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Love megastructures? There’s an engineering career for you

Megastructures are redefining urbanisation and creating a world with limitless potential and a raft of engineering careers

What do the pyramids, the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower and the Sydney Harbour Bridge all have in common? They’re megastructures – pretty famous ones. Engineers designed them to make people’s lives easier and give the world something interesting to look at. Today, civil engineers are still designing and planning new infrastructure such as buildings, roads and bridges, but now they’re hyper-focused on making sure big builds are designed with the environment and sustainability in mind.

Big change

Population growth, climate change and food shortages are all putting pressure on our environment and it’s the job of civil engineers to make our buildings and structures more sustainable and less impactful. Innovations such as 3D printing and integrated design techniques using BIM (building information modelling) allow engineers to explore the best ways to reduce waste and incorporate renewable materials into their designs while they’re still at the planning stage – before construction even begins. Digital project management software can save mega costs on megabuilds too, which means less waste on the ground from start to finish. 

Housing developments in sustainable communities are being built with solar for future energy; wind turbines help to power cities; and renewable materials mean engineers can build more for less. There’s a lot going on and it’s pretty cool. 

Go green

Vertical forests like the ones used for the Bosco Verticale development in Italy and One Central Park in Sydney help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by acting as natural climate controls. And because One Central Park has its own water recycling factory on site, the plants pretty much water themselves from rainwater and greywater.

In Melbourne, the Mernda Rail Extension project committed to planting two trees for every single tree that was removed during construction. It also used materials such as rocks and logs that didn’t make the final design for equipment in the playgrounds that were built alongside community spaces, and for walking and cycling tracks at the new stations. 

Building the future

Civil engineers are coming up with exciting new ways to design the world we live in  –  the work they do helps to make it healthier (hello clean air from green buildings!), more energy efficient and more renewable, which is excellent for our future. – Pippa Duffy

Big 5

What are the megatrends for megabuilds? We’re glad you asked…

  1. Eco-friendly windows 
  2. Solar energy
  3. Zero-emission buildings
  4. Wastewater management 
  5. Using BIM


Civil engineers are the big thinkers when it comes to big builds, but they don’t do it alone. Collaboration is key. Here’s who’s on the team:

  • Architects
  • Structural engineers
  • 3D designers
  • Environmental engineers
  • Town planners
  • Project managers 

Mind blown!

Engineers built an earthquake-proof bridge in Greece and it’s EPIC!

Start your career here

Engineering + Megastructures + study

Engineering + Megastructures + jobs

*Salaries according to

This article first appeared in Careers with STEM: Engineering 2023.


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