Civil Engineering Interview Questions

1)    Difference between seepage, infiltration and percolation.
          Seepage - When water enters the ground surface at the upstream side of a retaining structure like a dam and comes out at the downstream side.
         Infiltration - When water enters the ground surface but doesn't come out, thus increasing the moisture content of the soil.
        Percolation - When water enters the ground surface and travels through the soil to finally join the ground water reserves.

Civil Engineering Interview Questions

2) Under-Reinforced vs Over-Reinforced sections in beam design.
         Under-Reinforced structures fail by the failure of steel which is ductile in nature. Hence the failure is gradual and ductile and presents itself with sufficient warning.
         Though Over-Reinforced structures have a greater load bearing capacity than the former, they fail by the failure of concrete which is brittle. Hence the failure is usually sudden.

 3)What are some quick tests to differentiate between silt and clay in the field?
         Dilatancy test - A wet soil sample placed in the palm of the hand is shaken rapidly. In case of silt, water will be reflected on the palm on account of greater permeability.
          Dispersion test - A small quantity of soil is added in a glass of water. If soil settles in a few minutes(10-15 minutes), it is silt. If a turbid suspension is formed its clay.

 4) What advantage does an arch have over a beam?
        An arched structure carries less bending moment than a beam structure for the same loading and span. A part of the moment due to vertical loading is offset by the horizontal thrust in case of arches.
       For a parabolic arch subjected to a uniformly distributed load, bending moment is zero at every section of the arch.

5)Describe briefly the various methods of concrete curing.
Curing is the process of maintaining the moisture and temperature conditions for freshly deployed concrete. This is done for small duration of time to allow the hardening of concrete. The methods that are involved in saving the shrinkage of the concrete includes:
(a) Spraying of water: on walls, and columns can be cured by sprinkling water.
(b) Wet covering of surface: can be cured by using the surface with wet gunny bags or straw
(c) Ponding: the horizontal surfaces including the slab and floors can be cured by stagnating the water.
(d) Steam curing: of pre-fabricated concrete units steam can be cured by passing it over the units that are under closed chambers. It allows faster curing process and results in faster recovery.
(e) Application of curing compounds: compounds having calcium chloride can be applied on curing surface. This keeps the surface wet for a very long time.

6)What do you understand by “preset” during the installation process of bridge bearings?
During the installation of bridge bearings the size of the upper plates is reduced to save the material costs. This process is known as preset. Generally the upper bearing plate comprises of the following components:
> Length of bearing
> 2 x irreversible movement.
> 2 x reversible movement.
The bearing initially is placed right in the middle point of the upper bearing plate. No directional effects of irreversible movement is considered. But since the irreversible movement usually takes place in one direction only the displaced direction is placed away from the midpoint. In such cases the length of the upper plate is equal to the length of the length of the bearing + irreversible movement + 2 x reversible movement.

7)Why are steel plates inserted inside bearings in elastomeric bearings?
In order to make a elastomeric bearing act/ function as a soft spring it should be made to allow it to bulge laterally and also the stiffness compression can be increased by simply increasing the limiting amount of the lateral bulging. In many cases in order to increase the compression stiffness of the bearing the usage of metal plates is made. Once steel plates are included in the bearings the freedom of the bulge is restricted dramatically, also the deflection of the bearing is reduced as compared to a bearing without the presence of steel plates. The tensile stresses of the bearings are induced into the steel plates. But the presence of the metal plates does not affect the shear stiffness of the bearings.

8)What reinforcements are used in the process of prestressing?
The major types of reinforcements used in prestressing are:
> Spalling Reinforcement: The spalling stresses leads to stress behind the loaded area of the anchor blocks. This results in the breaking off of the surface concrete. The most likely causes of such types of stresses are Poisson`s effects strain interoperability or by the stress trajectory shapes.
> Equilibrium reinforcements: This type of reinforcements are required where several anchorages exist where the prestressing loads are applied in a sequential manner.
> Bursting Reinforcements: These kinds of stresses occur in cases where the stress trajectories are concave towards the line of action of load. In order to reduce such stresses reinforcements in the form of bursting is required.

9) In the design of bridge arguments what considerations should be made to select the orientation of the wing walls?
Some of the most common arrangements of wing walls in cases of bridge arguments are as follows:
> Wing walls parallel to abutments: This method is considered to take least amount of time to build and is simple as well. But on the downside this method is not the most economical. The advantage of this type of design being that they cause the least amount of disturbance to the slope embankment.
> Wing walls at an angle to abutments: This design method is considered to be the most economical in terms of material cost.
> Wing walls perpendicular to abutments: The characteristic of this design is it provides an alignment continuous with the bridge decks lending a support to the parapets.

