboratory or field


         Structural engineers face the challenge of analyzing and designing structures to ensure that

they safely perform their purpose. They must support their own weight and resist dynamic

environmental loads such as hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards, and floods. Stadiums, arenas,

skyscrapers, offshore oil structures, space platforms, amusement park rides, bridges, office

buildings, and homes are a few of the many types of projects in which structural engineers are

involved. These people develop and utilize knowledge of the properties and behaviors of steel,

concrete, aluminum, timber, and plastic as well as new and exotic materials. To make certain that

the plans are being followed, structural engineers are often on the construction site inspecting and

verifying the work.

         The function of transportation engineers is the move people, goods, and materials safely and

efficiently. These engineers find ways to meet the increasing travel needs on land, air and sea. They

design, construct, and maintain all types of facilities, including highways, railroads, airfields, and

ports. An important part of transportation engineering is to upgrade our transportation capability by

improving traffic control and mass transit systems, and by introducing high-speed trains, people

mover, and other new transportation methods.

         Urban Planning is an engineering field that is concerned with the full development of a

community. Analyzing a variety of information will help urban planners coordinate projects, such

as projecting street patterns, identifying park and recreation areas, and determining areas for

industrial and residential growth. To ensure ready access to a community, coordination with other

authorities may be required to integrate freeways, airports, and other related facilities.

         The final engineering specialty deals with water resources. Water resources engineers deal

with issues concerning the quality and quantity of water. They work to prevent floods, to supply
water for cities, industry and irrigation, to treat wastewater, to protect beaches, or to manage and

redirect rivers. They are involved in the design, construction, or maintenance of hydroelectric power

facilities, canals, dams, pipelines, pumping stations, locks, or seaport facilities. (5)

        Many civil engineers hold supervisory or administrative positions, form supervisor of a

construction site to city engineer. Others may work in design, construction, research, and teaching.

        Civil engineers held about 195,000 jobs in 1998. Almost half were employed by firms

providing engineering consulting services, primarily developing designs for new construction

projects. Another one third of the jobs were in Federal, State and local government agencies. The

construction industry, public utilities, transportation, and manufacturing industries accounted for

most of the remaining employment. About 12,000 civil engineers were self-employed, many as

consultants. (3)

        Civil engineers usually work near major industrial and commercial centers, often at

construction sites. Some projects are situated in remote areas or in foreign countries. In some jobs,

civil engineers move from place to place to work on different projects.

        A professional engineer is a person who performs a professional service such as

consultation, investigation, evaluation, planning, design or supervision of construction or operation

in connection with any utilities, structures, buildings, machines, equipment, processes, works, or

projects wherein the safeguarding of life, health and property is concerned, when such service or

work requires the application of engineering principles and data. A professional engineer must also

be licensed by the state. To get licensed, a person has to have gotten a baccalaureate degree in some

field of engineering, be at least 21 years of age, have at least four years of experience working in the

field, and pass an examination. (2)
70 Carriage Rd
Clifton Park, NY 12065
October 15, 2001

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 8th Street
Troy, NY 12180-3590

Dear Sir or Ma’am:

I am a junior at Shenendehowa High School. I am currently working on a paper about what a Civil
Engineer does and what it takes to become one. I was hoping you could send me a course catalog
detailing all the courses, including course descriptions. Also, please include information about what
courses one would have to take to receive a B. S. in Civil Engineering.

I appreciate your time.

Thank you,

Laura Harris
     Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
                 Baccalaureate Program – Civil Engineering

Course                                                                    Credit hours
ENGR-1100           Introduction to Engineering Analysis                         4
MATH-1010           Calculus I                                                   4
ENGR-1500           Chemistry of Materials I                                     4
STSH-1110           Introduction to Science and Technology Studies               4

                                    Year 1 – Fall Semester
                                       Total – 16 credit hours

Course Descriptions:
ENGR-1100 Introduction to Engineering Analysis - An integrated development of linear algebra
and statics emphasizing engineering applications and also incorporating computer exercises
involving matrix techniques and calculations using available software packages. Fall, spring, and
summer terms annually. 4 credit hours

MATH-1010 Calculus I - Functions, limits, continuity, derivatives, implicit differentiation, related
rates, maxima and minima, elementary transcendental functions, introduction to definite integral
with applications to area and volumes of revolution. Fall and spring terms annually. 4 credit hours

ENGR-1500 Chemistry of Materials I - Basic principles of chemistry with an emphasis on
structure and bonding, thermodynamics, kinetics, and ideal solids. 4 credit hours

