What is Civil and Environmental Engineering?

The Civil Engineering profession is concerned with the built environment. Civil engineers plan, design, and construct major facilities, including highways, transit systems, airports, dams, water and wastewater treatment systems, tunnels, energy facilities, harbors, canals, buildings, and bridges. Civil engineers manage our air, water, and energy resources and protect society from natural catastrophes, such as earthquakes, and the hazards society itself generates in the form of toxic wastes.

Because these functions are often crucial to the day-to-day lives of most people and the facilities involved are physically substantial, civil engineers bear an important responsibility to the public. Their role is often more than just technical, requiring also a high degree of communicative skills and an ability to deal with people.

Civil engineers can be found in industry, consulting firms, and government. This is one of the few areas of engineering in which the engineer often deals directly with the public and public agencies in every phase of major infrastructural projects.

Our Civil & Environmental Engineering Department offers specialization in environmental, geotechnical, structural, transportation, and water resources engineering.

Environmental Engineering involves sustainable design for the control and protection of the environment and its resources. Environmental engineers design systems for water quality and treatment, wastewater treatment, hazardous waste management and treatment and control of air pollutants.

Geotechnical Engineering encompasses the areas of soil mechanics and foundation engineering. It is concerned with design and construction of structures built on or below the ground surface and the physical characteristics of soil and rocks or composite material. Geotechnical engineering includes the design of foundations of bridges and buildings, design of tunnels and dams, and the geological factors affecting all structures.

Structural Engineering includes the design of all types of structures including buildings, dams, bridges and tunnels and the monitoring of their construction. A primary concern of structural engineers is predicting the loads that a structure will have to resist during its life and ensuring that it will be both safe and useful.

Transportation Engineering deals with the planning, design, construction and operation of highways, railways, air transportation systems, and their terminals.  Transportation engineers are involved in the total transportation system, including the planning, design, implementation, administration, management, and performance evaluation. Highway engineering and traffic engineering are subfields of transportation engineering that involve highway design, traffic operations, and highway safety.

Water Resources Engineering involves flood control, harbor and river development and water quantity management. It also includes hydrology, which encompasses the occurrence, distribution, movement and properties of the waters of the Earth and their environmental relationships.

Useful links:



Environmental Engineering

Geotechnical Engineering

Structural Engineering

Water Resources Engineering

Transportation Engineering


CEE Speaker Series Kicked off the Year with “Robust Design of Geotechnical Systems in Urban Environments”

Tue, October 29, 2019

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) kicked off its speaker series with “Robust Design of Geotechnical Systems in Urban Environments” by guest lecturer Dr. Lei Wang of the University of the District of Columbia.Read More >>

Meet Bison STEM Scholar Cameryn Burnette

Wed, May 29, 2019

Born at Fort Hood military base in Killeen, Texas into a Howard family, Civil and Environmental Engineering Rising Sophomore Cameryn Burnette was always inclined to one day attend Howard University, as her mother did. Burnette would have it no other way. Read More >>


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