Geological Engineering

Program Offerings

Offering type

Geological engineering is the application of science to problems involving the Earth, its physical environment, Earth materials and natural resources. Geological engineering problems are increasingly important to humankind, and the well-trained Earth scientist-engineer will be uniquely positioned to solve these problems and find the best ways to use Earth's resources while protecting the environment. For example, the geological engineer is involved with exploration and use of Earth's water, energy and mineral resources, as well as in the acquisition and utilization of the data necessary to shape environmental policy and practice. Princeton's Program in Geological Engineering combines studies in engineering and Earth sciences, with focus on applications of geology, geochemistry and geophysics.

Depending upon the selection of electives, the program prepares students for graduate study or practice in geology, geochemistry, geophysics, oceanography, water resources, engineering and environmental geology, and civil and environmental engineering. The program is a cooperative effort of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Geosciences, and the program committee is drawn from those departments. The student may be a candidate for either the B.S.E. or the A.B. degree.

Students with interests in this interdepartmental approach are encouraged to consult the program director. Further information may be found under the listings of the two departments.

Goals for Student Learning

Below are the primary learning goals of the Program in Geological Engineering:

  • Students will gain knowledge of the Earth environment, natural resources and geological hazards.
  • Students will learn skills in engineering design, data analysis and problem-solving.
  • Students will learn how to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specific needs with consideration of geological factors and other social, environmental and economic factors.

Program of Study

Participants in the program will satisfy the degree requirements for their department as well as the course and independent work requirements for the program. A coherent course of study will be developed in conjunction with the program adviser and the director of undergraduate studies and will include geosciences and engineering courses outside the student's department. Specific program requirements are listed below.

Additional Requirements

Program Requirements

All program students must complete the following:

  1. B.S.E. mathematics, physics and chemistry requirements.
  1. Four program-approved courses at or above the 300 level that constitute a coherent sequence (for additional details, see the geosciences and civil and environmental engineering department descriptions). At least two of these courses must be from a department different from that in which the student is majoring.
  1. A two-semester senior thesis on a geological engineering topic approved by the program committee.

To remain a member of the program in good standing, students must maintain at least a B- average in their technical subjects. To be awarded the program certificate upon graduation, students must achieve a minimum grade average of B- in program courses. Program courses may not be taken on a pass/D/fail basis.

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who have met the program requirements will receive a certificate of proficiency upon graduation.


  • Director

    • Catherine A. Peters
  • Executive Committee

    • Ian C. Bourg, Civil and Environmental Eng
    • Ning Lin, Civil and Environmental Eng
    • Adam C. Maloof, Geosciences
    • Satish C. Myneni, Geosciences
    • Catherine A. Peters, Civil and Environmental Eng
    • James Smith, Civil and Environmental Eng

For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.


CEE 102A - Engineering in the Modern World (also EGR 102A/MAE 102A) Fall HA

Lectures and readings focus on bridges, railroads, power plants, steamboats, telegraph, highways, automobiles, aircraft, computers, and the microchip. Historical analysis provides a basis for studying societal impact by focusing on scientific, political, ethical, and aesthetic aspects in the evolution of engineering over the past two and a half centuries. The precepts and the papers will focus historically on engineering ideas including the social and political issues raised by these innovations and how they were shaped by society as well as how they helped shape culture. Two lectures, one preceptorial. M. Littman

CEE 102B - Engineering in the Modern World (also EGR 102B/MAE 102B) Fall SEL

Lectures and readings focus on bridges, railroads, power plants, steamboats, telegraph, highways, automobiles, aircraft, computers, and the microchip. We study some of the most important engineering innovations since the Industrial Revolution. The laboratory centers on technical analysis that is the foundation for design of these major innovations. The experiments are modeled after those carried out by the innovators themselves, whose ideas are explored in the light of the social environment within which they worked. Two lectures, one three-hour laboratory. M. Littman

CEE 105 - Lab in Conservation of Art (also ART 105/EGR 105) Not offered this year SEL

