Civil Engineering Specialties that Focus on the Earth

October 12, 2022 by No Comments

Civil engineers build and maintain the infrastructure of our cities and towns, including roads, bridges, buildings, dams, and other structures. They also design water treatment facilities, power plants, and waste disposal systems. You might think that the job of a civil engineer is limited to building roads or bridges. 

Still, there are nine specialties within civil engineering that focus on different types of the earth: geotechnical engineering, transportation engineering, structural engineering, hydraulic engineering, coastal engineering, and many more. In this article, we will explore the specialty in detail so you can understand why it matters for civil engineers:

Civil engineering specialties 

Civil engineering is a broad field of study that covers a vast array of specialties and sub-specialties. Some civil engineers work in the construction industry, designing and building roads, bridges, buildings, and other structures. Others may work in geotechnical engineering, focusing on soil mechanics, rock mechanics, and foundation engineering.

Other civil engineers include environmental engineers specializing in water treatment and purification. Transportation engineers who design roads, highways, and mass transportation systems. Structural engineers analyze buildings to ensure they’re safe from earthquakes or other natural disasters. 

Electrical power generation & distribution specialists. Mechanical system designers who design heating/cooling systems for homes or businesses. Hydrogeologists analyze groundwater supplies for municipalities (e.g., determining how deep a well should be drilled). Oceanographers’ job is to monitor marine life populations with an eye toward conservation efforts. Urban planners who help cities plan new developments like parks or shopping malls

Geotechnical Engineering

Geotechnical engineering studies how materials interact with each other and with the earth’s natural environment. They determine how a site will react to certain types of construction, including roads, bridges, buildings, and tunnels. They also design foundations for structures such as buildings or dams.

Geotechnical engineering aims to ensure that a structure has a sound foundation that will not be damaged by earthquakes or soil movement. These engineers must consider many factors when designing foundations, including soil conditions such as depth and composition, groundwater levels, and nearby bodies of water like lakes and rivers. Because so many variables are involved in these engineering projects, they need to understand all areas of their expertise. 

So they can come up with solutions for problems when unexpected issues arise during construction projects, like landslides caused by erosion during high rains. It is due to improper drainage systems built into place without considering environmental impact assessments by government agencies responsible for protecting human life from natural disasters. Disasters like hurricanes could flood communities built near coastlines where hurricane winds blow hard enough over land masses like mountains near oceans. Near oceans, waves crash onto shores causing damage at best. Still, worst case scenario, destruction means loss of lives and property, damage to infrastructure, etc.

Why is Geotechnical Engineering Important?

If you want to broaden your knowledge of STEM, geotechnical engineering is an excellent place to start. It’s a branch of civil engineering that focuses on the earth’s properties, how it moves and reacts to forces, and its resources, potentially natural or man-made.

Geotechnical engineers are so important and everything to do with our understanding of the planet and all its roles in our daily lives. The earth supports our buildings and structures, provides us with water and minerals, and regulates our climate by storing carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuels in its crustal rocks like limestone or marble. If we could understand these processes better than we do now, then maybe we could use them more efficiently to improve life on earth.


Civil engineers are critical to keeping our world safe and secure. They build everything from bridges and tunnels to hospitals and schools, and the list goes on. If you’re interested in this field, we hope that this article helped you find some ways that you can contribute!

Leave a Comment