Civil engineering is the core of our infrastructure. Civil engineers play a vital role in ensuring our cities and towns do not plunge into an infrastructural nightmare. For this purpose, civil engineers acquire a particular set of skills studying for years before joining the practical set up.

However, you can’t simply wake up one day and decide to study civil engineering the next. Nor is it reasonable to assume that studying for an engineering degree is as easy as cutting a slice of cake. It would be best to keep a few things in mind if you plan on studying or are already enrolled in a civil engineering degree. Knowing the following things will help you as you research and even after you graduate and start working. So, let’s begin!

Learn These Things While Being a Fresher Civil Engineer:

There are a few things, such as specific values, codes, tests, and essential terms that a civil engineer must know at the top of her/his head. These include:

Studying Civil Engineering

1. Standard Codes

Standardized codes used all around the world in engineering are crucial for learning, especially for newbies. Even though you may not remember all of them, you should memorize some codes for easy site working. If you are doing an MSCE degree, then remembering them beforehand can come in handy. Here are a few IS codes depicting standardization from types of cement to test methods for concrete.

  • IS: 1343-1980 (Prestressed concrete)
  • IS: 456-2000 (Code of practice for reinforced and plain concrete)
  • IS: 1344-1981 (Specification for calcined clay pozzolana)
  • IS: 8519-1977 (Guide for selecting industrial safety equipment for body protection)

2. Types of Cement Used

For a civil engineer, knowing about cement or concrete types is as basic as a kid learning the alphabet. You should be familiar with white cement, Portland cement, sulfate resisting cement, high alumina cement, etc., at the tip of your fingers. Not only that, but you should also have a basic knowledge of concrete mixing and how different components react.

3. Knowledge of Different Software

Due to increasing technological advancement, it is hard for civil engineers to escape tech integration in civil engineering. Therefore, the best course of action is to get yourself used to some of the essential and updated software used in civil engineering. This software consists of tools that help civil engineers both in the construction process and the design. Take a look at the following list:

  • SketchUp
  • AutoCAD
  • Primavera P6
  • MS Project
  • Autodesk Maya
  • MX-Road
  • STAAD Pro
  • SAP ERP Core Finance

4. Densities of Construction Materials

Density is expressed in lb/ft3 or kg/m3. In civil engineering, it is essential to know the density of the few common materials used in construction because it represents the degree of compactness of a material. So, chug down the following list of the density values for some common construction materials with your morning coffee:

  • PCC – 2240 kg/m3
  • Brick – 1600-1920 kg/m3
  • RCC 2% steel – 2420 kg/m3
  • Concrete – 2370 kg/m3
  • Cement mortar – 2080 kg/m3
  • Cement – 1440 kg/m3
  • Gravel with sand – 1920 kg/m3
  • Dry sand – 1600 kg/m3
  • Steel – 7849 kg/m3
  • Cast iron – 7208 kg/m3

5. Different Types of Material Testing

Testing and quality check is one of the most crucial aspects of engineering. As a civil engineer, you must understand the importance of Construction Materials Testing (CMT). The CMT includes testing materials that are used in existing and new projects. You may be required to do various field and laboratory testing that you should be aware of. Take note of the following points:

  • Field testing can involve construction material testing related to timber, soils, steel, concrete, and masonry.
  • A few tests conducted on fresh concrete which you should be aware of include Vee-Bee Test, Slump Test, and Compacting Factor
  • You should be aware of the basic material testing such as split tensile test, compression test, workability, hardness, abrasion test, triaxial test, etc.
  • Two necessary tests conducted on hardened concrete include the Ultrasonic Pulse Velocity Test and Rebound Hammer Test.

6. Testing Quality of Various Construction Materials

Material testing in civil engineering is a crucial quality control system because a single miscalculation can compromise the entire structure. Therefore, you must know that testing construction material can be physical and chemical, and is either done to check for damage or verify quantity. You should keep the following points in mind when it comes to construction material quality control:

  • Bricks are tested in several ways: water absorption test, hardness test, compressive strength test, soundness test, efflorescence test, structure test, size, shape, and color test.
  • Quality check for sand is mainly conducted through silt and bulking tests.
  • On the other hand, concrete goes through test cubs, slump test, pull out test, rebound hammer test, vibration test, and penetration test.

A Few More Things to Know

  • The thickness of a slab of concrete should not be less than 125mm
  • The pH value of water should be more than 6
  • Bars with a diameter more than 36mm are not allowed for lapping
  • If the concrete grade is M15, then the mic ratio should be 1:2:4
  • The slump range for CC Pavements should be 20-30mm
  • The slump range for columns and retaining walls should be between 75-150mm
  • Cement over three months old should not be used for construction
  • The binding wire required in steel reinforcement is 8kg per MT
  • Dimension tolerance for cubes is + – 2mm.
  • The freefall of concrete should not be more than 1.50m
  • A first-class brick is unable to absorb water more than 1/5 or 1/6 portion of its weight
  • The thickness of the beam should be 15cm
  • Three layers are required to fill a concrete cube for testing
  • The minimum curing period for concrete in typical weather is 7 days and in hot weather is 10 days
  • M10 to M20 is called Ordinary Concrete

Cover the Basics

Engineers may be aiming for the moon, but the basics never change. As a competent freshie civil engineer, you must memorize all the basic components of civil engineering and related areas to not face problems in the field. You must know the basic standardized codes for construction materials, their testing and quality check methods, physical and chemical qualities.


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