This course examines how environmental factors (acid, rain, ice, salts, biota) damage sculpture and monuments made of stone and masonry, paintings on wood, and sculptures in bronze. It examines campus buildings that illustrate each type of damage and uses a visit to the Cloisters Museum to learn how those medieval buildings are protected. Lectures on structure and properties of materials and mechanisms of attack. Labs include quantifying water movement through stone, damage from freezing and salts, strength of mortars, protective effects of sealants and consolidants, effect of moisture on wood. Two lectures and one three-hour laboratory. Staff

CEE 205 - Mechanics of Solids Not offered this year SEN

This course teaches fundamental principles of solid mechanics. Equilibrium equations, reactions, internal forces, stress, strain, Mohr's circle, and Hooke's law. Analysis of the stress and deformation in simple structural members for safe and stable engineering design. Axial force in bars, torsion in shafts, bending and shearing in beams, stability of elastic columns, strain transformation, stress transformation, combined loadings. Prerequisites: MAT 104 and PHY 103. Three lectures, one precept. S. Adriaenssens

CEE 207 - Introduction to Environmental Engineering (also ENV 207) Fall QCR

The course introduces the students to the basic chemical and physical processes of relevance in environmental engineering. Mass and energy balance and transport concepts are introduced and the chemical principles governing reaction kinetics and phase partitioning are presented. We then turn our focus to the applications in environmental engineering problems related to water and air pollution. Two 80-minute lectures, one precept. Prerequisite: CHM 201 and MAT 104 (can be taken concurrently) or instructor's permission. I. Bourg

CEE 223 - Modern Solid Mechanics (also MAE 223) Fall

CEE 242 - The Experience of Modernity: A Survey of Modern Architecture in the West (also ARC 242/ART 242) Not offered this year LA

CEE 262A - Structures and the Urban Environment (also ARC 262A/EGR 262A/URB 262A) Not offered this year LA

Known as "Bridges", this course focuses on structural engineering as a new art form begun during the Industrial Revolution and flourishing today in long-span bridges, thin shell concrete vaults and tall buildings. Through critical analysis of major works, students are introduced to the methods of evaluating engineered structures as an art form. Students study the works and ideas of individual engineers through their basic calculations, their builder's mentality and their aesthetic imagination. Illustrations are taken from various cities and countries, demonstrating the influence of culture on our built environment. Two lectures, one precept. M. Garlock

CEE 262B - Structures and the Urban Environment (also ARC 262B/EGR 262B/URB 262B) Spring SEL

Known as "Bridges", this course focuses on structural engineering as a new art form begun during the Industrial Revolution and flourishing today in long-span bridges, thin shell concrete vaults, and tall buildings. Through laboratory experiments students study the scientific basis for structural performance and thereby connect external forms to the internal forces in the major works of structural engineers. Illustrations are taken from various cities and countries thus demonstrating the influence of culture on our built environment. Two lectures, one three-hour laboratory. M. Garlock

CEE 267 - Materials for Energy Technologies and Efficiency (also ENE 267/MSE 287) Fall SEN

CEE 304 - Environmental Engineering and Energy (also ENE 304/ENV 300) Not offered this year

The course covers the environmental and geological engineering principles relevant to the entire energy supply chain from mining and extraction of fuels, to power production, to disposal of wastes and sequestration of greenhouse gases. Both conventional and renewable energy are considered. Students will learn the engineering principles and practices to address environmental challenges and to find the best ways to utilize earth systems to our advantage. This course is a requirement for the Geological Engineering certificate program. Two lectures. Prerequisites: CHM201 and MAT104 or permission of the instructor. C. Peters

CEE 305 - Environmental Fluid Mechanics (also ENE 305/GEO 375) Fall SEN

The course starts by introducing the conservation principles and related concepts used to describe fluids and their behavior. Mass conservation is addressed first, with a focus on its application to pollutant transport problems in environmental media. Momentum conservation, including the effects of buoyancy and earth's rotation, is then presented. Fundamentals of heat transfer are then combined with the first law of thermodynamics to understand the coupling between heat and momentum transport. We then proceed to apply these laws to study air and water flows in various environmental systems, with a focus on the atmospheric boundary layer. E. Bou-Zeid

