Edward J. Ricer, 78, a retired civil engineer who worked in the Philippines and the Middle East as well as on numerous construction posts in the United States, died Saturday at Montgomery General Hospital following a heart attack. He lived in Rockville.

Mr. Ricer, who was born in New York City, earned a degree in civil engineering at Rutgers University. He was a civil engineer for various companies in the New York area until 1946, when he went to the Philippines as a civilian attached to the Army. His work there concerned the reconstruction of war damage in the islands.

In 1949, he went back to New York. In 1956, he went to the Middle East. He worked in Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon and Iraq, where he was an adviser to the Industrial Bank of Iraq and the government of Iraq.

Mr. Ricer returned to the United States in 1958 and later worked in Boston. He lived in New York from 1969 until 1975, when he moved to the Washington area and became the chief cost estimator for the NUS Corp. He retired in 1978.

Survivors include his wife, Anne E. Ricer, of Squantum, Mass.; a daughter, Air Force Sgt. Anne T. Ricer of George Air Force Base, Calif., and a sister, Marguerite McCall of Ventura, Calif.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Heart Association.