Areas of Study
Graduate students may choose to concentrate on a specific area within the field of civil engineering.
Environmental engineering is the branch of civil engineering concerned with protecting humans and the environment from adverse factors usually resulting from human activities. Environmental engineers design and supervise systems to provide safe drinking water and to collect and treat waste water. They work to prevent and control water and air pollution, manage solid wastes, and mitigate the effects of existing pollution.
Geotechnical engineering involves the study of the engineering behavior of soil and rock and the application of these properties to the design and construction of structures on, or made from, soil and rock, Geotechnical engineers work with foundations ranging from shallow to deep to underwater. They design and build earth and rock dams, tunnels, retaining walls, deep excavations, and embankments.
Geotechnical engineers also study the effects of earthquakes and other earth forces on man-made structures. Geotechnical engineering has assumed an increasing importance by cooperating with environmental engineering in the containment and disposal of wastes and in the cleanup of hazardous wastes.
Water Resources and Hydraulic Engineering
Water resources engineering is concerned with all aspects of the physical control of water. Water is analyzed to predict and prevent floods, protect beaches, construct and maintain coastal facilities, and to provide a water supply for the use of people. Hydraulic engineers then provide delivery of water to the appropriate location via any means from a short culvert to a large water supply system.
Structural engineering involves the planning and design of all types of buildings, bridged, power plants, equipment supports, offshore structures, transmission towers, and even space stations. Structural engineers analyze the forces that a structure must resist (its own weight, wind, earthquake, and loads placed upon the structure, etc.). Design is done in cooperation with architects and other engineers.
Transportation engineers are involved in the safe and efficient movement of people and goods. They plan, design, and maintain all sorts of transportation facilities, including highways, streets, mass transit systems of all types, railroads, airports, and ports. They work closely with urban planners in the planning and management aspects of transportation engineering, since the quality of life in any community is directly related to the quality of the transportation system.