Architecture, engineering and construction

From ArticleWorld

Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) describes all computer-assisted applications in architecture, civil engineering, energy engineering, steeling and equipment construction as well as factory and office planning.

The term is used for CAD/CAM applications, as well as certain administrative tasks and advertising of products, placing of orders and their monitoring.

Fields of use

  • Architecture
  • Building engineering
  • Civil engineering and Infrastructure
  • Construction
  • Mapping and Surveying
  • Roads and Highways
  • Water and Sewer systems


In the architecture, engineering and construction industries, the usage of computers for visualization can cover the complete lifecycle of a product. This lifecycle will begin from the presentation of initial ideas to the last stages of production. Computer visualization may also extend to maintenance issues.

3-D simulations are created from paper sketches at the very beginning of the design process. These simulations can then be used to compare and evaluate different design options, and to check the integrity of the design as it progresses. This concept of 3-D modeling is not limited to physical objects but may extend to the representation of abstract data sets like those obtained from performance assessment or Computation Fluid Dynamics (CFD) applications.


Looking at the history of Architecture, Engineering and Construction, it can be concluded that till the Second World War, most building were erected with a small differentiation of materials. The most commonly used materials included bricks for walls, natural stone for floors and facades, plaster in the interior and exterior, and wood for floors, roofs, stairs, doors and windows. In addition to this, structures were usually based on huge load bearing systems with direct descent of loads. Post-beam was used rarely, because it required the expensive use of concrete which wasn’t so common at the time.

After the Second World War, architects had to deal with the enormous increase of new construction parameters all developing for everyday use such as:

  • building physics control
  • fire safety concepts
  • considerations of sustainable exploitation of materials for buildings
  • safety of execution on-site, in addition to that of exploitation

The amount of materials increased, and designers got involved in such complexity that they could not explain any details of their own conceived buildings. Teaching construction and tectonics became a major subject to educate architects. Since the 1970s, computers began to be used to aid in architectural design. This was met with resistance in many universities and teaching institutes before being slowly accepted. The first commercial application of computer visualization for architecture took place in large companies in the automotive and aerospace industries, as well as in electronics.

Computer technology has evolved dramatically since the 1970s. In the beginning, with 2-D images, the use of computers was typically limited to producing drawings similar to hand-drafted ones. Advances in programming and computer hardware, notably solid modeling in the 1980s, have allowed more versatile applications of computers in design activities.