7 Civil Engineering Advancements You Need to Know

April 30, 2020 - Emily Newton

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Civil engineering is an area that lets the world operate. From roads to bridges to skyscrapers, these engineers take the reins and provide you with things that are standard in life. Civil engineering advancements continue to disrupt and improve production.

This field deals with the overlap of design, construction and maintenance of public works like roads, waterways, buildings and railways. While skyscrapers and bridges are a part of the scope, many civil engineers work on other projects that keep society afloat.

What would innovation for civil engineering look like? In a sector that’s already everywhere, how can it progress further? With the following examples, you’ll see the disruptive advancements that are changing the game for civil engineers.

Civil Engineering Advancements

The advancements that civil engineers see range from vertical farming to 3D printing to photovoltaic glazing. Since these workers play a role in many infrastructure sectors, it’s no surprise that the innovations are widespread.

Vertical Farming

Vertical farming is a trend that is most affecting urban areas or places where regular agricultural practices aren’t possible. The idea involves a multistory building to grow food year-round using less space than traditional agriculture.

This practice would give civil engineers the chance to implement irrigation systems and LED lighting, which reduces energy, water and fertilizer use. Civil engineers could provide residents with more access to different kinds of food that wouldn’t otherwise be available.

Kinetic Energy

Kinetic energy derives from motion, and soon, civil engineers may learn how to use it to their advantage. With kinetic footfalls, for instance, the flooring harnesses the energy of people’s footsteps, a setup that will work exceptionally well in high-traffic areas. One example developed by Pavegan, a clean-tech company, generates 5 watts of energy as a person walks. Buildings can use this flooring to light up walkways, power radios and more.

Civil engineers can apply the same concept to roads — vehicles will be able to transfer energy into sustainable electricity.

Self-Healing Concrete

Concrete is one of the most popular building materials. Yet it’s one of the most harmful to the environment, contributing a significant amount to the world’s overall carbon emissions. That’s why experts are looking for a way to help civil engineers and the environment.

Researchers at Bath University want to develop a form of concrete that’s self-healing. Civil engineers would use a mix containing bacteria, which would germinate when water enters a crack and produce limestone, filling the fissure before corrosion can begin. This implementation would be sustainable and save significant costs in terms of material production.

3D Modeling and Printing

3D printing is becoming a disruptive advancement for all industries, but it will help civil engineering. Engineers can use programs like CyberCity 3D to work with architects and model their plans digitally. This step streamlines the process and allows for better collaboration and communication. Then, with 3D printing, civil engineers can print out the model with proper scaling for reference. They can even use this technology to create tools or materials they may need for the construction process.

Modular Construction

Civil engineering is one of the different types of engineering that works with construction, making modern life possible. One method of building that’s changing the game for these engineers is modular construction. This process entails building parts of the project off-site and transporting it to the primary site afterward. Modular construction will save on transportation costs and reduce emissions from vehicles as well as chemicals.

Plastic Roads

Plastic pollution is a serious problem, and society and civil engineers are trying to find a solution. One idea is to repurpose plastic waste into roads. This practice would reduce the need for concrete and aid the plastic issue.

India began testing this idea when they built plastic roads that last without damage for years. However, there are concerns regarding microplastics that will leach into the soil and pollute it, harming animals and ecosystems. With better integration, though, this concept could be a game-changer.

Photovoltaic Glazing

Solar energy is one of the leaders of renewable energy. On roofs, windows and other building materials, photovoltaic glazing can replace the traditional glass. This setup will be beneficial for civil engineers as they can invest and implement more sustainable construction materials into their plans. It will help companies and residences that opt-in as well since they can reduce their carbon footprint.

The Future of Civil Engineering

The future of civil engineering is going to take on the disruptive advancements above, from vertical farming to photovoltaic glazing. Overall, there will be one main goal the sector strives for — sustainability. The push for environmentally-friendly living has become a global movement, and civil engineers will lay the groundwork for worldwide green initiatives.

Revolutionized is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn more here.


Emily Newton

Emily Newton is a technology and industrial journalist and the Editor in Chief of Revolutionized. She enjoys reading and writing about how technology is changing the world around us.

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