Feb 25, 2021  
2020-2021 General Catalog 
  
2020-2021 General Catalog

Civil and Environmental Engineering


Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Academic Departments

Interim Department Head: Laurie McNeill
Location: Engineering Laboratory 262
Phone: (435) 797-2932
FAX: (435) 797-1185
E-mail: laurie.mcneill@usu.edu
WWW: http://www.cee.usu.edu/

Undergraduate Advisor:
Civil Engineering:
Engineering Advising Center, Engineering 314A, (435) 797-2705, leslie.buxton@usu.edu

Environmental Engineering:
Engineering Advising Center, Engineering 314A, (435) 797-2705, leslie.buxton@usu.edu

Graduate Advisor:
Marlo A. Bailey, Engineering Laboratory 211F, (435) 797-2783, marlo.bailey@usu.edu

Undergraduate Division Heads:
Civil Engineering:

Laurie McNeill, Engineering Laboratory 262, (435) 797-1522, laurie.mcneill@usu.edu

Environmental Engineering:
Randy Martin, Engineering 216, (435) 797-1585, randy.martin@usu.edu

Graduate Program Division Heads:
Environmental Engineering:
Randy Martin, Engineering 216, (435) 797-1585, randy.martin@usu.edu

Geotechnical Engineering:
James A. Bay, Engineering Laboratory 266, (435) 797-2947, jim.bay@usu.edu

Irrigation Engineering:
Niel Allen, Engineering 227, (435) 797-3926, n.allen@usu.edu

Structural Engineering:
Marvin W. Halling, Engineering Laboratory 264, (435) 797-3179, marv.halling@usu.edu

Water Engineering:
Bethany Neilson, Engineering 223, (435) 797-7369, bethany.neilson@usu.edu

Transportation Systems Engineering:
Ziqi Song, Engineering 234, (435) 797-9083, ziqi.song@usu.edu

Degrees offered: Bachelor of Science (BS) in Civil Engineering; BS in Environmental Engineering; Master of Engineering (ME), Master of Science (MS), Civil Engineer (CE) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Civil and Environmental Engineering; MS and PhD in Irrigation Engineering

Graduate areas of interest: Dams and Levees, Environmental Management, Environmental Engineering One Water, Environmental Engineering Science, Geotechnical, Hydraulics, Hydrology, Irrigation, River Mechanics and Modeling Requirements, Structural, and Transportation

Full details of the learning objectives, assessment plan, student outcomes, and evidence of continuous improvement for these programs of study can be found at https://engineering.usu.edu/cee/assessment/undergraduate/abet-civil for undergraduate civil programs, https://engineering.usu.edu/cee/assessment/undergraduate/abet-environmental for undergraduate environmental programs, and https://engineering.usu.edu/cee/assessment/graduate/index for graduate programs.

Undergraduate Programs

Civil Engineering

Civil Engineering is the oldest branch of the engineering field, offering graduates numerous opportunities to attain important positions which have great influence on many of humankind’s endeavors. Civil and Environmental Engineering is concerned with planning, designing, constructing, and operating various physical works; developing and utilizing natural resources in an environmentally sound manner; providing the infrastructure which supports the highest quality of life in the history of the world; and protecting public health and renovating impacted terrestrial and aquatic systems from the mismanagement of toxic and hazardous wastes. This includes designing and supervising the construction of bridges, buildings, dams, aqueducts, sport complexes, energy complexes, and other structures; irrigation and transportation systems (highways, canals, rapid transit lines, etc.); developing water resources for municipal, industrial, and recreational use; land reclamation, soil mechanics, and urban planning; and the control of water quality through water purification and proper waste treatment, as well as solving problems of air pollution and solid and hazardous waste management. Projects of this magnitude require engineers who can understand the relationships of environment, resources, and production, and who are able to design and implement programs and procedures which bring these projects into being.

The undergraduate Civil Engineering program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, www.abet.org.

