The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering offers a B.S. in civil engineering. Students also have the option of a concentration in environmental engineering.
The efforts of civil and environmental engineers help to define the quality of life around the world through both public and private enterprises. The work of civil and environmental engineers interacts with many aspects of society, including water resources, environmental sanitation, intermodal transportation, structures and many other parts of the infrastructure of modern life. These projects help promote public safety, foster economic and community development and raise the standard of living for populations across the globe.
A career in civil and environmental engineering can often offer both personal and professional fulfillment and opportunities for public stewardship.
Within the undergraduate program, students can specialize in several areas.
The skills of environmental engineers are required to help protect the fragile resources of our planet and promote the sustainability of our lifestyles and our economies. Environmental engineers apply physical, chemical, and biological processes to design systems to destroy toxic substances, remove pollutants from water, manage non-hazardous solid waste, eliminate contaminants from the air, and develop drinking water supplies. In this field, engineers are called upon to design treatment facilities to produce clean water of municipal, agricultural, commercial and industrial use as well as clean the water created by these segments of society. They remove hazardous materials from groundwater and soil, prevent air pollution, model and protect receiving waters, and manage solid wastes.
As a construction engineer, you will be a builder of our future. The construction phase of a project represents the first tangible result of a design. Using your technical and management skills, you will help turn designs into reality — on time and within budget. Construction engineers must project costs, manage risks, model project schedules, allocate materials, supervise personnel, and interact with clients. You will apply your knowledge of construction methods and equipment, along with principles of financing, planning, and managing, to turn engineering designs, sometimes yours and sometimes those of other engineers, into successful facilities.
Almost every infrastructure system is in, on, or constructed from earthen materials. Facilities built in the earth include tunnels, deep foundations, and pipelines. Highway pavements and buildings are supported by earth while dams, levees, and embankments are constructed with it. Also, the same skills are used to manage and safely dispose of soil-like wastes. To design these facilities, geotechnical engineers must conduct analyses based on the principles of mechanics and mathematics. These analyses require input data to quantify the properties of the earth materials. This information is usually obtained from experimentation in laboratory and field tests and subsequent modeling of materials, systems, and design approaches to improve soil performance at minimum costs.
Man-made materials are often required to insure longevity and design performance of engineering infrastructure. The materials may be made of asphalt, concrete, timber, or synthetic composites. The materials engineer designs these materials to produce physical, chemical, and biological properties needed for an engineered system. Materials engineers use their expertise to design asphalt pavements that will not rut in summer, crack in winter, spall in wet weather, or degrade biologically or photo-chemically. Using cement, stone, and chemicals, they create concretes that cure in hours or have strengths five time stronger than any of the parts. Using timber and plastics they develop systems that are renewable, functional and cost efficient for commercial and industrial applications.
As a structural engineer, you will face the challenge of analyzing and designing structures to ensure that they safely perform their purpose. They must support their own weight and resist dynamic environmental loads such as hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards, and floods. Stadiums, arenas, skyscrapers, offshore oil structures, space platforms, amusement park rides, bridges, office buildings, and homes are a few of the many types of projects in which structural engineers are involved. You will develop and utilize knowledge of the properties and behaviors of steel, concrete, aluminum, timber, and plastic as well as new and exotic materials. To make certain that the plans are being followed, you will often be on the construction site inspecting and verifying the work.
Because the quality of a community is directly related to the quality of its transportation system, your function as a transportation engineer will be to move people, goods, and materials safely and efficiently. Your challenge will be to find ways to meet the increasing travel needs on land, air and sea. You will design, construct, and maintain all types of facilities, including highways, railroads, airfields, and ports. An important part of transportation engineering is to upgrade our transportation capability by improving traffic control and mass transit systems, and by introducing high-speed trains, people movers, and other new transportation methods.
As a professional in this area, you will be concerned with all the aspects of the development of a community. Analyzing a variety of information will help you coordinate projects, such as projecting street patterns, identifying park and recreation areas, design and location of infrastructure (water, sewer, gas, electricity, and communications) and determining areas for industrial and residential growth. To ensure ready access to your community, coordination with other authorities may be required to integrate freeways, airports, and other related facilities. Successful coordination of a project will require you to be people-oriented as well as technically knowledgeable.
Water is essential to our lives. Water resources engineers deal with issues concerning the quality and quantity of water. They help prevent floods and manage water supplies for cities, industry and agriculture. They model the disposal of treated wastewater, erosion of beaches, and the movement of rivers. You might be involved in the design, construction, or maintenance of hydroelectric power facilities, canals, dams, pipelines, pumping stations, locks, or seaport facilities. In short, they help insure that water is available for our needs while protecting us from the potential damage it can do to our communities and the infrastructure essential for normal life.