10) In case if concrete box girder bridges how is the number of cells determined?
When the depth of a box girder bridge exceed 1/6th or 1/5th of the bridge width then the design recommended is that of a single cell box girder bridge. But in case the depth of the bridge is lower than 1/6th of the bridge width then a twin-cell or in some cases multiple cell is the preferred choice. One should also note that even in the cases of wider bridges where there depths are comparatively low the number of cells should be minimized. This is so as there is noticeably not much improvement in the transverse load distribution when the number of cells of the box girder is higher than three or more.

11) Under what circumstances should pot bearings be used instead of elastomeric bearings?
Pot bearings are preferred over elastomeric bearings in situations where there are chances of high vertical loads in combinations of very large angle of rotations. Elastomeric bearings always require a large bearing surface so that a compression is maintained between the contact surfaces in between the piers and the bearings. This is not possible to maintained in high load and rotation environment. Also the usage of elastomeric bearings leads to the uneven distribution of stress on the piers. This results in some highly induced stresses to be targeted at the piers henceforth damaging them. Due to the above reasons pot bearings are preferred over elastomeric bearings in such cases.

12)Why should pumping be not used in case of concreting works?
During the pumping operation the pump exerted pressure must overcome any friction between the pumping pipes and the concrete, also the weight of the concrete and the pressure head when the concrete is placed above the pumps. Since only water is pump able, all the pressure generated is by the water that is present in the concrete. The major problem due to pumping are segregation effects and bleeding. In order to rectify and reduce these effects, generally the proportion of the cement is increased in order to increase the cohesion , which leads to the reduction of segregation and bleeding. Also if a proper selection of the aggregate grading can vastly improve the concrete pump ability.

13) Why should curing not be done by ponding and polythene sheets?
The primary purpose of curing is to reduce the heat loss of concrete that is freshly placed to the atmosphere and in order to reduce the temperature gradient across the cross-section of the concrete. Ponding is not preferred for curing as this method of thermal curing is greatly affected by cold winds. In addition to that in ponding large amounts of water is used and has to be disposed off from the construction sites. Polythene sheets are used on the basis that it creates an airtight environment around the concrete surface henceforth reducing the chances of evaporation over fresh concrete surfaces. But the usage of polythene can be a drawback as it can be easily blown away by winds and also the water lost by self-desiccation cannot be replenished

14) What are the different type of slump test indications?
Slump tests are performed to empirically measure the workability of fresh concrete. It is used to measure the consistency of the concrete. In general there are three different types of slumps that occur in slump tests. They are as follows:
> True Slump
> Shear Slump
> Collapse Slump
True Slump: This type of slump is characterized by the general drop of the concrete mass evenly without visible signs of deterioration or disintegration.
Shear Slump: It indicates that the concrete mix is deficient in cohesion. This type of slump leads to segregation and bleeding. Henceforth in the long run effecting the durability of the concrete.
Collapse Slump: This type of slump is indicates that the mix of concrete is simply too wet. The mix is considered to be harsh and lean.

15) Why is propping required for long structures once the formwork is removed?
Once the process of concreting is performed the striking of the formworks should be done as soon as possible as delay in this process can lead to the discoloration of the concrete structures. In case of long structures particularly long span structures once the structures have attained enough strength to support themselves it is essential to provide them with propping as creep deflection can take place which can greatly reduce the integrity of the structure. Due to the above mentioned reasons propping should be done after the removal of formwork. Also the props should not be made to stand long as it can lead to overstress for the structures.

16) Explain the mechanism of cavitations in pipes and drains?
The formation of air bubbles in a fluid due to low pressure conditions lower than the saturation pressure is known as cavitations. This is considered to be a high potential damage condition where the strength and durability of the pipes can be greatly reduced. Cavitation works on the principle of Bernoulli's Equation. When fluids are at high velocities the pressure head of fluids reduce accordingly. But since the fluid pressure is lower than the saturation pressure the dissolved gases get released from the flowing fluid. These air bubbles suddenly collapse on entering a region of high pressure. This leads to the damage of the pipelines as a high level of dynamic pressure is created.

17)For what purpose bedding is used under storm water drains, explain?
Beddings are primarily made up of granular or concrete materials. They are primarily used for the following purposes:
> They are used to provide a more uniform support for the under pipes so that the bending moment longitudinally can be reduced greatly.
> In order to enable the pipes to get more load-supporting strength.
> They are also used to act as a platform to achieve a more correct alignment and level pre and post construction.
> In case of pipes which contain spigot and socket joints, it enables pipes to get supported along pipe lengths in place of sockets. Otherwise it can lead to uneven stress being induced on the pipes eventually damaging it.

