Geotechnical engineering is the branch of engineering concerned with the engineering behavior of earth materials. Geotechnical engineering is important in civil engineering, but is also used by military, mining, petroleum, or any other engineering concerned with construction on or in the ground. Geotechnical engineering uses principles of soil mechanics and rock mechanics to investigate subsurface conditions and materials; determine the relevant physical/mechanical and chemical properties of these materials; evaluate stability of natural slopes and man-made soil deposits; assess risks posed by site conditions; design earthworks and structure foundations; and monitor site conditions, earthwork and foundation construction.
A typical geotechnical engineering project begins with a review of project needs to define the required material properties. Then follows a site investigation of soil, rock, fault distribution and bedrock properties on and below an area of interest to determine their engineering properties including how they will interact with, on or in a proposed construction. Site investigations are needed to gain an understanding of the area in or on which the engineering will take place. Investigations can include the assessment of the risk to humans, property and the environment from natural hazards such as earthquakes, landslides, sinkholes, soil liquefaction, debris flows and rockfalls.
Ground Improvement refers to a technique that improves the engineering properties of the soil mass treated. Usually, the properties that are modified are shear strength, stiffness and permeability. Ground improvement has developed into a sophisticated tool to support foundations for a wide variety of structures. Properly applied, i.e. after giving due to consideration to the nature of the ground being improved and the type and sensitivity of the structures being built, ground improvement often reduces directs costs and saves time.
A geotechnical engineer then determines and designs the type of foundations, earthworks, and/or pavement subgrades required for the intended man-made structures to be built. Foundations are designed and constructed for structures of various sizes such as high-rise buildings, bridges, medium to large commercial buildings, and smaller structures where the soil conditions do not allow code-based design.
Foundations built for above-ground structures include shallow and deep foundations. Retaining structures include earth-filled dams and retaining walls. Earthworks include embankments, tunnels, dikes, levees, channels, reservoirs, deposition of hazardous waste and sanitary landfills.
Geotechnical engineering is also related to coastal and ocean engineering. Coastal engineering can involve the design and construction of wharves, marinas, and jetties. Ocean engineering can involve foundation and anchor systems for offshore structures such as oil platforms.
The fields of geotechnical engineering and engineering geology are closely related, and have large areas of overlap. However, the field of geotechnical engineering is a specialty of engineering, where the field of engineering geology is a specialty of geology.
Matching Geotechnical Engineering Colleges
Illinois Institute of Technology
Four or more years; Private not for profit; $33,100 average out-state tuition; $33,100 average in-state tuition
University of Southern California
Four or more years; Private not for profit; $42,162 average out-state tuition; $42,162 average in-state tuition
Four or more years; Private not for profit; $37,840 average out-state tuition; $37,840 average in-state tuition
Geotechnical Engineering Scholarships
|Monsanto STEM Fellowship||Up to $50,000||May 01, 2018|
|Monsanto Graduate Student Scholarship||Up to $25,000||May 01, 2018|
|Monsanto Fund 1890s Student Scholarship||Up to $10,000||May 01, 2018|
|FIRST Scholarship - University of Advancing Technology||$10,000||May 23, 2018|
|Asian American Architects and Engineers Association Scholarship||$5,000||May 28, 2018|
|WU Scholars Program||$2,500||April 30, 2018|
|Mary Harris Clark President's Honor Scholarship||$2,000||February 01, 2019|
|Louisa Miller Eldredge President's Honor Scholarship||$2,000||February 01, 2019|
|Raymond and Arlene Poteat Scholarship||$1,000||June 01, 2018|
|STEM Scholarship||$1,000||July 31, 2018|
Geotechnical Engineering Related Majors
- Civil Engineering
- Structural Engineering
- Transportation and Highway Engineering
- Water Resources Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical and Electronics Engineering
- Chemical Engineering
- Computer Engineering
- Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering
- Industrial Engineering
- Space Engineering
- Computer Software Engineering
- Systems Engineering
- Materials Engineering
- Environmental/Environmental Health Engineering
- Agricultural Engineering
- Petroleum Engineering
- Operations Research
- Architectural Engineering