What is Geotechnical Engineering?

University of Delaware grad students work with DelDOT employees to run in-situ tests of the IC technology.

Civil engineering is the professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction and maintenance of public and private infrastructure within the natural environment. Geotechnical engineering is a discipline within civil engineering that focuses on the behavior of natural geological materials in engineered systems. Geotechnical engineers recognize that soil and rock are the cheapest and most abundant building materials on Earth, and consequently play a major role in the construction and performance of every type of civil engineering structure.

To be successful in the field of geotechnical engineering, students should have broad exposure to civil engineering, with advanced knowledge and coursework in geology, soil and rock mechanics, slope stability, foundation engineering and computational mechanics.

With this in mind, we have designed our program to prepare students for success. The Geotechnical Engineering program at the University of Delaware offers opportunities for advanced study and research in:

  • Soil and rock mechanics
  • Soil-structure interaction
  • Constitutive modeling
  • Computational geomechanics
  • Foundation and earth structures engineering
  • Ground improvement
  • Slope stability and landslide stabilization
  • Liquefaction of soils and earthquake engineering
  • Laboratory characterization of geomaterials and soil reinforcement
  • Environmental geotechnics

Given the strong need for improvement to our nation’s infrastructure—the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the U.S. infrastructure a grade of C+ in 2021—there is now a high demand for geotechnical engineers within the civil engineering profession. Sustainable stewardship of our built environment is dependent on the successful training of the future generation of civil engineers, both as researchers that are capable of advancing the state of the art, and as practitioners that can implement effective design solutions to real-world problems. A graduate degree in geotechnical engineering will give you the skills you need to succeed in both of these highly challenging environments.


Core Courses:

  • CIEG 601 – Introduction to the Finite Element Method
  • CIEG 622 – Earth Structures Engineering
  • CIEG 626 – Soil Behavior

Suggested CIEG Electives:

  • CIEG 605 – Intermediate Topics in Finite Element Analysis
  • CIEG 620 – Soil Mechanics II
  • CIEG 621 – Foundation Engineering
  • CIEG 623 – Soil Mechanics Lab
  • CIEG 625 – Geo-Environmental Engineering
  • CIEG 627 – Deep Foundations
  • CIEG 628 – Ground Improvement Methods
  • CIEG 658 – Pavement Analysis and Design
  • CIEG 675 – MATLAB for Engineering Analysis
  • CIEG 698 – Groundwater Flow and Contaminant Transport
  • CIEG 801 – Advanced Topics in Finite Element Analysis
  • CIEG 820 – Inelastic Behavior of Geomaterials
  • CIEG 867 – Computational Geomechanics

Other Suggested Courses:

  • CIEG 606 – Ocean and Atmosphere Remote Sensing (MAST 606)
  • GEOG 670 – Geographic Information Systems
  • GEOG 671 – Advanced Geographic Information Systems
  • GEOG 677 – Spatial Data Analysis
  • MAST 681 – Remote Sensing of Environment
  • MEEG 690 – Intermediate Engineering Mathematics
  • STAT 601 – Probability Theory for Operations Research and Statistics
  • STAT 602 – Mathematical Statistics
  • STAT 608 – Statistical Research Methods
  • STAT 609 – Regression and Experimental Design



Victor Kaliakin – Computational geomechanics and constitutive modeling of soils

Christopher Meehan – Laboratory and in situ testing of soils, soil shear strength, slope stability, design of levees and embankment dams, and foundation engineering

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