What is Civil Engineering?

Civil and Environmental engineers are primarily responsible for planning, designing, and constructing facilities to serve society. They work on projects such as roadways, railroads, bridges and tunnels, pipelines, airports, harbors, hydroelectric dams and power plants, irrigation and flood control projects, foundations and frames of buildings, water purification plants, pollution control facilities, and environmental protection projects.

what-is-civil-eng-2At the University of Maine, a civil engineer may specialize in one or several of these areas and may further specialize in a particular function, such as design or management. Consequently, the curriculum provides a broad-based program stressing the fundamentals common to the many branches of civil engineering. The overall civil engineering courses are designed to provide the student with a well-founded civil engineering education while allowing the student the option of selecting electives in one or more disciplines such as environmental, geotechnical, structures, transportation, water resources, construction, and coastal engineering. Course work also is provided in the humanities and social sciences to give the student a broader view of cultural, political, and economic aspects of society and their relationship to engineering.

The civil engineering faculty members at the University of Maine understand what it takes to make learning come alive. They introduce the world of academics to students through team projects, formal lectures, informal discussions, practical experience, and labs. They help students conceive, design, and build projects like composite beams and timber bridges. In turn, students develop critical thinking skills, technical writing ability, and oral presentation skills, preparing them to assume leadership roles in their careers and to meet the challenges of engineering in the 21st century.

UMaine Civil Engineering History


The University of Maine was established as the Maine College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts under the provisions of the Morrill Act, approved by President Abraham Lincoln in 18lincoln62. In 1897 the original name changed to the University of Maine. The institution opened Sept. 21, 1868 with 13 students admitted that fall.

By 1871, curricula had been organized in Agriculture, Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and electives. From these courses of study, others gradually developed such as the Colleges of Life Sciences and Agriculture (later to include the School of Forest Resources and the School of Human Development), Engineering and Science, and Arts and Sciences.

1872 graduates

The first four Civil Engineering graduates receiving their degree in 1872 were Benajamin F. Gould, George E. Hammond, Heddle Hillard, and Eber D. Thomas. 

Margaret L. Chase

The first woman to receive a civil Engineering degree was Margaret L. Chase in 1943, 71 years later. She was a native of Bangor, Maine.

Francis T. Crowe, the chief engineer of the Hoover dam in Nevada, graduated from UMaine in Civil Engineering in 1905. Since 2000, The Francis Crowe Society to honor all engineering graduates has been established at UMaine. It also honors professionals with significant connection to the College of Engineering and the University of Maine.

Click for a  broader view of UMaine’s engineering history .