Program Criteria and Curriculum

The Civil Engineering curriculum is developed based on the program criteria established collaboratively by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) of ABET Inc. and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The curriculum specifically prepares civil engineering students at the baccalaureate level to graduate with the ability to:

1. Apply knowledge of mathematics through differential equations, calculus-based physics, general chemistry, and probability and statistics to assess uncertainty.
2. Analyze and solve problems in various areas of civil engineering.
3. Conduct experiments associated with civil engineering, as well as analyze and interpret the collected data.
4. Design a system, component, or process in various civil engineering contexts considering sustainability.
5. Explain basic concepts related to project management, business, public policy, and leadership.
6. Analyze issues related to professional ethics and explain the importance of professional licensure.

In accordance with the program criteria of ABET and ASCE, the Civil Engineering faculty responsible for teaching design-oriented courses are qualified in their respective professional areas by means of licensure, or a combination of education and design experience. Furthermore, the faculty are given responsibility and sufficient authority to define, revise, implement, and achieve program objectives.

The program awards the BS degree in civil engineering with coursework in the areas of environmental, geotechnical, structural, and water resources engineering. The curriculum and faculty qualifications satisfy ABET criteria and the American Society of Civil Engineers guidelines. Further details of the cirriculum are provided in the following sections.


A – Proficiency in math, probability, statistics, physics, and chemistry

The program curriculum ensures that all graduates will have proficiency in the following subjects by completing the indicated courses with a grade of C or better:

Mathematics [18 cr.]: ENGR 190; MATH 1511G / 1521G / 2530G / 392
Probability and Statistics [3 cr.]: STAT 371
Calculus-Based Physics [8 cr.]: PHYS 1310G & 1310L / 1320G & 1320L
General Chemistry [4 cr.]: CHEM 1215G

The above subject areas are serve as pre-requisites and are applied in several courses taught in the College of Engineering and Department of Civil Engineering (e.g., math in all classes; statistics in all lab classes; physics in statics, and dynamics; chemistry in environmental engineering and science).


B – Proficiency in four areas of civil engineering

As mentioned earlier, the program offers courses in four major areas; environmental, geotechnical, structural and water resources. All students will gain fundamental proficiency in these four areas, by completing the following courses with a grade of C- or better:

Environmental engineering [7 cr.]: CE 256 & 256L and CE 356
Geotechnical engineering [10 cr.]: GEOL 1110G, CE 357, and CE 457
Structural engineering [13 cr.]: CE 301, CE 311, CE 315 and CE 445
Water resources engineering [7 cr.]: CE 331 & 331L and CE 382 


C – Ability to conduct experiments and analyze / interpret data

All graduates will acquire laboratory experience and skills to critically analyze and interpret data by completing the following courses with a grade of C- or better:

CHEM 1215G General Chemistry I
PHYS 1310G & 1310L Calculus-Based Physics I w/ Lab
PHYS 1320G & 1320L Calculus-Based Physics II w/ Lab
GEOL 1110G Physical Geology
CE 256 & 256L Environmental Engineering and Science w/ Lab
CE 311 Civil Engineering Materials
CE 331 & 331L Fluid Mechanics and Hydraulics w/ Lab
CE 357 Soil Mechanics 


D – Ability to perform design

Ability to design and analyze components, processes, and elements are integrated into the curriculum from early stages; and the ability to design integrated, real life-like systems is covered in the capstone design courses in each of the four areas. Design aspects are incorporated into the program courses starting from the basic engineering science courses, and progressing through design-intensive courses to culminate in capstone design.

Design in Structural Engineering area:

The first class in this area is CE 301: Mechanics of Materials, where the students learn fundamental theories of stress, strain, and deflection of deformable bodies due to bending, axial force, torsion, and shear. The students apply these basic principles to the design of shafts and beams. In the next class, CE 315: Structural Analysis, the fundamentals learned in ENGR 233 and CE 301 are applied to the structural analysis of civil engineering structures based on elastic theory. Here they learn about the different types of loads, load paths, and computation of internal forces for several types of structures. Several classical methods for computing deflections and rotations of elastic structures are covered along with other topics including influence lines and indeterminate structural analysis using slope deflection, moment distribution and the force method for use as design tools. Students are also exposed to the ASCE-7 standard to determine loads on a structure. In the following structural design course, CE 445: Reinforced Concrete Design, the students are taught the fundamentals of reinforced concrete design based on Ultimate Strength Design specifications and material properties learned in CE 311. All students take the above-referenced courses.

Students interested in structural engineering may continue on to CE 444: Elements of Steel Design where they apply the Load and Resistance Factor Design (LRFD) approach. The culminating capstone design course for structural engineering is CE 469: Structural Systems. In their project, the students start with load calculations and structural analysis then continue to the design of the individual structural members and finally to constructability including cost estimates. A comprehensive report is prepared and presented in front of industry professionals for the project. There are several senior-elective courses to choose from and students also have the option to pursue a minor in structural engineering. (


Design in Environmental Engineering area:

The first class in this area is CE 256: Environmental Engineering and Science (and CE 256L, the laboratory section), where the students learn the fundamentals of environmental processes. Basic sizing calculations are done as ‘design’ examples, using empirical guidelines/rules of thumb. In the next class, CE 356: Fundamentals of Environmental Engineering, they learn the theory and fundamentals of individual engineered processes and reactors used for water and wastewater treatment. Here they apply design guidelines, mass balance, and process equations to ‘design’ components and processes for water and wastewater treatment (e.g. sizing a rapid mix tank under certain energy dissipation) and sizing an aeration basin for desired removal efficiency. All students take the above-referenced courses. 

