I love engineering.
There are many types of engineering out there. Aerospace, automotive, manufacturing, software, electrical, mechanical etc.
Construction is usually seen as grubby, unsophisticated, and relatively unattractive, especially compared to those making shiny electronic gadgets, or designing aeroplanes, or assembling cars on advanced robotic assembly lines.
But I love construction.
In fact, I think construction is the ultimate form of engineering!
I really do think this for so many reasons, so I thought I’d list them here…
Even the smallest construction projects are physically huge compared to most forms of engineering.
A simple house is bigger than an electronic gadget, a car, and most manufactured products.
And at the extreme end buildings can be 100s of metres high or have 100s of square metres of floor area. Infrastructure like roads and rail can stretch for 100s of kilometres.
Construction creates the largest structures on the planet.
The outputs from construction are almost always unique. Very rarely are 2 buildings the same.
Some bemoan this lack of standardisation but it really is driven by customers and demonstrates the importance that society places on buildings.
We can accept having the same car or phone as thousands of others (with just some skin deep differences), but rarely do people want many buildings that look the same.
For people, the houses they live in are often their ultimate expression of self, businesses spend small fortunes on ensuring their buildings are distinctive, and infrastructure is so often dictated by the geology and geography.
Tim Cook may talk about how the Apple Watch is a personal product, and other tech firms boast about how much time users spend on their apps.
But added together, most people spend most of their time working, living, and sleeping inside buildings and utilising infrastructure.
I would therefore argue that buildings have a much greater personal connection to us than any other product of engineering.
If you take a birds eye view of our planet you wouldn’t see cars, or planes, or gadgets. No, the things that you would see are our constructions, the buildings and infrastructure we have built to make our lives better.
Construction is an industry that very literally changes the face of the planet.
The products that are made by the construction industry last longer than any other type. Aeroplanes might have a 20-25 year life span, cars typically up to 20, manufactured products generally 15 years, you’d be lucky to get 10 years out of electrical products nowadays, and it’s rare for any significant piece of software to last much more than 5 years.
Construction on the other hand…
Commercial offices can have design lives of up to 40 years, most houses are at least 50 years old, and infrastructure can easily last 60, 70, or even 100+ years.
Being involved in construction ensures you can leave a legacy like no other.
The variety of projects that you get to work on can touch on all parts of the economy. From houses to hospitals, from offices to power stations, from bridges to schools.
Other forms of engineering are often highly industry specific.
Mix of disciplines
A typical construction project involves a wider array of disciplines than any other type of engineering.
It’s not uncommon for a construction project to have architects, structural engineers, civil engineers, geotechnical engineers, environmental engineers, mechanical engineers, and electrical engineers, all working together and coordinating designs.
Of course this doesn’t include all the non-engineering support functions like Quantity Surveyors, Project Managers, Commercial, Planners, Procurement, Plant etc, too.
The amount of opportunity in construction to work with and learn from so many others different from yourself is surely unparalleled in engineering industries.
Some businesses may claim that their workplace is “dynamic” because they have cool chairs and table tennis, but most engineers work in an office or at best in an occasionally changing factory setting.
However, there’s nothing more dynamic than being based on a construction site where your workplace is literally changing every single day.
If you enjoy construction, the great thing is that there’s so much history in construction to look back at. No other engineering based industry can claim to be thousands of years old.
Scattered around the world are construction projects that have stood for more than a thousand years.
In summary, when it comes to engineering, construction is the biggest, the most unique, leaves the biggest impact and legacy, is the most varied, the most dynamic, and has the greatest history.
I love construction and you should too.