School of Engineering Departments and Programs

Student on Watertreatment Tour
About Us
What is Civil Engineering?

Civil Engineering involves many disciplines:

  • Structure engineers design high-rise office buildings, factories, hospitals, high tech laboratories, bridges, aircrafts, offshore drilling rigs, transmission towers, nuclear power plants, and other structures. These structures often have special design requirements such as earthquake-resistance, fire-proofing, minimum vibration, long span, light weight, high strength, etc. A design must strive for not only high performance, but also low cost and aesthetics.
  • Bridge engineering is a branch of structure engineering. Next time when you drive by a bridge, pay attention to its structure-whether it is an arch, a truss, a suspension, or a cable-stayed bridge. In a building, the structure that carries the load is often hidden. In a bridge, the structure is exposed-you see all the load bearing members.
  • Hydraulic engineering is one of the earliest branch of civil engineering. Irrigation channels thousands year old are found in Mesopotamia, Egypt and China. Modern-day hydraulic engineering involves pipe network for water distribution, reservoirs and its hydraulic structures, water conveying systems, drainage systems, flood forecasting and prevention, sediment transport, pollutant transport, and groundwater.
  • Transportation engineering deals with transport of goods and people on land, by air, and by water. It examines traffic patterns and uses signs and signals to regulate and to optimize. It also involves pavement, structure, hydraulic drainage, and environmental impact, as the construction of roadways involves all the above issues.
  • Geotechical engineering involves the foundation of a structure, which is often hidden from sight, but no less important than the structure itself. High-rise buildings often sit on piles that are tens of meters long driven into ground to reach bedrock. A structure with a poor foundation can settle, crack, tilt, and topple. Geotechnical work is also needed for retaining walls, slope stabilization, dams, tunnels, and other earth structures.
  • Environmental engineering used to be called sanitary engineering. Even in ancient times city dwellers knew that it was necessary not only to bring good water into the city for human consumption, but also to collect and discharge bad water away from the city to prevent the spread of disease. The scope of modern-day environmental engineering has been much broadened. It deals with physical, chemical, and biological processes in air pollution, clean and waste water treatment, solid waste disposal, surface water and ground water cleanup, acid rain, lake eutrophication, atmosphere ozone depletion, their prevention and remediation.
Educational Quality
  • Excellent student/faculty ratio, giving you a liberal arts college studying environment. (Ranked No. 9 in the Nation in the recent Society of Engineering Education Survey).
  • Accomplished and highly supportive alumni.
  • A new curriculum emphasizing fundamentals of engineering, practical experience, leadership and management skills.
  • State-of-the-art facilities for hands-on education: CE Computer Graphics Laboratory with equipment donated by alumni
  • Active student societies/organizations.

The School of Engineering is housed in six buildings on the University campus. Carrier Hall, located on the main circle of University buildings, contains the departments of Civil Engineering, Geology and Geological Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. Anderson Hall, connected to Carrier Hall by a hallway, contains the departments of Chemical Engineering and Electrical Engineering. Electrical Engineering also has research facilities in the Old Engineering Building located next to Carrier/Anderson Halls. To the west of Carrier Hall is Brevard Hall which houses the Dean's Office, Center for Computational Hydroscience and Engineering, Mississippi Mineral Resource Institute, and laboratories for Geological Engineering. Weir Hall houses the department of Computer Science.

Location maps and building photographs of Carrier Hall on the University Circle, Anderson Hall overlooking the football stadium, and Weir Hall by the University Williams Library show the central location of the enginering building on campus. A virtual tour of the entire campus can also be taken to see a 360 degree view of several central campus sites.

