Civil engineering is a profession that applies the basic principles of science, in conjunction with mathematical and computational tools, to solve problems associated with developing and sustaining civilized life on our planet.
Civil engineering is one of the broader of the engineering disciplines both in terms of the range of problems that fall within its purview and in the range of knowledge required to solve those problems. Civil engineering works are generally one-of-a-kind projects, they are often grand in scale, and they usually require cooperation among professionals of many different disciplines. The completion of a civil engineering project involves the solution of technical problems in which uncertainty of information and myriad nontechnical factors often play a significant role. Some of the most common examples of civil engineering works include bridges, buildings, dams, airports, highways, tunnels, and water distribution systems. Civil engineers are concerned with flood control, landslides, air and water pollution, and the design of facilities to withstand earthquakes and other natural hazards.
The civil engineering program comprises seven main disciplines: construction engineering and management, construction materials engineering, environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, environmental hydrology and hydraulics, structural engineering, and transportation engineering. Although each discipline has its own special body of knowledge and engineering tools, they all rely on the same fundamental core principles. Civil engineering projects often draw expertise from many of these disciplines.
For the Degree of Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering
The civil engineering curriculum is designed to develop engineers who have a strong background in mathematics and science, engineers who are articulate, and engineers who understand the nature of their special role in society and the impact of their work on the progress of civilization. The curriculum is designed to guarantee a certain breadth of knowledge of the civil engineering disciplines through a set of core courses and to ensure depth and focus in certain disciplines through primary and secondary areas of specialization. The curriculum develops the basic engineering tools necessary to solve problems in the field of civil engineering.
The curriculum requires 128 hours and is organized into required courses, math and science electives, civil engineering technical courses, and other electives. The first two years of study for undergraduate students build the base needed for the civil and environmental engineering education: students take physics, math, chemistry, theoretical and applied mechanics, and some general engineering courses. Students can also take several electives at this time. The last two years of study involve primarily civil and environmental engineering courses. Students elect a major and secondary area of concentration within the department. Details of the curriculum are contained in the Civil Engineering Undergraduate Handbook.
Program Educational Objectives
The program educational objectives for the civil engineering program reflect the mission of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the importance placed on successful professional practice, the ability to pursue advanced degrees, the assumption of professional and societal leadership roles, and a commitment to lifelong learning. University of Illinois Civil and Environmental Engineering graduates will:
1. Successfully enter the civil and environmental engineering profession as practicing engineers and consultants with prominent companies and organizations in diverse areas that include structural, transportation, geotechnical, materials, environmental, and hydrologic engineering; construction management; or other related or emerging fields.
2. Pursue graduate education and research at major research universities in civil and environmental engineering, and related fields.
3. Pursue professional licensure.
4. Advance to leadership positions in the profession.
5. Engage in continued learning through professional development.
6. Participate in and contribute to professional societies and community services.
Civil and Environmental Engineering Career Paths
The career paths available to the civil engineer are many and varied and can involve a wide range of activities, tools, situations, clients, and venues—from conceptual design of facilities that do not yet exist to forensic study of facilities that have failed to perform as expected, from advanced simulation of complex systems to the management of people and projects, and from private consulting to public service. The civil engineer must be as well prepared for a career that traverses this considerable professional breadth as for a career focused on a single professional activity. The civil engineering curriculum is designed specifically to meet this educational challenge by emphasizing fundamental knowledge, transferable skills, and lifelong learning.
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