Students in this program take such courses as engineering graphics, surveying, mechanics, dynamics, numerical methods, mechanics of fluids and solids, hydraulics, hydrology, soils, structural design, and legal aspects of engineering. Students entering the professional program are required to have a basic knowledge of computer skills in the areas of operating systems, spreadsheets, word processing, and a programming language. Course requirements also include basic understanding of engineering principles, analytical geometry and calculus, linear algebra, principles of chemistry and physics, and physical geology. Students are also provided with a variety of technical electives which can develop areas of specialty and competence. Passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination, the first step in becoming a licensed professional engineer, is required for graduation. Students should plan to take the exam after their junior year. Students in this program are recommended to purchase and use a graphing scientific calculator (must be able to do integration, vector mathematics, and have a numerical solver).

The Civil Engineering Program uses 7 student outcomes to support the program educational objectives (PEOs) and prepare graduates to enter the professional practice of engineering. By the time of graduation, students will have:

  1. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics
  2. an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors
  3. an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences
  4. an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts
  5. an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives
  6. an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions
  7. an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies.

The Program Educational Objectives for the Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering are that within five years:

  1. Graduates will be successfully employed in civil engineering or related careers and will become independent thinkers and effective communicators, team members, and decision makers
  2. Graduates will incorporate economic, environmental, social, ethical, and sustainability considerations into the practice of civil engineering and will promote public health and safety
  3. Graduates will engage in life-long learning by pursuing advanced degrees or additional educational opportunities through coursework, professional conferences and training, or participation in professional societies
  4. Graduates will pursue professional licensure or other appropriate certifications

Environmental Engineering

Public demand for increasingly safer environments has resulted in unprecedented demands for competent, well-trained environment engineers. Expertise must be developed to focus on protection of public health from the mismanagement of toxic and hazardous wastes, and on the management and renovation of impacted terrestrial and aquatic systems.

The undergraduate Environmental Engineering program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, www.abet.org. The program is based on a strong engineering and science foundation developed in the pre-professional program from which an environmental engineering specialty can be developed in the balance of the four-year program. The Senior Design Project required of all Environmental Engineering students will demand that they synthesize the technical information they have learned in their undergraduate program to produce creative engineering solutions to particular problems. With the breadth and depth of training involved in this program, students successfully completing this degree will be well-qualified to productively and competitively enter the environmental engineering field or a graduate environmental engineering program of their choice. Passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination, the first step in becoming a licensed professional engineer, is required for graduation. Students should plan to take the exam after their junior year. Students in this program are recommended to purchase and use a graphing scientific calculator (must be able to do integration, vector mathematics, and have a numerical solver).

The Environmental Engineering Program uses 7 student outcomes to support the program educational objectives (PEOs) and prepare graduates to enter the professional practice of engineering. By the time of graduation, students will have: 

  1. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics
  2. an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental and economic factors
  3. an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences
  4. an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts
  5. an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives
  6. an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions
  7. an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies

The Program Educational Objectives for the Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Engineering are that within five years:

  1. Graduates will be successfully employed in environmental engineering or related careers and will become independent thinkers and effective communicators, team members, and decision makers
  2. Graduates will incorporate economic, environmental, social, ethical, and sustainability considerations into the practice of environmental engineering and will promote public health and safety
  3. Graduates will engage in life-long learning by pursuing advanced degrees or additional educational opportunities through coursework, professional conferences and training, or participation in professional societies
  4. Graduates will pursue professional licensure or other appropriate certifications

Annual student enrollment and graduation data for the program are available from the USU Office of Analysis, Assessment, and Accreditation: www.usu.edu/aaa/

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering are the same as those described for the University in this catalog. Students in good standing may apply for admission to the department. In addition, students must maintain the academic requirements outlined for the College of Engineering .

University Honors Program

The University Honors Program offers students in all colleges and majors the unique opportunity to deepen their educational experience with hands-on practical applications of their academic knowledge. The Honors Program admits incoming, transfer, and existing USU students based on application. High achieving students with at least one year remaining are encouraged to apply.  See the University Honors Program catalog entry and website (honors.usu.edu) for more information.

Additional Information

For more information about Bachelor of Science requirements and the sequence in which courses should be taken, see Civil Engineering - BS  and Environmental Engineering - BS  or in the online catalog.

