Civil Engineering Before Computers

Civil Engineering Before Computers


Civil Engineering Before Computers

Before modern engineering technology was available, civil engineers used technical tools and hand calculations to build their drafts and designs. Before the days of computer aided ...

Before modern engineering technology was available, civil engineers used technical tools and hand calculations to build their drafts and designs. Before the days of computer aided drafting software – such as AutoCAD – engineers needed exceptional sketching and mechanical drawing abilities since everything was rendered by hand.  

Technical Tools

Since virtually all work was completed by hand, there were a number of tools used to ensure that calculations were done correctly and that lines were straight. Imagine having to visualize your project by either having to meticulously sketch out by hand the view you wish to see on paper or by making a scale model!

Common tools and equipment in the days before computers included:

  • Compasses & Protractors
  • Rulers, Squares and Triangles
  • Drafting Tables
  • Engineering Scales
  • Trimmers and Cutting Tools
  • Irregular/French Curve Tools

Hand Calculations

The ability to execute clear, concise, and systematic hand calculations was of utmost importance in the days before computers and graphing calculators. Civil engineers would need to manually find data from reliable sources such as manuals, codes, standards, and data publications; then apply the found data to the specifics of the project. The formulas would provide results for the proper building materials and sizes needed to be used in order to have a strong building or structure. Even with modern software, manual calculations are still important as a way to crosscheck the computer technology and assist with learning new software.

Civil Engineering Today

Civil Engineers in today’s world use computer technology to assist them throughout the process from conception and analysis to production. Computers also help when testing the design and making changes before the building begins which saves both time and money. Many areas of civil engineering have been impacted by computers:

  • Structural Engineering
    In structural engineering, computer software is used to design buildings. It helps to make the design process more efficient, easier, and provide the best options for a building. This technology also helps in building a stronger structure for buildings, homes, and blocks with the use of building maps.
  • Project Planning
    Project planning software is used to for large civil engineering projects to manage opportunities, resources, and task scheduling. Since so many tasks cannot begin until others are completed, keeping track of everything can be impossible on large projects without the assistance of scheduling software.
  • Information Technology
    This is most commonly used to control the flow of information inside and outside of an organization. Civil engineering today would be more difficult to complete without the use of proper IT. Almost everything such as office files, software, data, emails, calculations, and monitoring are managed with the use of computers.
  • Material Strength
    Software is used to check the strength of any material such as steel and bricks in building construction. Computer software helps to find the perfect composition of cement, sand, and water for concrete to create stronger structures.

Not only has computer technology affected the tools that civil engineers use, but also their education and types of projects that can be handled. As technology advances, so do the engineering disciplines, quality and the speed at which designs are built.

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