Civil and Environmental Engineering


The role of civil and environmental engineers, in the broadest sense, is to apply science and technology to develop sustainable solutions to meet society's needs. Civil engineers plan, design, construct, and operate infrastructure used daily by the public and industry, such as buildings, transportation networks, and water and wastewater systems. Civil engineers also work to protect public health and the environment. They work at the intersection of the built, natural, and information environments. Today's civil and environmental engineers are also called upon by government and industry to provide leadership on complex technical and societal issues such as demands for infrastructure improvement, remediation of hazardous waste sites, energy production, transmission and use, climate change adaptation, provision of safe drinking water, and incorporation of environmental safeguards in new infrastructure designs.

Civil and environmental engineering requires broad technical training and strong communication skills because of the complexity of large projects and the interactions with engineers in other fields, lawyers, public officials, and stakeholders. Carnegie Mellon's curriculum provides this versatility for professional practice in civil and environmental engineering and as a strong foundation for other professional pursuits.

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering offers a wide spectrum of opportunities for entry into the engineering profession, for graduate education in engineering, or entry into various other graduate and professional fields, including business, law, and medicine. While maintaining its emphasis on the fundamental understanding of the behavior of constructed facilities through the application of the physical sciences, biology, mathematics, and computing, the curriculum has continually evolved in directions that exploit advances in technology. The curriculum introduces the methods of engineering design in the first year and continues to emphasize them throughout the curriculum in both traditional and open-ended project-oriented courses.

Central to the evolution of technology and its impact on engineering practice is the modern emphasis on the use of computers in engineering. Several courses on computer methods are required in the curriculum, and most courses offered by the department require the use of computers in applications of either analysis or design.

Our curriculum emphasizes the development of scientific inquiry in the context of applications in civil and environmental engineering. Graduates who wish to enter the engineering profession directly in such specialties as structural engineering, construction engineering, or environmental engineering, this approach to teaching allows application of the most advanced technological developments. Others who wish to pursue graduate study are prepared to engage in research on the highest level, either in traditional specialties or in emerging fields such as smart infrastructure, climate change adaptation, and micromechanics.

The Civil Engineering curriculum is intended to allow ample opportunity for students to pursue areas of personal interest. A student may choose to concentrate in a specialty area in civil engineering, to pursue a minor in one of the designated minor programs offered in the College of Engineering, or to pursue an additional major. Information on these options follows the description of the curriculum in this section. Students are encouraged to participate in research with department faculty members, explore their chosen field through internships, and take advantage of opportunities to study abroad and be exposed to other cultures.

In addition to providing a solid technical foundation, the program emphasizes the development of professional skills. We incorporate design and team experiences throughout in the curriculum, and provide appropriate hands on experience in laboratory courses and projects. Students also get multiple opportunities to practice and improve their communication skills through written and oral reports.