STSH-1110 Introduction to Science and Technology Studies - An introduction to the social,
historical, and ethical influences on modern science and technology. Cases include development of
the atomic bomb, mechanization of the workplace, Apollo space program, and others. Readings are
drawn from history, fiction, and social sciences; films and documentary videos highlight questions
about the application of scientific knowledge to human affairs. The class is designed to give
students freedom to develop and express their own ideas. 4 credit hours
      Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
                  Baccalaureate Program – Civil Engineering
Course                                                                        Credit hours
ENGR-1300          Engineering Processes                                           1
PHYS-1100          Physics I                                                       4
MATH-1020          Calculus II                                                     4
ENGR-1600          Chemistry of Materials II                                       4
IHSS-1210          Information Technology Revolution: Myth or Reality?             4

                                   Year 1 – Spring Semester
                                        Total – 17 credit hours

Course Descriptions:
 ENGR-1300 Engineering Processes - The use of basic machine tools such as lathes, milling
machines, drill presses, band saws, and grinders, including micrometers, vernier calipers, and other
devices of use in a machine shop or laboratory. Welding techniques and tool making are also
considered. Fall, spring, and summer terms annually. 1 credit hour

PHYS-1100 Physics I - The first semester of a two-semester sequence of interactive courses.
Topics include linear and angular kinematics and dynamics, work and energy, momentum and
collisions, forces and fields, gravitation, elementary electrostatics, and motion of charged particles
in a magnetic field. 4 credit hours

MATH-1020 Calculus II - Techniques and applications of integration, polar coordinates,
parametric equations, infinite sequences and series, vector functions and curves in space, functions
of several variables, and partial derivatives. 4 credit hours

ENGR-1600 Chemistry of Materials II - Introduction to “real” (defect-containing) solids, and
equilibria and kinetic processes in solids. Macroscopic properties, such as mechanical strength and
electrical conductivity, are dominated by structure and bonding, and the course continuously
emphasizes this connection. Each of the materials classes (metals, ceramics, semiconductors, and
polymers) is discussed in detail in this context. 4 credit hours.

IHSS-1210 Information Technology Revolution: Myth or Reality? - This course examines a
broad spectrum of information technologies, from alphabets, calendars, and the first world maps to
GIS and GPS; from telephones and radio to cybernetics, the gene chip, and quantum cryptography;
from the first computer to the Internet. One goal is for students to learn how technological
innovation happens and affects the world. Another goal is to explore the history of IT, teaching
students how to use the past to “think the future.” 4 credit hours
     Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
                 Baccalaureate Program – Civil Engineering
Course                                                                      Credit hours
ENGR-2050         Introduction to Engineering Design                             4
MATH-2400         Introduction to Differential Equations                         4
PHYS-1200         Physics II                                                     4
ENGR-1200         Engineering Graphics & CAD                                     1
PHIL-1110         Introduction to Philosophy                                     4

                                    Year 2 – Fall Semester
                                      Total – 17 credit hours

Course Descriptions:
ENGR-2050 Introduction to Engineering Design - A first course in engineering design which
emphasizes creativity, teamwork, communication, and work across engineering disciplines.
Students are introduced to the design process through a semester-long project which provides a
design-build test experience. Oral and written communication are important elements of the course.
4 credit hours.

MATH-2400 Introduction to Differential Equations - First-order differential equations, second-
order linear equations, eigenvalues and eigenvectors of matrices, systems of first-order equations,
stability and qualitative properties of nonlinear autonomous systems in the plane, Fourier series,
separation of variables for partial differential equations. Prerequisites: MATH-1020 and some
knowledge of matrices. Fall and spring terms annually. 4 credit hours

PHYS-1200 Physics II - The second semester of the two-semester sequence of interactive courses.
Topics include Gauss’s Law, current electricity, Ampere’s Law and Faraday’s Law,
electromagnetic radiation, physical optics, and quantum physics. Prerequisite: PHYS-1100 or
equivalent or permission of instructor. 4 credit hours

ENGR-1200 Engineering Graphics and CAD - An introduction to the techniques for creating
solid models of engineering designs. Topics include three-dimensional modeling of parts and
assemblies, visualization, orthographic and isometric free-hand sketching, and computer-generated
design documentation. Fall, spring, and summer terms annually.
1 credit hour