Brief History of Civil Engineering Department

The University of Mississippi opened its doors in 1848 with 80 students and four faculty members. One of these faculty members was John Millington, a civil engineer, who was born, raised and educated in England and studied under the famous scientists Faraday and Davy. Professor Millington's background contained much practical civil engineering experience. He moved to the United States and first taught at William and Mary. While there he published a textbook titled Elements of Civil Engineering. In the preface he claimed that while many books had been written about specific fields such as surveying, mechanics, drawing, etc., this was the first book that encompassed the entire field of civil engineering. Professor Millington was appointed Professor of Natural Sciences and taught courses in chemistry, botany, geology, mineralogy and natural philosophy at the University.

In the 1850's two notable developments occurred which fostered the teaching of engineering at the University. In 1850 the State of Mississippi established the State Geological Survey and the University was given prime responsibility for its execution. In 1852 several University professors made the first survey and as a result of this, surveying courses were introduced into the curriculum.

In 1854, the world-famous scientist and educator, Dr. Frederick Augustus Porter Barnard, joined the University as Professor of Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, and Civil Engineering. Thus, Dr. Barnard was the first professor of Civil Engineering at the University, a post he held until the school closed due to the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861.

After the Civil War, the University reopened again in 1865. The student body consisted of young men who had come from families which were formerly rich, but because of the devastation of the war were no longer wealthy and thus studied with a determination born of necessity. In 1865 a chairmanship of Physics, Astronomy, and Civil Engineering was established and first held by General Alexander P. Stewart (for only a few months) and then by General Francis A. Shoup, both generals in the Confederate Army. This chair was discontinued in 1868, but a new chair of Mathematics and Civil Engineering was established in 1872. This was discontinued in 1875, and engineering was dropped from the curriculum until 1900. During the span of 1865-1875, twenty students pursued a program in civil engineering, but only two graduated. The first civil engineering graduate was William Henry Calhoun, from Memphis, in 1872. The second was John Hull Wildy, from Los Angeles, in 1874. During this period specific courses taught included: mechanical drawing, surveying, descriptive geometry, mechanics, hydraulics, materials, framed structures, masonry and highway construction. From 1875 to 1900 only courses in surveying, mechanics, and descriptive geometry were taught. The School of Engineering at The University of Mississippi was officially established by the Board of Trustees in 1900 and programs in civil, electrical and mining engineering were organized. Probably the most endeared professor and scholar at Ole Miss, Dr. Alfred Hume, taught surveying and drawing that year. Dr. Hume came to Ole Miss in 1890 from Vanderbilt University where he had earned the degrees of Bachelor of Engineering, Civil Engineering, and Doctor of Science. Dr. Hume later became Chancellor of the University. Dr. Hume must be considered as the single man who did the most to start the School of Engineering at the University of Mississippi.

From 1901 to 1906 sixteen students graduated from Ole Miss with engineering degrees. Five of these became engineers for various railroads, two became hydraulic engineers working on levees, four became city engineers, one became a county engineer, two became mining engineers, one became an engineering teacher, and another became a lighthouse inspector.

In 1946, the civil engineering program initiated options in construction and municipal engineering, but these were dropped in 1956. The civil engineering program was accredited in 1949, followed by chemical engineering in 1954, geological engineering and mechanical engineering in 1959, and electrical engineering in 1969. Since their first accreditation, all of the programs have retained accreditation continuously through today.

Curricula in civil engineering throughout the country has changed in many ways since 1900, with the program at Ole Miss maintaining a position at the forefront of civil engineering education. The many graduates who have achieved notable professional and personal success over the years attest to the continuing high quality of the civil engineering education that is provided at Ole Miss.

Research and graduate civil engineering education have also flourished for some time at Ole Miss. The first Master's degree in civil engineering was awarded in 1949 and the first Ph.D. in civil engineering was awarded in 1971, and there has since been a steady continuation of the awarding of these advanced degrees.

Civil engineering has been a strong and vibrant program at Ole Miss since 1900, and as such is steeped in tradition. The blend of tradition and innovation, where lasting values are combined with the newest technologies, provides, we are convinced, the perfect setting for civil engineering education. (Cortributed by Drs. Sam DeLeeuw and Allie Smith)