Things you Need to Learn as a Construction Engineer
To get to the peak of a career as a construction engineer, there are fourteen (14) basic things you need to learn or put in other words, 14 fundamental concepts to excel in the field of construction management. It is expected that by mastering these essential aspects of construction engineering, the construction engineer will be better equipped to take on complex projects, ensure quality results, and contribute to the growth and advancement of the construction industry. These concepts include:
A construction blueprint refers to a 2D precise representation of the specifics required to accomplish a project. The blueprint displays the layout of the structure, the components that will be used, and architectural features like windows, doors, and appliances. Blueprint put more succinctly refers to architectural, structural, M&E, and other engineering drawings necessary to complete a project. Common elements in the blueprint are title sheets, site plans, floor plans, detail images, elevations and sections, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) Drawings, and Structural Drawings. As a construction engineer/site supervisor, you need to master how to read and interpret these drawings in order to actualize them on site.
Structural analysis is basically within the purview of service engineers: structural engineers, however, builders and construction engineers also offer courses in structural analysis. As a construction engineer, it is very important that you understand the principles of structural analysis to ensure the stability and safety of buildings and infrastructure projects.
Building Codes and Standards
Building standards and codes are crucial for ensuring that all structures are constructed securely, dependably, and in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations. The basic specifications for building work, including the planning, execution, and upkeep of structural systems, are outlined in these laws and regulations. Building codes and regulations ensure that structures are built in a way that reduces the danger of structural failure, fire, or other hazards with the main goal of protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the people. With this overarching importance of building codes, it is necessary that a construction engineer should familiarize oneself with local and international building codes and standards to ensure compliance and regulatory approval.
Practical Understanding of Construction Processes
A researcher becomes good with time by continuous practice; a surgeon becomes renowned with time by continuous practice. Construction is not learned in the classroom. Young engineers who have been to the site for the first time can testify to how bizarre the construction processes may look at those first experiences. This is the essence of industrial training programmes during undergraduate studies.
To excel as a construction engineer, you need to gain hands-on experience and practical knowledge of the construction processes by working on construction sites, participating in various stages of projects, and learning from experienced professionals. This exposure would provide valuable insight into project execution, problem-solving, and the challenges faced by construction engineers.
Construction Methods and Techniques
In construction, there are usually many parts to reach a goal. What works for A may be good but it may not work for B even though both may be effective construction techniques. What suits one condition, may not suit another condition. Therefore, it is necessary for a construction engineer to acquire knowledge of different construction methods and techniques to plan and manage construction processes effectively.
Knowledge of Simple Construction Tools
In this modern age, a number of sophisticated and simple construction tools aid in quick project delivery. It is necessary as a construction engineer to understand how to operate these tools, especially the simple ones so that you don’t leave your project at the mercy of artisans. A construction engineer should familiarize himself with tools like leveling instruments etc to enhance efficiency on construction sites.
Site Investigation and Soil Analysis
Site investigation and soil analysis are very important for a wide range of construction projects; however, they are often neglected because of the phobia of cost. It lies within the purview of the construction engineer to recognize the importance of site investigation and soil analysis and ensure they are carried out before any major project to determine its feasibility, proposed foundation soil properties, suitable foundation type, and other factors that may likely affect the stability of the project in the long run.
Not all materials are good for every project. The construction engineer should learn about various construction materials, their properties, and appropriate applications to make informed choices. For instance, igneous rocks are strong and may be suitable for tunneling construction but sedimentary rocks such as shale are weak and cannot serve the same purpose.
The failures of most projects are often associated with cost overruns, delays, etc., due to lack of proper planning, lack of good communication, etc. Most causes of project failures always have their root in poor project management. To excel as a construction engineer, it is necessary to develop good project management skills to enable you to effectively plan, schedule, and control construction projects from inception to completion. The knowledge of good project management can be acquired by undertaking project management courses and more effectively through hands-on-the-job experiences.
Overestimation and underestimation of project costs both have adverse effects. Beyond pre-project cost estimation, proper management of expenses during the project execution stage will determine whether the project will be delivered successfully or not. To excel as a construction engineer, it is necessary to acquire the ability to estimate project costs, prepare budgets, and manage expenses to ensure projects stay within financial constraints. Undergoing a cost engineering or cost estimation course will help a lot in this practice.
Sustainable Construction Practices
Sustainable engineering practices hold the upper hand over conventional engineering practices. The world is driving towards a net zero carbon dioxide emission and the main focus is on the energy sector and the building sector because building construction and use is the second largest contributor to greenhouse gases that causes climate change.
To excel as a construction engineer, it is necessary to familiarize yourself with sustainable or green building principles and practices and apply them where practicable in order to promote eco-friendly projects.
Health, Safety and Environment (HSE)
Construction sites are among the most hazardous environments for humans. Construction workers’ safety is paramount at every stage of a construction project. There should be no room for injury. As a construction engineer, it is essential that you prioritize the safety of your workers over any material gain in the project. You should endeavour to learn about construction site safety protocols and implement measures to protect workers and the public. Ensure your workers always wear personal protective equipment (PPE) suitable for each class of work. Also, endeavour those passers-by of project sites are protected from any hazard by properly cordoning off the site at a safe margin.
Building Information Modelling (BIM)
Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a modern tool adjudged to aid construction project management. It represents a significant positive paradigm shift from traditional construction management practices. As a construction engineer, you should learn how to use BIM software to create detailed 3D models that can enhance project visualization and collaboration.
Finally, it is necessary that you develop strong communication skills to collaborate effectively with clients, architects, contractors, and other stakeholders involved in the construction process. This is because no man is an island in a construction project; a number of professionals with diverse opinions come into play. Excellent knowledge with poor communication skills can mare the progress of a project. As a construction engineer, endeavour to learn how to communicate to ensure the successful delivery of every project.
Content shared with the permission of the original author: Engr (Dr) Adeyinka Adeboye (Woli the Builder)