Will AI Take Over Civil Engineering?

This article explores how artificial intelligence (AI) could potentially take over civil engineering jobs such as designing structures or monitoring infrastructure.

Will AI Take Over Civil Engineering?

Just as our jobs have moved and changed today since the new technology was introduced, there will also be changes for the jobs of the future. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and generative design can replace part of the need for designers, draftsmen, engineers, etc., but our work will move to new areas with as much potential as before. You should see the software used by most private consultancies, some seem straight out of the 90s. If you look at something like autonomous cars, Google, Tesla and others have invested billions of dollars in the last 20 years.

Systems have just reached runtime level 4.Tier 5 full autonomy is somewhere in the not-too-near future. In the grand scheme, driving is a relatively simple task. There are well-structured rules that leave relatively little room for interpretation. Civil engineering is different because the rules are often not so clear.

In addition, the work involves judgment, creativity and person-to-person coordination. Even things like automating masonry construction, something you think would be easy, isn't at all. However, driving, at least in the system in which we intend to implement it, is a very complex task to automate because the system has to learn to account for a myriad of potential situations that do not conform to those well-structured rules. Because instead of replacing our transport system with autonomous vehicles, we want to integrate them with us even on the roads.

And there is simply no way to account 100% for human behavior, we are erratic and make stupid decisions constantly. Therefore, the code needed to try to tell us becomes very complex and can have errors, hence the driving problems of AI in the real world. Maybe some aspects for the job, but AI can't make the necessary engineering decisions, especially in the ever-changing field that is civil engineering. At least, in our lives and for the foreseeable future.

Real design is only part of the process. There is also coating and project management. My experience (not in civil, but in another engineering stream) is that the design is intended solely to show the intent of the design and then make sure that it is installed to perform as intended. Once onsite, a million changes take place and the engineer is not there to make sure that it is 100% compliant with the design, but rather that it complies with the intention.

There will be negotiations around change orders where contractors will not submit one cost if they are allowed to charge for another, etc. It's very difficult to program in AI. I wouldn't worry about that in my life or even in the lives of my children. As someone has already pointed out, many of us use 30-year-old technology on a daily basis, and even when advanced AI technology is advancing, it is more of a complementary tool than a human replacement.

This would mean that the civil engineer could spend more time designing, optimizing and working with the customer to make sure everyone is happy. For civil engineers, imagine a world where AI automatically prepares survey data and lays the foundation for a new CAD site. The leading Civil 3D design software seems to have a team of 3 people dedicated to it that has never made a real plan. This interactive dashboard also allows civil engineers to anticipate anything that may be dangerous and make better decisions regarding worker safety.

In terms of incorporating machine learning into the BIM process, civil engineers can create building plans, floor plan designs, and more. We strongly believe that the continuous application of artificial intelligence in civil engineering will drive a fundamental change in improvements in the construction sector. However, machine learning in civil engineering is what steals the show, as it lays the foundation for most intelligent techniques in construction. That's why civil engineering companies are turning to machine learning and data science consulting to help with the construction and design of roads, bridges, and other infrastructure projects.

Certainly, given that the field of civil engineering is one of the largest consumer bases and has a value of billions of dollars a year, incorporating artificial intelligence helps solve many problems experienced in optimizing design, estimating and identifying parameters, and detecting damage in a sector that remains critically underutilized. AI in civil engineering took center stage a long time ago with the advent of complex constructions such as skyscrapers. There are several ways AI could be implemented in civil engineering from designing and analyzing structures to monitoring and maintaining infrastructure. AI provides an opportunity to collect more accurate data from real-world context models to help civil engineers identify potential hazards in construction processes.

BIM tools help civil engineers make it easier to create and design more accurate 3D models before construction work begins. Learning algorithms that employ characteristics from completed projects allow civil engineers to predict cost overruns and forecast realistic timelines for existing projects.