Chapter One

Introduction to Infrastructure and Careers in Civil and Environmental Engineering

Chapter Outline

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Case Study: I-35 W Bridge Collapse
  • The Prevalence of Infrastructure
  • Infrastructure Systems
  • Funding Infrastructure
  • Sustainability
  • The Civil and Environmental Engineering Professions
  • Integration with Other Professions
  • Integration with the Public
  • Professional Issues
  • The Future of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Employment Opportunities
  • About This Book
  • Outro

Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

  1. Define infrastructure and explain how it affects nearly all aspects of your life.
  2. Describe the “infrastructure crisis.”
  3. Describe the role of civil and environmental engineers in infrastructure management and design.
  4. Describe the role of each of the subdisciplines of civil engineering.
  5. Discuss professional issues as they relate to the success of your future career.


Infrastructure is defined by Merriam Webster as the underlying foundation or basic framework of an organization or system. As it relates to the work of civil and environmental engineers, infrastructure is the system of public works of a country, state, region, or municipality.


Major infrastructure sectors (termed the built environment) are provided in the following list, with the first nine sectors comprising the civil infrastructure:

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