A degree in civil engineering can lead to a fulfilling career designing, building, enhancing, and planning public and private infrastructures. In order to prepare effectively for a civil engineering career, it’s important for aspiring civil engineers to not only pursue a formal engineering education but to also take the opportunity to analyze the work and accomplishments of leading engineers on their own. The following books and textbooks offer specific insights into the more technical aspects of civil engineering through detailed explanations of particular engineering concepts, case studies of successful engineering projects, and interesting stories about reputable civil engineers. By studying these books, civil engineering students and professionals can develop the necessary technical and historical knowledge needed to accomplish their engineering goals.

Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down by J.E. Gordon

Published in 1978, Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down is widely utilized on an international level, largely due to J.E. Gordon’s lasting contributions to the field of structures and materials. In this book, Gordon focuses on providing content designed to intrigue civil engineering professionals that have an extensive interest in physical structures, while also answering the question of why things don’t collapse. He accomplishes this task by featuring detailed examples of successfully engineered structures that effectively help both novices and established professionals comprehend how structures are developed, as well as how they can be improved. By exploring these examples, readers can gain a profound and practical understanding of these critical components of structural engineering. Additionally, this book can be especially valuable for students interested in a career in structural engineering, because it illuminates many of the more engaging aspects of structures, materials, and the process of effectively engineering them.

The Civil Engineering Handbook by Wai-Fah Chen

Dr. Wai-Fah Chen has notoriety in the civil engineering community for being one of the leading innovators in the field for more than half of a century. Chen has headed several engineering departments, been widely lauded as an author with a keen understanding of the science of civil engineering, and won a decorated list of national engineering awards. Within The Civil Engineering Handbook, Chen incorporates a high-level evaluation of the broad spectrum of the theoretical, practical, and computational aspects of structural engineering, while also supplying readers with a comprehensive resource to advance their competency in the civil engineering field. With the tables, charts, equations, and other illustrative resources included in The Civil Engineering Handbook, current and future civil engineering professionals can gain a more thorough understanding of traditional and innovative approaches to analysis and design.

Circles In the Sky: The Life and Times of George Ferris by Graham Sommer and Ray Roddy

George Ferris was a civil engineer, inventor, and innovator within the field of material structural design. Circles in the Sky highlights his rise to the public importance and specifically explores his most significant accomplishment: the creation of the Ferris Wheel. As the inventor of the Ferris Wheel, a marvelous engineering product from the late 19th century, Ferris was both a celebrated engineer and international celebrity. Unveiled in 1893 at Chicago’s World Columbian Exposition, the Ferris Wheel marveled engineers and was one of only a handful of man-made structures at the time with a height comparable to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. Circles in the Sky delivers a genuine story of how marvelous works of civil engineering can serve as symbols of progress, uniting scores of people behind a single nationalistic accomplishment. This book also highlights a unique time in civil engineering history, when engineers were pushing the limits of what was possible with structural design. Remarkable 19th-century projects, like the Ferris Wheel, helped to set the stage for 20th-century civil engineering, and by studying this book, civil engineering students can develop a sound appreciation for the overarching history of modern civil and structural engineering.

Man of Iron: Thomas Telford and the Building of Britain by Julian Glover

Man of Iron is a biographical novel, written to portray the lifetime achievements of the renowned civil engineer, Thomas Telford. Telford is remembered for his role in modernizing British infrastructure during the time of the Industrial Revolution, as well as in designing the road networks, tunnels, and canals that proved to be instrumental in the ongoing development of Great Britain’s economy during the late 1700s and early 1800s. Many of Telford’s works contributed greatly to the foundation of Great Britain’s industry-driven Victorian era. Telford’s strong work ethic, revolutionary vision, and admirable sense of ambition are portrayed vividly through Julian Glover’s in-depth examination of the massive British engineering ventures that Telford played a key role in creating, such as the Conwy Suspension Bridge. Reading this biography can give civil engineering students and professionals an opportunity to pay homage to a great historical engineer while also learning more about the methods he used to create some of the most significant engineering projects in British history—projects that helped shape the overall progression of 20th-century civil engineering theories and practices.

Strength of Materials: Mechanics of Solids by R.S. Khurmi

In Strength of Materials: Mechanics of Solids, R.S. Khurmi highlights the concepts that relate to the external application of a load with the internal effect it has on the material’s body while under pressure. Before one can understand the true strength of a material, they must understand the strength and flexibility characteristics of that material by testing it in a lab. in this book, Khurmi breaks down the most commonly used tests for observing and measuring the specific effects of certain forces on each component material. He also covers the subject of the mechanics of materials, defining the analytical methods required to determine strength, stiffness, and stability of a system. While the science that allows engineers to accommodate the true strength of a material can be complicated, Khurmi incorporates detailed graphics to help readers comprehend the major concepts. As properly distributing loads is a key component of safe and efficient civil engineering, both novice and experienced engineers can benefit from studying this book.

