Civil Engineering History

• In the beginning, Civil Engineering included all engineers that did not practice military engineering; said to have begun in 18th century France.

• First “Civil Engineer” was an Englishman, John Smeaton in 1761.

• Civil engineers have saved more lives than all the doctors in history — development of clean water and sanitation systems.

• Henry H. White, first KY Civil Engineering Graduate from Bacon (Georgetown) College in 1840.

• Fall of 1886, “State College” (UK) established civil engineering degree.

• John Wesley Gunn of Lexington received first Civil Engineering degree from A & M College (UK) in 1890.

Civil engineering has evolved tremendously in aspects relating to building, designing and maintaining the world’s built and natural environments. Historically, the term ‘civil engineering’ did not exist. It is only recently that engineers whose duties were civil and non- military were categorized as civil engineers to differentiate them from military engineers. A military engineer is one who makes ‘machines of war’. In ancient times the bridge, waterways, fortifications and machines of war were all projects also projects undertaken by the military engineer. Kings, Queens, Emperors or Pharaohs required these military building services from their engineers in order to build massive structures that created a powerful and imposing image of themselves. This was the ultimate form of self-promotion. The reason the ‘civil’ and ‘military’ engineers were grouped as one, was because the techniques of designing these projects were similar and one who worked on military construction projects also worked on civil projects. Also the structures such as roads, dams, buildings and bridges facilitated for the military agendas of certain rulers. Definitely, before the term civil engineer was coined, civil engineers were in existence. Millennia ago when the pyramids of the Mayan and Egyptian empires were building pyramids, the people designing and supervising the construction of the pyramids must have been an engineer. Certainly, those endowed with the responsibility of devising ways to solve the day to day problems of construction, transportation, water irrigation, city planning were engineers. The engineers of the past often worked on technical problems of their day by using mechanics, available materials and technicians of the day and often worked in areas that ranged from mechanical, military inventions to architecture, which involved the design of aesthetic structure and the overall shape and form of structures.

Taken from book named – “An Introduction to Civil Engineering” by Valdengrave Okumu

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  • MANISH May 27, 2008 at 11:52 am


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  • IBRAHIM NAGY September 23, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    hi iam egyptian studant at civil engineering last year (isa),this site saide that the first engineering was graduated in 1840 , but all of you knowe that the pyramids built from thousand of years and who built it was an egyptian engineering .

    so thiere was civil engineering in egypt befor along time

  • admin September 23, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    @ Ibrahim
    yeah this is true that civil engineering is dated as back as we have civilizations. But by mentioning the year means the formal date of graduated student.

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    responsibility of life ,property,relations….these are the considerations which we have to keep in mind while shaping the civilisation….

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