Why Civil Engineers Cannot Afford to Make Any Professional Mistakes

Even experienced civil engineers make mistakes, big or small, because they are but humans. But that’s not a valid reason!

For civil engineers, there’s no such thing as “little” mistake.

To work on something that is of prime importance in everyday activity – roads, bridges, buildings, water supply, etc. – civil engineers are inclined to be perfect in every calculation and design that they do. The integrity of structures must be upheld, so civil engineers need to be cautious of even one little mistake.

Needless to say, civil engineers cannot afford those little mistakes. The term little mistake can be relative and can range from a miscalculated design data to a surveying error, all of which can have different impacts; some can be forgivable, some can even be concealed. But a mistake at the micro transcends to the macro when they are taken for granted. Civil engineers are never allowed to do that.

A classic civil engineering example of a fatal error: connecting misaligned bridge. Source: I Am Civil Engineer

It’s not entirely the civil engineers’ fault, either. Contracting companies can also be accountable for fatal errors that civil engineers overlooked – nonetheless, site engineers and project managers who are civil engineers still have the error on their shoulders because they missed something that’s part of the job.

That’s not how revision clouds work! Source: Pinterest

Even an experienced civil engineer make mistakes, big or small, because they are but humans. What more those who are only starting in the field? Anyone can lose their right to practice as civil engineers depending on the degree of risk they have committed. One little mistake to a civil engineer can yield unimaginable mistakes to humankind.

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Staircase construction is indeed confusing but this is not it is supposed to be.

There will be cases that a mistake can no longer be reversed, and the best way to deal with that is to learn from them; otherwise, the best way to mitigate the error, if not correct, is to do the job again before the effect becomes fatal. Costs and time are essential but lives of the people are far more important. It is in the discretion of civil engineers to evaluate whether the risks tagged in the mistake could lead to more mistakes, which is founded on engineering ethics.

They say that a person who doesn’t make mistakes is unlikely to make anything. That’s not supposed to be true for civil engineers because once they do their jobs that are founded on errors, they can potentially wreak havoc.


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Engr Eva Allanigue
Chemical Engineering graduate with a passion in writing weird stuff at GineersNow. Official globe-trotter with luxury luggage, bags & accessories. Follow me on Linkedin

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  1. This post isn’t grounded in reality. It highlights one of the major problems with the civil engineering industry. Civil engineers, like doctors are so adverse to mistakes that they usually will not admit to them when they should for fear of lawsuits and loss of contracts. I think it’s one of the issues that causes civil engineering to lag behind other fields in technological and knowledge-based advances. All that being said, kudos to the author for the courage to write the post and for at least identifying a problem in the industry.

Why Civil Engineers Cannot Afford to Make Any Professional Mistakes

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