Architecture: Form, Space & Order by Francis D.K. Ching

Architectural designers and civil engineers can use Francis D.K. Ching’s publication to supplement their knowledge on how to leverage form, space, and order in an effective and aesthetically pleasing fashion. Conventional models of these concepts are revisited within the book, but Ching approaches them with a new and engaging perspective, while also examining all major principles of architecture and structural design. Ching’s use of high-quality images, coupled with his unique style of hand-lettered text, provides a useful publication for current and future civil engineering students that are looking to further develop their understanding of architecture and structural design.

Civil Engineering Materials by Shan Somayaji

A career in civil engineering typically involves the ongoing use and analysis of a long list of approved construction materials. Through Civil Engineering Materials, Shan Somayaji conveys how these materials are sourced, their physical and mechanical properties, how they are used and tested, and the characteristics that comprise the material’s strength. Without an understanding of these concepts, the process of material selection in basic design can become troublesome for civil engineers. By referencing the illustrations and graphics, readers can develop a solid comprehension of how civil engineers select proper building materials for their projects or enhancements.

Advances in Water Resource Engineering by Chih Ted Yang & Lawrence K. Wang

In Advances in Water Resource Engineering, Chih Ted Yang and Lawrence Wang have compiled a number of valuable resources that can be used by students and professionals to gain an in-depth familiarity with the theories related to water resource systems in the engineering field. The water resource systems analyzed in this textbook include watershed sediment dynamics and modeling, integrated simulation of interactive surface water, river channel stabilizations, reservoir sedimentation, fluvial processes, hydraulic modeling development, geophysical methods for the assessment of earthen dams, and soil erosion. Depending on one’s specialization, an education in civil engineering may lead to a career interacting with water resources and environmental projects, making Advances in Water Resource Engineering an essential read.

The Tower and the Bridge: The New Art of Structural Engineering by David P. Billington

Within The Tower and the Bridge, David Billington, a Princeton professor and leading researcher in the engineering field, examines the design and rehabilitation of bridges, concrete dams, and tall buildings. Specifically, Billington highlights that a number of impressive structures designed by talented engineers—ranging from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Eiffel Tower—blend architecture, civil engineering, art, and machine design into a relatively new form of design: structural art. Billington defines structural art as a category of engineering that goes beyond pure functionality and explores design themes that are both aesthetically pleasing, technically sophisticated, and culturally significant. Students and professionals looking to develop a more creative perspective of civil engineering that can embody the spirit of an era should analyze the work and expertise that Billington provides in The Tower and the Bridge.

Civil engineering is a field that is growing to accommodate the increased need for safe structures and facilities that serve the many interests of the public. Not only are engineering techniques evolving and becoming more complex, the field is gradually incorporating artwork, innovation, and creativity. Developing a holistic perspective of civil engineering and being able to hone one’s skills in a particular area of interest requires a thorough understanding of the fundamentals. To help with this process, civil engineers can analyze the research, theories, and methods provided in the aforementioned publications.

Learn More

As the nation’s oldest private military college, Norwich University has been a leader in innovative education since 1819. Through its online programs, Norwich delivers relevant and applicable curricula that allow its students to make a positive impact on their places of work and their communities.

Norwich University offers exceptional opportunities to help advance your knowledge, target your skills, and gain greater proficiency as a professional civil engineer. The online Master of Civil Engineering program at Norwich University is designed to enhance your technical knowledge, management skills and engineering competence by delivering a modern, practice-orientated education that fosters creativity and critical thinking for problem-solving and innovation.

Recommended Readings:
Introduction to Soil Mechanics
What is a Megastructure?


Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down, AbeBooks.com

Principles of Foundation Engineering, AbeBooks.com

Architecture: Form, Space, & Order, 4th Edition, Wiley

The Tower and the Bridge: The New Art of Structural Engineering, Princeton University Press

Advances in Water Resources Engineering, Springer

ARCHITECTURE Form, Space, & Order Third Edition ARCHITECTURE Form, Space, & Order Third Edition, Academia

Civil Engineering Materials, Pearson

Earthquakes and Engineers: An International History, American Society of Civil Engineers

Books: Man of Iron: Thomas Telford and the Building of Britain by Julian Glover, The Times

The Civil Engineering Handbook, 2nd Edition, CRC Press

Learn More Today

Complete the form on the next page to request more information about our online programs.

Request Info