Concurrent BS/Master’s Program

The concurrent BS/Master’s program allows engineering students to begin taking graduate-level classes during their senior year. This permits them to complete requirements for both the BS degree and the master’s degree concurrently during two years. Students in this program have a greater selection of graduate courses, since many graduate courses are taught during alternate years. In addition, the student’s senior design project could be a start for a graduate design project or thesis. After completing their BS degree, students in the program can earn a master’s degree in only one additional year. Both the BS and the master’s degree can generally be earned with 155-159 total credits, although students should note that a Plan C MS requires 3 extra credits. Finally, students with a master’s degree can expect a much higher starting salary following graduation. (For more information, see College of Engineering .)

Graduate Programs

Admission Requirements

See general admission requirements. Admission committees consider GRE scores and experience, undergraduate record and curriculum, and formal recommendations. A student without an undergraduate civil and environmental engineering background or environmental engineering background may be required to complete selected undergraduate courses prior to admission as a fully matriculated graduate student.

Graduate Program Divisions

The graduate program in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is administered through six academic divisions, as described below.

Structural Engineering

The structural engineer is involved in the design, analysis, construction, repair, and retrofit of all types of structures. The two most common structural types are buildings and bridges.  Other structural types include towers, dams, tanks, tunnels, industrial facilities, and retaining structures. Because each of the millions of structures in the world is unique, structural engineers face demanding challenges throughout their careers.  The safety of the structures we occupy and utilize every day is the responsibility of structural engineers.  Structural engineers evaluate the loads placed on a structure, determine their effects, and select the appropriate materials and structural elements, or repair strategy, to withstand these loads. Today’s structural engineer is using new materials in the design of new structures or the retrofit of older structures.


Mathematics, physics, and material science constitute a foundation for structural engineering. Structural analysis and design add to this foundation and become the focus of the structural engineering program. Graduate students in the structures program engage in structural mechanics, numerical methods, structural dynamics, geotechnical engineering, and the study of structural materials. Examples of current research in the structures area focus on the dynamic characteristics of structures, their potential response to earthquakes, new seismic retrofit measures, the use of advanced composite materials for older structures, durability aspects of structural types and materials, and other areas. Materials research focuses on cementitious materials and constitutive modeling. Current structural research also looks at sustainability issues regarding construction and materials in order to lead growth into the future.

Geotechnical Engineering

Geotechnical engineers use engineering principles to analyze and design systems that incorporate soil or rock. Such systems include: building and bridge foundations, earth embankments, dams and levees, retaining walls, drainage systems, earthquake motion, and buried structures and pipelines.  An important part of all geotechnical engineering projects is characterizing the geology and subsurface conditions in order to define the engineering properties used in analysis and design. Site investigation often consist of exploratory borings and probes, geophysical measurements, and laboratory testing.


Undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the department provide students with a solid background in soil mechanics which is the basis of geotechnical analysis and design. The geotechnical curriculum provides a solid theoretical background balanced with practical applications for analysis and design.  This balance prepares students completing a master’s degree in geotechnical engineering for entry-level jobs, as well as preparing them to understand future developments in Geotechnical practice.


The geotechnical division has a strong research program. Research areas in the division include: internal erosion in dams and levees, risk assessment of dams and levees, stability of embankments and natural slopes, mechanically stabilized earth embankment reinforcement systems, engineering geophysics for predicting earthquake site response, and laboratory evaluation of dynamic soil properties.  

Water Engineering

The Water Engineering Program is a multidisciplinary graduate program in the College of Engineering and is intended to enable engineers and scientists interested in water to obtain graduate degrees in the areas of hydrology, irrigation, water resources engineering, fluid mechanics and hydraulics, and hydroinformatics.

Hydrology is a branch of geoscience concerned with the origin, distribution, movement, and properties of waters of the earth. This includes fluid flow and transport of contaminants in the subsurface environment. The Water Engineering Program at USU has strengths in field based, theoretical, and applied aspects of hydrology. Past and present research focuses on a broad spectrum of hydrologic problems. These range from quantifying snow distribution and melt, rainfall and infiltration processes, floods, droughts, terminal lake responses, soil erosion, and groundwater/surface water exchanges. Additionally, modeling tools have been developed and/or applied to investigate stream water quality, groundwater contamination characterization and remediation, and complete watershed responses. 

