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Course Description

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Studying Civil Engineering in Germany

An article by Madlen Ottenschläger. Cooperation from: Christian Heinrich

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That is what it's about

If sections of a highway or even entire airports are delayed for months, this is also due to the lack of civil engineers in Germany. They are needed everywhere: In addition to highways and airports, they also build subway tunnels, offshore wind farms and apartment blocks, for example. The restoration of a river may also fall within their field of activity.

Whether climate protection, energy or traffic change, civil engineers play an essential role in mastering the great challenges of our time. They ensure that resources are used efficiently, for example in the supply of drinking water, and they make sure that structures are durable and safe. This also includes apparenly self-evident facts: Façades should still be able to withstand wind and weather in thirty years, fire protection must be reliable and a street's drainage system must also function in heavy rain. With all these tasks, it is becoming increasingly important to be familiar with intelligent sensors. In the future, they will monitor whether a bridge needs to be repaired or document what material a door is made of so that it is clear how it can be recycled.

This is how the course runs

This subject has a wide range: Students come into contact with mathematics, physics, mechanics, computer science, business administration, contract law, resource management, ecology and digital construction. There are four main fields: Fundamentals, planning, measurements and construction management. The basics include building physics and basics of statics. Planning is about creativity: What should a bridge look like to fit in with its surroundings? Timber, steel, masonry and concrete construction, hydraulic engineering as well as geotechnical and environmental engineering are topics in the design area, where students also carry out detailed structural calculations. In construction management, a construction project is viewed as a process, from the planning stage through the procurement of raw materials to the efficient execution of the construction.

When choosing a university, students should make sure that there are as many professorships in civil engineering as possible, says Birger Gigla, professor at the TH Lübeck and chairman of the Departmental Council for Civil and Environmental Engineering. "To cover the breadth of the subject well, preferably ten or more."

If you want to work in construction management later on, you will be standing on the construction site in rubber boots during the last semesters. More often, however, students construct buildings and systems on computers. In the higher semesters of the bachelor's degree, you can usually choose a focus: from structural engineering, tunnel construction or construction process management to traffic planning, geotechnics and hydraulic engineering.

Typical questions raised within the subject

  • How do you calculate the load-bearing capacity of a building component?
  • How do you develop pollutant-free building materials?
  • How do you plan a building project digitally?
  • How do you draw up a soil expertise?
  • How do you have to build so that a bridge lasts for a long time?
  • How can you implement flood protection that will still function in 30 years?
  • How does a building have to be designed to withstand an earthquake?

The subject suits you,...

... you enjoy numbers and have an interest in science. "But you must not be a total mathematics whiz," says Gigla. It is more important that you enjoy working in a team and have communication skills. Because later in your professional life you will have to deal with investors, representatives of the authorities and craftsmen. Moreover, civil engineers bear great responsibility: On construction sites, they are responsible for the safety of many people, and their decisions shape living spaces for decades.

Is there a numerus clausus?

About a third of the courses have admission restrictions. Grades of between two and three are often required.