Civil engineering technology programs prepare people to help engineers who work on projects such as bridges and tunnels. Students learn to do field and laboratory testing. They also learn to how to maintain and repair testing equipment.
Next time you drive down a highway, think about all the engineering that went into designing and building it. The storm drainage had to be built just right for your climate and terrain. The surface materials had to be selected for durability without excessive cost. The bridges had to be sturdy but not use too much material. The curves had to be few and not too sharp. Local residents had to be shielded from noise.
Engineering teams do all of this planning and design. Besides engineers, a team consists of engineering technologists with bachelor's degrees. They are graduates of four-year programs, which are offered at about 40 colleges. In this job, you help turn the engineer's concepts into realities. For example, from designs you create detailed drawings and specifications. And from those you create schedules of construction. With this degree you may work as a surveyor at the building site.
Such a team also uses engineering technicians with associate degrees. About 190 colleges offer this two-year degree. In this job you can contribute to the team in a variety of specialized functions. For example, you help create construction plans using computer-aided design (CAD). You estimate costs based on the specifications. You operate some of the global positioning system gear for the surveyors. You run tests on construction materials. You take soil samples at the construction site. You calculate loads borne by structures. You are unlikely to do all of these things, however, because you probably specialize in one or a few.
For either degree, you start with a foundation of science and math. (In the bachelor's program the math and science are more advanced.) The science is mainly physics, because this helps you calculate the forces and stresses at work in building materials and structures. You learn principles of design for steel and reinforced concrete. And you study procedures for before, during, and after construction.