From Ancient Times to the Present Day: A Brief History of Civil Engineering in Mobile, AL

March 1, 2017 3:15 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Civil engineering as a distinct field is a modern invention, but its practice dates back much further than the founding of Mobile, AL. Once considered a science within architecture, civil engineering later evolved into an independent field which touches upon most facets of everyday life. Here is a brief history of civil engineering in Mobile, AL and how it affects us all today.

Ancient roots

Engineering began when people started building cities and phasing out their nomadic lifestyles. This led to the development of construction, as trial and error distinguished good design from less effective approaches. Mesopotamia contained some of the most skilled engineers in the ancient world, as did Ancient Egypt.

Other notable structures that remain standing and working today offer a strong testament to early engineers. The qanat water management system appears in several cultures and remains functional. Romans built the Appian Way, and the Chinese created their accomplishment, the Great Wall of China. There is still evidence of sprawling irrigation and aqueduct systems that controlled flooding and provided water throughout the Americas and Europe. All of these structures offer a strong statement on the quality of engineering knowledge long before we developed computers and used advanced software.

Becoming a specialty

Civil engineering and architecture did not exist without each other. There was no need for specialization, as professionals learned both fields. Design and structural integrity both needed consideration or nothing remained standing.

This changed in the 18th century. Civil engineering was broadly defined as those developments that were not exclusive to the military, such as water management, roads and bridges. The term “civil engineering” first arose during this realization, and the first engineering school opened in 1747. Called the National School of Bridges and Highways, it was located in France and was the first sign of the disciplines separating from each other.

The first to use the title “civil engineer” was John Smeaton, who built the Eddystone Lighthouse. He started the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers, which turned into more of a social group than a true professional organization. In the U.S., its first engineering school opened in 1819 and was named Norwich University. The Institution of Civil Engineers became the first true professional society, receiving its royal charter in London in 1828.

The modern approach

Today, civil engineering addresses complex design with advanced technology. CAD and CAM help with design, creation and testing of structure simulations. It works well whether a civil engineer is addressing flood plain management, designing a bridge or planning roadways. This software leads to effective products and cost savings.

It is difficult to find an area where civil engineering has not been involved. If you work in a new building, cross a bridge or move into a new subdivision, there was likely a civil engineer involved in the original plans.

If your project requires skilled and dedicated civil engineering in Mobile, AL, contact Polysurveying & Engineering. We offer free quotes for our services and look forward to learning more about your endeavor.

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