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Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty have expertise in engineering mechanics, environmental engineering, environmental-engineering science, geotechnical engineering, hydrology and water-resources engineering, and structural engineering. These areas also serve as topic areas for coursework and for M.S. thesis or PhD dissertation research, and are the basis for degree requirements.

Engineering Mechanics: Engineering Mechanics is an interdisciplinary emphasis area offered with the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Engineering mechanics is concerned with the development and implementation of numerical and analytical procedures to simulate materials’ expected behaviors. This emphasis area draws upon synergistic teaching and research strengths in the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Mechanical Engineering and offers options to take courses in Materials Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science. The skills developed in this emphasis area may be used for a wide range of applications in multiple engineering and science disciplines, including (but not limited to) structural mechanics, geomechanics, fluid mechanics, solid mechanics, hydrology, and physics. Students who pursue this discipline typically complete the requirements of the Engineering Mechanics (EM) emphasis area in the CEE degree, given below.

Environmental and Water Engineering: Environmental engineering is the application of environmental processes in engineered systems. CEE faculty have expertise in biosystems engineering, wastewater treatment, water-treatment, bioremediation, soil clean up, mining treatment processes and systems, remediation processes, biochemical reactions in soils, membrane processes, and energy recovery from fluids. Students who pursue this discipline complete the requirements of the Environmental and Water Engineering (EW) emphasis area, in the CEE degree, given below.
Environmental Engineering Science: Environmental Engineering science is the study of fundamental biological, chemical, and physical processes that relate to the field of environmental and water resources engineering. Students in this emphasis area usually have interests in environmental microbiology, aqueous chemistry, environmental organic chemistry, biogeochemistry, or fundamental processes associated with engineered water systems (see description for Water-resources engineering below). Students interested in this area complete the requirements for the EES degree given below.

Environmental Microbiology and Biogeosciences: The great majority of life on Earth is microbial in size, things only visible through the microscope. Almost all of these microbes are harmless to humans and in fact, provide vital ecosystem services to just about every habitat on the planet - including our own bodies. We are interested in the who, what, when, where, why and how questions about microbial life—in essence, microbial ecology. 

Geotechnical Engineering: Geotechnical Engineering is concerned with the engineering properties and behavior of natural and engineered geomaterials (soils and rocks), as well as the design and construction of foundations, earth dams and levees, retaining walls, embankments, underground structures and tunnels. Almost all constructed projects require input from geotechnical engineers as most structures are built on, in or of geomaterials. Additionally, mitigation of the impact of natural hazards such as earthquakes and landslides, sustainable use of energy and resources, and reduction of the environmental impacts of human activities require geotechnical engineers who have in-depth understanding of how geomaterials respond to loads, and environmental changes. Students who pursue the geotechnical engineering discipline complete the requirements of the Geotechncial Engineering emphasis area in the CEE degree, given below.

Hydrology: Students interested in this area have two options. Students interested in natural-systems hydrology, ground-water resources, and contaminant-transport processes often choose to earn a degree in “Hydrology” in the interdisciplinary Hydrologic Science and Engineering (HSE) program (see HSE section of this graduate bulletin, and the web site Students interested in engineered water systems, such as water infrastructure, water reclamation and reuse, ground-water remediation, urban hydrology, and fluid mechanics typically choose the CEE degree - Environmental and Water Engineering (EWE) Emphasis area, or the EES degree (for students who do not wish to complete an engineering curriculum), both described below.

Structural Engineering (SE): Structural engineering is a multidisciplinary subject spanning the disciplines of civil engineering, aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, and marine engineering. In all these disciplines, structural engineers use engineered materials and conduct analyses using general principles of structural mechanics, to design structures for civil systems. Designed systems may include bridges, dams, buildings, tunnels, sustainable infrastructure, highways, biomechanical apparatus, and numerous other structures and devices. Students who pursue this discipline complete the requirements of the Structural Engineering (SE) emphasis area.

In addition, the following research centers are affiliated with the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Mines:


The Advanced Water Technology Center (AQWATEC) aims to advance the research and development of novel water treatment processes and hybrid systems to enable sustainable and energy efficient utilization of impaired water sources to provide potable and non-potable water supplies. Our focus areas include:

  • engineered natural systems for elimination of chemicals of emerging concern (CECs) from the environment
  • traditional and novel membrane separation processes for water purification, reuse, and desalination including zero-liquid discharge
  • development of multiple-barrier hybrid processes to provide more efficient water treatment systems
  • advanced concepts in decentralized water treatment facilities
  • development of more efficient water treatment systems for the industrial and renewable energy sector

For more information, please contact Dr. Tzahi Cath.


The Center for Environmental Risk Assessment (CERA) aims to promote and enhance environmental risk assessment research and educational activities at Mines. By bringing diverse interdisciplinary expertise to expand fundamental knowledge related to any aspect of environmental risk assessment, the Center facilitates the development of significantly improved, scientifically based approaches for estimating human and ecological risks associated with exposures to anthropogenic and natural environmental chemicals and processes.

For more information, please contact Dr. Chris Higgins.


Center for Experimental Study of Subsurface Environmental Processes (CESEP) established in 2003 at the Colorado School of Mines, is a University, National Laboratory and Industry collaborative center focusing on research and technology development for the protection of water and environmental quality through experimental, numerical and theoretical investigation of complex subsurface systems and their interaction with surface and atmospheric systems. We utilize knowledge from diverse disciplines to provide a broad and thorough understanding of environmental and hydrologic processes, integrating both fundamental and applied sciences to help solve problems that are of importance to the society in general and to governmental and industrial sectors. 

For more information, please contact Dr. Tissa Illangasekare


The Integrated GroundWater Modeling Center (IGWMC) is an internationally oriented information, education, and research center for groundwater modeling. The IGWMC advises on groundwater modeling problems, distributes groundwater modeling software, organizes short courses, workshops and conferences, and conducts research in practical, applied areas of groundwater hydrology and modeling. 

For more information, please contact Dr. Reed Maxwell.


Re-inventing the Nation's Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt) is an interdisciplinary, multi-institution research center whose goal is to change the ways in which we manage urban water. Our goal is safe, sustainable urban water infrastructures enabled by technological advances in natural and engineered systems, and informed by a deeper understanding of institutional frameworks.

For more information, please contact Dr. John McCray.


The Center for Underground Construction and Tunneling (UC&T) is a collaborative interdisciplinary group of research faculty and students from Civil and Environmental Engineering, Geology and Geological Engineering, and Mining Engineering with additional involvement from Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Geophysics, Computer Science and Economics. The Center is actively engaged in cutting edge research with both private entities and government organizations. This research includes both applied and theoretical topics with the aim of advancing the knowledge and state of the art practice in underground construction and tunneling. Some of the key research areas currently underway include soil conditioning, tunnel boring machine (TBM) look ahead techniques, cross passage design and construction, TBM construction process, analysis of tunnel-induced ground deformation, and data-driven modeling techniques for TBM performance and ground deformation prediction. 

For more information, please contact Dr. Mike Mooney


ConocoPhillips Center for a Sustainable WE²ST: Water-Energy Education, Science and Technology (WEST) was created to promote the joint sustainability of on unconventional energy production and water resources through education of energy-water literate graduate and undergraduate students, and by conducting world-class research on both community acceptance of unconventional resource development, and water resources related to unconventional energy production.

For more information, please contact Dr. Terri Hogue.

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