18) Why are pull-out tests performed for soil nails?
Pull out tests are performed for primarily the following reasons:
> In order to detect and the verification of the bond strength among the soil and the grout adopted during the design of soil nails. This is considered to be as the primary objective of performing pull out tests for soil nails.
> For the detection of any slippage or occurrence of creeps.
> To detect the elastic and deformations (plastic) of any of the test nails employed. Observations are made during the loading and unloading cycles of the soil nails repetitively.
> To achieve the perfect balance the test nails should always be loaded so that the ultimate soil/grout mixture with an upper limit of 80%.

19 )Describe briefly the advantages and disadvantages of using plastic and timber fenders?
The advantages and disadvantages of using plastic fenders are as follows:
Plastic fenders are low in strength with a relatively high resistance to abrasion. Plastic fenders are resistant to chemical and biological attacks. Plastic fenders have moderate energy absorption capacity. The berthing reactions are also comparatively moderate and depends on the point of contact. Also since they are made from recycled material they are environmental friendly.
The advantages and disadvantages of using timber fenders are:
timber fenders are low in strength and are very susceptible to marine borer attacks and rotting. The energy absorption capacity is very low. Also generally the contact pressure between the vessels and the fender are high.

20)Explain why concrete barriers have curved surface profiles?
The concrete safety fencings are made to contain vehicles in their carriageway being travelled so as to reduce the chances of rebounding into the roads leading to more hazards. In the case of normal fencings upon vehicle crashes the fencings give away so as to absorb as much energy as possible henceforth reducing the impact on the vehicles. But in the case of concrete barriers their purpose is not to absorb energy of vehicles crashing into the barrier but to retain them. They have a curved design so as to allow the vehicles that hit them to slightly go up on the barrier but not overturn. They also prevent the vehicle from again getting back on the road by rebounds. This helps in vastly reducing the chances of other vehicle hazards.

21)Why is the use of granular sub-base in concrete carriageways not preferred, explain?
Some of the reasons why granular sub-base is not preferred in concrete carriageways:
> Sub bases are permeable and hence water can seep through them easily. The soil particles get pumped out through the joints on the application of traffic loads. This results in the creation of voids underneath the pavement structure. This leads to the weakening of the concrete surface and it can crack easily upon intense traffic loads.
> Instead if lean concrete is used for carriageways it greatly increases the strength of the roads and the load carrying capacity of the roads is increased.
> Sub-bases implementation requires a lot of workmanship which can lead to an un-uniform distribution of the sub-base. This can lead to the cracking of the carriageway when there is severe traffic loading.

22) Why are separation membranes used between concrete pavement slab and sub-base?
The purpose of separation membrane between the concrete pavement slab and the sub-base are as follows:
> The separation membrane reduces the frictional forces between the concrete slabs and the sub-base. The membrane aids the movement of the concrete slab in reference to the sub-base when changes in the level of the moisture and temperature occurs.
> It aids in the segregation of sub-base materials from freshly placed concrete.
> The separation membrane also helps in the reduction of cement and water loss in the form of immature concrete. Immature concrete greatly affects the strength of the concrete. It also affects the durability of it.
A good example of a separation membranes is polythene sheeting which is commonly used.

23)In the roof of a pumping station explain briefly the components of a waterproofing system.
The components of a typical waterproofing system on the roof of a pumping station are as follows:
> Right above the structural finish level of the roof ( concrete ) a uniform thickness screed is applied so as to facilitate the application of the waterproofing membrane. The surface provide for the membrane should always possess good cohesion properties and must be thin so as to prevent any un-uniformity. This thin layer also acts as a layer of thermal insulation.
> Right above this layer the waterproofing membrane is deployed to secure the water tightness of the roof.
> In order to enhance the thermal insulation of the roof an insulation board is sometime placed right above the waterproof membrane. The insulation board helps in the maintenance of a stable temperature in both weathers.

24) During reclamation how can the occurrence of mud waves can be rectified?
There are several solution to the rectification of the problem of mud waves:
> Complete removal of all the disturbed mud: This method can be considered to be one of the fastest methods. As soon as the disturbed mud is removed some filling material is used to replace the disturbed mud. But economically this method can be expensive as compared to others.
> Accelerated consolidation of disturbed mud: In this method surcharging loads are placed on top of the mud waves. Along with this band drains are installed to accelerate the consolidation process. This method is quite slow compared to the other methods.
> Partial removal of the disturbed mud: This method is the hybrid of the above two methods where the top layer is removed whereas the lower level is treated with the surcharging process.

25) In reclamation works what are the importance of geotextiles and sand?
The primary purposes of geotextiles and sand in reclamation works are as follows:
> Geotextiles: They are used to separate the marine mud from the reclamation fill. Also geotextiles are used as reinforcements in reclamation processes to increase its stability. It is still debated as to whether the usage of geotextiles is better or are the old processes followed are better as the performance has not been comparable to the conventional methods.
> Sand: In reclamation process sand is used to spread the load of any future public dumps placed on top of it. Sand also acts as a drainage for the excess pore water pressure of band drain installations.

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