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Civil Engineering/A career in civil engineering


I am in my second year of college and am pursuing a degree in civil engineering. One of my classes requires that I form questions to ask experts in my interested major of study, and then ask the experts these questions. I would greatly appreciate it if you could help me with this part of the assignment.
1.    Which university did you attend?
2.   How did you become interested in civil engineering?
3.   What is your concentration of civil engineering?
4.   What would you consider as important things to do as an aspiring civil engineer in college (i.e. internships, clubs, etc.)?
5.   Were there any specific classes or instances in your college career that solidified your interest in civil engineering?
6.   Which classes did you take that you have found to be the most relevant to the work you do today?
7.   Was it difficult for you to find a job as an entry-level engineer?
8.   Do you see an increase in job openings within in the civil engineering field within the future?
9.   Would you advise anybody interested in civil engineering to pursue a master’s degree?
10.   How important are technicality and creativity for civil engineers?
11.   How easy is it for person majoring in civil engineering with a concentration in environmental engineering to move into the environmental field?
12.   Do you find yourself doing the same job now that you had expected to do when you graduated? Do you enjoy your job?

Please and thank you,
Sophia wendt

Hi Sophia,

I have answered these types of questions before, so if you do not mind, I will cut/paste the Q&A for these below: As for Q1, I wnet to Bath University for my BSc and Imperial College (University of London) for my MSc.

If you still have any further questions, please do ask!

Q. What skills are required to become a successful civil engineer, and what courses did you take in high school in preparation for civil engineer training in University?

A. The main subjects at school are maths, physics and chemistry. At University the student will learn many different subjects depending on which field of civil engineering one follows. Drawing and 3-dimensional visual skills also are very important, especially for structural engineering. Try visiting the following 3 websites for more info:

These should help you with further info.

Q. Why do you think you need a good fundamental knowledge from High School and University to become successful in civil engineer?

A. Because without that you will not be able to do all the calculations and have an appreciation of the tasks.

Q. Why did you choose this field of study?

A. I had an interest in models, drawing and woodwork- all very useful for this career.

Q. What inspired you into this field and what do you like most about the subject?

A. The fact that you help to make life better for humans and that whatever you design or build will be there for all to see and use for anything between 50-150 years.

Q. Would you like to achieve or learn more in this field of civil engineer? If so, what would you like to learn?

A. More on the environmental protection aspects and also in sustainable engineering.

Q. What are the challenges to your career and does it affect your occupation?

A. Many projects require innovative and lateral thinking- not all projects are routine. Sometimes one is working at the edge of technology, and hence there are risks and worries- can be a stressful job!! Also, one is constantly aware that any mistakes can lead to large scale injury or death to users.

Q. Other than civil engineer, what other fields of studies did you want to go into as a kid to now?

A. Architecture and Aeronautical engineering.

Q. How much do you enjoy your occupational career and did you ever regret of selecting such a path?

A. Very much, and no. I have designed buildings of up to 100-stories which I can proudly show my children and friends.

Q. What do you value most about you and your occupation?

A. The fact that I have contributed to a nation's development and that people daily use facilities I have designed.

Q. What is a typical day for your occupation?

A. This varies depending on whether you are on site (construction), or in the office (design). The former involves long hours supervising construction in sometimes harsh environments. The latter involves more calculations, meetings, liaison, presentations, brief site inspections, etc.

Q. Do you have anything that you find bothersome or disturbing in your occupation?

A. Yes- the pay is not commensurate with the responsibilities (c.f. lawyers, doctors, accountants, etc)

Q. Can you describe what is generally happening in this industry?

A. There are ups and downs, but these vary country by country depending on the economy. After a war (e.g. Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, etc), there is lots of work!!

Q.  What do you think the needs of civil engineer in the future would be?

A. The needs will continue in pace with population growth and development of under-developed countries, especially in Africa and Central/East Europe and the Middle/Far East.

