It is the broadest of all engineering professions, encompassing activities from aerospace to urban planning. Our curriculum offers a wide selection in civil engineering courses, including courses in structural engineering, transportation engineering, environmental engineering, water resources engineering, materials, construction engineering and management, and geotechnical engineering. In their third-years students select from one of three civil engineering tracks: infrastructure engineering, environmental and water resources engineering, and structural mechanics and materials.
To learn about awards and scholarships the department awards to civil engineering undergraduates please click here (PDF).
To apply for awards and scholarships click here (PDF).
What do civil engineers do?
Civil Engineers are the fabricators of our modern society and the protectors of the quality of the environment.
They deal with people and their management, materials and their use, designs and their application, and the problems of beneficially interweaving these factors to serve society.
Civil engineering projects include environmental facilities, such as systems for water quality control, toxic and hazardous waste control, and storm water networks; structures, such as high-rise buildings, bridges, off-shore platforms, shuttle launch pads, and dams; and transportation facilities, such as airports, highways, and rail. Civil engineering has a long history and a bright future because it serves the basic needs of society.
B. S. degree holder options include:
Employment with high technology consulting firms, local, state or federal government, contractors or construction firms, public utilities or industrial corporations.
Graduate studies to pursue an area of specialty within civil engineering which can lead to more advanced employment options in government, consulting, construction or industry, and introduce new options including research and teaching.
Professional training in law, business administration or medicine.
Structural engineering involves the utilization of art and science in the planning, analysis, design, and construction of structural systems. It encompasses the areas of structural analysis and design, structural mechanics, soil mechanics, foundation design, and structural properties of materials. Typical structures of concern to the structural engineer include the traditional civil engineering structures such as buildings, bridges, highways, and dams, but also the more specialized and complex types of structures such as aircraft and space structures, nuclear containment vessels, transmission towers, and underground structures. The fundamental principles of engineering mechanics comprise the theoretical underpinning of all areas of structural engineering. Application of these principles permits the structural engineer to determine the stresses and corresponding serviceability of a structure, the geotechnical engineer to assess the engineering properties of soil and the corresponding appropriate foundation design, and the materials engineer to predict and design engineering materials with desired strength and response characteristics. While structural engineers use sophisticated mathematical models and employ digital computers extensively to perform analysis calculations, the total planning and design of a structural system requires experience and judgement as well as mathematical abilities.
Although only one part of the overall civil engineering profession, structural engineering is a broad discipline offering challenging opportunities in a diversity of career paths. The undergraduate program in civil engineering at the University of Virginia attempts to provide every student with the necessary fundamentals in structural engineering. Therefore, the student will be able to make a reasonable choice as to career preferences and will also have the necessary background to make a contribution in the chosen job, whether it be with a consulting firm, private industry, or government.
Selection of Building Materials | Mechanics of Advanced Materials
As builders of the infrastructure of society, civil engineers need a strong understanding of the property of materials as they relate to civil engineering. Properties of stress, strain, shear, and deformation are applied to a wide range of engineering materials, including metals, concrete, wood, and composites. Knowledge of these materials allow a civil engineer to select appropriate building materials. A civil engineer emphasizing this area is prepared for future study in applied mechanics.
Soil and Rock Mechanics | Foundation Engineering | Earthquake Engineering
Geotechnical Engineering focuses on the engineering behavior of earth materials such as soil and rock. Geotechnical engineering uses principles of soil mechanics and rock mechanics to investigate subsurface conditions and materials by determining the relevant physical/mechanical and chemical properties of these materials. Since most every civil engineering project is supported by the ground in some manner, geotechnical engineers interact with most of the other subareas of civil engineering. Typical geotechnical engineering projects include the design of foundations for various structures, tunneling, the design of roadway sub-grades, design of earthen dams for water storage or flood control, or the disposal of waste products by burial in the ground.
Mechanics of Fluids | Stormwater Management | Groundwater Hydrology | Water Supply | Flood Management
Water resources engineers address a wide variety of challenges related to quantities of water, ranging from providing water supply to developing communities, managing stormwater runoff in highly urbanized cities, restoring riverways, and protecting coastal communities from flooding. A successful water resource engineer uses, not only physics, mathematics, and computer modeling, but also economics, regional planning and communication. Graduates that have specialized in water resources engineering are often employed by public agencies and consulting engineering firms. Water resources courses within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering include fluid mechanics, water resources engineering, stormwater management, groundwater hydrology, hydraulics and coastal engineering. In addition, courses from complementary programs, such as environmental sciences, global development studies, and urban and regional planning are encouraged to strengthen and broaden a civil engineer’s preparation to successfully address the complex challenge of creating sustainable water resource systems.
Water and Wastewater Treatment | Environmental Chemistry | Pollutant Transport | Environmental Quality Management | Water Disposal
Environmental engineering focuses on the interface between human society and the environment. Environmental engineers seek to make the environment safe for humans, while minimizing our impact on the environment. The field addresses a wide range of natural and manmade problems that exist in both undeveloped countries and highly technological societies. An environmental engineer must be technically competent and have the ability to analyze a problem, interpret the results, and synthesize a solution that is technically, economically, socially, and politically viable. Graduates that have specialized in environmental engineering are employed by industry, environmental agencies and consulting engineering firms, and may apply their skills to a broad range of challenges, including water and wastewater treatment; toxic and hazardous waste management; solid waste management; air pollution; contaminant transport modeling; and radioactive waste disposal. Within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, students interested in environmental engineering may study water and wastewater treatment, environmental chemistry, environmental microbiology, contaminant transport, and green engineering. In addition, courses from complementary programs, such as environmental sciences, chemistry, and global development studies are encouraged to strengthen and broaden a civil engineer’s preparation to successfully address the challenges facing our environment.
