Civil Engineering (CE) is the oldest of the engineering professions and the broadest in scope. It is the parent of all other branches of engineering. The CE curriculum at VMI includes a traditional array of courses that permit our graduates to pursue any of the specialty areas in Civil Engineering.
Civil Engineering Sub-Disciplines
Because of Civil Engineering’s broad scope, cadets can choose to concentrate their studies in one of several of the subdisciplines of Civil Engineering or they may select courses across all topic areas for a more general focus. The following seven Civil Engineering sub-disciplines are available to cadets at VMI:
Construction Management is the application of engineering to time, material, labor, cost, and quality management of construction projects including the complex coordination of construction events, conformance with design specifications, and design and contract modifications to meet project-specific field conditions. Examples are highways and sports stadiums.
Environmental Engineering encompasses a wide spectrum of activities to help protect human health and promote environmental quality. Issues addressed include air quality and air pollution, municipal and industrial solid waste, hazardous waste, risk assessment, soil and groundwater contamination, water and wastewater treatment, water quality monitoring and protection, and others. Examples are clean rivers and clear air.
Fluid Mechanics & Hydraulic Engineering address the properties and analysis of fluids for applications in static and dynamic systems such as pressure on immersed objects, hydraulic machinery such as pumps and turbines and conveyance of water and other fluids. Examples are submarines and hydroelectric power plants.
Geotechnical Engineering involves soil and its properties relevant to groundwater flow, bearing capacity for foundations, settlement and compaction, slope stability, tunneling and mining, and a variety of other issues associated with activities on or below the ground surface. An example is the “Leaning Tower of Pisa.”
Hydrology & Water Resources Engineering focuses on surface and groundwater quantity and supply, stormwater runoff and control, canals and river channels, reservoirs, flood control, irrigation supply, water policy, and many other related activities. Examples are Hoover Dam and the Colorado River.
Structural Engineering is the understanding of material properties and static and dynamic forces that affect structures built on a framework of concrete, steel, wood, and other materials. Structural engineering is the basis for anything that is built. Examples are skyscrapers and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Transportation & Planning Engineering applies to the efficient movement of people and goods by planning, designing, building, and maintaining facilities such as highway, rail, airport, and mass transit systems. These systems are the infrastructure backbone of much of the developed world’s economy. Examples are the U.S. interstate highway system and your local mass transit system.
Suggested course selections for each of the seven Civil Engineering concentrations available to cadets are outlined here . Regardless of the specific concentration or course mix selected, graduates of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department (CEE) receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering.
The CE curriculum, which is approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), provides a broad background of courses in science, engineering, and the humanities. Graduates are prepared to enter engineering or business directly or to continue their education in graduate school.
Opportunities are available for independent study during both the academic year and the summer. The department conducts a program of undergraduate research based upon the interests and qualifications of individual cadets supported by the advice and guidance of the experienced faculty. All of our full time faculty have Ph.D. degrees and are registered professional engineers.
Laboratory experience is vital to the education of an engineer and the departmental laboratories are equipped with a wide array of both instructional and commercial testing devices. Each cadet participates in laboratory work that demonstrates principles, develops skills, and provides experience with current methods in testing and measurement.
The CE curriculum includes 139 credit hours of which approximately one-half are for CE courses. The non-CE courses include 13 credit hours of mathematics, 12 credit hours of chemistry and physics, and 12 credit hours of required English and history. Other credit hours are required for ROTC and physical education, and 6 credit hours are required for approved civilizations and cultures electives. A current list of these is available from the Civil and Environmental Engineering office.
The CEE program’s educational objectives are to produce graduates who are:
- able to analyze and design CE components and systems;
- committed to life-long learning;
- able to communicate effectively both in written and oral forms;
- able to work well in team situations and contribute to the success of an organization; and
- committed to moral and ethical practices.
The CEE program’s student outcomes are taken directly from the 11 ABET program outcomes (a) through (k). By fulfilling the curriculum requirements for a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering, the department’s graduates will attain the following:
- 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 multi-disciplinary teams;
- an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems;
- an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
- an ability to communicate effectively;
- a 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.
All VMI academic departments require a minimum 2.0 GPA in the major as a requirement for graduation. To demonstrate minimum competency in CE, the CEE Department applies the following criteria to compute the 2.0 GPA in the major: 1) any CEE course can be repeated a single time and the repeat grade will be used in the GPA calculation; 2) a maximum of two “D” grades in CEE can be applied toward graduation and included in the GPA calculation.
The CEE Department may, on a case by case basis, accept transfer credits for civil engineering courses completed at other institutions.
All CEE cadets are required to take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. Cadets are required to take a FE review course during the eighth semester if they fail the October exam. Passing the FE exam is important to future career advancement in CE, as the exam represents the first step in registration as a professional engineer. The CEE Department uses the FE exam as a significant component of its outcomes assessment process, and to support ABET accreditation. Fundamentals of Engineering exam preparation and professional registration are emphasized in nearly every CEE course beginning in the first semester and continuing to graduation.
The VMI Student Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) serves as the focal point of professional activities for our cadets. Eligible CEE cadets are inducted into the national engineering honor society, Tau Beta Pi, which recognizes cadets for academic excellence and leadership characteristics.
High School Preparation
Applicants considering CE as a choice of major may best prepare in high school by taking the full college preparatory program augmented by as many mathematics and science courses as their schedules permit. Courses in pre-calculus and calculus are particularly important.