There are few fields that are as dynamic as civil engineering. Not only that, but the changes that affect the industry are affecting the way we live our everyday lives directly. New materials, techniques, and approaches are being introduced, and the job of civil engineers is constantly evolving as well. Here are some of the ways new technologies are completely transforming civil engineering as we know it.
Table of Contents
- Augmented and Virtual Reality
- Online Learning
- Sustainable Building
- Drone Technology
- 3D Printing
- Advanced Building Materials
7 Innovative Ways Technology Is Revolutionizing Civil Engineering
Automation and 3D Imaging
One of the technologies that are set to profoundly transform civil engineering and the work of engineers is the arrival of robotics. We could see a world where major civil contracts will be done almost automatically using nothing but robotics.
Robots have already revolutionized the world of construction, and are used to perform demolition in tight spaces and in conditions that could be very dangerous for humans. Curb and gutter machines can also perform automated tasks at a speed and regularity that surpasses any human worker, which makes them both safer and more efficient.
Another thing that is set to transform the field of civil engineering is the advent of online civil engineering degree programs and continuing education. Students can now get their Master of Science in Civil Engineering degree completely online in as little as five semesters. Also, they can continue their education easily through MOOCs and other resources, which might be used for recertification in the future. Online learning allows civil engineering to integrate new concepts and methods fast, and will become more encouraged by employers in the years to come.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
One of the most exciting innovations in the world of civil engineering and construction is the use of augmented and virtual reality. While Google may have struck out with its Google glass, Microsoft already announced their plans to release their own HoloLens project which was aimed specifically at businesses. And while Google has always been questionable about their hardware, we can’t expect the same from a seasoned veteran like Microsoft, and their HoloLens could succeed in every area Google lens couldn’t. Augmented reality could be used to identify safety warnings on the spot, give out productivity and efficiency statistics, and design specifications.
Virtual reality is also getting into the mainstream, and the applications in civil engineering are endless. Not only will engineers be able to see the real-life applications of their designs, but stakeholders will also be able to be guided through projects in their finished form.
Sustainable building technology will continue to dictate building decisions for years to come. The public is growing increasingly wary about climate and environmental issues, and the civil engineers will have to find a way to build more sustainable structures and use more sustainable sources for energy and material. Not only that, but energy efficiency is also a pressing issue right now and will have to be embedded in every major project from now on.
The power and effect of drones on civil engineering and construction cannot be denied either. Drones, in general, are a hot commodity and are estimated to reach over $12B in sales by the year 2021. Drones are more powerful and reliable than ever, which has made them more popular for commercial use. They are now used for surveying, design, and developing projects.
Drones are also being used to carry out safety inspections and things like process reporting as well. They make the job of project managers easier and allow them to pay attention to more pressing issues instead of micromanaging every action. Drones have the capacity to report on massively large areas with much less effort. Not only that, but it also makes the job easier on surveyors who no longer need to risk their lives on dangerous jobs.
Advanced Building Materials
The evolution of building materials over the last few years has been nothing short of amazing as well. We’re now seeing materials that can actually adapt to atmospheric conditions. These 4D materials can actually change their structure depending on the temperature and various other factors to improve their solidity and longevity.
Carbon nanotubes are also very promising and could also be a plausible solution to carbon emissions. Technology has already been introduced that would allow us to collect excess carbon dioxide from the air and turn it into nanotubes, which can be used in everything from boosting the efficiency of solar panels to filtrating water.
A lot of the innovation in building materials aims at mitigating the effects of climate change and pollution. For instance, buildings right now around the world are being coated with materials that can absorb an excessive amount of carbon monoxide being released by vehicles.
We’re also seeing all sorts of cement composites and even self-healing concrete hitting the market. Innovation is also pushing for new smart materials to be developed. For instance, one British company found a way to transform the movement of passersby on a major artery into kinetic energy that could be stored and used. New materials are needed to help trap and convert that energy.
3D printing is another technology hitting the mainstream and one that could completely change the way we do civil engineering. 3D engineering can now be used to produce models on the spot, or even usable parts. And it’s already being used on large scale projects like bridges and full-sized homes. 3D printing is being used in practically every field right now, from the automotive industry, all the way down to aeronautics and healthcare. Scientists are even talking about using 3D printing machines for the colonization of Mars. While this is still far from a reality, we can already get an idea of how powerful 3D printing could be for the world of engineering as a whole.
Conclusion on how technology is disrupting civil engineering industry
Technology is the most powerful driving force pushing civil engineering forward. New students will have an edge by getting a formation that prepares them to use these new tools, as older ones will need to stay updated in order to not be left behind.