PHIL-1110 Introduction to Philosophy - An introduction to the major areas of philosophy (ethics,
theory of knowledge, philosophy of religion, etc.) and to some of the main problems treated within
these fields. Selections from contemporary as well as classical authors are studied and discussed.
Students are encouraged to develop a disciplined approach to intellectual problems. Emphasis varies
with the instructor. Fall and spring terms annually. 4 credit hours
      Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
                 Baccalaureate Program – Civil Engineering

Courses                                                                     Credit hours
ENGR-2090          Engineering Dynamics                                          4
ENGR-2530          Strength of Materials                                         4
ENGR-2250          Thermal & Fluids Engineering I                                4
STSH-4720          Metaphysics                                                   4
CSCI-1190          Beginning C Programming for Engineers                         1

                                  Year 2 – Spring Semester
                                       Total –17 credit hours

Course Descriptions:
ENGR-2090 Engineering Dynamics - An integrated development of modeling- and problem-
solving techniques for particles and rigid bodies emphasizing the use of free-body diagrams, vector
algebra, and computer simulation. Topics covered include the kinematics and kinetics of
translational, rotational, and general plane motion, energy and momentum methods, and single
degree of freedom vibrations. 4 credit hours

ENGR-2530 Strength of Materials - Concept of stress and strain, generalized Hooke’s law, axial
load, torsion, pure bending, transverse loading, transformation of stress and strain components in 2-
D, design of beams and shafts for strength, deflection of beams, work and energy, columns. 4 credit

ENGR-2250 Thermal and Fluids Engineering I - Application of control volume balances of
mass, momentum, energy and entropy in systems of practical importance to all engineers.
Identification of control volumes, properties of pure materials, mass and energy conservation for
closed and open systems, second law of thermodynamics, Bernoulli equation, fluid statics, forces
and heat transfer in external and internal flows, conduction and radiative heat transfer. 4 credit

STSH-4720 Metaphysics - A study of how to talk about what there is. This course is concerned
with the philosophical claims that have been made about existence, being, and reality, and the
problem of evaluating such claims, especially in the context of the claims made by science about the
same issues. Some traditional philosophical and scientific texts are discussed, but recent sources
will also be important. Prerequisite: one philosophy or STS course or permission of instructor.
Offered on availability of instructor. 4 credit hours

CSCI-1190 Beginning C Programming for Engineers - This course will teach elementary
programming concepts using the C language for engineering students with little or no prior
programming experience. Students cannot get credit for this course and any other Computer Science
course. Fall and spring terms annually. 1 credit hour
      Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
                 Baccalaureate Program – Civil Engineering

Course                                                                       Credit hours
CIVL-2030          Introduction to Transportation Engineering                     4
CIVL-2630          Introduction to Geotechnical Engineering                       4
CIVL-2670          Introduction to Structural Engineering                         4
ENGR-2600          Modeling & Analysis of Uncertainty                             3

                                     Year 3 – Fall Semester
                                       Total – 15 credit hours

Course Descriptions:
CIVL-2030 Introduction to Transportation Engineering - Introduction to the planning, design,
and analysis of transportation problems. Studies of costs of providing transportation, level of service
offered to travelers, and demand for transportation services. Evaluation of various service strategies
and the policy implications of each alternative. Various modes of travel and their physical facilities.
4 credit hours

CIVL-2630 Introduction to Geotechnical Engineering - The application of the basic laws and
phenomena of science to particulate matter, specifically soils. Basic physical and mechanical
structural characteristics of soil. Equilibrium and movement of water. Flow through porous media.
Effective stress. Stress-strain-time relations. Basic laboratory work as related to practice.
Prerequisite: ENGR-2530. 4 credit hours

CIVL-2670 Introduction to Structural Engineering - Introduction to the elastic behavior of
structural components. Analysis of statically determinate systems. Deflection calculations by virtual
work and elastic load methods. Analysis of simple statically indeterminate structures. Influence
lines. Interaction of structural components. Typical structural engineering loads. Prerequisite:
ENGR-2530 or equivalent. 4 credit hours

ENGR-2600 Modeling and Analysis of Uncertainty - Appreciation and understanding of
uncertainties and the conditions under which they occur, within the context of the engineering
problem-solving pedagogy of measurements, models, validation, and analysis. Problems and
concerns in obtaining measurements; tabular and graphical organization of data to minimize
misinformation and maximize information; and development and evaluation of models. Concepts
will be supported with computer demonstration. Applications to problems in engineering are
emphasized. Prerequisite: MATH-1010. Fall and spring terms annually. 3 credit hours
      Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
                  Baccalaureate Program – Civil Engineering

