It is well known that in all civilizations, construction, alongside other activities such as mining and the treatment of metals, was carried out for both utility and convenience, as well as for civil representativity and military purposes.
For centuries, the art and science behind construction remained inseparable but in the Renaissance era, a new category of professionals would emerge: the engineers. It encompassed both the inventors and the users of the devices that were indiscriminately employed in numerous activities such as industry, agriculture, among many others, including warfare.
The technical and scientific training of these new professionals started by being held in the schools where the art of war was taught. This training used fortifications as means of defence and the devices as weapons of war.
In our country, the distinction between designer and builder within the aspects of architecture and engineering - civil and military - and the separation of the respective schools, would follow in the footsteps of other countries such as France, where the École des Ponts et Chaussées and the École des Beaux Arts were created. The first was responsible for the training of senior public works executives and the second for awarding Architecture diplomas.
The technical evolution alongside the resulting industrial development and, later on, the introduction and generalization of electricity, led to the distinction of the various branches of engineering: mechanical, electrical, chemical, etc. All of them emerging from the foundations of civil engineering - which continued to adhere to the traditional disciplines like the Strength of materials, Hydraulics, Civil Construction, Roads, Railways and Canals and Seaports.
The teaching of military engineering in Portugal began at the Royal College of Nobles (1766) in Lisbon, which gave rise to the Royal Academy of Fortification, Artillery and Drawing (1790) and later to the Polytechnic and Army Schools (1837). In the city of Porto, technical education would start at the Royal Academy of Navy and Commerce (1785) and then at the Polytechnic Academy which succeeded it (1833).
According to an 1885 reform, the Polytechnic Academy started teaching the Engineering of Public Works, Mining Engineering and Industrial Engineering courses, as well as the Superior Course of Commerce. In addition, it ministered the preparatory courses for the Army and Naval Schools and Medicine and Pharmacy courses, along with its counterpart in Lisbon and the University of Coimbra.
With the higher education restructuring of 1911, the Polytechnic Academy of Porto would turn into the Faculty of Sciences to which the pre-existing engineering courses migrated. It was only in 1915 that these courses would be autonomous, giving rise to the Technical Faculty, which in turn would be transformed into the current Faculty of Engineering. The courses of Civil, Mining, Metallurgical, Mechanical, Electrical and Chemical-Industrial Engineering professed here would be preDECed by preparatory courses obtained at the Faculties of Sciences, until these were ultimately transferred to the Faculty of Engineering in 1975.
The University Autonomy Law institutionalized the organization of FEUP’s numerous departments, as provided for by FEUP’s Statutes. The Department of Civil Engineering was formed out of the former Civil Constructions, Roads and Railways and Hydraulics groups. The first DEC regulation dates back to February 1991 and with it, the current Statutes of FEUP. This regulation was replaced by a new one approved on the 20th March 2002 by the Department of Civil Engineering Council.