Water Resources Engineering draw principles from hydrology, fluid mechanics, hydraulics, environmental engineering, economics, ecology, political science, and other disciplines in the design and operation of projects and nonstructural methods for water resources planning and management. They need a sound understanding of how water storage, delivery, and other management systems function; of criteria used in evaluating and selecting among alternatives; of the techniques of operations research that can be used in systems design; and of the institutional aspects of decision-making in the public sector. Research in this area focuses on simulation and optimization modeling and hydroinformatics to improve the planning, design, and operation of water systems over different spatial scales (e.g., individual users or transboundary river basins). 

Fluid Mechanics and Hydraulic Engineering covers both fundamental principles and theory and their applications in a variety of engineering fields to solve societies’ water challenges. This can include theoretical fluid mechanics, hydraulic design, open channel hydraulics, fluvial hydraulics, sedimentation, transients, municipal water systems, numerical methods, and various numerical and physical modeling techniques. Current research in this area includes fundamental and applied research in hydraulic structures including flooding, sedimentation and scour, two-phase flows, failure modes, incidents, public safety, and hydraulic design; advanced instrumentation and experimental techniques; flow meters; gates and valves; energy dissipators; and hydromachinery including pumps and turbines.

Hydroinformatics is the study, design, development, and deployment of hardware and software systems for hydrologic data collection, distribution, interpretation, and analysis to aid in the understanding and management of water in the natural and built environment. Fundamental and advanced hydroinformatics concepts and procedures and current research in this area include automated data collection networks; relational databases, data models, and data management software; data storage formats, metadata, and standards; data transformations and automation of data manipulation tasks to support modeling and analysis; web based data distribution and access using web services; integrated networks of hydro-climate data; and data science techniques for hydrology and water resources engineering.

Interdisciplinary Water Programs - The water engineering and science field encompasses a broad range of interdisciplinary topics related to:

1. Fluvial systems, including ecohydraulics, river mechanics, river engineering, surface water quality, physical hydrology, and restoration of aquatic ecosystems (see River Mechanics and Modeling).

2. Dams and Levees, including fundamental and applied research topics involving hydrology, hydraulic, structural, and geotechnical engineering and risk assessments to support the planning, assessment, design, removal, and construction services of these structures (see Dams and Levees).

Environmental Engineering

The Environmental Engineering (EnvE) Program is a multidisciplinary graduate program in the College of Engineering that provides coursework and research experience for engineers and scientists interested in environmental management, one water engineering, and environmental engineering science. The EnvE Program provides an interdisciplinary educational approach to fundamental principles that can be applied to environmental phenomena. Research projects are an integral part of the program and provide the student with appropriate research experiences leading to a thesis or dissertation.


The faculty in the EnvE Program are involved in leading-edge research which reflect the program’s broad areas of emphases (https://engineering.usu.edu/cee/students/requirements/):

1.  Environmental Management

  • pollution prevention and waste minimization, hazardous material management, natural resources stewardship, environmental quality monitoring and modeling,

2.  Environmental Engineering - One Water

  • potable water and wastewater treatment, storm water treatment and management

3.  Environmental Engineering Science

  • fate, control and management of organic and inorganic pollutants across all media (air/water/soil/biota)

Irrigation Engineering

In the irrigation engineering area, USU has attained worldwide prestige through the successful professional contributions of its graduates during a period of 80 years. The CEE Department is substantially involved in state, national, overseas research and training concerning irrigation and water management. Specific research projects in the irrigation and drainage engineering option have included hydraulics of surface irrigation, consumptive use, return flow quantity and quality of irrigation waters, transient flow in tile drainage systems, drain envelopes, sprinkler irrigation, trickle irrigation, crop production and water requirements, salt movement, regional groundwater modeling for optimizing sustainable yield, conveyance system modeling and control, agriculture water optimization, and remote sensing.  https://engineering.usu.edu/explore-degrees/graduate/irrigation-engineering

