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What a time to be a civil engineer!

Renewable energy specialist Chris Paddey says there has never been a more exciting time to be a civil engineer.

What a time to be a civil engineer! Just take a quick tour around the world − not very sustainable, I know, so let’s do this hypothetically − and you will understand the contribution civil engineers make to society.

Jump on a plane at the newly constructed Heathrow Terminal 5 − that’s a civil engineering project. Arrive in Beijing and tour the olympic park − that’s a civil engineering project. Fly to South Africa and visit the World Cup stadiums currently coming to completion − that’s a civil engineering project. Hop over to the United States and visit the Hoover Dam and hydroelectric plant near the lights of Las Vegas − those are civil engineering projects.

Moving closer to home, take a drive across the Millau Bridge in France − that’s a civil engineering project − and return home via the Channel Tunnel − that’s one too.

From that list, you might think most of the world’s exciting civil infrastructures have already been built. How wrong you would be. During your time at university other major projects will be completed, such as the Olympic Games infrastructure in London, Europe’s largest onshore wind farm in scotland, and Dubai’s World and Palm Islands.

By the time you graduate, design will be starting on the world’s largest offshore wind projects in nine zones around the UK, and energy supergrids enabling the UK to share sustainable and renewable energy supplies with europe will be under discussion.

Civil engineers have always been world leaders in designing and constructing innovative infrastructure solutions around the world. These include railways, bridges, sewer systems, clean water production, power generation and many more.

Engineers have always travelled the world and deployed their skills for the benefit of others. now, the UK and the rest of the world are entering one of the strongest periods of infrastructure investment yet, with civil engineers at its forefront. This means there are going to be many very exciting projects for young engineers to work on.

Just take a quick look at job websites and you will see civil engineering vacancies at major companies, on good salaries. These jobs boast great benefits, global travel opportunities, problem-solving roles using cutting edge technology, and the chance to work with other clever and motivated colleagues.

Follow in the footsteps of other great British civil engineers who also made a difference − what better way to spend your working life than travelling the world designing solutions to complex infrastructure problems?

I can state from experience that there is no better feeling than being involved in a large civil engineering project from the drawing board through to construction, then standing back to admire your creation while people’s daily lives are enhanced by its presence. That is a special feeling for any civil engineer.

  • Chris Paddey is head of renewable energy at engineering consultancyGrontmij

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