                                  Course                                      Credit hours
   ENGR-4300       Electronic Instrumentation.                                     4
   CIVL-4150       Experimental Soil Mechanics                                     3
   ENGR-1010       Professional Development I                                      2
   STSH-4300       Environmental Philosophy                                        4
   ECON-1200       Introductory Economics                                          4

                                   Year 3 – Spring Semester
                                       Total – 17 credit hours

Course Descriptions:
ENGR-4300 Electronic Instrumentation
A survey, application-oriented course for engineering and science majors. Transducers and
measurement devices. DC and AC analog circuits including impedance, power, frequency response,
and resonance. Diodes, transistors, and operational amplifiers. Signal conditional, noise, and
shielding. Digital electronics, A/D and D/A conversion. Power supplies, rectifiers, and
electromagnetic devices. 4 credit hours

CIVL-4150 Experimental Soil Mechanics
Second course in geotechnical engineering, emphasizing experimental aspects of soil behavior.
Laboratory experiments to measure the following soil properties: consolidation, compressibility,
shear strength, permeability, various moduli, and bearing capacity. Theory, practical applications of
theory, and laboratory. 3 credit hours

ENGR-1010 Professional Development I
An introduction to the issues related to working in team settings. Topics explored include:
communications in teams, public speaking and self awareness, stages of group development,
building a team, group decision making, and conflict resolution. The course format will include
small and large group discussions, case studies, experiential exercises, and regular participation
from industry guests. 1 credit hour

STSH-4300 Environmental Philosophy
While concepts such as quality of life, environment, nature, global ecology, and the like figure
heavily in contemporary discussions, they are seldom integrated into an environmental philosophy.
The course tries to achieve this integration by understanding some of the religious, mythic-poetic,
and scientific dimensions of the human-nature matrix. Some specific environmental problems are
examined to illustrate the system of values implied by various solutions. 4 credit hours

ECON-1200 Introductory Economics
Every society faces the question of choosing how to use its natural and human resources to produce
goods and services and how to distribute these resources among its people. This course studies how
these choices are made in markets. It also explains the determinants of total output, employment,
and inflation. Attention may also be given to special topics such as the environment, trade, and
population. 4 credit hours
     Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
                 Baccalaureate Program – Civil Engineering
     Course                                                                     Credit hours
     ENVE-2110          Introduction to Environmental Engineering                    4
     CIVL-4120          Civil Engineering Instrumentation & Sensors                  4
     CIVL-4070          Steel Design                                                 3
     ECON-2020          Intermediate Macroeconomics                                  4

                                    Year 4 – Fall Semester
                                      Total – 15 credit hours

Course Descriptions:

ENVE-2110 Introduction to Environmental Engineering - The application of basic principles
and equations dealing with water, air, and solid and hazardous wastes; material and energy
balances; and chemical and biochemical cycles. Topics include water resources, water quality and
pollution, air quality and pollution, solid and hazardous wastes, and environmental legislation.
Corequisite: MATH-2400. Fall term annually. 4 credit hours

CIVL-4120 Civil Engineering Instrumentation and Sensors - Various experimental techniques
for the collection and analysis of laboratory and field data. Theory and application of electrical
resistance strain gages and other data gathering equipment are introduced. Students are also
introduced to the concepts involved with the interfacing of personal computers to machines for data
acquisition and control. Prerequisite: ENGR-2530 and ENGR-2600. Fall term annually. 4 credit

CIVL-4070 Steel Design - Analysis and design of metal structures. Structural materials and loads.
Design of beams, columns, bolted and welded connections. Composite construction. Prerequisite:
CIVL-2670. Fall term annually. 3 credit hours

ECON-2020 Intermediate Macroeconomics - Attention is directed primarily to variations in the
aggregate volume of output, income, and employment. Cyclical fluctuations and long-term
economic trends are examined and the interrelations of business and government policies are
analyzed. The applicability of economic theory to the problems of business forecasting is discussed.
Prerequisite: ECON-1200 or permission of instructor. Fall and spring terms annually. 4 credit hours
      Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
                 Baccalaureate Program – Civil Engineering

Course                                                                      Credit hours
CIVL-4920          Civil Eng. Capstone Design                                    4
ENGR-4010          Professional Development II                                   4
CIVL-4240          Introduction to Finite Elements                               3
BMED-2200          Dynamic Systems for Biomedical Engineering                    3
PSYC-1200          General Psychology                                            4

                      Year 4 – Spring Semester
                              Total – 18 credit hours

Course Descriptions:
CIVL-4920 Civil Engineering Capstone Design - Open-ended design project in which students
work in teams. Oral presentations and written reports cover alternates considered, design
assumptions, cost, safety, and feasibility. This is a writing-intensive course. 3 credit hours

