High School Tips to Prepare for Civil Engineering

Civil engineering is the profession of applying mathematical and physical sciences to provide the facilities for habitation, production and transportation in an efficient, economical and environmentally conscious manner. The work of a civil engineer is closely connected to the community and impacts other people in profound ways.

Civil engineering requires students to be well-prepared in high school math and physics courses. Courses in computers or computer science help high school students get ready for the computer-assisted design programs used in civil engineering.

It is very important that you finish high school with strong grades. Also, you need to make sure that you do well on your standardized tests, to help ensure your admission.

Essentials for pursuing civil engineering:

High School Courses

Students planning to pursue civil engineering should complete the following courses while in high school:
  • Mathematics: Four years of mathematics through pre-calculus, but preferably calculus. The core skills of a civil engineer are based on mathematics. Mathematical principles are integrated into the computer programs that civil engineers use to test the tolerances of the social systems they design. The two key areas are calculus and statistics. Many high schools offer Advanced Placement versions of these classes, which are also good exposure to college level math courses.

  • Chemistry and Earth Science: One year of chemistry and earth sciences.

  • Physics: One year of physics. Civil engineers need to have a strong background in a variety of physics applications, including thermodynamics and fluid dynamics. These subjects help the civil engineer understand how heat, water and other forces affect the structures they are designing. High school physics courses can help students get an introductory understanding of basic physics principles and vocabulary.

  • Computer skills course: The majority of civil engineering design is performed using specialized computer programs that allow the engineer to construct and test an object in 3-D. The program can add variables like the weight and density of the materials, environmental forces like wind or earthquakes and the effects of human interactions like cars passing over a bridge.

  • Writing and public speaking: Communication is an important component of any job. Civil engineers need to be able to speak, write, listen and understand. Communicating effectively with different types of people is one of their common job responsibilities.

  • Foreign Language: Two years of foreign language. Speaking a foreign language is not mandatory, but civil engineers may travel to other parts of the globe to work on projects. Knowledge of another language can enhance your value to employers. Spanish, Japanese and French are foreign languages to consider.

Expertise to develop during high school for entering in Civil Engineering Majors

Civil engineering requires good mathematics, design, and science skills. In addition, possessing a "big picture" outlook, creativity, the ability to function as a member of a team, the ability to work without supervision and to handle high levels of responsibility, the ability to clearly and concisely convey your ideas both verbally, and through the use of writing and images, are all important, well-rounded features to pursue higher studies and career in civil engineering.

  • Strong leadership and people management Skills
    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many civil engineers work in supervisory or administrative positions. Possible roles include construction site supervisor or city engineer. Having a good cooperative work ethic is a prerequisite for moving up in your career. Learn to work well in group settings. Basic communication skills, as well as conflict-resolution abilities, negotiation skills and an ability to lead meetings are essential for realizing success as civil engineers.

  • Analytical Mindset
    Civil engineers have to design within budget constraints while also conforming to client specifications and keeping an eye on public safety. For example, when designing a bridge, coming up with one blueprint won't suffice. You'll probably have many ideas that you have to eliminate based on project criteria, and you'll reevaluate and tweak your ideas as meetings bring new concerns and ideas to light. One seemingly minor change requires you to think carefully about the overall impact on the project. You need to be able to deal with details, decide which ones are important and make choices based on priorities.

Internship or Part-time work

While in school, if it at all possible, obtain an internship in the civil field that most interests you. Most engineering firms have some type of internship program. The experience you gain is invaluable not only to helping you establish and clarify your career goals, but also in gaining valuable experience for your college admission and professional resume which will make you a highly desirable entry level engineer. Construction experience (internship) in your field of interest may have as much, if not more, value for your future career as a civil engineer as good results in your degree.

Standardized Test Scores

The applicants must take standardized test to enter undergrad and graduate courses in the USA. Standardized tests act as a yardstick for educators to evaluate students and their performance. So, its preparation must be started from the junior year of your high school. Standardized test scores of ACT or SAT are vital for assessing an applicant to Civil Engineering. IELTS TOEFL is required for international students and all other aspirants whose native language is not English. Also, SATII Math and one of the Chemistry or Physics are critical for evaluation. Students should focus on these sections particularly in order to get a seat in college of your choice.

High school Records

Your high school records, which demonstrate your high school grades, classes and GPA, will most likely be the first piece of information a college admissions officer will go over. This complete record of your coursework, grades and credits provides concrete evidence of whether you're prepared to go to a particular college or not. When planning for college, you must keep this in mind as you take classes, study and later get grades -the work you put into it will directly impact your ability to get into colleges. So, focus on high school courses and make your base strong.

If you've been fascinated since childhood by bridges and buildings and enjoy designing and management, consider civil engineering as a potential career and follow these essentials unfailingly while in high school.
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