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What is Civil and Environmental Engineering?

Civil and environmental engineering is a broad field that includes the study of construction, environmental, geotechnical, structural, transportation, and water resources engineering. Careers can be found within construction companies, utility companies, consulting engineering firms, government agencies, and in most every industry.

Civil engineers are responsible for the design, construction, supervision, operation, and maintenance of infrastructure projects and systems in the public and private sectors. Projects include roads, bridges, tunnels, dams, water supply systems, building systems, and more.

Environmental engineers use the principles of engineering to protect human health and the environment from the impacts of pollution, whether in soil, water, or air. They are involved in efforts to improve air and water quality, waste disposal, and improve the sustainability of our way of life.

In short, civil and environmental engineers apply their technical skills to help people live healthier, more comfortable, and productive lives.

The professors in the department are phenomenal and take the time to get to know students on a personal level. I have had the opportunity do two different types of research and gain valuable experience while building relationships with professionals. The opportunities to gain working knowledge are tremendous and have helped to prepare me to be successful after graduation.”

—Jack Rymer, Class of 2019

Two people work in a laboratory.

Why Civil and Environmental Engineering

The CEE program challenges and drives students to become their very best. Faculty and staff stress creativity and teamwork while encouraging students to be thought leaders and to solve real-world problems. Making the University of Tennessee’s CEE department home has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

—Lauren Meffe, Class of 2020


CEE students have access to 11 state-of-the-art research centers and institutes. The department resides in the design-award-winning John D. Tickle building, which houses multiple high-tech labs for both hands-on teaching and research.

Student Organizations

CEE student organizations are a great way to develop your leadership and teamwork skills and network with fellow students. Organizations include the American Society of Civil Engineers, Hydrolunteers, the Associated General Contractors of America, the Institute for Transportation Engineers, and the CEE honors society Chi Epsilon.

Financial Support

We offer a generous need and merit-based undergraduate scholarships for enrolled students. Additionally, the college and university offer a number of scholarship opportunities. Visit One Stop for details.

Interactive Classes

We emphasize hands-on learning through labs and field projects to complement classroom learning. You’ll find yourself in the lab and out in the field by sophomore year.

Concentrations and Minors

Available minors include environmental engineering, watersheds, nuclear decommissioning and environmental management, sustainability, business, and engineering entrepreneurship. You can also double up and complete a BS/MS degree in five years.

Internship and Co-Op Opportunities

Students typically perform co-op assignments in areas of civil engineering consulting, construction and structural design, highway design and construction, and water and wastewater design. There are CEE roles in many other industries as well, such as the chemical, metal, and even shipbuilding industries. Typical companies CEE students work with while at UT include Arconic, Barge Design Solutions, Brasfield & Gorrie, Civil Site Design Group, Denham Blythe Co., EMJ Construction, ExxonMobil, the Federal Highway Administration, Garney Construction, KUB, Messer Construction, Philips and Jordan, TDOT, TVA, West Knox Utility District, and Wright Brothers Construction Co.

Senior Design Capstone Course

Each year, student teams are paired with a local or regional organization to contribute their skills and knowledge to solving a real-world civil engineering problem in the community. The course offers fantastic experiential learning prior to graduation.

Career Readiness

In addition to career prep through coursework, professional advisors help you navigate co-curricular opportunities as well as co-op and internship placements. We maintain close ties to local and regional
firms and government agencies including TVA, TDOT, and numerous construction and engineering firms to help connect graduating students with job placements.

Many recent graduates now work for private engineering and construction firms that are responsible for contracted projects from start to finish, while others are employed by federal, state, and local governments.

Still Have Questions?

Come visit! It’s the best way to find out if we’re a good fit for you. Schedule a department tour at and a college tour at You’ll meet some of our current students who can answer all your questions about how great it is to be an Engineering Vol.

Salary Outlook

According to the 2018 salary survey from the American Society of Professional Engineers, the median income civil and environmental engineers with bachelor’s degrees was $97,000. For those with a professional engineer’s license the median salary increases to $113,000.