What do I do for a living?

Telling people you’re an engineer doesn’t really give much away. It’s an enormously broad description. Me, I’m a civil engineer. That still doesn’t mean a lot to some people, so I usually just take the easy way out and tell them I design bridges. It also helps me escape the bad jokes about driving trains or being rude. (Civil, rude…. Get it? Not funny is it?)

Civil engineering is the oldest of engineering fields. It used to be the only one. All the other major fields grew out of specialty areas as technology progressed. The simplest way to describe it is that civil engineers build civil works. The basic infrastructure that we all use. I think the terminology came about because early engineering works were all for the government. What I’m talking about here are roads, bridges, water distribution, airports, railroads, etc…

In a lot of ways, political entities are defined or at least made famous by their engineering works. The concept starts with entire civilizations. Ancient Egypt had the pyramids and irrigation works on the Nile floodplain. The Romans had the aquaducts, roads, and huge buildings. It works its way down to smaller entities like cities. One of the first things that comes to mind when you think of San Fransisco is the Golden Gate Bridge. One of Nashville’s bigger projects of recent memory is the Gateway Bridge over the Cumberland River downtown. That thing could have been done a lot cheaper, but the city wanted a ‘signature structure’ that everyone would associate with Nashville after they saw it. That’s why it’s called the Gateway Bridge, it’s supposed to be the gateway to downtown.

It’s a widely held belief in the engineering community that God is a civil engineer. How do we know that? Take one of His greatest creations as an example, the human body. Who else but a civil engineer would put a waste area right next to a recreational facility? (Insert rimshot audio here.)


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