Jul 25, 2024  
2024-2025 Catalog 
2024-2025 Catalog

Civil Engineering

Air and water quality improvements, urban renewal, planning and building whole new communities, providing water, power, and ground transportation systems are the responsibility of the civil engineering profession. Civil engineering involves the planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operation of the infrastructure that supports modern civilization; it is a keystone of our society.

The undergraduate major in Civil Engineering prepares students for careers in both industry and government agencies concerned with managing air quality, water quality and supply, infrastructure, energy, public health and the welfare of the total environment. The program is also a good foundation for further study in earth science, engineering, business, management, law and public health. The curriculum provides students with a quantitative understanding of the physical, chemical and biological principles that control the quality of our natural and engineered environment and focuses on the design, development, implementation and assessment of sustainable engineering solutions to society’s waste and resource management challenges. In the coming decades, civil engineers will increasingly be called upon to address broader issues of environmental sustainability by minimizing the release of residuals through altered production processes and choice of materials; by capturing the resource value of wastes through recovery, recycling and reuse; and by managing natural resources to meet competing societal objectives.

UC Merced emphasizes sustainability across the Civil Engineering Curriculum, taking a highly interdisciplinary approach that combines strong theoretical foundation with field studies, laboratory experiments and computational simulations. Core and required courses within the major provide students with a firm foundation in the physical and life sciences and the ways that they apply to air and water quality, energy, hydrology and water management, remote sensing of the environment, and sustainable structures. Emphasis areas allow students the flexibility to study in more depth by following tracks developed in consultation with their academic adviser(s). The four areas of emphasis for Civil Engineering at UC Merced are: (1) Hydrology and water resources, (2) Environmental engineering, (3) Geomatics, and (4) Sustainable structures.

Environmental Engineering focuses on engineering solutions to water, air and waste issues, including measurement technology, air- and water-quality assessments, treatment systems and remediation of contaminated air and waters. Physical, chemical and biological aspects are included. Environmental engineering includes analysis of sustainable energy systems with a focus on engineering solutions to energy problems, both regionally and globally. The sources, fate, effects of air and water pollutants, as well as the planning and design of solar and other renewable energy systems are evaluated.

Hydrology and Water Resources focuses on the sources, balance and use of water in both natural and managed environments, including precipitation, mountain snowpack, river runoff, vegetation, water use and groundwater. Both the physical and chemical aspects of the water cycle are included, as are sustainable water resources management, human and agricultural water requirements, and sustainable water delivery and water policy. The program covers the use of mathematical, computational and experimental approaches to understanding the dynamics of the hydrologic cycle and transport within hydrologic systems.

Geomatics focuses on the management of global infrastructure by collecting, measuring and archiving geospatial data. Geomatics engineers use advanced mapping techniques to ensure the welfare and safety of the public. This includes digital and 3-D mapping, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), remote sensing, photogrammetric mapping, applications programming and project management. Geomatics technologies provide the tools needed to tackle environmental challenges, sustainable management and sustainable development.

Sustainable Structures focuses on the design and engineering of the built environment. This encompasses analysis and modeling of structural systems and their resilience in the natural environment. Planning, design, construction, monitoring, and preservation of infrastructure are key aspects of the program, with considerations of safety, environmental sustainability, and public welfare. Structural engineering utilizes decision analysis, mechanics, materials, and project management skills.

Civil engineers need to understand not only the technical but also the social and political contexts of their work. They must be able to communicate and plan, finance and market their products and ideas. Social sciences, business, humanities and arts courses are an important part of the curriculum. The result is a major that is hands-on and creative, engaging and adaptable.

The ABET accreditation status of the Civil Engineering BS program is similar to other newly developed degree program in the UC Merced School of Engineering and other institutions. The Civil and Environmental Engineering Department is working diligently to get the new Civil Engineering BS program accredited and we anticipate earning ABET accreditation in Fall 2026 as a part of the scheduled UC Merced School of Engineering ABET accreditation process.

Civil Engineering Program Learning Outcomes

Upon graduation, our graduates demonstrate:

  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 specific 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 context;
  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.


    Undergraduate Degrees