Advancements in technology are impacting industries and careers worldwide, including the field of civil engineering. For example, construction methods are becoming more efficient, and advanced design software provides civil engineers with the time to conceptualize projects effectively before they break ground on a project.
Civil engineering adopts technological advancements quickly, and emergent trends will continue to change the field for many years to come.
Below are a few of the currently unfolding civil engineering technologies.
The medical, aerospace, and automotive industries, among others, are already using 3D printing. It stands to reason that civil engineering is adapting this technology as well.
In late 2018, Dutch robotics company MX3D used a 3D printer to “print” a 39-foot-long steel pedestrian bridge. This required a combination of software, robotic arms, and molten steel. MX3D expects the bridge to be installed on Amsterdam’s Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal in mid-2019.
In June 2018, Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands announced plans to use 3D concrete printing to build a commercial housing project. It expects the first home—a single-story, three-bedroom bungalow—to be complete in late 2019.
Concrete and construction have long gone hand in hand, but regardless of how it’s installed or how much it’s reinforced, concrete eventually begins to crack. Significant damage can even lead to structural failure.
That’s why Netherlands-based Delft University of Technology professor Henk Jonkers developed bioconcrete.
Bioconcrete is mixed like regular concrete but includes one extra ingredient: healing bacteria that are activated when the concrete cracks and water seeps in. Jonkers has already used bioconcrete to complete a concrete canal and irrigation system in Ecuador, and there are plans to conduct more field tests to assess its usage in the future.
In poorly constructed homes, the points where materials join together are vulnerable to heat loss, impacting the amount of energy needed to warm them. Today, civil engineers leverage technologies to prevent this problem by installing thermal breaks.
Newer approaches to creating thermal breaks include applying insulation over wooden studs, adding continuous layers of exterior insulation, and avoiding metal fasteners. Thermal breaks not only help regulate temperature but also reduce energy consumption and make construction designs more eco-friendly.
As the use of renewable energy sources becomes mainstream, companies continue to seek out ways to enhance solar energy production.
A company in the UK may have one solution: Cambridge-based Polysolar is working to create transparent solar panels to be used in place of windows.
Polysolar chief technology officer Joanna Slota-Newson told Wired that the panels are “good at scavenging low-level, non-directional ambient light” and the photovoltaic glaze can increase the solar energy used to meet a building’s power requirements.
Engineers from Lancaster University in the UK are working on technology that can be embedded in road surfaces to harvest energy from passing traffic.
In a press release, project leader Mohamed Saafi said the system will convert mechanical energy into electric energy to power traffic lights, street lamps, and electric car charging points. The technology will undergo field trials in the UK upon completion.
Big data and predictive analytics are becoming prevalent in a number of industries. Research firm Gartner projects that nearly half of all industries will use predictive analytics by 2020.
The Institution of Civil Engineers believes predictive analytics has many potential applications in civil engineering, such as anticipating weather conditions and predictive equipment maintenance.
Pursuing a Career in Civil Engineering
Civil engineers are essential for planning, designing, and constructing infrastructures used in daily life. Those interested in this field must have mathematical skills, analytical skills, and an educational background designed to help them succeed.
New Jersey Institute of Technology’s online Master of Science in Civil Engineering includes a tech-driven curriculum that students can complete online and on their schedules. The program aims to prepare today’s civil engineers for tomorrow’s challenges.
Discover how an online Master of Science in Civil Engineering from NJIT can help you further your career.