Montana State University

Mission and Program Objectives

Department Mission and Program Objectives

Montana State University's Department of Civil Engineering anticipates that the engineering and construction community will evolve quickly with several very fundamental precepts for success. Among these is the premise that the engineers and constructors of the future will continue to rely on fundamental engineering science and contemporary computational tools to guide their choices. We therefore choose to focus on fundamental engineering basics and the application of modern engineering tools. Our civil and environmental engineering programs will be acknowledged for their strong emphasis and rigor in engineering science, design, and applications. Our construction programs will be acknowledged for their emphasis on engineering and management skills and the application of those skills to the construction industry. The emphasis of these programs will continue to be preparation of students for professional practice in the engineering and construction industries.

Incorporating our vision into the traditional mission of a land grant institution leads to a strong emphasis on undergraduate education. However, in making this a substantial portion of our mission, we must also look beyond the undergraduate classroom. To ensure a quality faculty, and up-to-date curricula, we must ensure a vibrant broad-based graduate program at the master's level and a smaller subset of specialty areas at the doctorate level. A strong master's program also positions the department favorably for the possibility of future changes in professional degree requirements and is consistent with our vision for education at MSU. The graduate program is essential to attract good faculty and provide for their professional development, and to provide opportunities for students interested in study beyond the baccalaureate degree.

Mission

  • Foremost, we will provide undergraduate education founded on a rigorous treatment of engineering fundamentals coupled with modern engineering tools. We see competency in mathematics, physical science, and engineering mechanics, as crucial to our mission.
  • Provide graduate education opportunities in a majority of traditional civil engineering areas.
    • The department will maintain sufficient breadth to provide post-baccalaureate education focused on professional practice.
    • The department will provide graduate opportunities in a subset of focus areas coupled to vibrant research programs with sound external funding.

Civil Engineers design and construct facilities which improve the welfare and raise the living standards of people. These installations are usually permanent and expensive; each one is unique, offering challenging opportunities for ingenuity and creative design. A registered civil engineer is a professional with legal responsibilities and authority. Civil Engineering graduates enjoy splendid opportunities for employment in Montana, the Pacific Northwest, and the rest of the nation.

The following subareas comprise the field of civil engineering: environmental engineering for water and wastewater treatment, solid and toxic waste handling, and air and water pollution problems; geotechnical engineering for making use of soil, rock, and ice as foundation materials; structural engineering for buildings, bridges, dams, piers, towers, and other erected facilities; transportation engineering for highways, railroads, airports, and pipelines; water resources engineering for water supply, irrigation, flood control, aquatic habitat improvement, groundwater management, and hydroelectric power generation; construction of engineered facilities; and engineering measurements, which include surveying, photogrammetry, and mapping.

The Civil Engineering Bachelor of Science Program is a traditionally structured program that provides graduates with a strong background in math, basic sciences and engineering mechanics, and prepares graduates to become registered professional engineers capable of practicing civil engineering in the areas of environmental, geotechnical, structural, transportation and water resources engineering. The background of graduates that select the Bio-Resources option is focused on soil, water resources and environmental concerns. The educational objectives of the Civil Engineering Bachelor of Science Program describe what graduates can expect to accomplish during the first years after graduation.

All graduates can expect to be able to:

  • enter the profession of Civil Engineering and advance in the profession to become registered professional engineers and leaders in the field of Civil Engineering.
  • work on multi-disciplinary teams and effectively communicate with Civil Engineers of various sub-disciplines, architects, contractors, the public and public agents, scientists and others to design and construct Civil Engineering projects.
  • begin to develop expertise in one of the sub-disciplines of Civil Engineering and engage in the life-long learning necessary to advance in the Civil Engineering profession;
  • contribute to society and the Civil Engineering profession through involvement in professional related and/or other service activity, and
  • conduct their affairs in a highly ethical manner holding paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public and striving to comply with the principles of sustainable development.

Some graduates can expect to be able to:

  • enter the surveying profession and become licensed to practice surveying;
  • begin careers in the construction industry;
  • or earn advanced degrees in Civil Engineering or other fields.

Courses in the first two years of the program develop a student's mathematical skills and understanding of the physical principles that underlie the practice of civil engineering. Engineering science courses in the second, third, and fourth years develop the student's ability to apply mathematics and basic scientific principles to the solution of practical engineering problems. The third year student develops a broad perspective of the field and establishes the foundation for professional practice and further study. The student completes at least one course in each subarea of civil engineering by the end of this year. Most of these courses are combinations of engineering science and design experiences. The fourth year includes a capstone professional practice and design experience, elective courses in a subarea (or subareas) of civil engineering--most of which are combinations of engineering science and design experiences--and elective courses that help the student develop an appreciation for the role of the professional engineer in society. Additional experience in professional practice and design may be obtained through participation in the department's optional internship program. Contemporary engineering aids are introduced in the first year and used in assignments throughout the rest of the program. Courses and assignments that develop oral and written communication skills are distributed throughout the curriculum and are components of the capstone professional practice and design experience in the fourth year.

