I have finished my masters in GIS in August 2009. Since then I have been working full time. My background is in Civil engineering. I do not know many people from similar background getting into this field. I truly want to learn GIS applications used in my field. I have been listening to few podcasts (Esri, Geospatial) that barely keeps me up with rapidly changing GIS technology. I hoping one day I could start a consulting business of mine own.

Anyway, the question that I want to ask is where can acquire more knowledge related to my field? Do most us acquire GIS knowledge by attending seminars, online courses, webniars, and carrying out projects at work? I would love to get some responses.

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    Desktop Software Applications: Inside Buildings AutoDesk AutoCAD - Outside Buildings ESRI ArcGIS - FME to convert between the two.
    – Mapperz
    Jan 6, 2012 at 15:01
  • and Autocad Map3d has "some" fme in it and does it's own convert in-between. but still fme adds way more to the pile.
    – Brad Nesom
    Jan 6, 2012 at 15:16

4 Answers 4


Here is an interesting article titled Applications and Issues of GIS as Tool for Civil Engineering Modeling in the Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering that talks about using GIS to model storm water pollution, sediment transport, solid waste collection, seismic slope stability, and a few more.

To answer your questions:

  1. Where to acquire more knowledge in your field? On the job, training courses, conferences, professional societies - anywhere you can mingle with folks in your field.
  2. Where to acquire GIS knowledge? Alot of the same answers as above. Hands-on experience is invaluable. Get to know people in your field and find out what they are working on. Don't be afraid to contact article authors and ask them about their work - most people love to talk about what they are working on. Good connections can lead to great opportunities.

AutoCAD Civil 3D

I am not a Civil Engineer but I have used this to assist in designing a road according to provincial parameters (Ontario, Canada). Very powerful and geared towards "civil engineers, drafters, designers, and technicians working on transportation design, land development, and water projects."

I now work for a mining company and our Civil Engineering consultants use this software almost exclusively. A traditional GIS such as ESRI ArcGIS can be helpful to a degree but when it comes to a professional Civil Engineering designs, Civil 3D might be the software you want to learn.

I would recommend traditional training courses, start with AotoCAD basics, then focus on specializing in Civil 3D. Books with self-paced step by step instructions are good too.

Here is a link to Civil 3D Learning Resources

  • and has map3d in it also. so plenty of GIS functionality right in the civil engineering software.
    – Brad Nesom
    Jan 6, 2012 at 16:08

My GIS knowledge started between 5pm and 6am. I picked up books and software and burned the oil until I got an understanding.
Since then I have tried to always keep "tools" in my tool belt that will accomplish what the customer needed.
I would venture to say that in your job you have probably delivered products that once ingested into the primary project, had a need to be converted to GIS.
I say that because if you build a GIS project there is a need for engineering data, and if you build an engineering project there is a need for GIS data.
Put tools into your toolbelt that will help with what you know is going to happen.
People are going to ask you to change maps, and people are going to ask you to convert data.
Scraping or gleening data from the most unexpected sources is a great tool.
For instance grabbing a powerpoint, converting to hi-res image, geo-referencing, converting to vector data, and plotting with other existing data can blow the socks off of your boss and his customers.


I am a civil engineer with a masters degree in Water Resources, I truly believe that GIS has gotten very "scary" to the general audience, just as CAD did some 30 years ago. I would like to point out that CAD is definitely much more complex of a platform than a GIS platform is.

So what is GIS?

A) A georeferenced object representation ie.(point, arc, image)

B) A table or "metadata" ,which I find that it is a very scary word, that is attached to the object.

The different tools and "layerized" cutting, combining, intersecting, etc. generate queries which are just a "what happens if?" and are not in essence part of the platform. Some existed in CAD well before, like layers, surfaces ie. ("Triangular Irregular Networks"or .tin files which are older than I am. I am 40 right now and I think that contours are older than me, so no a .tin file is in no way part of the GIS mumbo-jumbo**s***

I truly believe that out of all the civil engineering applications, it is the Water Resources, Environmental Engineering and Tranportation Engineering that have benefited the most out of GIS. And in that order!

Particularly, Hydrology in which an H&H study or more specifically the physical "characterization" of a watershed is virtually an automatic routine in GIS and prior to GIS, it was one of the most tedious and challenging routines by hand. For that reason H&H studies cost half of what they did 10 years ago. Hydrology is one of the most "deceptively easy" tasks a civil engineer may find. Hydraulics is very simple and completely objective. Like all other civil engineering tasks which are relatively simple and they are all coded, which lets you sleep easy and not worrying if the building is going to collapse!!! A rapidly scoured bridge pile cap can happen while you blink and is not fun. I became a hydrologist because my aunt and uncle died during a storm in which a scoured bridge collapsed in the highway Apparently I took it very seriously and personal!

AA tip: Please do not think that big all inclusive gis platforms will last long. There are a lot of applications in gis that if you are not involved in the particular field, will never know of. These are being developed by graduate students ... do not waste your time and learn python instead. That is the cornerstone of this thing.

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