Department of Civil Engineering

Patricia J. S. Colberg, Department Chair (104 Buchanan Engineering Laboratory 83844-1022; phone 208-885-5041). Faculty: Ahmed Abdel-Rahim, Fouad M. Bayomy, Kevin Chang, Erik R. Coats, Fritz R. Fiedler, Peter Goodwin, Ahmed Ibrahim, S.J. Jung, Emad Kassem, Chyr Pyng (Jim) Liou, Michael Lowry, Richard J. Nielsen, Sunil Sharma, Daniele Tonina, Elowyn Yager.

Civil Engineering consists of the application of scientific principles to the design, construction, and maintenance of public and private works that constitute the infrastructure for human populations. From a historical aspect, the pyramids of Egypt, the water resources systems that supported the agricultural society of ancient Babylonia and Assyria, the public buildings of Greece and Rome, the roads that linked the Roman Empire, and the railroads and barge canals of the early United States were all civil engineering projects that served the people of their times. Today's civil engineers are still involved in building and maintaining the infrastructure necessary for modern society to function. A civil engineer may be involved in the design and construction of highways, bridges, buildings, water conveyance systems, water and wastewater treatment plants, dams, airports, and other constructed projects. Civil engineers may also be involved in planning for traffic controls, flood plain management, remediation of contaminated soils or groundwater, and water and air quality management. The graduates of civil engineering programs may work with consulting engineering firms, governmental agencies, construction contractors, or manufacturing industries.

In the foreseeable future, population growth and relocation should create a steady demand for infrastructure growth. The concept of environmentally sensitive and resource sustainable development is emerging as the tenet for future growth. Civil engineers will have to apply evolving technologies and develop innovative solutions to ensure wise stewardship of our limited natural resources. Students who enter civil engineering can anticipate a challenging and rewarding career.

Lower-division courses in civil engineering consist of a common core of basic courses in science, mathematics, and engineering required of most students within the college. Required course work in the junior and senior years provides the student with a broad background in civil engineering subjects while 18 credits of technical electives permit some specialization at the undergraduate level. For civil engineering student interest in geology, there is an option to complete a minor in Geologic Engineering.

The Department of Civil Engineering occupies the first floor of the Buchanan Engineering Laboratory Building with some additional office and laboratory spaces in the basement and on the second floor of the building. Maintenance and replacement of existing equipment is provided by funds from research projects, from alumni donations, from lab fees, and from state educational funds. Instructional and research equipment include modern computing and data acquisition equipment.

The Department offers three graduate degree programs in civil engineering: (1) Master of Science (30 credits, with thesis), (2) Master of Engineering (33 credits, non-thesis), and (3) Doctor of Philosophy. It also offers the Master of Science in Geological Engineering. Course work requirements in each of the degree programs are relatively flexible depending on student interest and course availability. Financial assistance is available on a competitive basis in the form of teaching and research assistantships. Students interested in graduate studies should select a specialty area in which they wish to study. Foreign students must have a TOEFL score of at least 550 for admission to any departmental graduate degree program.

Graduate study is offered with specialization in structures and structural mechanics, highway and pavement materials, geotechnical engineering, transportation, hydraulics, ecohydrology and water resources, geological engineering and environmental engineering. Interdisciplinary programs of study are encouraged for interested students. As examples, students specializing in environmental engineering may do considerable work in chemical engineering or microbiology, while specialization in geotechnical engineering may involve study in geology or mining engineering.

The mission of the Department of Civil Engineering is to provide a high quality education at both the undergraduate and graduate level, emphasizing the needs of Idaho and the region. The goals and objectives of the program include graduating students that will be: (1) competent in the fundamentals of engineering, (2) capable of designing and describing civil engineering systems and processes (3) aware of the social and economic implications of engineered projects, and (4) responsible, ethical, and committed to life-long learning. Additionally, the department is committed to:  (1) maintaining experienced, professional instructors (all are licensed professional engineers), modern facilities, and close interaction between the department and the professional engineering community in Idaho, (2) extending the knowledge base in civil engineering through research, continuing education, technology transfer, and professional practice, and (3) providing these services in the most cost effective manner for both the students and the taxpayers. Progress toward these goals and objectives is assessed by student performance on the nationally administered Fundamentals of Engineering Exam, exit interviews with graduating students, surveys of graduated students and their employers, and by an external advisory committee composed of practicing civil engineers from the state and the region.

The Bachelor of Science program in Civil Engineering is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).


See the course description section for courses in Civil Engineering (CE), and Geological Engineering (GEOE).