Civil Engineering

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Civil engineering is a branch of engineering that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the built environment, including infrastructure such as roads, bridges, buildings, and water and sewage systems.  Civil engineers use principles of mathematics, physics, and geology to design and construct structures that are safe, functional, and sustainable.

Civil engineers work in a variety of industries, including construction, transportation, water and sewage management, and environmental consulting.  They may work in design and planning, construction management, research and development, or project management, depending on their area of specialization.


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Nomenclature & Symbols

Civil Engineering Glossary


  • Accepted Survey  -  A survey accepted by the official having cadastral survey approval authority.
  • Adjoiner  -  To owner of land which touches the land of another.
  • Angle Point  -  A point in a survey where the alinement of boundary deflects from a straight line.
  • Azimith  -  The direction of a line related to north.


  • Base Line  -  The east-west line that divides townships.
  • Bearing  -  An angle in degrees measured clockwise from north.
  • Benchmark  -  A relatively fixed point whose coordinates and elevation datum are used for leveling and construction.
  • Boundary Line  -  A line of demarcation between adjoining parcels of land.
  • Boundary Monument  -  An object placed on or near a boundary line to preserve and identify the location of the boundary line.
  • Boundary Survey  -  A mathematically closed diagram of the complete outside boundary of a site.
  • Bounds  -  A general description of buildings, property, roads, and etc. used in legal documents.
  • stopping distance 1Brake Reaction Distance  -  The distance traveled from the point of detecting a hazard until you begin braking.
  • Breaking Distance  -  the distance that a vehical travels while slowing to a complete stop.
  • Braking Distance on Grade  -  The steeper the downgrade the longer it takes to stop.  The steeper the upgrade the shorter it takes to stop.  
  • Broken Boundary  -  A series of line segments representing a boundary which is not a straight line.


  • Cement Lined Pipe  -  Pipe that is internally coated with a mortar like compound that acts as a barrier between the carbon steel pipe and the process.
  • Chaining  -  The measuring a distance using a chain or tape.
  • Clearance Length  -  The assumed distance between opposing vehicles at the end of passing maneuvers.
  • Closing Corner  -  A corner established where a survey line intersects a previous fixed boundary at a point between corners.
  • Closed Joint  -  A joint that is invisible or barely visible between two adjacent slabs or stones.
  • Column  -  A structural shape used to carry a load on its vertical axis.
  • Compass Bearing  -  Uses magnetic north as a reference point.
  • Concrete Monument Found  -  A permanent marker set by a land surveyor to reference controll points or property corners.
  • Concrete Volume  -  A mixture of gravel, Portland cement, rock and sand.

  • Corner  -  The location of intersecting boundary lines.
  • Coordinate System  -  A grid where the axes are apart 90 degrees.


  • Datum  -  An abstract coordinate system used to reference a known location.
  • Deed  -  A document that transfers title to real property.
  • Deep Well  -  A well that draws water from beneath an impermeable stratum.
  • Decision Sight Distance  -  The distance required for a driver to detect an unexpected obstacle or problem and react approperately.


  • Easement  -  The legal right to use another persons personal property.
  • Egress  -  The right to go on the land of another.
  • Equipment Location Plan  -  A drawing created to show the location of equipment relative to other pieces of equipment.
  • External Distance  -  The distance from the PI to the midpoint of the curve.


  • Footing  -  A structural member used to distribute the loads to the soil in such a way that the load bearing capacity of the soil is not exceded for building or structure foundation, walls and columns.  Footings are generally associated with shallow foundations.  Piers are normally associated with deeper foundations.
  • Found Corner  -  An existing corner on a public land survey found by a field survey.
  • Foundation  -  Supports a building or structure and transfers the load level across the soil.


  • Geodetic Survey  -  A percise survey that takes in the shape of the world.
  • Grid Bearing  -  The northwards direction along the grid lines of a map used as a reference point.
  • Grid North  -  The direction of the north-south grid lines on a state plane coordinate system.


  • Half Section  -  Containing more or less 360 acres.


  • Ingress  -  The right to enter a tract of land.
  • Initial Maneuver Distance  -  The distance traversed during the perception and reaction time and during the initial acceleration to the point of encroachment on the left lane.
  • Intersection Sight Distance  -  The corner sight distance available in intersection quadrants that allows a driver approaching an intersection to observe the actions of vehicles on the crossing leg.



  • K value  -  The horizontal distance required to achieve a 1% change in the slope of the vertical curve.


  • Landmark  -  A marker made on a permanent feature of the land like rocks, trees, etc.
  • Land Surveying  -  The act of surveying to establish the correct property description or establish land boundaries.
  • Licensed/Land Surveyor # (LS)  -


  • Magnetic Bearing  -  The direction toward the magnetic north pole as a reference point.
  • Magnetic Concrete Nail  -  Stamped on top of nail.  Makes them easier to be found by metal detectors.
  • Magnetic North  -  The direction in which a magnetic needle of a compass points.
  • Mean Sea Level  -  The average height of the surface of the sea.
  • Meridian  -  An imaginary north-south lines converging at the north and south poles.
  • Metes  -  A boundary defined by the measurement between terminal points of each straight run used in legal documents.
  • Monument  -  A permanent marker set by a land surveyor to reference controll points or property corners.




  • A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z
  • Passing Sight Distance  -  The total of all four formulas listed below.

  • Plane Coordinates  -  Coordinates that represent the location of points on a plane.
  • Platt  -  A drawing that represents the survey area such as section corners, bearings and distances, parcel numbers, mineral rights, etc.
  • Public Drainage Easement  -  Allows public utilities to acces a persons property to make any improvements to drainage as necessary.


  • Quarter Corner  -  A corner halfway between the corners of a section.
  • Quarter Section  -  Containing more or less 160 acres.


  • Right of Way  -  The legal right to cross the property of another person.


  • Section  -  Containing more or less 640 acres, a division of a township.
  • Section Corner  -  A corner at the extreme section boundary.
  • Survey  -  The field note record of measurements and observations of the work performed.


  • Township  -  A quadrangle having sides approximatelly 6 miles in length with parallels and medians.
  • Township Corner  -  A corner at the extreme township boundary that also falls on a section corner.
  • Township Line  - Boundary lines that run north and south and stop at range lines.
  • True Bearing  -  The direction toward the geographic north pole as a reference point. 
  • True North  -  A direction parallel to the earth's axis pointing to the north pole.
  • Turn Angle  -  Using an instrument to measure or set an angle.


  • Utility Easement  -  A utility company has the right to access another persons property to install, maintain, and repair without actually owning the propery.



  • Witness Corner  -  When a property corner can not be set at a corner, a witness corner is set, usually on the line at a measured distance.





Piping Designer Logo Slide 1

Display #
Algebric Difference in Grade
Brake Reaction Distance
Braking Distance
Braking Distance on Grade
Clearance Length

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