May 20, 2024  
2023-2024 Academic Catalog 
2023-2024 Academic Catalog

Civil and Environmental Engineering

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Civil Engineering (CE) is the oldest of the engineering professions, the broadest in scope, and is the parent of all other branches of engineering. The CE curriculum at VMI includes a traditional array of courses that allows graduates to pursue different sub-disciplines after graduation.

CE Curriculum

The Civil Engineering program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET,, under the commission’s General Criteria and the Program Criteria for Civil and Similarly Named Engineering Programs. It provides a broad background of courses in science, engineering, and the humanities. Graduates are prepared to enter the consulting industry, the military, the business world, or graduate and professional schools.

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, fully-promoted 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 140 credit hours of which approximately one-half are for CE courses. The non-CE courses include 16 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 Human Performance and Wellness, 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 prepared to:

1. Use their broad-based civil engineering backgrounds to perform as entry-level engineers in industry, the military, government, or other fields.
2. Enter graduate schools in engineering, work training programs, self-study programs, military service schools, or other areas such as business schools.
3. Continue the process of life-long learning as required for long-term personal and professional growth.
4. Use their communication, computer, and teamwork skills to help themselves and their employees succeed.
5. Recognize their professional and ethical responsibilities to society as members of the professional engineering community, pass the FE exam, and pursue professional licensure upon graduation;
6. Relate their personal and professional lives to moral and ethical practices.

The CEE program’s student outcomes are taken directly from the seven ABET program outcomes (1) through (7). By fulfilling the curriculum requirements for a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering, the department’s graduates will attain the following:

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.

Civil Engineering Sub-Disciplines

Because of Civil Engineering’s broad scope, cadets are required to take courses in all sub-discipline areas. Cadets are able to choose electives during their senior (First Class) year in the following Civil Engineering sub-discipline areas:

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, storm water 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 branch responsible for the design of bridges, buildings, dams, and other structures to withstand static and dynamic forces. Structural engineers determine the required size of members built out of concrete, steel, wood, and other materials. 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.

Regardless of the elective courses taken, graduates of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department (CEE) receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering.

Minimum Competency

All VMI academic departments require a minimum 2.0 GPA in the major as a requirement for graduation.

Transfer Credits

The CEE Department may, on a case by case basis, accept transfer credits for civil engineering courses completed at other institutions. The Department Head and the Registrar’s office must approve all transfer courses.

FE Exam

All CEE cadets are required to take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. The curriculum has a FE review course available for cadets to take. 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 component of its outcomes assessment process, and to support ABET accreditation. FE exam preparation and professional registration are emphasized in nearly every CEE course beginning in the first semester and continuing to graduation.

Professional Activities

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.  The CEE Department also sponsors local timber framers’ projects and regularly works with local elementary and middle school students.

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.

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 a solid foundation in math and science courses. Courses in pre-calculus are particularly important. All applicants are required to take a math placement test to determine his or her starting math course. The CE department encourages all applicants to study for the math placement test since some topics may have been covered as early as 8th or 9th grade.

Civil and Environmental Engineering Enrollment and Graduation Data

Civil Engineering Academic Year
  ‘14-15 ‘15-16 ‘16-17 ‘17-18 ‘18-19 ‘19-20 ‘20-21 ‘21-22


Undergraduate Cadets Enrolled in CE* 245


250 223 222 215 193 159 155 155
BS Degrees Awarded in CE** 56 70 70 59 53 53 51 57 42  

 *Fall Census
**July 1 - June 30

Major in Civil and Environmental Engineering



    Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    Department Head: Colonel Newhouse

    Requirements for a major in civil engineering are specified in Civil and Environmental Engineering .


    Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    Department Head: Colonel Newhouse

    Requirements for a major in Civil Engineering are specified in Civil and Environmental Engineering .

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