Consulting engineering and the role of the modern Engineer

Consulting engineering and the role of the modern Engineer

The term consulting engineering is broad as it encompasses a variety of specialisations and subcategories of expertise within the engineering sphere.

The construction project goes to various stages during the project’s lifecycle. Monitoring the construction work or reviewing the project’s administration are necessary to ensure that the work is being performed satisfactorily and correctly.

For the benefit of this article, let us try and break it down into stages and functionalities.

The role of engineering and the engineer

The origin of the word engineer is from the Latin word “ingeniator” also meaning the ingenious one. Leonardo Da Vinci was once celebrated as an engineer and even given the title of Ingenare Generale.

Managing the operational aspects of an engineering project means the engineer needs to have planning, design and development experience. They also need the technical skills and hands-on expertise to manage these aspects of the project.

Consulting engineers generally work in project teams within a consulting engineering firm or company with the objective of delivering services to the client. Given the multidisciplinary nature and size of many such projects, they need to coordinate or manage teams to ensure effective project delivery. For this, leadership skills and operational expertise will be at the forefront of the project’s requirements.

For the planning and design phases, ensuring that they have a clear picture of what the project is about is vital. Then, in terms of any future modifications or rehabilitation of the public or private infrastructure project, an understanding of the various stages of the deliverables should be framed within the project’s timeline.

In the FIDIC context, the Consulting Engineer is a registered professional with the technical specialisation who can handle the operational aspects of running the engineering project, including project overview and budget planning. Often, this person would work with project team members who would also have their own specialisations and roles. Teamwork or at least, collaboration with others, necessitates coordinating and planning activities that fit into the various segments of the project’s lifeline. Sometimes, this may also mean delegating and managing the work to be done by the team members.

Some Consulting Engineers are externally hired to support the project. Aside from offering their technical knowledge and experience, they could also provide an unbiased, external view of the project. This is similar to providing an audit or industry benchmark for the project’s work.

Depending on the type and size of the project, the Consulting Engineers would have the expertise to supervise the construction project, deliver innovative results to problems that may arise and provide support through each phase of the process.

FIDIC believes in the importance of promoting and maintaining industry standards. These are entrenched in its core values of Quality, Integrity and Sustainability. Each of these values go hand in hand to ensuring the project is successful and efficient. For instance, sustainability ensures that the risks to the infrastructure assets and services are predicted early and mitigated against, while quality ensures that the standard of excellence is assured when the project is completed and delivered.

The benefits of engineering 

The role which engineers play in modern day construction and engineering works cannot be underestimated. While today’s modern construction and engineering advancement point to a future where there will be more reliance on technology such as AI, there can be no doubt that the human element will remain foremost in any project.

In addition, the financial viability and sustainability of the project can be impacted by the decisions taken during the entirety of the project and for this reason, consistent supervision is essential. Indeed, the consulting engineer’s engineering knowledge, as well as their managerial expertise better enable them to assure the project’s success from its inception to the completion.

Given the complexities of some construction projects, it is critical that the consulting engineer is authorised to address and manage competing priorities, provide inputs on matters such as cost variation assessments, point out the potential weaknesses in the planning stage and efficiently delegate tasks to team members to better manage the outcome.  

A Consulting Engineer must be qualified and able to understand the technical jargon, while at the same time, demonstrate their experience in managing on-site issues which others may not necessarily be capable of handling as efficiently. For optimising deliverables, it goes without saying that an understanding of the business, as well as its financial and administrative implications are also critical for managing the project.

It is important to mention here that 4 March marks the World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development. This date commemorates the role and impact of engineers working around the world.  It also raises awareness of engineering achievements which over the course of several decades, have helped to make aspects of our lives easier and more efficient. World Engineering Day is a UNESCO International Day which annually celebrates engineers and engineering. You can find out more by visiting their website.

Certification and the FIDIC philosophy

Engineering and technology go hand in hand in helping build a better world for all. As they gain more hands on experience or skills, engineers build on their expertise which they can use in the future to improve their work and uphold the industry standards.

FIDIC believes it is critical to enhance the capacity within the consulting engineering sector. To this effect, through the FIDIC Academy and FIDIC Credentialing, FIDIC provides the engineers and those working in the construction and global infrastructure sectors, the possibility to learn, broaden their experience and showcase that they have the skillsets very much needed in the industry.

In particular, certification provides an excellent means for qualified professionals to have their skills and knowledge tested and validated in a comprehensive manner. By gaining a FIDIC certification, a professional working in the industry would not only gain an international qualification from a world leader but would have access to new networks and better career opportunities – all the while improving the engineering profession as a whole.

To find out how you too can become a FIDIC Certified Consulting Engineer, head over to our programme’s webpage. Applications for this certification exams is currently open, but it will close on 3 April 2024.

It is also worth mentioning at this point that in honour of World Engineering Day, FIDIC Credentialing is offering a special time-bound promotion. To find out more, keep an eye out on our social media platforms and follow us. You can also send us an email if you require more information.

We look forward to certifying you in 2024 and being a part of your professional success.

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