CEE 306 - Hydrology: Water and Climate (also ENV 318) Spring SEN

Analysis of fundamental processes in the hydrologic cycle, including precipitation, evapotranspiration, infiltration, streamflow and groundwater flow. Course is required for concentrators. Prerequisite: MAT 201. Two lectures, one preceptorial. R. Maxwell

CEE 307 - Water, Energy, and Ecosystems Not offered this year SEL

This three-week course, offered as part of a four-course study abroad semester, takes place at Princeton Univeristy's Mpala Research Centre in central Kenya. The course will provide an introduction to the principles of hydrological sciences via the development and application of instrumentation for characterizing surface/subsurface hydrological dynamics in field settings. Lectures and field activities will address the theory of operation, design, and implementation of methods used to quantify hydrological patterns and processes. Prerequisite: MAT 201. Staff

CEE 308 - Environmental Engineering Laboratory Spring SEL

Designed to teach experimental measurement techniques in environmental engineering and their interpretations. General considerations for experimental design and data analysis will be covered. Key techniques used to measure the physical, chemical and biological attributes of environmental media will be taught through various hands-on modules that cover flow and transport of contaminants in the atmosphere, hydrologic measurements of soil-moisture dynamics in response to precipitation events, and measurements of solar and wind energy resources. One three-hour laboratory, one lecture. Prerequisites: CEE207 and CEE306 or Permission of Instructor. P. Jaffé

CEE 311 - Global Air Pollution (also CHM 311/ENE 311/GEO 311) Spring

Students will study the chemical and physical processes involved in the sources, transformation, transport, and sinks of air pollutants on local to global scales. Societal problems such as photochemical smog, particulate matter, greenhouse gases, and stratospheric ozone depletion will be investigated using fundamental concepts in chemistry, physics, and engineering. For the class project, students will select a trace gas species or family of gases and analyze recent field and remote sensing data based upon material covered in the course. Environments to be studied include very clean, remote portions of the globe to urban air quality. M. Zondlo

CEE 312 - Statics of Structures (also MAE 312) Spring SEN

Develop notions of internal forces and displacements. Instruct how to design and analyze structures. Present fundamental principles of structural analysis, determination of internal forces, deflections under the static load conditions. Introduce the bending theory of plane beams and the basic energy theorems. Develop the theory of the first order for continuous girders, frames, arches, suspension bridges, trusses, including both statically determinate and indeterminate structures. Present basic principles for construction of influence lines and determination of extreme influences. Two lectures, one precept. Prerequisite: CEE205 or MAE223. B. Glisic

CEE 321 - Resource Recovery for a Circular Economy (also ENE 321/ENV 371) Fall

CEE 334 - Global Environmental Issues (also ENE 334/ENV 334/SPI 452) Spring SEN

This course examines a set of global environmental issues including population growth, ozone layer depletion, climate change, air pollution, the environmental consequences of energy supply and demand decisions and sustainable development. It provides an overview of the scientific basis for these problems and examines past, present and possible future policy responses. Individual projects, presentations, and problem sets are included. Prerequisites: AP Chemistry, CHM 201, or permission of instructor. Two lectures, one precept. D. Mauzerall

CEE 360 - Earth's Atmosphere (also ENV 361/GEO 361) Fall SEN

CEE 361 - Matrix Structural Analysis and Introduction to Finite-Element Methods (also MAE 325/MSE 331) Not offered this year QCR

This course presents the Matrix Structural Analysis (MSA) and Finite Element Methods (FEM) in a cohesive framework. The first half of the semester is devoted to MSA topics: derivation of truss, beam and frame elements; assembly and partitioning of the global stiffness matrix; equivalent nodal loads. The second half covers the following FEM topics: strong and weak forms of boundary value problems, and linear elasticity, Galerkin approximations, constant strain triangle, isoparametric quads. Modern topics will be introduced. MATLAB is used for computer assignments. Prerequisite: CEE205 or MAE223 or permission of instructor. Two 90-min lectures. Staff

CEE 362 - Structural Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering Not offered this year SEN