At the next level, students interested in the environmental engineering area may continue to take ENVE 450: Aquatic Chemistry to study the theoretical aspects of physical chemistry applied to the solution of environmental engineering problems. Two design-intensive elective courses, ENVE 451: Unit Processes/Operation of Water Treatment and ENVE 452: Unit Processes/Operation of Wastewater Treatment, can help students become familiar with the theory and applications of unit processes in water and wastewater treatment. Other electives include ENVE 459: Environmental Microbiology which covers fundamental concepts in microbiology that are relevant to environmental engineering practice and ENVE 487: Air Pollution Control Systems Design which introduces air pollution control technologies and design of air pollution control equipment. 

Students then continue on to the capstone design course, ENVE 456: Environmental Engineering Design, where treatment units that solve real-world environmental problems are designed. In these projects, the students start with a review of literature for the concept design, followed by process selection and detailed design, equipment sizing and selection, mass and energy balance on the selected process, process control, and finally, engineering cost estimates. Written reports and bench-scale demonstrations are prepared for the project and presented to a panel of industry professionals, other students and the instructor. Environmental engineering students also have the option to pursue a minor. (


Design in Water Resources Engineering area:

The first class in this focus area is CE 331- Fluid Mechanics and Hydraulics. This course lays the foundation for the undergraduate civil engineering program where students learn to read and interpret problem statements related to fluids, work in teams, and apply critical thinking skills to solve problems. They develop an understanding of the theories and principles of fluid mechanics and hydraulics to understand hydraulic engineering components and subsystems. Here they apply continuity and energy equations to ‘design’ components of hydraulic systems; for example, in sizing the pipes, estimating pump horsepower, etc. under given conditions. They also get an opportunity to conduct laboratory tests and write short technical reports on those related topics. The students work in teams to design and build a water fountain and then present the results to practicing professionals and the public. In the next class, students continue with a design intensive course, CE 382 - Hydraulic and Hydrologic Engineering. Students are exposed to the details of various components, applying their fundamental knowledge to select different components or materials to meet certain desired conditions, under some constraints. Equipment selection is done for close-ended problems; e.g. matching given pump curves to system curves to select pump. Students are also exposed to design concepts for municipal well pump stations and booster pump stations, including a discussion of control valves, supervisory control systems, disinfection systems and system operations. In addition, students in CE 382 learn about pressure zone design concepts also applicable to municipal water systems. They learn to develop spreadsheet models and use computer programs such as KY-Pipe to derive performance curves to evaluate various combinations of the hydraulic components such as pipe networks, and select equipment from commercially available products. Students learn to solve open-ended problems using trial and error, simulation, and optimization. Students learn to write short reports incorporating computer-simulated results. All program students take the above courses.

Finally, in the capstone design course, CE 482 - Hydraulic Structures, students undertake a project to design hydraulic systems or structures for flow measurement, regulation, drainage, energy dissipation, and conveyance and pumping. Students apply rainfall, runoff, and flow estimation methods covered in CE 382 (and also the CE 483 -Surface Water Hydrology elective course) to develop and establish design criteria based on static and dynamic loads, and students evaluate adequacy based on structural stability (foundation uplift, overturning, and sliding), capacity, precision (for flow measurement structures), and economic performance. An integrated, comprehensive design project is carried out each semester with the local water management agency, Elephant Butte Irrigation District or City of Las Cruces acting as a client. Student groups design the necessary hydraulic systems or structures, evaluate costs, prepare a comprehensive report, and present their designs to the coordinator, consulting engineers from the area, other students in the class, and the instructor. Students are also exposed to the preparation of contract documents for construction, including project cost bid tabulations.  Water resources engineering students also have the option to pursue a minor. (

Design in Geotechnical Engineering area:

Students take GEOL 1110G: Physical Geology, which provides the fundamentals of geological processes and basic laboratory skills. The second class in this area is CE 357: Soil Mechanics, where students learn the main concepts of classical soil mechanics as they relate to civil engineering projects, conventional laboratory soil testing methods, and interpretation of the engineering properties of soils. In CE 457: Foundation Design, students apply the knowledge learned in previous courses to the design of shallow and deep foundations in diverse soil profiles and site conditions, and the calculation of settlements. These three courses are required to all CE students.

Students interested in geotechnical engineering may continue on to CE 452: Geohydrology, CE 470: Design of Municipal and Hazardous Waste Landfills, and/or CE 479: Pavement Analysis and Design. CE 452: Geohydrology addresses the occurrence and movement of fluids in soils as porous media, assessment of aquifer characteristics, development and conservation of ground water resources, and design of well fields, and provides additional laboratory experience. CE 470: Design of Municipal and Hazardous Waste Landfills applies geotechnical engineering principles and methods to the site selection and design of municipal and hazardous solid waste landfills. CE 479: Pavement Analysis and Design covers stresses and deflections in pavement layers, material characterization, design of flexible and rigid pavements by AASHTO, and pavement rehabilitation concepts.

The culminating capstone design course for geotechnical engineering is either CE 469: Structural Systems or CE 485: Design of Earth Dams. If CE 469: Structural Systems is taken, the students use data from geotechnical site investigation to design geotechnical components of a civil engineering system as part of a team effort, address constructability, prepare a comprehensive report, and present their design in front of industry professionals. This course is also taken by students interested in structural engineering. If CE 485: Design of Earth Dams is taken as capstone course, the students work on the engineering design of an earthen dam, including site selection and materials, hydrological and hydraulics calculations, foundation settlement, slope stability, seepage analysis, and environmental factors, prepare a comprehensive report, and present their design in front of industry professionals. This course is also taken by students interested in water resources engineering. The background diversity in these engineering design teams makes the learning experience more stimulating and broader. Geotechnical engineering students also have the option to pursue a minor.(