Civil engineers design and supervise the construction of the buildings and infrastructure that make up our world: roads, bridges, tunnels, skyscrapers, transit systems, water treatment facilities, and offshore structures. They are problem solvers meeting the challenges of pollution, clean drinking water, climate change, energy and transportation needs, urban development, and community planning for the megacities of the 21st century.
As a civil engineer, you could help to build a school that could withstand an earthquake, a road system that puts an end to chronic traffic jams, or a sports stadium that offers everyone a great view. You could also work on geotechnical field design projects and evaluate the soils, ground water, and environmental conditions that impact construction. Civil engineers have made possible some of most spectacular and high-profile of all engineering feats, including the world’s tallest building, Taipei 101 in Asia, and 31-mile Chunnel which runs beneath the English Channel.
Curious about the classes you'll take as a civil engineering major? Have a look at the sample undergraduate curriculum.
CU- Boulder’s civil engineering undergraduate program emphasizes open-ended problems, global awareness, and undergraduate research. The program is characterized by a high degree of faculty-student interactions, both inside and outside the classroom. Many students participate in service -learning opportunities, including working on international engineering projects through the Engineering for Developing Communities program and non-profit organization Engineers Without Borders-USA, founded by CU Professor Bernard Amadei. Students also can gain professional exposure through student chapters of the Associated General Contractors, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the Society of Environmental Engineers on campus.
Civil engineering concentrations at the undergraduate level include Construction Engineering and Management, Environmental Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, Structural Engineering and Structural Mechanics, and Water Resource Engineering. All of these concentrations also are available at the graduate level along with the addition of Building Systems. There are also options to pursue tracks in Engineering for Developing Communities and Engineering Sciences.
The CEAE department is home to state-of-the-art laboratories that allow for testing related to earthquakes, water quality, soil behavior, environmental transport, and more. In addition to working in our laboratories, some of our undergraduate students have recently conducted field research work in appropriate technologies for water quality for developing communities, highway construction safety, and structural applications for disaster management after earthquakes. Undergraduate students are encouraged to pursue research opportunities through independent study, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, the Discovery Learning Apprenticeship program, or research assistantships with faculty.
Most civil engineers are employed in engineering consulting firms or state or federal governmental agencies. They also are employed in construction, public utilities, transportation, mining, business consulting, software development, and manufacturing. CU graduates can be found at companies such as Mortenson Construction, Accenture, S.A. Miro, Inc., J.R. Harris & Co., Tetra Tech, Halliburton, RJH Consultants, URS Corporation, J.R. Butler, McCarthy Building, and INTERA.
About 20 percent of CU-Boulder engineering bachelor’s graduates (college-wide) continue onto graduate school, gaining admittance to top schools such as MIT, Princeton, Harvard, Cornell, Stanford, University of California Berkeley, and the University of Texas at Austin.
Civil engineers are expected to have a faster than average growth rate, with employment projected to increase 24 percent through 2018. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
The average salary nationally for civil engineering graduates with a bachelor's degree in 2010 was $50,560; CU-Boulder graduates with a bachelor's degree reported an average starting offer of $50,021.