When it comes to choosing a suitable field of interest for today's generation for the sake of furtherance of studies, numerous options are available, and very limited ones offer a long term scope to prosper. One such faculty which should honestly be given a though about is Civil Engineering.

What is Civil Engineering?
Rather than beating around the bush, let's come to the point, shall we? In general, it is the branch of engineering which deals with the planning, design, construction, development and maintenance of the structures like buildings, roads, bridges, canals, dams, water supply, irrigation and treatment systems etc. This broad a spectrum, comprises of many sub-disciplines under it as well. The branches of civil engineering are structural, construction, geotechnical, urban/ town/ municipal, environmental, transportation, surveying, water resource, tunnel, earthquake, material and coastal, etc.

Civil Engineering has been the most important aspect of human life on earth since its existence. Our ancestors gave us so many examples of its applications in our day-to-day life. There have been many stages of the development of the world with the help of application of civil engineering concepts & design. In early days, it was limited to building roads and houses, but with developments in science and technology, and with advancements of human civilization, this field has made a significant leap. From high-rises to massive dams, from large tunnels to canals and bridges, the scope of civil engineering has magnificently broadened with time.

This profession also recognizes the reality of limited natural resources, the desire for sustainable practices (including life-cycle analysis and sustainable design techniques), and the need for social equity in the consumption of resources. Without trained personnel of civil engineers, we would not have had a constant recyclable supply of clean water, or nonconventional energy tapping to help us save our planet. Without these, the world we live in would be unrecognizably different. Civil engineering is all about people. Its the work that civil engineers do to develop and improve the services and facilities the public use. We rely on civil engineering every day for a variety of things: from supplying energy and clean water to our homes, farms etc., to processing and recycling our waste, to finding solutions to problems like pollution and population.

History of Civil Engineering:
The history & emergence of civil engineering is difficult to determine. However, we can imagine that its use and development started since the existence of human beings on earth. Man used the caves in mountains as their shelter against weather & environment. And also used trunk of trees to cross the river as a raft which is an example of ancient age civil engineering applications. The earliest practices of civil engineering per se may have commenced between 4000 and 2000 BC in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia (Ancient Iraq) when humans started to abandon a nomadic existence, thus causing a need for the construction of shelter. During this time, transportation became increasingly important leading to the development of the wheel and sailing.

Until recent times, there was no clear distinction between civil engineering and architecture, and the term engineer and architect were often synonymously and interchangeably used as mainly geographical variations referring to the same person. The construction of Pyramids in Egypt around 2700-2500 BC might be considered the first instances of large structure constructions. Around 2550 BC, Imhotep, the first documented engineer, built a famous stepped pyramid for King Djoser located at Saqqara Necropolis. With simple tools and mathematics he created a monument that stands to this day. His greatest contribution to engineering was his discovery of the art of building with shaped stones. Those who followed him carried engineering to remarkable heights using skill and imagination.

Ancient historic civil engineering constructions include the Qanat water management system (the oldest older than 3000 years and longer than 71 km,) the Parthenon by Iktinos in Ancient Greece (447-438 BC), the Appian Way by Roman engineers (c. 312 BC), the Great Wall of China by General Meng Tien under orders from Chin Emperor Shih Huang Ti (c. 220 BC) and the stupas constructed in ancient Sri Lanka like the Jetavanaramaya and the extensive irrigation works in Anuradhapura. The Romans developed civil structures throughout their empire, including especially aqueducts, insulae, harbors, bridges, dams, cathedrals and roads. Machu Picchu, Peru, built at around 1450, at the height of the Inca Empire is considered an engineering marvel. It was built in the Andes Mountains assisted by some of history's most ingenious water resource engineers. The people of Machu Picchu built a mountain top city with running water, drainage systems, food production and stone structures so advanced that it endured for over 500 years.

Future Prospects?
Since today's world is shamelessly money minded, students may ask this question- 'what's the scope?' to put it mildly. However, let me tell you, that since we live in an era of massive development in the field of constructions, high paying jobs are pretty much available if you really display a spark to build something awesome despite the peer pressure. Long term scope for promotions or just having your own startups/construction businesses work out well too, for private minded people, considering how strategic a location you choose and the amount of capital investment one can manage to deliver quality. Governments of each nation, too, offer jobs and tenders in order to get the public constructions like bridges, highways, dams, etc made.

All in all, to conclude, it is a chauvinistic yet meaty field for a career choice if someone looks out for action and a passion to create something extraordinary out of ashes!

Mohammad Azharuddin
M.I.T. College
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