Analysis of forces and deformations in structures under dynamic loads. Idealization as discrete parameter systems. Single and multiple degrees of freedom. Response analysis under free vibration, harmonic, impulsive and random dynamic loads. Time and frequency domains. Earthquake phenomena from the engineering point of view. Seismic waves and power spectra. Measurement of strong ground motion. The concepts of response spectra, structural response to earthquakes, design criteria, and seismic safety. Prerequisite: 361 or instructor Staff

CEE 364 - Materials in Civil Engineering (also ARC 364/MSE 365) Spring SEL

An introductory course on materials used civil and environmental engineering. Lectures on structure and properties of construction materials including concrete, steel, glass and timber; fracture mechanics; strength testing; mechanisms of deterioration; impact of material manufacturing on the environment. Labs on brittle fracture, heat treatment of steel, strength of concrete, mechanical properties of wood. One lecture, one three-hour laboratory. Prerequisites: CEE 205 or MAE223. C. White

CEE 365 - Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering Spring

The first half of the semester will cover topics on Classical Soil Mechanics: Physical and engineering properties of soils; soil classification and identification methods; site exploration; sampling; laboratory and in-situ testing techniques; shear strength; bearing capacity; earth pressure; slope stability; permeability and seepage. The second half of the semester will cover topics on Application of Soil Mechanics in Civil Engineering: Earth retaining structures; deep foundations, ground improvement; tunneling; levees; and construction and contracting implications. Prerequisite: CEE 205 or MAE223. R. Sandiford

CEE 366 - Design of Reinforced Concrete Structures Fall SEN

Materials in reinforced concrete. Flexural analysis and design of beams. Shear and diagonal tension in beams. Short columns. Frames. Serviceability. Bond, anchorage, and development length. Slabs. Special topics. Introduction to design of prestressed concrete. Introduction to design of steel structures. Two 90-minute lectures. Prerequisite: CEE 205. M. Hopper

CEE 370 - Sedimentology (also ENV 370/GEO 370) Spring SEN

CEE 373 - Computational Thinking for Design, Architecture, and Engineering (also ARC 374) Spring LAQR

CEE 375 - Independent Study Fall

Independent Study in the student's area of interest. The work must be conducted under the supervision of a faculty member and must result in a final paper. Permission of advisor and instructor are required. Open to sophomores and juniors. Must fill out Independent Study form. I. Bourg

CEE 376 - Independent Study Spring

Independent research in the student's area of interest. The work must be conducted under the supervision of a faculty member, and must result in a final paper. Students must obtain prior approval of a faculty member to serve as research advisor, and Hand in to E-211 E-Quad the Independent Research Proposal Project form signed by your advisor and the dept representative. Open to sophomores and juniors. I. Bourg

CEE 417 - Environmental Microbiology (also EEB 419/GEO 417) Fall

CEE 424 - Introductory Seismology (also ENE 425/GEO 424) Spring SEN

CEE 444 - Science and Solutions for Cities on a Changing Planet Fall SEN

This course examines the future of cities. The focus is on the intersection of rapid urbanization with the global grand challenges: climate, water, and energy. We start with an introduction to urbanization, how to characterize the shape and scale of cities, and the role they play at the global scale geophysically and socio-economically. We then examine heat, air and water flow in urban areas, focusing on how they induce urban heat islands, exacerbate floods, modify power consumption, and reduce thermal comfort. We conclude the course with an examination of how buildings and cities can be designed to be more sustainable, resilient and livable. E. Bou-Zeid

CEE 455 - Optical and Photonic Systems for Environmental Sensing (also ECE 455/MAE 455/MSE 455) Spring

CEE 460 - Risk Analysis Spring QCR

Fundamentals of probabilistic risk analysis. Stochastic modeling of hazards. Estimation of extremes. Vulnerability modeling of natural and built environment. Evaluation of failure chances and consequences. Reliability analysis. Decision analysis and risk management. Case studies involving natural hazards, including earthquakes, extreme wind, rainfall flooding, storm surge, hurricanes, and climate change, and their induced damage and economic losses. Not open to freshmen. Prerequisites: Basic probability and statistics course. N. Lin

