civil engineering

9 Types of Civil Engineering Projects

Civil engineering is one of the oldest jobs in the world. Civil engineering deals with constructing, designing, and maintaining a physical environment. This includes structures such as airports, roads, bridges, dams, sewerage, railways, and many more. As you can see, a civil engineer has an impact on the things we use every day and our surroundings. As such, there are 9 types of civil engineering projects.

Civil Engineering Projects
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Key Takeaways:

  • Civil engineering involves constructing, designing, and maintaining the physical environment.
  • There are 9 types of civil engineering projects: construction and management engineering, geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, transport engineering, water engineering, environmental engineering, earthquake engineering, materials engineering, and coastal engineering.
  • Construction and management engineering is about building structures in an efficient, safe, and sustainable way and managing assets over their lifespan.
  • Geotechnical engineering deals with understanding how a project interacts with the ground, which can be different for each project.
  • Structural engineering analyzes and designs the construction of bridges, towers, buildings, dams, etc., to make them safe, sustainable, and economical.
  • Transport engineering is the planning, designing, and operation of large transport systems and aims to meet sustainability and safety standards.
  • Water engineering involves understanding and designing natural water systems and hydraulic structures, like dams and water distribution systems, to conserve water and deal with floods and coastal waters.
  • Environmental engineering focuses on designing innovative ways to conserve densely populated areas and prevent pollution from destroying the environment and natural resources.
  • Earthquake engineering deals with mitigating damage caused by earthquakes, while materials engineering focuses on selecting and testing materials for structures. Coastal engineering is concerned with managing coastal erosion and coastal protection structures.

What are the different branches of civil engineering?

There are 9 types of civil engineering projects. Each of these projects requires extensive knowledge of math, mechanics, and physics, as well as the ability to solve problems creatively.

Civil Engineering

Construction and Management Engineering

Construction and management engineering is about creating things like bridges, buildings, roads, and railways. The purpose of engineering construction is to build these structures in the most efficient, safe, sustainable, and environmentally friendly way possible. Following the construction phase is an asset management phase. In this phase, you outline the maintenance, operation, and refurbishment over the lifespan of the project. These things need to be managed so that the owner of the project can make sure that there is value in return for money spent on the project.

Managers of construction engineers oversee many types of projects, and they have many duties

Developing construction budgets for projects

Gathering teams of workers, physical materials, machines, and tools

Overseeing safety and productivity on job sites

Using construction project management software 

construction engineering
Photo by Pixabay  

Geotechnical Engineering

Out of the 9 types of civil engineering projects, geotechnical engineering is concerned with understanding how a project interacts with the ground out of the 9 types of civil engineering projects. People in the geotechnical engineering field deal with structures such as tunnels, bridges, roads, railways, and more. Geotechnical engineers deal with a different type of ground for every project. Whether it’s made out of soil or rock, it is the job of the geotechnical engineer to figure out how it will interact with the project. This excites most geotechnical engineers because no two grounds are the same.

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Geotechnical engineering has many responsibilities that are complex and demanding:

Analyzing soil samples in subsurface investigations

Conducting field tests to determine issues that can pose safety risks on projects

Analyzing subsurface investigation and field tests with computer software 

structural civil engineer
Photo by Asim Alnamat

Structural Engineering

Analyzing and designing the construction of bridges, towers, buildings, dams, and more is the job of a structural engineer. These structures need to be built in a way that makes them safe, sustainable, economical, and somewhat pleasing to the eye. Just like construction and management engineering, structural engineering uses math and physics to do the job. Using math and physics, engineers can see if all parts of the project have enough strength to take loads, determine the structures service life, and see if the structure is stable. Of 9 types of civil engineering projects, structural engineering plays the biggest part in designing and selecting materials for a project.

Some tasks that structural engineers are responsible for:

Calculating loads and stresses that structures can safely endure

Surveying job sites before work even begins to determine suitable requirements

Assessing and monitoring structures like bridges, dams, and buildings

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Transport Engineering

To no surprise, transport engineering is the planning, designing, and operation of large transport systems. Whether public or private, everybody needs to have access to forms or modes of transportation to get around in the world we live in. We have many ways of transportation today, such as air, water, road, and railway. A transport engineer’s job is to make sure these forms of transportation meet certain standards. Standards like sustainability and safety need to be met. With the technology we have now, transport engineers are trying to reduce emissions and energy use with the goal of becoming environmentally friendly. Of the 9 types of civil engineering projects, transport engineering is about always looking for a way to improve our transportation systems.

