Engineering studies of soils are concerned with the physical and engineering properties of soils and how these are related to engineering projects.
Traditional geotechnical engineering includes the application of engineering principles to the analysis and/or design of building foundations, earth embankments, retaining walls, drainage systems, earthquake motion, buried structures, and other systems involving soil and rock. Engineers and architects cannot ignore the problems of investigating properties of soils in connection with engineering construction. Undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the department provide the basic knowledge necessary for the design of foundations and various types of earth structures. Fundamental concepts and their application are emphasized so that the student will be properly trained for his or her initial job, as well as being prepared to understand future development in this field.
The Geotechnical Engineering Division, in cooperation with the Environmental Engineering Division, is offering a new program in Geoenvironmental Engineering. This new program uses the strengths of both divisions to provide a program involving the geotechnical aspects of hazardous waste management, the investigation of hazardous waste sites, and the design of hazardous waste containment systems.
The geotechnical division has a strong research program. Current research projects in this division include studies on liquefaction, seismic slope stability, pile foundations, landslides, mechanically stabilized embankments, risk analysis of dams, finite element analysis of soil-structure systems, and the long-term properties of clay soils used in hazardous waste containment systems.