Coastal Engineer

Put up shoreline structures, like walls and jetties, to prevent erosion.

What does a Coastal Engineer do?

An engineer designs or modifies products or procedures in order to solve a problem. It makes sense, then, that a coastal engineer works on projects involving coastlines and oceans.

The problem to be solved for coastal engineers is mostly that of erosion. When ocean currents pull more sand away than they leave behind, it causes the land to disappear. This is a problem for businesses and residents who build near the shoreline.

Coastal engineers tackle this problem in two major ways: structures and designs. You use your vast knowledge of marine geology and oceanography to implement guides, blockades, and walls. These devices redirect or hold back corrosive ocean currents. For example, if you’ve ever seen a jetty protruding out into a bay, you’ve seen the design work of a coastal engineer. The jetty serves several functions, including protecting the coastline and keeping the tide from filling a waterway with sand.

The second way you handle the problem between nature and man is to design buildings that can withstand the elements. After all, building a structure which will stand in the face of wind, salt air, and hurricanes requires a different design than one scheduled for the middle of Nevada.

With any of these projects, your job is to make sound design decisions while considering the effects your designs will have on the environment (and vice versa). You visit the job site to answer questions, ensure the project stays on task and budget, and resolve any issues as they pop up.