Transport engineers have complex tasks that include:

Evaluating plans and proposals 

Analyzing schematics and data from other engineers

Offering recommendations for driving and traffic policies

Photo by Asunugrah Lohiya 

Water Engineering

How does water interact with our environment? Water engineering is about understanding why natural water systems, such as rivers and coasts, behave the way they do. This type of engineering also involves designing ways to store or direct water. Water engineers design and build hydraulic structures like dams, canals, and water distribution systems. Understanding how water can work creates a way for us to conserve water. Right now, water engineering is focused on dealing with floods, groundwater, and the nature of coastal waters.

Water engineering covers the following:

Designing flood defense plans and sewer improvement programs

Staying aware and up to date with policy and developments

Crafting strategies for flood defense

Photo by Alex Bracken

Environmental Engineering

Environmental engineering concentrates on designing innovative ways to conserve densely populated areas and preventing pollution from destroying the environment and natural resources. Overall, environmental engineers administer detailed analysis on a wide spectrum of environmental issues and create solutions to these problems. Projects under environmental engineering help address global issues and improve control of recycling, public health, water, and pollution.

Environmental engineers are responsible for tasks that include but not limited to:

Reviewing environmental investigation reports

Designing projects that lead to environmental protection

Monitoring progress of environmental improvement programs

Analyzing scientific data & conducting quality-control checks

Advising government and corporate agencies about procedures on contaminated sites. 

Photo by Romeo Pj

Coastal Engineering

This is a type of civil engineering that incorporates the sciences of oceanography and coastal geology to manage erosion, place, and buildings. Coastal engineering monitors coastal structures, nourish beaches and maintains harbors, ports, and other related navigation properties. In an attempt to address environmental and ecological issues, coastal engineering plays a crucial role in protecting coastlines.

Some tasks that involve coastal engineers are the following:

Managing shoreline erosion

Managing pollution in proximate marine environments

Improving navigation channels and harbors

Improving coastal recreation

Protecting buildings from a flood brought on by storms, waves, tides

coastal engineer
Photo by SeagullNady

Earthquake Engineering

Earthquake engineering is a type of engineering that specializes in mitigating hazards involving earthquakes for structures. This type of engineering takes descriptions of earthquake sources to characterize structural responses and site effects. Earthquake engineering also Earthquake engineers apply their knowledge to design, plan, and construct earthquake-resistant structures. Like the other types of civil engineering, engineering, the seismic safety of a structure considers the same processes: design, construction, and location. For earthquake engineering, location is everything. The West Coast, in particular, is highly prone to earthquakes because it sits upon the San Andreas Fault. Earthquake engineers study special instruments like strong-motion seismographs to understand ground motions from earthquakes. Earthquake engineering has similar responsibilities to structural engineering in terms of determining the stability of structures.

earthquake engineer
Photo by shigemi okano

Forensic Engineering

It’s all about identifying what went wrong. By applying engineering knowledge, forensic engineering determines the cause of structure or machine failure. With reverse engineering, forensic engineers detect the causes of why a component, machine, or structure failed performance.

Within forensic engineering, there are many common tasks:

— Identifying failure of product, machine, building

— Collecting evidence to determine the hypotheses of failure

— Offering a conclusion to the likely cause of the failure from analysis

Photo by Kae B Yuki

What types of projects do civil engineers work on?

Standard Analysis or Design

In a standard analysis or design project, civil engineers write up reports and create a few drawings for the project. Although not always asked for, civil engineers might go the extra mile and draft up more than one idea. This is so there can be a proper discussion on which design or idea is more suitable for the project and why. Examples of this kind of project are main water designs, capacity analysis of highways, and improving storm drainage. Of the types of civil engineering projects, structural engineering would fall into this category the most.

Developing New Solutions

In a project about developing new solutions, you have to understand what the initial problem is, write a proposal on how to solve this problem, test your proposal, and see if the problem has been solved. Out of the five types of civil engineering projects, geotechnical engineering is a perfect example because the ground is never the same for a project.


Civil engineering made many of the structures we see every day. Bridges, roads, dams, railways, highways, and more have all been created by civil engineers. To say they have a huge impact on our lives would be an understatement. There are many types of civil engineering projects, but each one has an important role to fill. Without these projects, our society would not come close to being as advanced as we are now.

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