ENGR-4010 Professional Development II
Students will study issues associated with working in teams in a modern work environment. Various
styles of leadership, the definitions of power and empowerment and their applications in industry
and team settings will be studied. Additionally, other topics to be explored include vision, values
and attitudes, and organizational culture. The course format will include small and large group
discussions, case studies, experiential exercises, and regular participation from industry guests. 1
credit hour

CIVL-4240 Introduction to Finite Elements
An introductory course in use of the Finite Element Method (FEM) to solve one- and two-
dimensional problems in fluid mechanics, heat transfer, and elasticity. The methods are developed
using weighted residuals. Algorithms for the construction and solution of the governing equations
are also covered. Students will be exposed to the use of commercial finite element software. 3 credit

BMED-2200 Dynamic Systems for Biomedical Engineering
Introduction of the modeling, analysis, and control of dynamic systems. Models of electrical,
mechanical, electromechanical, and mass-transport systems in state-variable, input-output, and
transfer function form. Linear approximations of non-linear systems. Time domain and Laplace
transform solutions, Block diagrams, and feedback systems. Solutions using a standard software
package with graphic user interface. 4 credit hours

PSYC-1200 General Psychology
An introduction to psychology. Topics covered vary with instructor but may include physiological
bases of behavior, sensation, perception, learning, memory, child and adult development,
motivation, personality, psychological disorders, social behavior. Introduction to basic methods of
psychological research is a course requirement that can be met in several ways (described during the
first class meeting). There is a significant experiential component that varies with the instructor but
will include interactive computer stimulations, class demonstrations, group projects. 4 credit hours
                    Transferable Credits
        The credits earned in the first year of the Baccalaureate civil engineering program were

almost completely transferable to a Baccalaureate program in chemistry. Since Chemistry of

Materials I and II are equivalent to Chemistry I and II, the only courses that cannot be transferred

from civil engineering are Introduction to Engineering Analysis and Engineering Processes. Also,

Physics II would need to be taken in order to meet the chemistry requirements.
Harry J. Williams, P.E.
Associate Building Construction Engineer
New York State Office of General Services
Albany, New York 12065
(518) 371-7743

Q: Describe the duties and responsibilities of someone working in civil engineering. What are
some specific jobs in this field?
A: Specific jobs in civil engineering are varied as you know if you’ve done any research. Civil
engineers are involved in design of bridges, buildings, dams, and water treatment facilities.

Q: What is your specialty in civil engineering?
A: My specialty in civil engineering at this point is construction supervision. I’ve been a project
manager, and an engineer in charge for several multimillion dollar projects that the state has put up.

Q: What are some of the projects you’ve worked on?
A: I’ve worked on the prison at Coxsackie Correctional Facility which is now called Green
Correctional Facility. I was in charge of the construction for the state when it was going up, that
was a 20 million dollar project. And I was in charge of a project at the Albany Airport, to erect an
office building, an armory and some other buildings for the Division of Military and Naval Affairs,
and that was about a 20 million dollar project.

Q: Do you have assignments that seem to drag on forever, or are they usually pretty quick?
A: In construction, you have assignments where you go out, you start, you finish, and then go on to
the next assignment. Usually you can see a specific end when you do construction.

Q: How much of your time is spent on the computer?
A: Well, right now I’m working in the office as an administrator so I spend probably one-third of
my time using the computer

Q: Does your job deal mainly with people, data or things?
A: Well, my job deals with people, there is a lot of interaction with people in the office. And it
deals a lot with data, too.

Q: Are there any specific tools or equipment required for your job?
A: Right now my main tool is the computer. A lot of people in design use the computer for CAD
design. And there is surveying equipment that I’ve used from time to time.
Q: What are the advantages of this occupation?
A: Well, one of the advantages is that you get to see something built. When you’re done you get to
actually see something. When I’m working on a project it starts as a field and when it was done it’s
a building. There some real advantage to that.

Q: Are there any disadvantages?
A: I don’t know if there are any disadvantages. I really haven’t found any. I’ve really liked my job
all of the years I’ve been doing it.

Q: How about advancement opportunities?
A: Well there are advancement opportunities. I was lucky enough to get several promotions early
on in my career. I got up to a pretty high standing in the state at an early point and even now there
still are advancement opportunities for me.

