Civil engineering is a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including works such as roads, bridges, canals, dams, airports, sewerage systems, pipelines, and railways. Civil engineering is traditionally broken into a number of sub-disciplines. It is the second-oldest engineering discipline after military engineering, and it is defined to distinguish non-military engineering from military engineering. Civil engineering takes place in the public sector from municipal through to national governments, and in the private sector from individual homeowners through to international companies.
Engineering is the creative application of science, mathematical methods, and empirical evidence to the innovation, design, construction, operation and maintenance of structures, machines, materials, devices, systems, processes, and organizations. The discipline of engineering encompasses a broad range of more specialized fields of engineering, each with a more specific emphasis on particular areas of applied mathematics, applied science, and types of application. See glossary of engineering.
Mechanical differs from Civil Engineering in the fact that the former provides or makes what the latter uses. On this account, a knowledge of mechanical engineering is of invaluable service to the civil engineer, and it should be the rule to obtain this practically, whatever branch of engineering the student may ultimately follow.
Frederick Dye (1895) Popular engineering: being interesting and instructive examples in civil, mechanical, electrical, chemical, mining, military and naval engineering graphically and plainly described...". p. 212
A great bridge is a great monument which should serve to make known the splendour and genius of a nation; one should not occupy oneself with efforts to perfect it architecturally, for taste is always susceptible to change, but to conserve always in its form and decoration the character of solidity which is proper.
Jean Perronet, in A Newsletter on the History and Heritage of American Civil Engineering