Introduction to Civil Engineering Systems

Introduction to Civil Engineering Systems

Samuel Labi

Preference :

The civil engineering discipline involves the development of structural, hydraulic, geotechnical,
construction, environmental, transportation, architectural, and other civil systems that address societies’
infrastructure needs. The planning and design of these systems are well covered in traditional
courses and texts at most universities. In recent years, however, universities have increasingly
sought to infuse a “systems” perspective to their traditional civil engineering curricula. This development
arose out of the recognition that the developers of civil engineering systems need a solid set
of skills in other disciplines. These skills are needed to equip them further for their traditional tasks
at the design and construction phases and also to burnish their analytical skills for other less-obvious
or emerging tasks at all phases of system development.
The development of civil engineering systems over the centuries and millennia has been characterized
by continual improvements that were achieved mostly through series of trial-and-error as
systems were constructed and reconstructed by learning from past mistakes. At the current time,
the use of trial-and-error methods on real-life systems is infeasible because it may take not only
several decades but also involve excessive costs in resources and, possibly, human lives before the
best system can be finally realized. Also in the past, systems have been developed in ways that were
not always effective or cost-effective. For these and other reasons, the current era, which has inherited
the civil engineering systems built decades ago, poses a unique set of challenges for today’s
civil engineers. A large number of these systems, dams, bridges, roads, ports, and so on are functionally
obsolescent or are approaching the end of their design lives and are in need of expansion,
rehabilitation, or replacement. The issue of inadequate or aging civil infrastructure has deservedly
gained national attention due to a series of publicized engineering system failures in the United
States, such as the New Orleans levees, the Minnesota and Seattle interstate highway bridges, and
the New York and Dallas sewers, and in other countries. The current problem of aging infrastructure
is further exacerbated by increased demand and loading fueled by population growth, rising
user expectations of system performance, increased desire for stakeholder participation in decisionmaking
processes, terrorism threats, the looming specter of tort liability, and above all, inadequate
funding for sustained preservation and renewal of these systems.

Content :
  • Introduction
  • Fundamental Concepts in Systems Engineering
  • Tools Needed to Carry Out the Tasks
  • The Needs Assessment Phase
  • Systems Planning
  • System Design
  • Systems Construction
  • System Operations
  • System Monitoring
  • System Preservation (Maintenance and Rehabilitation
  • System End of Life
  • Other Topics Related to Civil Systems Development

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