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Faculty of Engineering
UNB Fredericton

Back to Civil Engineering

Undergraduate program

Do more with your civil engineering degree

Civil engineers do more than build bridges and roads. The Department of Civil Engineering has six areas of specialization, leading to careers in planning and managing infrastructure, supplying safe drinking water, identifying innovative materials that will last for decades, and much more.

Areas of specialization

Construction engineering may deal with planning, managing, and optimizing the construction of many types of projects, such as roads and buildings, dams and landfills, utility towers and manufacturing facilities. This involves planning design and construction methods, managing the procurement process, coordinating people and materials, managing the IT aspects of the project, and selecting the appropriate construction equipment and technologies.

No structure is stable without an adequate foundation. The design of this interface between structure and earth are one of the many tasks of the geotechnical engineer. Geotechnical engineers also deal with the largest structures in the world, such as earth-filled dams and embankments. Foundations are also an integral part of other structures constructed with steel or concrete. Geotechnical projects, such as foundation design, slope/trench stability analysis and retaining wall design, should be carried out considering environmental factors such as precipitation and evaporation that have a significant effect on the mechanical behaviours of soils.

Understanding the properties and behaviour of materials used for construction is essential if we are to build civil engineering structures that will survive into the next century. But today's engineers must also be capable of designing and using sustainable materials that are friendly to the environment. That means they require low energy costs for production, have high durability but low maintenance, and contain a large proportion of recycled and recyclable materials.

Structural engineers make sure that buildings and bridges are strong enough so that they don’t fall down. Gravity is our biggest enemy and every structural action can be reduced to a simple push-pull action that needs to be resisted by the materials being used in the structure. Earthquakes, wind and snow are other loads that need to be resisted by materials used to build the structure. Structural engineers develop optimum structural solutions for a socially, economically and environmentally optimal network of infrastructures. This requires us to analyze and design structures for their complete life cycle, which spans over decades and, in some cases, centuries. We use the fundamentals of mathematics and physics along with innovative materials and construction methods.

A structural engineer must be able to maximize the performance of a structure while minimizing cost. This is achieved by using an appropriate building material. Structural engineers use many different materials to design structures that will withstand the demands of use and loading. Reinforced concrete and structural steel are two of the most common materials used, but often other materials including wood and masonry are employed.

A sub-discipline within civil engineering, transportation is a broad area that deals with the planning, design, operation and maintenance of all forms of transportation. While the primary focus tends to be on the road mode, you can get involved in all other modes including rail systems, airports, marine ports and pipelines. Transportation engineering also includes the diverse field of pavement engineering, which deals with the design, construction and management of pavement assets.

Water and environmental engineering integrate a range of interests, from the microbiology of wastewater treatment to the mathematics of hydraulic systems analysis. Engineers in this field work on supplying safe drinking water systems, the design of environmental protection works such as wastewater treatment plants and related environmental industries.