What is Irrigation Engineering?
The irrigation engineering program at USU has been recognized  nationally  and  internationally based on about 80 years of education, research, training, and international outreach. Many of the prominent irrigation engineers in the United States and around the world are graduates of the USU program, and the program’s faculty continues a tradition of leadership in international development projects in countries across the globe. Projects have been conducted in Latin America, the Caribbean region, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. At USU, irrigation engineering students are exposed to classroom instruction, laboratory work in hydraulics, remote-sensing, and more. They also have the opportunity to conduct field work.

Students may study in the following areas:

  • Integrated Water Management: In this area, students study a broad range of topics related to irrigation, including the use of treated wastewater in irrigation, conjunctive use of surface and ground water, water policy, methodologies for improving water management, and many others.
  • Crop Water Requirements: Students studying crop water requirements focus on the evapotranspiration (ET) of agricultural crops and other vegetation based on weather station instrumentation, soil moisture budgets, lysimeter measurements, flux systems, such as eddy covariance and Bowen ratio, remote sensing. It is important to estimate ET to understand water requirements and to lead to improvements in water management. This sometimes also includes measurements and/or estimations of crop production.
  • Irrigation System Operation and Maintenance: This area focuses on the operation and maintenance of irrigation systems, which includes organizational development and institutional such as water users’ associations, water conservancy districts, and irrigation companies. Topics include specific procedures, operational plans, maintenance plans, and irrigation system administration.
  • Remote Sensing and Spatial Apps: This is the application of ground-based, airborne, and satellite remote-sensing technologies with Geographical Information Systems for evapotranspiration estimation, irrigation system mapping, crop identification, crop yield estimation, water balance and efficiency estimations, and many others.
  • On-farm Irrigation Methods: Students will learn to design and evaluate on-farm irrigation methods, including surface (furrows, borders, and basins) and pressurized (sprinkler and micro-irrigation) methods. This may also include other topics, such as pressure regulation, water application uniformity, water filtration, chemigation, and many others.

Transportation Engineering

The graduate program in Transportation Engineering offers education and research opportunities in transportation systems planning, design, and management. It is designed to enable aspiring planners, engineers, and managers to obtain advanced degrees while specializing in infrastructure management, traffic network analysis, facility design, traffic operations, transportation economics and finance, planning and forecasting, and project appraisal. Up-to-date computer and laboratory facilities, as well as the Transportation Division’s close links with local and state transportation agencies, enable students to gain hands-on experience and practical perspectives.

Past and present research undertaken by the Transportation Division faculty and researchers ranges from transportation network modeling, emerging mobility services, microscopic traffic flow simulation, and network reliability to traffic safety modeling, video image processing, and intelligent transportation systems. The focus remains on efficient, effective, and sustainable solutions to transportation problems.

Transportation Division course offerings expose students to the theoretical and practical aspects of goods and passenger transportation. State-of-the-art analytical tools and new research findings are introduced into the courses through periodic revision of notes, examples, problem sets, and computer software. Students are encouraged to design their own programs of study according to their personal and professional goals. Due to the multi-disciplinary nature of transportation, students are encouraged to include in their program of study course offerings from other programs in CEE, as well as from Mathematics and Statistics, Environment and Society, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, Applied Economics, Economics and Finance, Management, Marketing and Strategy, Psychology, and Sociology.

Financial Assistance

Both departmental and formal grant support are available to graduate students and are awarded on a competitive basis. Students requesting financial support should apply to the department by March 15 for the coming academic year.

A number of fellowships are available through the University and the department. Teaching assistantships are available through the department and research assistantships are available through the Utah Water Research Laboratory and departmental faculty members who have ongoing projects or who hold special research grants from the University, private companies, or state and federal agencies.

Acceptance to pursue graduate studies in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department does not guarantee the student financial assistance. Inasmuch as funds are limited, the assistantships are awarded by the department to cover specific teaching assignments and by the faculty members to provide for research as funds are available.  

FACULTY - College of Engineering 
 

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Academic Departments