Construction Engineering | Project Management and Planning | Engineering Economics
Infrastructure engineers and project managers implement designs, overseeing the construction of a wide range of structures, including highways systems, office parks, neighborhoods, and dams. Civil engineers working in this area, combine business and engineering skills. A construction engineer has the technical expertise to understand civil engineering designs, translate them into a sequence of steps, and then schedule and implement them. In the infrastructure area, engineers may work on-site overseeing the work of a large team of engineers, workers, and contractors.
In our program, students will can learn about engineering economics, computer aided design, reading designs, site planning, construction management, scheduling, and advanced concrete technology.
For students interested in careers related to construction, a coherent sequence of elective courses would be:
Arch 3271 (McDowell) – “Breaking BIM” – Provides practice and background not only in Building Information Modeling, but in visualization in general. Offered in the Fall semester – suggest taking in 3rd year.
Arch 3260 (McDowell) – “Building Matters” – Basic building materials and assemblies, and corresponding technical, financial, ethical, aesthetic issues. Offered in the Spring semester – suggest taking in 3rd year.
CE 4500 (Klotz) – “Systems and Sustainability in the Built Environment” – Includes an emphasis on collaborative processes for sustainable building projects. Offered in the Spring semester – suggest taking in 4th-year.
CE 5500 (Smith) – “Large Scale Construction Management” – The course focuses on the challenges and tools required to manage large scale construction projects. It addresses contract vehicles, delivery methods, project planning – estimating/scheduling. Offered in the Spring semester – suggest taking in 4th-year.
Design of Transportation Systems | Highway Safety and Traffic Operations | Transportation Infrastructure and Advanced Technology
Transportation engineering involves the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of large scale transportation facilities such as highways, airports, railroads, harbors, pipelines, and public transit systems. The civil engineer designs, builds and manages the infrastructure that provides for movement of both people and freight.
At the University of Virginia, undergraduate courses in transportation engineering focus on geometric design, pavement design, road user and vehicle characteristics, traffic studies and urban transportation planning. Computer methods are introduced and applied in many transportation applications. Complementary courses include probability and statistics and systems engineering courses. This transportation curriculum provides an excellent introduction to the methodology of transportation systems analysis and design.
The field of transportation engineering is comprised of two main streams of development: technology and planning. Technology is critical to the understanding of the function of the system, in predicting its performance and its costs, and in identifying alternatives in the form of fixed plant investments as well as operational changes. Planning methods are critical to long range plans and short term system management problems, such as energy shortages and air pollution.
The opportunities in transportation engineering appear to be excellent in the future. Graduates may be employed by governmental agencies, private companies, railroads, shippers or transportation consultants. The transportation program at the University of Virginia is a flexible one that will prepare the student for a wide choice of careers.
Transportation Courses for Undergraduates
There are a select number of undergraduate courses available through the Center in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Course CE 344 is required for Civil Engineering majors during their sixth semester. The remaining courses can fulfill the required electives for civil engineering students.
CE 3400 Transportation Facilities Design
CE 4400 Traffic Operations
CE 4410 Introduction to Transportation Planning
CE 4810 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Accreditation Information and Graduation Data
The Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree offered by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is accredited by the Civil Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET. Graduation data for these degree programs is included on this page that provides such information for all SEAS undergraduate degrees.
Each degree program has defined Program Educational Objectives (PEOs), which are broad statements that describe the career and professional accomplishments that the program is preparing graduates to achieve. In addition, each program has defined Student Outcomes (SOs), which are are narrower statements that describe what students are expected to know and be able to do by the time of graduation. These relate to the skills, knowledge, and behaviors that students acquire in their matriculation through the program.
Program Educational Objectives for the BSCE
To provide graduates with the technical competencies and insight necessary to practice civil engineering and have an impact on the profession and pursue professional licensure.
To provide a solid foundation for successful study at leading graduate and professional institutions.
To promote a breadth of abilities and knowledge, including quantitative and analytical skills, communication skills and social insight, to allow graduates to pursue careers in a diversity of fields including engineering, business, management, and information technology.
To prepare graduates for a lifetime of learning, for leadership, and for service to the profession and society.
Student Outcomes for the BSCE
The BS in Civil Engineering program at the University of Virginia enables students to achieve, by the time of graduation:
an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering.
an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data.
an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability.
an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams.
an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems.
an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility.
an ability to communicate effectively.
the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context.
a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning.
a knowledge of contemporary issues.
an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.
“The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at http://records.ureg.virginia.edu/index.php.”
4990 Student Design Milestones
CE 4990 is a team-based project course focusing on a design or research effort with a focus in a sub-discipline of civil and environmental engineering. Involves the study of an open-ended project, including problem formulation, development of methodology, data collection from physical experiments and/or models, analysis and interpretation, and formulation of conclusions/solutions.
Teams work together with a faculty member and his or her graduate students to carry out a research project. Each student is expected to devote a level of effort consistent with a three-hour course. As such, students should plan to spend 80 to 120 hours on CE 4990. At the end of the semester, students will create and present a poster as part of the departmental undergraduate symposium.