A basic function of civil and construction engineering is to provide and maintain the
infrastructure needs of society. The infrastructure includes buildings, water treatment
and distribution systems, waste water removal and processing, dams, and
highway and airport bridges and pavements. Although some civil and construction
engineers are involved in the planning process, most are concerned with the design,
construction, and maintenance of facilities. The common denominator among these
responsibilities is the need to understand the behavior and performance of materials.
Although not all civil and construction engineers need to be material specialists,
a basic understanding of the material selection process, and the behavior of
materials, is a fundamental requirement for all civil and construction engineers performing
design, construction, and maintenance.

Material requirements in civil engineering and construction facilities are different
from material requirements in other engineering disciplines. Frequently, civil
engineering structures require tons of materials with relatively low replications of
specific designs. Generally, the materials used in civil engineering have relatively
low unit costs. In many cases, civil engineering structures are formed or fabricated
in the field under adverse conditions. Finally, many civil engineering structures are
directly exposed to detrimental effects of the environment.
The subject of engineering materials has advanced greatly in the last few decades.
As a result, many of the conventional materials have either been replaced by more efficient
materials or modified to improve their performance. Civil and construction engineers
have to be aware of these advances and be able to select the most cost-effective
material or use the appropriate modifier for the specific application at hand.


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