Bio-Resources Engineering is an option within Civil Engineering. The first two years of this option are very similar to the first two years of the standard Civil Engineering curriculum. The third and fourth years allow students to build upon the basic Civil Engineering curriculum with courses that focus on soil, water, and environmental concerns. Bio-Resources Engineering students may take upper level professional electives in chosen areas of Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Mathematics, Biology, or select courses offered in the College of Agriculture. Professional employment opportunities for Bio-Resources Engineering graduates exist in private industries dealing with land reclamation, soil and water remediation, hydraulic and hydrologic design, environmental impact and assessment, and natural resource management. State and federal agencies have also been frequent employers of engineers with Bio-Resources backgrounds.

Graduating students are required to take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam administered by the Montana Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors as the first step toward professional registration. ENGR 499 (Engineering Program Assessment), a zero-credit course, is used to administer the exam. Students are encouraged to take the discipline-specific version. This examination is administered by the National Council of Engineering Examining Boards and is accepted nationwide through reciprocity with the Montana Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors. Students planning to take the comprehensive examination on surveying fundamentals as the initial step in becoming licensed as a registered land surveyor should review the education requirements for admission to this examination. Students electing to fulfill the educational requirements for registration as a land surveyor and for the baccalaureate degree in engineering must complete the requirements for both objectives.

Graduate work leading to the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees is recommended for qualified students desiring advanced professional attainment or careers in academic fields. The Civil Engineering Department offers a Master of Science degree targeted at qualified students interested in an advanced professional degree, for which the civil engineering work place is currently seeing an increased demand. The program consists of a concurrent schedule of undergraduate and graduate classes starting the senior year, allowing a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science degree to be obtained in a total of ten semesters of study.

The Construction Engineering Technology Bachelor of Science Program is a technically rigorous, production oriented, and construction specialty neutral program that prepares graduates to enter and advance to leadership positions in the construction industry. The educational objectives of the Construction Engineering Technology Bachelor of Science Program describe what graduates can expect to accomplish during the first years after graduation.

All graduates can expect to be able to:

  • enter the construction industry and advance toward leadership positions in the construction industry,
  • work on multi-disciplinary teams and effectively communicate with constructors, architects, engineers, the public and public agents, scientists and others to complete construction projects.
  • engage in the life-long learning necessary to advance professionally in the construction field;
  • contribute to society and the construction industry through involvement in professional related and/or other service activity,
    and
  • conduct their affairs in a highly ethical manner holding paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public and striving to comply with the principles of sustainable development.

Some graduates can expect to be able to:

  • enter the surveying profession and become licensed to practice surveying; or
  • earn a Master of Construction Engineering Management degree from MSU or other graduate degrees.

The curriculum provides a well rounded, four-year, specialized university education culminating in a Bachelor of Science degree in Construction Engineering Technology (CET). Knowledge of mathematics and physical sciences along with applied courses in business management, law, and human relations form a background to move design, research or planning ideas to construction applications. The graduate has the training and skills provided by direct hands-on experience and has the additional knowledge and capabilities provided by theory and technological fundamentals. The curriculum prepares the student to be largely responsible for the construction of all types of structures, utilities, transportation facilities, and water and wastewater systems. Emphasis is on current construction applications, surveying, maximizing production, estimating, scheduling, quality control, safety, testing, and field analysis.

Graduates use their skills and abilities to construct transportation systems, utilities, buildings, dams, public health and environmental systems, irrigation, municipal and public works, and also in surveying, mapping, and support of engineering design. Building, industrial, and heavy highway construction are emphasized with particular attention directed toward preparation for employment in management and supervisory positions in both field and office operations.

This curriculum provides the education necessary to work with engineers, architects, contractors, technicians, and owners. The student in this curriculum can be employed as field supervisor, estimator, scheduler, or superintendent; he or she may progress to the highest levels of management in the construction arena such as project and operations managers. Because effective communication is essential in carrying out management responsibilities, students in this curriculum will be required to demonstrate good oral and written communication skills in their undergraduate studies. Other possible positions are employment with consulting engineers and architects in support activities involving plans and planning, acquisition of design data, surveying, construction inspection for quantity and quality control, sales engineering, plant expansion, and maintenance management activities.

Students planning to take the comprehensive examination on surveying fundamentals as the initial step to becoming licensed as a registered land surveyor should review the educational requirements for admission to this examination. Students who desire both the CET degree and land surveyor registration must carefully arrange their elective courses if they plan to graduate in the normal four years.

Students are required to take the Constructor Qualification Examination Level I (CQE) administered by the American Institute of Constructors (AIC) which must be taken within nine months of graduation. Seniors are eligible to take the national comprehensive examination on engineering fundamentals administered by the Montana Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors, commonly called the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination. Students who plan to take the FE examination are encouraged to take additional selected courses in calculus, dynamics, and thermodynamics.