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The Work of a Construction Project Engineer

written by: Jayant R Row • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 12/2/2010

A construction project engineer helps to plan the work and its execution on a daily basis so that the overall objectives are met. He will use his engineering knowledge to interpret the drawings, specifications, and contract documents to those concerned that works are completed in time.

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    Construction Projects Require Engineering and Managerial Inputs

    project   The process of construction requires that skills in engineering have to be offset by those in management and business for the successful completion of any project. During this process the plans of the designer and the specifications required by technical considerations are translated into actual physical structures and other facilities envisaged by the designer and other stakeholders in the project. The job of the construction project engineer is to bring a professional touch to the execution of the project by planning the site, its temporary structures, laying out the new facility to be erected, planning and scheduling the work to be done, arranging for contractors or workers, procuring of materials, selecting equipment needed to facilitate construction and maintaining the necessary control on cost and quality throughout the period of the project.

    Image source: Wikimedia: Construction project

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    Initial Site Planning

    The work of a construction project engineer starts even before he actually starts work on the site. The engineer will first have to completely understand the requirements of the project in terms of resources like manpower, materials, finances and time schedules. He will then have to plan the marshaling of the necessary resources as per a time schedule which will fit in with the overall completion dates. Once the overall picture is clear, the engineer then moves on to site to plan and arrange for temporary facilities like offices, stores, roads, water and electricity which would be required throughout the life of the project. A good engineer will try to make some of these facilities in such a way that they are part of the project in perpetuity, as this can save costs and time.

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    Starting the Construction Process

    project 1  

    One of the first things that the construction project engineer has to do is to arrange for the necessary men, materials, and equipment needed to execute the project.

    Manpower can be in the form of direct engagement of skilled tradesmen and other workers or contracting out the work to be done to qualified contractors. In both cases the proper qualification of the workers or contractor has to be ensured.

    The engineer has to set up a separate procurement cell that will arrange for all the necessary materials required for the execution. He has also to arrange for necessary equipment required during the process of construction. While doing this he must ensure that the equipment will give the necessary productivity and quality.

    Offsite, the engineer has to make detailed schedules for various items of work so that their execution fits in with the overall completion dates. He has also to set up systems for making the necessary payments to worker, contractors and suppliers of materials and equipment. While doing this he has to coordinate with the owners to plan and ensure the necessary cash flow for the project depending on the schedules worked out.

    A good project engineer has to pay sufficient attention to quality and set up a separate QA (quality assurance) and QC (quality control) section if the size of the project warrants it. Proper testing procedures for testing materials being used and completed work have to be laid down. He also must set up procedures for waste management and environmental control. Safety standards need to be set up and enforced at all stages of the construction process. Proper housekeeping on the project during its execution is also the responsibility of the construction project engineer.

    One of the jobs of a construction project engineer is to prepare detailed reports on the physical progress and other financial and contractual matters which would have to be presented to the stakeholders of the project.

    Image Source: Wikimedia

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    Completing a Project

    On completion of a project a construction project engineer has to arrange for all necessary inspections by statutory and other authorities prior to handing over the project to the ultimate users of the project. He also has to ensure that the project is handed over to the users after they complete their own inspection for quality and quantity.

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