Q: Are employers evenly distributed or are they concentrated in certain areas of the country?
A: Engineering is all around the country. There are several really big engineering firms, but there
are many, many, smaller ones that are all around the country.

Q: So do most people work for themselves, private industry, or the government?
A: Most civil engineers, I believe, work for private industry.

Q: What are the beginning, average, and top pay one could expect to earn working in civil
A: I would think beginning pay right now with a Bachelor’s degree would be somewhere between
45 and 50 thousand dollars. An average salary with a few years of experience would be 60 to 70
thousand. And there are some engineers that make 150 to 200 thousand dollars.

Q: Does where you live make a difference in your salary?
A: Yeah, to some extent. There probably are more engineering opportunities in the South because
there is more building down there.

Q: Is there overtime pay?
A: Usually not. I’m on salary and I don’t get paid for overtime.

Q: How many hours do you work per week?
A: I currently work thirty-seven and a half hours a week and I often put in a few more than that to
get things done at the end of the day. Then it’s more quiet and I don’t have as many people asking
me questions.

Q: What about vacations?
A: I work for the state so I have pretty good vacations. I have more than four weeks of vacation a
year. Plus I get personal time.

Q: Is there further education offered where you work?
A: Yes, there is further education for things I’ve taken over the years.

Q: Do you have to travel?
A: I personally don’t travel too much, but there are people who do travel. As a matter of fact, in
construction engineering you tend to travel quite a bit because you have to go where the jobs are.
Q: What are the retirement benefits?
A: Well, the state gives me good retirement benefits. I get a percentage of my salary when I retire
for the rest of my life. It’s a pretty good system.

Q: In what kind of environment is the work done? Indoors? Outdoors?
A: Right now I work indoors. I work in the Corning Tower. But when I was out in the field I used
to work in construction trailers that were on the site. I spend a lot of my time out on the job actually
looking at the work that going on. It was maybe 60 percent in the trailer, 40 percent in the field.

Q: Is it possible to work at home (like if you’re sick)?
A: I probably could work do some things at home. I never have before.

Q: Do you work alone or with other people?
A: I usually work with other people.

Q: Were there any tests or licenses you had to get before you became an engineer?
A: Yes I have a license. I am a licensed professional engineer in New York State. I have to take
that test. It’s a two-part test. I took the first part while I was still in school and then the second part
you can take after you have four years to five years of engineering experience.

Q: What is your most satisfying experience so far?
A: Back a few years ago there was a major power outage in the Empire State Plaza. I don’t know if
you remember it but back in 1993, there was a major switch gear fire and I was in charge of
overseeing the temporary repairs. I also made sure that people weren’t hurt and that things got done.
There were dozens upon dozens of people working all the time and I was kind of the coordinator to
keep it going. And we got people back to work in about a week. We spent a lot of money to do it,
but it was nice to see it when it got to the point where it was done and people could get back to

Q: Is this what you thought you were going to do in high school?
A: No, then I had no idea.

Q: How about in college?
A: Well, I went to RPI, so I knew that I was going to do some type of engineering. I didn’t know
what. Even when you’re in college you don’t pick one direction to go in until at least your
Sophomore year.

Q: What degree did you get in college?
A: I have a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering.

Q: How long have you work in your profession?
A: I’ve been a civil engineer for twenty-six years.

Q: Do you know anything about the employment opportunities for people my age?
A: I would think that engineering has got a lot of good employment opportunities for people in
high school now. If you look at the statistics, whenever RPI or any other engineering school has a
graduating class, a good percentage of the graduating seniors go on to get a Master’s Degree or get
a good paying job. There are a lot of good opportunities in this field.
Q: Do you have any advice for someone looking to go into civil engineering?
A: Well if you are in high school and you want to go into civil engineering, my advice would be to
make sure that you take math and science classes and try to do well in them. That’s what you’re
going to need when you get to college.

Q: That’s about it. Is there anything you want to add?
A: One thing is that engineering is a great career for women these days. We have many women in
our office who’ve been very successful. It used to be a very male-dominated profession, but not

1. “The American Society of Civil Engineers” <>

2. Hagerty, D. Joseph. Opportunities in Civil Engineering Careers. Skokie: VGM Career
   Horizons, 1977.

3. Occupational Outlook Handbook 2000-2001 Edition VGM Career Books, 2000

4. “RPI College Website” <>

5. Straub, Hans. A History of Civil Engineering; an Outline from Ancient to Modern Times.
   Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1994.

6. Williams, Harry J. Personal interview. 15 October 2001

Lingjuan Ma Lingjuan Ma MS
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