Rizal was a licensed land surveyor before he took up medicine. This training enabled him to engage in civil engineering works. Among his achievements were the dam and waterworks he constructed in Dapitan in 1894 through the help of his pupils. The waterworks were built using stones, cast-off tiles, bamboo pipes, and mortar from burnt coral. He also invented a brick making machine, and a preparation of bakhaw paste, useful for roof construction because of its water resistance, fireproof and lightweight properties.
Through the help of his Jesuit teacher, Fr. Francisco de Paula Sanchez, Rizal set up a public plaza and street lighting, and constructed a huge relief map of Mindanao in front of the parish church, now declared a National Historical Landmark by the NHI and an important cultural property by the National Museum. In Talisay, he built three distinct bamboo and nipa houses -- square, hexagonal, and octagonal in shapes, which served as family residence, chicken coop, and his pupils' dormitory, respectively.