Civil & Environmental Engineering

What is Civil Engineering?

Civil Engineering is a broad discipline that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the infrastructure, such as buildings, roads, airports, railroads, bridges, water and wastewater treatment plants, landfills, dams, and canals. It is traditionally broken into several sub-disciplines including structural engineering, environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, construction engineering, materials engineering, transportation engineering, surveying, and water resources engineering. Civil engineering impacts our lives on a daily basis and at all levels: in the public sector from the municipal to the federal levels and in the private sector from individuals to international companies.

Areas of Interest

  • Construction Engineering & Management

    Construction engineering and management is focused on building our infrastructure. This discipline involves the planning and execution of construction projects while managing the project operations. Students are exposed to management principles in addition to technical knowledge necessary for successful project completion. Construction engineers and managers are involved in pre-construction process, such as estimating and preparing bids, through site preparation and scheduling of equipment operations. The use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) is increasingly common to develop 3D models of structural, mechanical and electrical systems in a building during the pre-construction phase.

  • Environmental Engineering & Water Resources

    Environmental and water resource engineers apply engineering principles and sustainable best management practices for the enhancement and protection of human health and the environment. Environmental engineers design water and wastewater treatment, wastewater collection and distribution systems, landfills, and hazardous waste treatment systems. They also assess the fate and transport of contaminants in the environment, design and apply best management practices, and develop low impact strategies to treat runoff.

    Water resources engineers analyze water supply and demand. They also plan and design canals, locks, port facilities, offshore structures, and systems such as water supply and distribution networks, urban drainage, and flood damage reduction works. Other important tasks include hydrologic analysis and modeling for predicting future availability of water and for continuous improvement of best management practices for sustainable utilization of water resources. 

  • Geotechnical & Geological Engineering

    Geotechnical and geological engineers use the principles of geology, hydraulics and structural mechanics to provide safe, economical and environmentally conscious support to civil engineering structures. They interact regularly with all areas of civil and environmental engineering and provide recommendations to benefit their designs and plans.

    Geotechnical and geological engineers must understand geology and soil deposition processes. They design and implement methods for exploring soil and rock conditions at project sites and use laboratory tests to determine soil properties. Geotechnical and geological engineers classify soil and rock for engineering purposes and implement soil compaction to create fill to support structures and highways. They predict the amount of water flow through natural ground, dams, and levees. Geotechnical engineers estimate settlement caused by the weight of buildings and calculate the bearing capacity of soil for supporting foundations. They also determine the stability of earth slopes and the soil forces on retaining walls.

  • Material Science & Engineering

    Materials form the basis of everything built and involve the study of material science and engineering at a variety of scale lengths. Within civil engineering, material science and engineering typically focus on those materials used for Infrastructure, such as Portland cement concrete, asphalt, aggregates, masonry, wood, steel, polymers and fiber-reinforced composites. Materials engineers design infrastructure materials for both strength and durability considerations, while also involving sustainability aspects in design. A great deal of analysis goes in to examining existing materials in service to maintain our existing infrastructure.

  • Structural Mechanics

    Structural mechanics is a field of engineering that deals with the understanding of the thermo-mechanical behavior of solids under different types of loads. Structural mechanics involves the evaluation of the stress and strain distributions within the solids by combining engineering and physical science concepts with mathematical, computational, and experimental techniques. Modern applications might include electrical, magnetic and chemical phenomena that could affect the structural behavior. Course topics include Mechanics of Materials, Advanced Mechanics of Materials, Elasticity, Experimental Stress Analysis, Finite Element Analysis, Continuum Mechanics, Vibrations, and Composite Materials.

  • Structural Engineering

    Structural engineers are designers and builders of all types of structures. Traditional structures include bridges, dams, large buildings, power plants, offshore platforms, and transmission towers. Other structures include aerospace vehicles (airplanes, rockets, space station), ships, and automobiles. Structural engineers analyze the forces that a structure must resist such as gravity, wind, earthquakes, and temperature and develop the combination of appropriate materials (steel, concrete, timber, masonry, etc.) needed to build such a structure. Structural engineering involves analysis and design of steel, concrete, masonry, and wood structures with particular attention to design specifications and practical considerations.

  • Transportation Engineering

    Transportation engineers are involved with the safe, rapid comfortable, convenient, economical, and environmentally compatible movement of people and materials. Transportation infrastructure including airports, highways, ports, and railways are planned, designed, and operated by transportation engineers.

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