CEE 461 - Design of Large-Scale Structures: Buildings Spring SEN

This course will focus on the structural design of buildings and is open to students of engineering and of architecture who meet the prerequisites. The course will culminate in a major building design project incorporating knowledge and skills acquired in earlier course work. Structural design is considered from concept development to the completion of detailed design while incorporating appropriate engineering standards and multiple realistic constraints. Open to Seniors Only. Prerequisites: both CEE 312 and CEE 366, or permission from the instructor. R. Garlock

CEE 462 - Design of Large-Scale Structures: Bridges Not offered this year SEN

The design of bridges is considered from the conceptual phase up to the final design phase. The following issues are addressed in this course: types of bridges, design codes, computer modeling of bridges, seismic analysis and design, seismic retrofit design, inspection, maintenance and rehabilitation of bridges, movable bridges, bridge aerodynamics, organization of a typical engineering firm, marketing for engineering work. Several computer codes are used in this course. Prerequisite: CEE 366 or CEE 361, or instructor's permission. Staff

CEE 463 - A Social and Multi-Dimensional Exploration of Structures (also LAS 463) Not offered this year

The class has pedagogical objectives related to the spatial relations of dimensions and time (sustainability and society). It develops the students' skills in drawing, model making, writing, oral communication, and advanced engineering analysis. The course is focused on a study of one theme that changes every year. Within each theme engineering calculations of designs will be made through advanced analyses. The social context will be studied, a site visit will be made during break week, models of a few significant works will be created and placed on display as part of a small exhibition. Prerequisites: CEE205 and CEE312 M. Garlock

CEE 467 - Design and Behavior of Steel Structures Fall

Topics in the design and analysis of steel structures are covered such as geometric properties and stresses of built-up shapes, columns, beams, and tension members. Prerequisites: CEE205 and CEE312. M. Garlock

CEE 471 - Introduction to Water Pollution Technology (also GEO 471/URB 471) Fall SEN

An introduction to the science of water quality management and pollution control in natural systems; fundamentals of biological and chemical transformations in natural waters; identification of sources of pollution; water and wastewater treatment methods; fundamentals of water quality modeling. Two lectures, field trips. Open to juniors and seniors, and graduate students only. Prerequisites: Student should have some background in chemistry and an interest in water pollution problems. P. Jaffé

CEE 472 - Hydrometeorology and Remote Sensing Not offered this year SEN

The structure and evolution of precipitation systems are examined, including the dynamical and microphysical processes that control the spatial and temporal distribution of precipitation. The fundamentals of remote sensing of aerosols, clouds and precipitation are introduced. Related topics in hydrology and hydraulics are covered. Two lectures. Not Open to First Year Undergraduates. Staff

CEE 474 - Special Topics in Civil and Environmental Engineering (also ENV 474) Fall SEN

This course examines how cities modify their environment, with a focus on the grand urban challenges of the 21st century related to climate, water, and pollution. It starts with an introduction to the challenge of urbanization and how the population and size of cities can be quantified and modeled. We then examine heat, air and water flow in cities, focusing on how they induce urban heat islands, exacerbate floods, modify power consumption, and reduce thermal comfort. We conclude the course with an examination of how buildings and cities can be designed to be more sustainable and sensitive to their climate. Not open to freshmen. Two lectures. G. Villarini

CEE 477 - Engineering Design for Sustainable Development (also ENE 477) Spring SEN

This course will focus on the sustainable design of urban water infrastructure. Students will learn the principals of biological wastewater modelling and use software packages and other design tools for design and upgrading existing water/wastewater treatment systems, including new processes that incorporate energy and resource recovery. The projects are considered from concept development to detailed design with special considerations on sustainability and resilience. Prerequisite: CEE 207 and CEE471 or equivalent with instructor's permission. Open to Seniors and Graduate students only. R. Kingsbury

CEE 478 - Senior Thesis Fall/Spring

A formal report on research involving analysis, synthesis, and design, directed toward improved understanding and resolution of a significant problem in civil and environmental engineering. The research is conducted under the supervision of a faculty member, and the thesis is defended by the student at a public examination before a faculty committee. The senior thesis is equivalent to a year-long study and is recorded as a double course in the spring. I. Bourg