Q. Is there any personal advice that you can give to an interested student in this field?

A. Do not choose a field that you do not have an interest in or talents to suit (e.g. for structural engineering, if you cannot visualise in 3-D, forget it!- go for water or sewerage or roads). Also you need to be good at maths and drawing, and have excellent communication and inter-personal skills.


I note you have many different questions, so I will briefly answer these too:

1. Why did you choose this profession? A: Because I like to build/create things 2. Would you choose to do it again if you had your life to live over? And why?: A, yes, because I find it very fulfilling.
3. How many years where you in school? A: Till I was 18, then another 4 years at University.
4. How many years did it take to get your first job?
5. What type of personality would you say fits this job and how would you describe your own personality?: A: Outgoing, communicative, creative, willing to travel- mine fits this.
6. What effect does this career have on your personal life?: A: Sometimes long hours of working, but many times I enjoy the travelling.
7. What did it cost you to go to school back then and did you have to pay for a place to live as well? A: Did not go back to school, apart from 1 year Masters- got a bursary for that.
8. What is something you weren’t prepared for or was unexpected to find out in this field? A: Needed to learn practical aspects of construction.
9. Are there any psychological requirements or physical requirements in civil engineering? A: Be persistent and patient 10. Do you get any type of benefits from working?: A: yes, have had perks like car, entertainments allowance, leave pay, etc.
11. How did you choose the college you went to? A: Seeking advice from school tutors.
12. How steady is this job financially for you?
13. I’ve read that engineering requires travelling. Do you travel often for work? Yes, very often.
14. What did you major and minor in while you were in college? Building engineering and concrete technology.
15. Do you have any tips or guidance on what will help get me into this career while I am in high school? A: As stated above 16. What type of continuing education is required? A: Quite a lot- keep abreast of latest technology and analysis/design methods.
17. What do you enjoy most about this profession? A: As stated above 18. What would you do differently about your education? A: Maybe go to a more technical/practical college.
19. Take me through a typical day of work: A: Check emails and respond, including! Follow up on work done by engineers- guide them, check their work, visit sites where construction is going on. Analyse and design structures. Check working drawings. Write letters to clients and contractors.
20. When do you think that you will retire and why? A: When I am over 80, I think, as I so much enjoy the work.
21. What were your goals when you first started working?: A: to become the best in my field and make lots of money!
22. Is there a company you work for and how did you get a job there? A: Worked for about 4 companies over 35 years- just applied and went for interviews.
23. Why would civil engineering be a successful job for me in the future? A: Only if you work hard at it!  

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Arshad Khan


I can answer any questions to do with civil and structural engineering consultancy and construction industry in East Africa and the Middle East, and specifically with the analysis and design of reinforced concrete structures. My particular expertise is in the aseismic design and optimisation of tall buildings.


Employment history: 40 years in Construction and consultancy in the UK, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Africa, Somalia, Zambia, Austria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Doha and the U.A.E.

.Fellow of Institution of Structural Engineers (UK) .Fellow of Institution of Civil Engineers(UK) .Member of the Institution of Engineers, Kenya .Registered Engineer, ERB, Kenya .Member of the Architectural Association of Kenya (Engineers Chapter) .Chartered Engineer (UK)

•1984: International Conference on the Art and Practice of Structural Design, London •1994: 3rd Int. Kerensky Conference in Structural Engineering, Singapore •2008: International Conference on High-Rise Towers, Abu Dhabi •2013: IEK International Conference, Kisumu, Kenya

BSc, 1st Class Hons, in Building Engineering, University of Bath, UK MSc in Concrete Structures and Technology, University of London. Diploma of Imperial College, UK.

Awards and Honors
•Science Congress Special Award (for 2-seater Hovercraft - 1968) •Institution of Civil Engineers Award for outstanding performance at Bath University (1975) •Concrete Society Postgraduate study Bursary Award (1976) •Consular Representative for British High Commission, Nairobi. (1995 to 1998) •Examiner for Institution of Civil Engineers Professional Interviews, Nairobi. (1997 to 1998) •Branch Representative in Vienna for PI assessment for Inst. of Struct. Engrs. (1999 to 2010)

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