Geological engineers use their backgrounds in engineering and earth science to provide solutions to engineering problems within the context of the natural world. For example, a geological engineer might study fluid flow and contaminant transport in groundwater, geo-mechanics (the behavior of earth materials), geo-engineering (designing with earth materials), and the discovery, development, and utilization of energy resources. The University of Utah’s Geological Sciences program teaches students to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering to design and conduct experiments, and analyze and interpret data. With accreditation by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, the Geological Science program ensures that students receive the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context. The curriculum includes courses in geological engineering concepts—mineralogy, petrology, structural geology, fluid dynamics, groundwater, and others—as well as classes in allied engineering and sciences fields, such as surveying, chemistry, physics, and math. This coursework ultimately prepares students to sit for the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam.
The Student Experience
If you wish to gain hands-on engineering experience while in school, consider completing an undergraduate research project or internship. Outside of the classroom, students can join the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), the Association of Engineering Geologists (AEG), or the Society of Economic Geologists (SEG), allowing you to network and engage with likeminded peers and professionals.
Geological engineering opens the door to a number of fields and career paths in both the public and private sectors. Students can freelance, join a consulting firm, or work for any one of a number of government agencies (such as the EPA or DEP). If you want to continue your studies at the graduate level and become a researcher or professor, consider programs in geology, geological engineering, or allied science and engineering fields (civil engineering for example).