How Is Math Used in Civil Engineering?

by Benjamin Skinner

A civil engineer uses nearly every form of math at one point in time to do her job. Algebra is used on a daily basis, and many engineers will have to deal with differential equations, statistics, and calculus occasionally. A good portion of a civil engineer's time is not spent doing math, but when the time comes civil engineers have to be very comfortable with all the forms of math, especially those that deal with physics.

Civil engineers have to use math equations that are derived from chemistry on a daily basis. Chemistry's equations are used to measure the strength of materials, and engineers must use these equations to select the right material for a project.

Civil engineers use trigonometry often when surveying a structure. Surveying deals with land elevations as well as the various angles of structures.

Physics takes on a huge roll in a civil engineer's job. Physics equations are applied to all angles of an engineering problem to make sure the structure being created is going to function the way it must. When a bridge is being designed, physics is used to figure out how large the supporting piers should be, as well as how thick the steel columns of bridge need to be, and how many of them should be installed. Physics equations typically use algebra, calculus, and trigonometry.

Basic math skills such as accounting and statistics must be utilized during the planning phase of any project. Figuring out the financial side of a project is an important part of a civil engineer's job and he must figure out how much a project is going to cost its investors.

About the Author

Located in New York State, Benjamin Skinner has been writing technology and health articles since 2008. He has worked with large companies such as Women’s Forum and Great Leap Studios. Skinner has more than six years of experience in the construction industry and understands the inner workings of buildings. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Syracuse University.