Here’s a little tale of four young interns who are working for a reputable company here in our great city of Nairobi. As you may assume, all are students doing Civil Engineering from the “Big Three” in Engineering Studies. In order of superiority these are Moi University, Jomo Kenyatta University Of Agriculture And Technology (JKUAT) and University Of Nairobi (UON).
Anyhow onto serious business, I happened to ask these four why they chose to pursue this degree and the answers were as baffling as they were interesting, but before that let me give some highlights on Civil Engineering.
There has been a myriad of definitions spewed around about this profession. Some of them (with some hidden truth) are:
• Mechanical engineers build weapons; Civil engineers build targets.
• The existence of vowels is one of the important facts of civil engineering. It helps them change bulldogs (bldg) into buildings and many other miraculous feats! All engineering students should know how to include vowels in their work.
• Most civil engineering projects are very mundane. Subdivision grading, drainage projects, roadway design, retaining walls… creative and really cool bridge projects (the sexiest part of civil engineering) are very, very, very few and far between.
• If you get pleasure in designing the ordinary things that everybody needs and you never knew then – civil engineering is for you!
Civil engineering is a practical discipline whose application is easy to see. This is because the discipline is everywhere.
I mean let’s take an example of the President of Kenya. He has woken up from his beautiful sleep in his palatial home in which an engineer had designed.
He then proceeds to the bathroom where he relieves himself, takes a shower, brushes and maybe drinks some water for that good old morning rejuvenation exercise. All those four activities would not have been done if the waste and water system that operated the appliances had not been designed by an engineer.
After dressing up he gets a phone call from his fellow president of Buganda, who happens to be camping by the road for some good old network. As for the people who are second guessing the relevance of this tale of civil engineering being omnipresent, my answer is…. Wait for it…. A big cookie for the person who said yes to a civil engineer promoting communication.
Later on ,he heads to JKIA to board a plane that has to use a runway for ‘Rais’ and join his fellow African honourables for an AU summit in Rwanda at 11 am! All these wonderful inventions of Mr Engineer has enabled Mheshimiwa to run the country comfortably and it’s not even noon yet. This Engineer guy needs a Nobel prize, eh?
The point I’m trying to pass across is that Civil Engineering is as easy as saying ABC.
It is everywhere!
It’s soaring in the air in the form of dizzying skyscrapers, as it is on the grounds in the form of roads and below the earth in terms of foundations, underground tunnels and retaining walls.
However as easy as it is to understand its application, it is also quite overwhelming to explain what Civil Engineers do. It’s like trying to feed a whole cow to a baby. It simply is too much to consume all at once.
So the baby has to be patient for the cow to be slaughtered, its parts stored in the refrigerator where it will be fed slowly to the very last bite.
In the coming articles, I will introduce you to the world of Civil and Structural Engineering and show you why it’s the most interesting thing. Ever!
Now back to the four guys I’d asked for their justification on pursuing Civil Engineering. All of them gave confused answers.
The first one wanted to show his utmost love to the car of his dreams by constructing a beautiful and comfortable paved road.
The second wanted to emulate Michael Schofield (of Prison Break) who was a Civil Engineer in the show. The third simply confused Civil Engineering with Architecture.
However, the last gave the most interesting reason: ‘My marks guided me there’. Is that too much power you’ve given to two digits to determine your entire life?
As confused as my colleagues were about the awkward answers they’d given, I asked another question: ‘Do you regret your choice?’
In unity, they all sang ‘NO!’
Don’t mind the critics and the confusion you may have about this profession. If you are willing to take a chance of a lifetime and have a wanderlust for adventure then Civil Engineering is a fine bet.