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Godfrey, Kneeland, Jr. (ed.) / The Wisconsin engineer
Volume 59, Number 6 (March 1955)

Woodburn, James G.
Civil engineering,   pp. 33-[34]

Page 33

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by Prof. James G. Woodburn
Chairman, Civil Engineering Department
  Prof. James G. Wood-
burn has been Chairman
of the Department of Civil
Engineering since 1949. He
was born in Bloomington,
Indiana, and received his
BA and MA from Indiana
University, his BS from
Purdue, and his PhD from
the University of Michi-
gan. He taught at the State
                                  College of Washington for
       several years before coming to Wisconsin. He has
       specialized in Hydraulic Engineering and the legal
       phases of engineering, and is co-author of the Hydrau-
       lics text used in several university courses.
         The profession of civil engineering offers many em-
       ployment opportunities for college graduates. More-
       over, the number and variety of such opportunities are
       increasing with the growth of our population and the
       development of new inventions and processes.
         Civil engineers have always been connected with the
       development of transportation systems. The great ad-
       vance in the nineteenth century was in the building of
       our railroads, which still employ many engineers in
       both operation and maintenance. The mid-twentieth
       century sees continued expansion of highways, airlines,
       and pipelines. The growth of highway traffic that has
       resulted from population growth and establishment of
       new cities and industries has led to the rapid building
       of expressways and tollroads. The development of air-
       ports and allied facilities, not only in this country but
       all over the world, has been phenomenal. Pipelines are
       coming to be a highly favored mode of transportation
       for petroleum products and natural gas. The civil en-
       gineer occupies a prominent place in the planning,
       surveying, designing, constructing and operating of all
       these transportation facilities.
         Another field that continues to be very attractive to
       civil engineers is that of structures. There is increasing
       demand for more housing, shopping centers, office
       space, public buildings, factories, and other structures
       of all kinds, both large and small. Civil engineers are
       associated with architects in the design and construc-
       tion of large steel and concrete buildings, with con-
       tractors in the design and building of homes and apart-
< *    <<<f Plate courtesy Georgia Tech Engineer
ments, and with public agencies in city planning, rede-
velopment of slum areas, and laying out of parks and
playgrounds. Most spectacular in the field of structural
engineering is the construction of great bridges. Many
have been built, others are under construction, while
still longer and larger ones are being planned for the
near future.
  With growth in population comes also increased de-
mand for civil engineers to provide safe and adequate
public water supplies and to build sewerage systems
and treatment plants which will return waste waters
to the streams in a form least harmful to fish and other
wild life and most satisfactory from the standpoint of
use of the lakes and streams by the public. Civil en-
gineers design and build flood control works to pre-
vent or reduce damage from floods, improve river chan-
nels for the benefit of navigation, and provide port
facilities for both inland and foreign shipping. Water
power plants are designed by civil engineers and built
under their guidance. Many engineers are engaged in
land reclamation, either by the draining of low swampy
lands or by bringing irrigation water to dry lands from
rivers or reservoirs through miles of canals and
  Many civil engineers also find work as surveyors.
Surveying is one of the first jobs to be done when an
engineering project is undertaken. Surveys must be
made to aid in determining the most economical and
feasible routes for highways, irrigation canals, and
pipelines. Such surveys have been greatly speeded by
aerial mapping. There must be surveys of sites for
bridges, buildings, dams, and airports. The proper lay-
ing out of housing and other municipal developments
depends largely on detailed surveys of the proposed
sites. Surveyors also locate property lines and deter-
mine areas, and thus help to settle disputes between
land owners. Much of our country's area still remains
to be mapped in detail and many surveyors are engaged
in that work.
  As with any profession, the future of civil engineer-
ing depends on maintaining a continuing supply of
young persons who are eager and qualified to enter
that profession. The usual road to becoming a civil en-
gineer leads through years of training in a college of
engineering. The colleges cannot operate without
teachers, and there are many opportunities these days
in the engineering teaching profession for young
people who have done well in their college work, who
have gone ahead to take graduate work, and who also
have acquired some practical experience.    END
MARCH, 1955

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