What is Geological Engineering?

Geological Engineers play key roles in the exploration, protection, and responsible development of Earth’s water, mineral, and energy resources. They also ensure that structures such as bridges, dams and buildings are designed for long term stability and safety, taking geologic conditions and hazards into account. The profession is distinct amongst engineering disciplines for the opportunities it affords for travel and work in the natural environment, and an atmosphere of adventure that arises fromGeological Engineering Students the exploratory aspects of projects including, for example:

  • geotechnical investigation and design (for mines, dams, bridges, buildings, highways, slope stabilization projects, landfills, waterways and ports)
  • water supply development, protection, and treatment
  • environmental audits, impact assessments, and the remediation of contaminated lands
  • exploration for mineral and energy resources hidden below Earth's surface, and the efficient, responsible development of those resources

Geological engineers require skills and tools to “see” beneath the surface and predict the behaviour of highly variable earth materials. To this end, they draw on the powers of observation, field methods, analytical techniques, and remote sensing tools employed by geoscientists, and incorporate engineering approaches to materials testing, project design and risk assessment. They must integrate factual data with knowledge of geological and geotechnical processes in order to make informed recommendations and decisions. As team players, frequently working with geologists or civil engineers, geological engineers also require good communication and people skills.

The GE Program at UNB

The Geological Engineering Program is delivered jointly by the Department of Civil Engineering and the Department of Earth Sciences at UNB Fredericton and offers three options: Geoenvironmental, Geotechnical, and Mineral Resources. Each option is built on a common core of courses which provides education in the basic sciences and engineering principles required for the profession as well as exposure to important aspects of oral and written communications, engineering design, economics, law, and professional practice. Skills in field work and team work are developed through two geoscientific and one geomatics field school and through a capstone team design project. Students tailor their program of study through the choice of technical and complementary studies electives and, most significantly, by their choice of a program option.

The Geoenvironmental Option involves additional environmentally-oriented courses in Civil Engineering, Geochemistry, Biology and Earth Sciences. Graduates are thus better trained to work in the environmental field on projects such as environmental impact assessments, waste disposal, and the management of surface and ground water quality and supplies.

The Geotechnical Option involves additional courses on the behaviour of earth materials and their impacts on people and infrastructure. Courses designated for this option prepare the student for assessments of geological hazards and groundwater supplies and for involvement in the design of major structures such as bridges, off-shore installations and waste-disposal facilities.

The Mineral Resources Option involves additional courses that address applied scientific, economic and environmental aspects of the discovery, extraction, utilization, and management of mineral deposits.

Further information on the Geological Engineering Program at UNB is available through resources available on our website or by contacting the Program Director directly using the links provided below.