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Civil Engineering

The complex problems and needs of current and future societies have created challenges for Engineering unparalleled in our history. To interpret and satisfy these needs, Civil Engineers currently direct the spending of more than one tenth of Canada's gross national product - more than any other professional group. The Civil Engineer must deal with the human impact of engineering - the social, moral and legal issues - to a far greater degree than ever before.

Historically, Civil Engineering is the oldest branch of engineering and goes back at least 5,000 years to the profession of "master builder" involving pyramids, temples and irrigation projects. Civil Engineering has become an extremely diverse field with opportunities for graduates in many areas of application. Furthermore, the introduction of new electronic data collection methods and the use of microcomputers has revolutionized the practice of Civil Engineering. Consequently, our curriculum is being constantly reviewed in order to produce graduate engineers who can use advanced aids to solve complex problems.

The Civil Engineering program is designed to provide the necessary fundamentals of mathematics and the natural sciences but also provides perspectives from the fields of the social sciences and humanities. The emphasis is on "problem-solving".

The Department of Civil Engineering at Waterloo is one of the largest in Canada; therefore, elective courses are available in each of the following areas.

Structural Engineering

Deals with the design and construction of all types of structures. Emphasis is placed on a broad foundation in mechanics and behaviour of materials.


Construction Engineering and Management

Courses in this area are intended for students interested in project management, construction materials and construction engineering.

Water and Waste Management Engineering

Addresses water and waste water treatment, surface and ground water pollution and control, solid and hazardous waste management, contaminant transport and behaviour in the environment. Support areas involving aquatic chemistry, computer modelling, simulation and laboratory experimentation as examples are also stressed.


Transportation Engineering

Deals with the planning, design, construction, traffic operation and evaluation of streets, highways, airports, and transit systems. Emphasis is placed on planning, design, operation and evaluation, particularly as related to demands.

Geotechnical Engineering

Familiarizes the student with the engineering properties of soils, the fundamentals of soil mechanics, and the application of geotechnical data and fundamentals to the design of foundation elements, earth-retaining structures, excavations, earth embankments and highway pavements.


Engineering Mechanics

For students with a strong interest in a rigorous study of mechanics, applied mathematics and related fields, leading to an understanding of advanced analysis and serving as a preparation for graduate study in structural engineering, hydraulics, mechanics of solids and fluids, or properties of materials.

Water Resources Engineering

Deals with the planning, management, design and operation of water supply and distribution systems, in flood control and flood hazard mapping, in the hydrologic and hydraulic aspects of environmental issues, and in the application of remotely-sensed data to hydrologic and environmental problems.


Experimental Mechanics

Intended for students with an interest in experimental investigations of the static and dynamic response of structures and machines, and in the development of improved techniques to obtain and analyse experimental data.


Courses in this area are intended to provide the student interested in structural engineering, mechanics or properties of materials with a background in materials science.


Additional Areas of Study

Alternatively, the student can choose a more general pattern of study involving courses from several topic areas, or a program outside the traditional Civil Engineering field. For instance, with the approval of the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies, the student may augment Civil Engineering course programs with elective courses from:
Public Administration
Management Science
Business Administration
Environmental Health, and others.

To this end, the Civil Engineering Curriculum has been designed to allow the maximum possible flexibility while still meeting the requirements for the professional degree.

The profession of Civil Engineering is principally involved with the creation, operation and maintenance of structures associated with water resources, transportation, power generation, and a wide range of industrial, commercial and institutional buildings and complexes including whole urban structures. The activities include investigation, planning design, construction and evaluation.

Vocationally a Civil Engineer may specialize in one of the following areas: biomechanics, solid mechanics, fracture mechanics, elasticity, building structures, bridges, hydrology, hydraulics, sanitation (public health), industrial wastes, water resource structures, irrigation and drainage, inland waterways, harbours, aerospace, highways (roads and streets), railroads, pipelines, geology, meteorology, soil mechanics, foundations, tunnelling (rock mechanics), surveying and cartography, urban and regional planning and overall project planning. The list is by no means complete. For example, some of our graduates become involved in aquaculture. A Civil Engineering education may also be combined to advantage with another discipline or profession, such as Economics, Law, Medicine or Biology.

