Want to build roller coasters, work on film sets and help fight climate change? A career in civil engineering might be perfect for you.
What do you think of when you hear the words ‘civil engineer?’ If you think of hard hats, complicated equations, and concrete, you’d be wrong!
Tomorrow’s Engineers Week is here to show you that civil engineering is far from boring – from designing roller coasters to helping to prevent deadly disasters, here are seven incredible jobs you can do as a civil engineer.
1. Design a roller coaster
ICON roller coaster on Blackpool Pleasure Beach was the first double-launch roller coaster to open in the UK – and it couldn’t have happened without the efforts of engineers. Westlake’s Engineering, alongside German, family-run company Mack Rides, brought this exciting project to life.
ICON reaches 88ft and speeds of up to 85 km/h – but it does all of this while providing world-class safety. No wonder it scooped ICE's North West Medium Project of the Year Award in 2019!
Check out the video above of the first time an ICON carriage completed the track.
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2. Build an Olympic park
In 2005, London beat Madrid, New York, Moscow, and Paris to host a once-in-a-lifetime Olympic and Paralympic Games. Eighty thousand people helped make the construction of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park possible, with engineers tasked with excavating 2.3 million m3 of soil, extending the East London underground line and laying ten new rail lines.
Seven years after planning began on the project, the London 2012 Olympics opened spectacularly – complete with a memorable appearance from Mr Bond!
The 2012 Olympics had an enduring impact, leading to the regeneration of the deprived Stratford area and a £14.2bn of trade and investments for the UK economy between 2012 and 2014.
3. Create some of the most incredible bridges in the world
If you thought bridges were dull, think again! Engineers are the masterminds behind some awe-inspiring creations, including The Golden Bridge, in Vietnam.
The Golden Bridge also has social benefits, helping to connect communities and bring tourism to Da Nang, which improves the local economy.
Situated above the Ba Na hills, The Golden Bridge is held aloft by two gigantic hands. If that’s not dazzling enough, it also provides pedestrians with outstanding panoramic views of the Ba Na hills resort.
4. Become a disaster risk engineer
Infrastructure has made some incredible things possible – from saving lives to helping NASA explore space - but did you know that disaster risk engineering is also a vital part of infrastructure planning?
Our very own ICE member, Dr Joshua Macabuag, is a disaster risk engineer.
Disaster risk engineers like Josh are responsible for assessing the pre-disaster risk of infrastructure using building modelling software.
As if Josh’s day job is not enough, he also volunteers as a search and rescue engineer at weekends. He’s been deployed in SARAID rescue and damage assessment missions in both the Nepal earthquake (2015) and Hurricane Irma (2017).
Although disaster risk engineers witness the devastation caused by natural disasters, as Josh explains in his film above, providing disaster resilience is more than just a job: it’s about saving lives.
5. Work on a film set
Image credit: Nok Lek Travel Lifestyle/Shutterstock
Civil engineering is essential in almost every aspect of society – including in the make-believe world of cinema. If you’re a film buff who knows your Spielberg from your Scorsese, you might be interested to know that civil engineers working within structural engineering are required in almost all film sets!
Many film and television sets use temporary structures – and structural engineers are responsible for ensuring that temporary structures are safe and disaster resilient.
But not all temporary structures remain temporary.
When Peter Jackson was making The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit films, teams of architects and structural engineers built Hobbiton, a picturesque, dreamy village set in the stunning surrounds of New Zealand.
Although Hobbiton was originally designed for the franchise, it remains a tourist attraction that draws crowds to New Zealand all year long. The floods of visitors each year continue to boost New Zealand's economy.
You can even take a 2-hour guided tour of the set to find out even more details about the location, enjoy some refreshments in The Shires Café, and even feed lambs in the lush rural surrounds of the Hobbit farm.
6. Join the fight against climate change
Cop27 has just commenced in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, with the world’s leaders, alongside climate activists, getting together to discuss taking climate action.
Although the engineering industry – as highlighted by ICE’s new President Keith Howells – must continue to work hard to mitigate the affects of climate change on infrastructure, there are already many engineers out there taking incredibly inspiring actions to fight the climate crisis.
ICE's Carbon Champions are civil engineers who are making quantifiable carbon savings in their projects. You can find out about ICE's decarbonisation initiatives, including our Carbon Champions LinkedIn group here.
Some of the most iconic buildings you’ve ever seen – from London’s The Shard to Shanghai Tower have been built with awesome sustainability features that are helping us in the race to reach net zero.
7. Work on a famous space programme
It’s not just Elon Musk who has got his heart set on reaching space – now civil engineers can get in on the action too. If you’ve ever dreamed of working for NASA, you needn’t be an astronaut to get involved!
Launching a space mission is a highly complex task that civil engineers can support, from designing and manufacturing mission command centres to facilitating launches.
In 2021, Grant Shapps, the then UK transport secretary, announced plans for spaceports. This year, a landmark partnership between the US and UK was announced. This partnership promises to make spaceflight easier and cheaper, while also giving the UK economy a boost by creating thousands of jobs.
Engineers will play an essential role in designing launch pads and the associated infrastructure to bring the UK’s spaceflight ambitions one step closer to reality.
But supporting space missions is nothing new to engineers. Civil engineers played a massive part in constructing The International Space Station (ISS), which has assisted us in learning more about other planets and has even improved life on earth by helping develop better vaccines and making inoperable tumours operable.
If that sounds like fun to you, remember that there will always be a need for more civil engineers to assist with spaceflights.
Could you be tomorrow’s engineer?