Civil Engineering Areas of Emphasis
The Civil Engineering program will prepare you with a solid foundation in all technical areas and requires a specialization in at least one emphasis area listed below.
A wide-ranging specialization, construction engineers use both technical and management skills to bring public and private projects to life. A construction engineer uses their technical expertise, critical thinking skills, and financial insight to determine the equipment, personnel, and methods needed to turn a blueprint into a building; a road into a highway; a vacant lot into a playground facility. Along the way, they must monitor costs, keep lines of communication open across teams of specialists, and make sure the project stays on schedule. In this satisfying and challenging career, engineers use their entire toolkit of technical knowledge and critical thinking skills every day—and no two days are the same.
Environmental engineers are the earth’s first line of defense against air and water pollution, and the people responsible for making sure cities have safe drinking water, functioning sewers, and clean air. In their daily work, environmental engineers must confront the most complex problems in public health, environmental sustainability, industrial health and safety, waste disposal, and global climate change. They use cutting-edge technology to mitigate the impacts of energy production and agriculture on surrounding ecosystems; to minimize and detoxify hazardous waste from industry; and to ensure millions in underdeveloped regions have access to clean, safe drinking water. If you want to protect the environment while positively influencing public health, environmental engineering is for you.
Geotechnical engineers dig deeper, discovering the properties and potential of the soil and rock underlying infrastructure projects. They ensure any project built on or with soil is safe from earthquakes, erosion, flooding and other natural threats. Geotechnical engineers are acutely aware of the complex ways soil, water, and geology interact to support and jeopardize our projects. From foundations to abutments, retaining walls to slopes, and landfills to levees, geotechnical engineers build the foundation of lives.
Municipal engineers keep the heart of a city beating. From streets and sidewalks to lighting and water supply, municipal engineers are working to make sure public infrastructure serves all residents smoothly and efficiently. They help design and construct public parks and cycling routes; determine the most efficient routes for bus service and garbage collection; design the infrastructure that moves people and goods efficiently around the city. From the underground utility networks that keep the lights on, to the water and sewer networks that move millions of gallons daily, municipal engineers get an up-close view of all the moving parts that most city dwellers never see. If having a backstage pass to the hidden world of a city appeals to you, consider municipal engineering.
Structural engineers shoulder a big responsibility, ensuring that a structure can withstand the forces and pressures that affect it. And since structural engineers help build everything from railroad bridges to stadiums, offshore oil rigs to skyscrapers, those forces and pressures can be titanic. Wind, water, seismic activity, and shifting loads are all challenges a structural engineer must consider. Applied mathematics and mechanics, materials science, and a detailed knowledge of design codes compose the toolkit that every structural engineer uses in their daily work, keeping people safe by keeping structures sound.
Transportation engineers keep the world moving. From timing a stoplight at a city intersection to designing the optimal route for a new light-rail system, transportation engineers must analyze usage data and create efficient solutions for ground, sea, and air travel. Within this broad and varied field, engineers use sophisticated forecasting methods to anticipate traveler needs, civil engineering theory to determine the composition and design of roadways, social science to understand how people move, and business models to predict future usage patterns—often all for the same project. From ports and harbors to the nation’s airports, transportation engineers can be found everywhere people are moving.
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