Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Construction Engineering
Local statistics reveal that a civil engineer after graduating from the university is employed in industry, commercial enterprises, utility companies, government entities, regulatory agencies and other similar organizations. In majority of the cases, not all civil engineers would normally be working in a design office and a major chunk of these engineers find themselves working as site or office personnel for construction contractors and subcontractors.
Similarly, graduates may also choose to work for architects and engineering consultants as their representatives on construction projects, or to work in government as facility planners or facility maintenance managers, in building departments, and as the government´s representative for project management. Many may choose the entrepreneurial route and establish their own construction businesses. (Read More)
In most such situations, the job of the engineer would not particularly involve typical civil engineering work i.e. structural, transportation, water resources, or geotechnical design, but would rather involve work related to construction engineering i.e. project scheduling, cost estimating, cost control, quality control, procurement, risk mitigation, claims preparation and presentation, safety management, project coordination and the like. While the engineer has to demonstrate thorough engineering capability to be able to possess the necessary technical knowledge and skills to undertake these tasks; he has also to be equally competent in management and decision making skills to be able to supervise and control the construction work. As a professional representative of construction industry, the engineer may have to lead or coordinate with the entire departments of a construction organization such as projects, procurement, quality assurance, human resource management, safety, etc.
The construction engineering programme aims to prepare engineers to take up these job responsibilities and excel at a rapid pace in engineering and construction organizations. Presently, employers look towards civil engineers for delivering such tasks. However, the very nature of the civil engineering programmes provides concentration on geotechnical engineering, structures engineering, transportation engineering and water resources engineering, and lack emphasis on construction engineering, construction methods, materials and techniques, project management, maintenance management and operations management of many types of construction facilities for government, commerce and industry. Hence the traditional civil engineers specifically lack the following skills, all of which form the core of the construction engineering programme:
Preparing and interpreting construction/ shop drawings;
Planning, design and implementation of mechanical, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, security and other systems in building construction;
Interpreting, preparing and evaluating contract agreements and contract documents;
Preparing and evaluating the environmental impact assessment of structures;
Developing cost and resource loaded construction schedules and take schedule and cost control decisions;
Understanding the methods and processes in construction sitework and jobsite communication and management systems;
Understanding the methods, equipment and operations in infrastructure and heavy construction;
Understanding the legal, regulatory and business framework in the construction industry;
Planning, design and installation of temporary structures in construction;
Professionally and scientifically managing the quality of construction;
Managing worker safety in construction;
Selecting, developing, procuring and implementing sustainable technologies in construction;
Planning, designing, implementing and managing disaster management strategies and reconstruction methodologies;
Evaluating the economics of construction projects and processes and hence take investment decisions;
Developing leadership, communication and human skills in the management of projects;
Understanding the management and marketing concerns in construction businesses;
Undertaking the project accounting and financial management tasks in a construction organization
Hence the graduates from the programme will have a multitude of key skills in the area of construction engineering in addition to the traditional breadth of engineering knowledge required for any engineer working in the civil and construction industry. The construction engineering programme, while offering the benefits of providing a blend of construction engineering skills, will have an added benefit of being entirely focused toward engineers.
Another justification of starting a bachelor´s degree programme in construction engineering can be attributed to the need of time. The extraordinary pace of development in the computing facilities and changing needs of the society regarding engineering skills, demands identification of disciplines which either are the offshoots of the main discipline or altogether a new one. This global demand compelled universities all across the globe to respond to the need. A large number of countries including developing and developed countries have long ago started their own bachelor´s degree programmes in construction engineering/ management or related disciplines. These countries include Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, UK, USA, Australia, Nederland, Germany, etc. Through experience, these countries have formed a conclusion that a separate knowledge base and skill set is needed for graduating engineers to be useful and to succeed in the construction industry as construction professionals, in comparison to the graduating civil engineers who, traditionally, have been trained to design systems rather than to coordinate, implement and manage the construction process of these systems. These graduating construction engineering professionals prove to be of much utility to the contractors and subcontractors who need the knowledge base and skill set demonstrated by these professionals, and hence prefer them over civil engineers. While all this was happening globally, the Department of Civil Engineering, which has been the oldest department of the University, initially did not feel any need of branching off a degree in this discipline, or addition of related new areas at the undergraduate level. This was mainly due to the fact that demands of changing technological and engineering needs of the society were deemed to be met either by introducing additional areas of specialization at postgraduate level, or by upgrading required part of syllabus at undergraduate level. However, keeping in view the current state of affairs in the Pakistani construction industry, the issues and the key challenges posed (as discussed earlier) which question the very survival of the local construction industry, there evidently seems to be a place of adding a new derived discipline of Civil Engineering as "Construction Engineering ".
The NED University of Engineering and Technology due to its academic importance in local engineering industry becomes the obvious choice to launch the undergraduate studies in this field, which has been neglected so far. It is, therefore, imperative to make a move in this direction without any further delay.