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Power is an elusive concept, as its meaning varies with the person who uses it. For a politician, power might mean he can run roughshod over his constituents (or so he thinks). A singer might have the power to fill concert venues with his charisma and outrageous personal behavior; perhaps not so much from his questionable singing talent.

Don't worry, though, civil engineers have their own special brand of power. You can hold up the construction of a multi-million dollar building project if you see the foundation has shifted slightly due to recent torrential rains. You can ask for another public hearing to present additional environmental impact data that will likely hold up a fast-track project. You have the power—and the responsibility—to make your decisions based on safety and sound planning and construction principles. Finally, you have the power to irritate and annoy a lot of self-important people with your actions. Get ready for them to tell you about it.