Civil engineering is a field of engineering that deals with the construction and maintenance of the structures that are required for human civilization, such as buildings, roads, and sewers. It is an umbrella field comprised of many related specialties.
Structural engineering, of which structural design is a component, is typically the largest part of civil engineering as a practice. Structural engineers design bridges, buildings, offshore oil platforms, dams etc. Structural analysis[?] is another component of structural engineering and a key component in the structural design process. This involves computing the stresses and forces at work within a structure. There are some structural engineers who work in non-typical areas, designing aircraft, spacecraft and even biomedical devices.
Supporting structural engineering is the field of geotechnical engineering. The importance of geotechnical engineering can hardly be overstated: buildings must be connected to the ground. Geotechnical engineering is concerned with soil properties, foundations, footings and soil dynamics. Over time, researchers have derived empirical equations that work (it is not an exact science).
Sanitary engineering[?] is primarily concerned with purifying water for drinking and with treating sewage.
Hydraulic Engineering[?] is concerned with the flow and conveyance of fluids, principally water. This area of engineering is, of course, intimately related to the design of bridges, dams, channels, canals, and levees, and to both Sanitary and Environmental engineering.
Construction engineering involves planning and execution of the designs from structural and geotechnical engineers.
Civil engineering also includes material science. Engineering materials include concrete, steel and recently, polymers and ceramics with potential engineering application.
A popular misconception is that civil engineering is far from the exciting frontiers in mathematics and computer science. In actuality, much of what is now computer science was driven by work in civil engineering, where structural and network analysis problems required parallel computations and development of advanced algorithms.
There are also civil engineers who work in the area of safety engineering, applying probabilistic methods to structural design, safety analysis and even estimates of insurance losses due to natural and man-made hazards.