How can you be the best civil engineer? Do you think it’s by mugging up a whole lot of textbooks and mastering the complex concepts, equations, etc.? Well, I agree. But, you can’t spread it out without grasping the basic of civil engineering in depth. Am I making sense?

Then, we are going to start off from the edge of the wave here.

1. General introduction to civil engineering

Did you know that civil engineering is the oldest engineering discipline? Yup. Civil Engineers plan, design, construct and operate the facilities essential to modern life which are bridges, highways, water treatment plant, etc. So, basically they are the problem solvers, right?

This branch of engineering is like a vast sea. Let me introduce you to its main disciples.

2. Fundamental disciples of civil engineering

  1. Building Construction 
  2. Advanced Building Construction 
  3. Building Planning and Management 
  4. Environmental Engineering or Water Supply and Sanitary Engineering 
  5. Geotechnical Engineering (Soil Mechanics) 
  6. Surveying and Levelling 
  7. Structural Engineering   
  8. Transportation Engineering 
  9. Town Planning 
  10. Water Resource Engineering 

3. Basic of building planning in civil engineering

Building planning is the process of making the set of drawing paying attention to each detail. We will see the basic features of a building now.

Basic elements of a building

The figure below says it all.

The figure shows the basic elements of a building

 1. Foundation

It is the lowermost part of the building.  The building activity starts with digging the ground for foundation and then building it.

2. Plinth

The plinth is the portion of the wall between the ground level and the ground floor level.

3. Walls and columns

The function of walls and columns is to transfer the load of the structure vertically downwards to transfer it to foundation.

4. Sills, lintels and chejjas

A window frame should not be directly placed over masonry. It is placed over 50 mm to 75 mm thick plain concrete course provided over the masonry. This course is called as sill.

Lintels are the R.C.C. or stone beams provided over the door and window openings to transfer the load transversely so as to see that door or window frame is not stressed unduly.

Chejja is the projection given outside the wall to protect doors and windows from the rain.

5. Doors and windows

The function of a door is to give access to different rooms in the building and to deny the access whenever necessary. Windows are provided to get light and ventilation in the building.

6. Floors

They give working/useful area for the occupants.

7. Roofs

Roof is the top most portion of the building which provide top cover to the building

8. Steps, stairs and lifts

Steps give convenient access from ground level to ground floor level.

9. Finishing work

Bottom portion of slab (ceiling), walls and top of floor need smooth finishing with plaster.

10. Building services

Water supply, sanitation and drainage works, electric supply work, and construction of cupboards and showcases constitute major building services.

You have seen each of the elements of a building. And now let’s explore some technical details.

4. Basic of surveying in civil engineering

The image shows the sight engineers doing the arrangements for surveying

Surveying is the art of making measurements of objects on, above or beneath the ground to show their relative positions on paper. The relative position required is either horizontal, or vertical, or both.

Fundamental uses of surveying

Fundamental uses of surveying are,

 (i) Plans prepared to record property lines of private, public and government lands help in avoiding unnecessary controversies.

 (ii) Maps prepared for marking boundaries of countries, states, districts etc., avoid disputes.

(iii) Locality plans help in identifying location of houses and offices in the area.

(iv) Road maps help travellers and tourist.

(v) Topographic maps showing natural features like rivers, streams, hills, forests help in planning irrigation projects and flood control measures.

(vi) For planning and estimating project works like roads, bridges, railways, airports, water supply and waste water disposal surveying is required.

5. Basic of building materials

Figure shows a building made of variety of building materials

Stones, bricks, cement, lime and timber are the traditional materials used for civil engineering constructions for several centuries.

1. Stone

Stone is available in the form of rocks, which is cut to the required size and shape and used as a building block. It has been used to construct small residential buildings to large palaces and temples all over the world

2. Brick

Brick is obtained by moulding good clay into a block, which is dried and then burnt. This is the oldest building block to replace stone. Manufacture of brick started with hand moulding, sun drying and burning in clamps.

3. Lime

It is an important binding material used in building construction. Lime has been used as the material of construction from ancient time. When it is mixed with sand it provides lime mortar and when mixed with sand and coarse aggregate, it forms lime concrete.

4. Cement

Cement is a commonly used binding material in the construction. The cement manufacturing is done by burning a mixture of calcareous (calcium) and argillaceous (clay) material at a very high temperature and then grinding the clinker so produced to a fine powder. The Properties of cement makes it a good fit most of the time.

5. Timber

Timber refers to wood used for construction works. It was used as building material even by primitive man.

That’s it.

Feel free to comment if anything more you would like to know.