Civil and Resource Engineering


Civil engineering deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the infrastructure of human civilization. Civil engineers are engaged in addressing two fundamental questions. First, how do we protect our society and its infrastructure from the impacts of the natural environment? Second, what are the impacts of society and its nfrastructure on our natural environment? The infrastructure considered may be at the feasibility or the design stage, or already in existence.

First, humans need protection from the elements to thrive on this planet. With the growth of centers of population and highly organized societies, the need for very diverse kinds of ‘shelter’ has also dramatically increased – now routinely including hospitals, schools, skyscrapers, factories, and theatres. Cities and other centres require energy and must be connected, giving rise to the need for such ancillary infrastructure as hydro-dams, road networks, bridges, and airports. The results of the design work of the civil engineer are therefore quite visible and a source of enduring pride. However, nature sometimes deals harshly with our infrastructure, striking it with hurricanes and/or ice storms. Even if the basic designs are sound, a significant maintenance effort by engineers who are knowledgeable about the basis for the original designs is implied.

Second, Civil engineers must recognize that humans are biological entities that consume resources and generate waste. They need water, they generate wastewater. They buy consumer goods, they generate solid waste. How can we ensure that our water is pure, and that it stays pure? How can we ensure that the waste from our cities is handled in such a way that damage to the environment and risks to our own health are minimized, or perhaps even nullified? Nature metes out drought and heat, floods and freezing temperatures. How can we prepare society for such eventualities? The fact that our water and other planetary resources asre also finite, can be badly or well-managed, and have been abused in the past all raise additional questions and endeavours that come under the purview of civil engineering. That the undergraduate civil engineering program at Dalhousie University has two options (the Infrastructure Option and Earth and Environment Option) is a reflection of the long-standing relevance and importance of the role of Civil engineers in addressing the above questions.

Although civil engineering is only one among many engineering disciplines available at Dalhousie, as an applied science it is characterized by exceptional technical diversity, great breadth and depth of subject matter, and a propensity for proactively addressing the practical needs of society. It is therefore natural that a BEng. in civil engineering is an excellent way to start ‘life in the universe’. It is often used by our graduates as a launching pad for post-graduate studies in very diverse realms of study. Civil engineers are found in all levels of government, in private consulting companies, in public utilities, in global enterprises, and in a wide range of fields that has included technology management, business administration, and even biomedical engineering.

The Department of Civil and Resource Engineering has about 60 graduate students. They are involved in a wide-range of projects that will affect engineering practice. Our experienced and diversely-trained faculty members therefore have many research outcomes upon which they can draw when coming to the classroom or the laboratory and in doing so are eminently able to keep the undergraduate program current and modern.

A. Infrastructure Option

In this option, the following aspects of civil engineering are emphasized:
structural engineering and design, materials of construction (steel, concrete, timber, masonry, asphalt, fibre reinforced polymers), transportation engineering, construction management, and soil mechanics.

B. Earth and Environment Option

In this option the following aspects of civil engineering receive some emphasis:
environmental engineering, water and wastewater treatment, water resources and hydrogeology,  geo-environmental engineering, and waste management.

Curriculum and Course Descriptions

Refer to sections IIA and IIIA, Civil Engineering Program, in the Civil and Resource Engineering section of this calendar.