Senior Thrust Areas

Each civil engineering student is required to take 24 units of ATE (Approved Technical Electives). These electives can be any CE/ENVE 400/500 level coursework (not required as part of the major), some CE/ENVE 300 level coursework or any one of a list of pre-approved elective options from outside CE/ENVE.

This freedom in the CE program allows students to specialize in a particular area (or two or three…) or develop a little deeper in all areas. Please consider your choices in the context of graduate school, the area in which you would like to practice or the breadth of knowledge you would like to attain.

Below is information about each specialization area to consider as you plan your senior year.

Geotechnical engineering is perfect for those who love problem-solving. Upon arrival at sites, geotechnical engineers perform site investigations to determine subsurface conditions and materials. This field works with the challenges of Earth’s natural resources in designing tunnels and structure foundations, creating slope repairs and understanding soil mechanics. Geotechnical engineering is very hands-on and has a good balance between the field and office!

Geotechnical Engineering Advising Sheet (PDF)

Structural engineering is a great specialization due to its wide range of applications. One can work on traditional civil engineering projects like buildings, bridges,
dams, offshore platforms and towers, and also work on the structural aspects of
products in different industries! Structural engineering focuses on what creates the form and shape of buildings. Jobs in structural engineering never get boring, as there is always more to learn about when it comes to design and analysis!

Structural Engineering Advising Sheet (PDF)

This field works with the planning, design, operation and management of transportation facilities. These facilities include roadways, railroads, air, pipelines, water and even space transportation. Transportation engineers must be good at problem-solving through analyzing complex data. The main goal of this field is to create safe, but efficient traffic flow.

Transportation Engineering Advising Sheet (PDF)

844 million people around the world live without access to safe water. The specialization of water resources engineering works to combat this problem by planning and designing for water use and treatment. Water resources engineers work with water supply systems, irrigation, water transportation and water removal. This field is ever-growing due to the constant demand for safe water and flood control. Jobs can be found within both public and private entities.

Water Resources Advising Sheet (PDF)

The construction industry is the largest single portion of our economy, and there is immense growth potential. Cal Poly’s construction engineering program is special because it transforms knowledge of engineering principals into a holistic skill set that includes business management and communication techniques. This profession enables one to understand the entire design and construction process. Popular career choices for construction engineers include property development, structural design, civil design, construction management or planning!

Construction Engineering Advising Sheet (PDF)

The specialization of general civil engineering is very broad and can be categorized by the type of projects designed: land development, transportation or drainage. Land development encompasses the site design of new buildings, roads and their associated infrastructure, whereas transportation engineers focus only on roads and pedestrian facilities. Drainage projects involve treating and moving storm water from the site to facilities like drainage basins, bioswales, infiltration wells,
gutters and storm drains. These fields often overlap, with specialists and generalists spread throughout the country, working at both public and private entities. There are so many things one can do with the general civil engineering specialization!

General Civil Engineering Advising Sheet (PDF)