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School of Engineering

Course I -- Civil and Environmental Engineering

Civil and Environmental Engineering, Course I, combines the muscle of bridge construction with the modern realities of toxic cleanups.

The course encompasses a wide range of study: from environmental cleanups to large-scale transportation projects. The department itself is split into three major groups: environmental systems, which includes areas such as hydrology and aquatic systems; engineering systems, including areas such as transportation and construction engineering and management; and mechanics of civil and environmental systems, which includes research in structures and geoenvironments. The 50 faculty members of the department are nearly equally divided between the three branches.

About 80 upperclassmen have declared Course I as their major with over 50 of those studying Environmental Engineering, Course I-E. The remainder study Civil Engineering, Course I-C.

Course I offers a six-subject minor program in Civil Engineering and a seven-subject minor program in Environmental Engineering Science. The department also includes about 160 Masters of Engineering students and 70 doctoral students.

Last year, the department revised its undergraduate program significantly, according to Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Department Head Rafael L. Bras. Students pursuing the I-C degree now focus on “problem-based learning,” Bras said, and are prepared for the M.Eng. degree program. All those with a 4.0 or higher GPA are now automatically accepted to the MEng program.

Those majoring in I-C choose from three elective tracks: systems engineering, environmental engineering, or mechanics.

The systems engineering course includes basic economics and project management, while the mechanics elective track focuses more on the use of materials.

The environmental engineering track includes classes in biology and ecology. Students can also design their own track, Bras said, giving the major a great deal of flexibility. The coursework in general incorporates extensive use of computational tools and Matlab, Bras said.

The I-E degree was also revised last year. Like I-C, it now includes a final project, which can be undertaken in a local firm or in government, Bras said. The major is designed to “make it easy to satisfy pre-med requirements and get a minor in Biology,” Bras said. Like the I-C program, those with a 4.0 or higher GPA are automatically accepted to the I-C MEng program.

Course I provides strong support to its undergraduates. The department pays for UROPs for freshman wishing to explore an area of Course I, and provides support to faculty members for upperclassmen UROPs. “Our numbers allow for a very personal treatment... faculty are easily accessible,” Bras said.

Course I also guarantees all majors in the department paid summer internships during the summers after their sophomore and junior years. The department has placed students in areas ranging from Italy to Puerto Rico and the United States, Bras said.

After graduation, over half of students in Course I proceed to graduate school. Many students, particularly in Course I-E, go on to medical school. For those who choose to work after graduation, the department is “very aggressive and successful in placing its graduates in excellent permanent jobs,” Bras said. Most work in private engineering or consulting firms. Others work in information technology or management consulting firms. The starting salary ranges from around $35,000 to $60,000 for those with a S.B. degree, Bras said. -- Douglas E. Heimburger