Category: civil engineering

What Is Civil Engineering?

If you’ve browsed around the Matthews Structural Solutions website, you have probably come across the term “civil engineer”. What exactly does a civil engineer do and why is it so important?

What Does A Civil Engineer Do?

civil engineeringA civil engineer wears many hats. They are involved with the design, construction, and maintenance of structures and the surrounding environment. They may work on the following structures:

  • Bridges
  • Canals
  • Dams
  • Office Buildings
  • Parking Garages
  • Roads
  • Runways
  • Schools
  • Tunnels

This is just a small sampling of the types of buildings and structures that a civil engineer can work on. You can find civil engineers working on projects for the public and private sector alike. Their work can be found on everything from small homes to large highway projects.

The entry level for a civil engineer is typically a Bachelor’s degree, but most have some type of post-education degree. They work in a variety of conditions and locations, sometimes they are in an office, while other times they may be out on a project, monitoring the operation and making sure things are being done correctly.

Why Is A Civil Engineer Important?

Civil engineering is probably the oldest type of engineering. The first time someone built a shelter or figured out how to cross a river, they became a civil engineer. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since those days and we have a better understanding of what is needed to make sure a structure is secure, stable, and safe while making sure it is affordable to build it.

Honestly, if a civil engineer does his job well, the end user won’t even think about the work that went into designing and building the project. They’ll cross the bridge or fill up their water bottle or take the elevator to their office without wondering how it all works.

If a civil engineer isn’t used on a project, the construction may be done on soil that isn’t stable or properly prepared. The foundation can crumble, endangering the stability of the building and safety of the people inside. Most everyone has seen the footage of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse. The bridge was not designed to deal with the winds and the collapse is now studied in classes about bridge design. An engineer, Professor Frederick Burt Farquharson, was hired, but the bridge had already been built. He was able to come up with some solutions, but it was only a few days before the bridge collapsed. Fortunately, no people were killed in the collapse.

It is very important that you take every step available to make sure your structure is secure and stable. A civil engineer is just as important as any other person or tool used on a project.

Make Sure You Hire A Civil Engineer

Not every contractor has a civil engineer on staff. Make sure you hire a company like Matthews Structural Solutions to keep your project safe and stable, protecting your investment, your people, and the public.

 

Keep Your Retaining Wall Strong

Not every location needs a retaining wall, but if your property does, you need to make sure that it is strong and stable. A retaining wall keeps the soil behind it from collapsing into another area. Matthews Structural Solutions recommends having a civil engineer look at your property and decide the best method of constructing or repairing a retaining wall.

Building A Wall

civil engineeringThere are several variables that need to be examined before building a retaining wall. For example, you have to determine the type of soil behind the wall and what is above the wall. Are there heavy things like buildings, swimming pools, or roadways? How tall is the wall going to be? Will the area above the wall be flat or sloping? These and other considerations need to be explored when determining the best kind of retaining wall that will be strong and enduring.

Drainage and Retaining Walls

In addition to holding soil in its place, retaining walls will also redirect water, protecting your property. This is another reason why you should use a company that offers a civil engineer is if the water doesn’t drain properly, the wall can fail or your structure could experience water damage. Over half of all retaining walls fail due to drainage problems.

The soil can erode away or the water can over-saturate the soil, causing hydrostatic pressure to cause the wall to bow or collapse. We offer several types of drainage options including drainage stones and pipes. Our civil engineers will inspect the area and determine the best method of drainage for your situation. By taking into consideration all the factors included in your property, your retaining wall should last for years, protecting your business and property.

Retaining Walls Are Not DIY Projects

Building a retaining wall isn’t something that should be done by a novice. There are many things to keep in mind when planning and constructing your retaining wall. You need to calculate how tall the wall needs to be and what kind of equipment can be brought into the construction area. You’ll need to determine what is above the wall, what the soil conditions are, and what look you want to have for the finished product. It is a good idea to hire someone that is familiar with building codes and can calculate the time and money it will take to construct the retaining wall. Our civil engineers will study and design the right retaining wall for your situation.

Repairing A Damaged Retaining Wall

The sooner you get assistance with a damaged retaining wall, the easier and less expensive it will be to repair it. A bowing or leaning wall can be straightened and reinforced with anchors or tiebacks.

A helical tieback can be used to anchor into ground that is past the problem area. Holes will be drilled through the wall and helical tiebacks will be installed. The other end of the tieback looks like a giant screw. This is driven into the soil, anchoring into firmer soil and when the wall plate is attached, the wall will be straightened and reinforced. This method is also called soil nailing.

Wall anchors are another method of repairing a damaged retaining wall. The application is similar to a helical tieback, in that the wall will be brought back close to its original position. A civil engineer will determine the best method of repair based on the soil, the cause of the damage, the condition and construction of the wall, and other factors.

Waterproofing the Area

Repairing the wall isn’t the end of the process, it must all be determined what cause the wall to fail to begin with. If it is a water drainage problem, then a waterproofing solution needs to be implemented. Again, the civil engineer can determine what the problem is and what the best method of remedying the situation is.

Looks Matter

If your retaining wall is in a visible area, you can choose from different construction material and decorative wall plates. These pictures are of a retaining wall we did in Gibsonia, PA, so you can see how a retaining wall can accent your property.

retaining wall Gibsonia 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make Sure Your Property is Stable and Secure

Your business relies on having a strong foundation and safe property. Matthews Structural Solutions will make sure that your structure and surrounding area are safe for employees and customers. Give us a call to learn more about all of our commercial property services.