The Civil Engineer, regardless of whether he or she is a generalist or a specialist, draws heavily upon the work of the physical and social sciences, other professions and other branches of engineering. Moreover, as engineers have become involved in many interdisciplinary activities over the last decade, the job demarcation between boundaries of engineering has become much less restrictive. Certainly one of the advantages of completing a Civil Engineering program is that it allows professional registration while simultaneously providing a basis for further study and professional development in a large variety of specialized fields.


  1. Core Program

    Civil Engineering Seminar

    These seminars are designed to enrich the undergraduate program by providing guest lectures, informal lectures, mock trials and films relating to principles, methods and practice of Civil Engineering and the role of the engineer in society.


  2. Electives

    Each student is responsible for selecting his or her own program of electives, in keeping with the ultimate career objectives after graduation. The program must satisfy the requirements of the Department of Civil Engineering. This includes having to meet minimum requirements in:
    Mathematical Foundations
    Basic Sciences
    Engineering Sciences
    Engineering Design
    Complementary Studies


  3. Academic Program for Each Term

    Term 1A (Fall)
    MATH 115 (formerly MATH 114), 117, CH E 102, PHYS 115, GEN E 165, 170
    Term 1B (Winter and Spring)
    MATH 118, PHYS 125, GEN E 121, 123, CIV EJ126, 127, 291**
    Term 2A (Fall and Winter)
    CIV E 204, 221, 224, 265, 292, 298, 291**; one Complementary Studies Elective
    Term 2B (Spring and Fall)
    CIV E 205, 222, 253, 280, 299; one Complementary Studies Elective
    Term 3A (Winter and Spring)
    CIV E 300, 303, 342, 353, 375, 398; one Complementary Studies Elective
    Term 3B (Fall and Winter)
    CIV E 399; four technical electives; one Complementary Studies Elective. At least one of CIV E 313 and 413 must be taken before graduation.
    Term 4A (Spring and Fall)
    CIV E 400, 498; four technical electives. At least one of CIV E 313 and 413 must be taken before graduation.
    Term 4B (Winter)
    CIV E 491, 499; four technical electives.
    ** CIV E 291 Survey Camp (4 Stream - end of Spring 1B; 8 Stream - prior to Fall 2A).


Faculty Options

Complete details of designated options available to engineering students are provided in this Calendar in the Engineering section entitled "Complementary Studies Requirements, Options and Electives". Students who satisfy the option requirements will have the appropriate designation shown on their transcript. The following three options are of primary interest to Civil Engineering students. (Note: To qualify for these options, the student must achieve a grade of at least 50% in each course and must obtain a cumulative average of 60% or more in these courses.)


Civil Engineering with an Option in Environmental Engineering

This Option is for students who wish to pursue their education with an emphasis on environmental concerns, assessment of the environmental impact of new or existing products or processes, methods for solving problems resulting from pollution in the air, in the water, or in the earth, and on the management of resources in order to minimize pollution in the environment. This is a Faculty option and includes course material related to all of the disciplines but applied specifically to environmental concerns. The Option is described earlier in this chapter within the "Complementary Studies Requirements, Options and Electives for Engineering Students" section.


Civil Engineering with an Option in Water Resources

This is a designated Engineering Faculty Option available to Civil Engineering students interested in the development, management and protection of our water resources. Students may choose from the water and waste management elective courses or the water resources engineering elective courses as well as from a list of approved courses from other departments. Students who complete the Option will have both a Water Resources and a Civil Engineering designation on their transcript. The Option is described earlier in this chapter within the "Complementary Studies Requirements for Engineering Students" section.


Civil Engineering With an Option in Management Sciences

This Option provides an understanding of the issues, concepts and techniques related to the management of technology. The Option consists of a sequence of seven courses. A student who wishes to follow the Management Sciences Option must declare his or her intent before starting the 2B term. For further details see the "Engineering Management Sciences" section.


Combined Bachelor's - Master's Program in Engineering

The Faculty of Engineering offers a combined Bachelor's - Master's Program. See "Engineering Combined Bachelor's - Master's Program" section for more details.

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