Geology and Society
The world needs professionals who can apply engineering to solve complex geologic, atmospheric, and environmental problems facing humankind. At Michigan Tech, you will explore industrial practices for safely and efficiently adapting geologic features to society’s needs, while protecting the Earth and its inhabitants.
Geological engineers play an important role in identifying and mitigating man-made and natural hazards that pose a threat to civil structures, infrastructure, or people. Their work includes performing site investigations for planned tunnels, dams, or roads; locating sites and designing facilities for nuclear waste disposal; developing and restoring groundwater resources; stabilizing rock and soil slopes for dams, highways, and property development; exploring and harvesting mineral and energy resources; and studying geologic hazards such as volcanoes, landslides, and earthquakes.
Engineering Geological Solutions
Specialty areas in geological engineering include the following:
- Soil mechanics
- Rock mechanics
- Groundwater engineering
- Civil design
- Hazard investigation and planning
- Natural resources
The daily duties of geoscientists, such as geological engineers, could include investigating natural phenomena and collecting data on location, interpreting the results in a lab, and writing reports.
Field studies bring geoscientists to diverse landscapes around the globe—from volcanoes to oceans to oil fields. Geoscientists must have the ability to develop a picture of a field site based on limited data; therefore, sound critical-thinking skills are advantageous in this discipline. Due to the nature of their work, these professionals must adapt to a variety of situations and working conditions.
About the Program
- Our state-of-the-art facilities allow students to experiment with advanced geologic technology. The department maintains labs dedicated to the study of remote sensing and volcanology, geographic information systems (GIS), subsurface remediation and visualization, and seismic petrophysics, among other areas.
- Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula offers beautiful outdoor facilities. The area surrounding campus is ideal for a wide variety of geologic studies. You don’t have to drive far to find miles of rocky Lake Superior shoreline and acres of forestland.
- Our curriculum focuses intensely on field studies; we teach two field courses in the summer but also provide plenty of opportunities for students to see classic and novel field sites in Michigan and beyond. Students have traveled to sites in Alaska, Canada, Florida, Guatemala, Mexico, Montana, Newfoundland, Nicaragua, and Utah.
- Undergraduate research opportunities are plentiful. Our faculty conduct research abroad, and students often accompany them on field trips. You might study volcanoes in South America, Precambrian rocks in Australia (or right here in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula), or the Bering Glacier’s melt rate in Alaska.
- Our well-rounded curriculum emphasizes the study of geophysics and social geology, or methods for mitigating natural hazards through effective communication and community involvement.
- Faculty and staff focus on giving students the personal attention and support necessary for not only academic success, but also a positive undergraduate experience overall. Learn from faculty who understand responsible utilization of our Earth.
- Opportunities for intercultural exchange abound at Michigan Tech. The Study Abroad Program sends students to countries around the world for stints ranging from two weeks to one year. D80 allows students to apply their studies to the problems facing economically disadvantaged communities.
Geological Engineering Mission Statement
Bachelor of Science in Geological Engineering will provide students with a broad background in science and engineering, a thorough foundation in geology and sufficient depth and breadth in the areas of humanities, social science and economics, to ensure that they can function and communicate in an effective and responsible way in meeting the needs of society. Students will receive a thorough background in applied geophysics, which will support advanced engineering courses. To maximize the benefits to society, students will receive a balanced curriculum of junior and senior level engineering courses in energy resources, mineral resources, groundwater engineering and geomechanics.
What career pathways are a good fit for our graduates?
Discover a world of opportunity. A bachelor’s degree in geological engineering will prepare you for a career in industry or graduate study. Generally, geologists employed in industry spend part of their working time outdoors enjoying nature and, if desired, traveling the world. Students interested in certain sectors of industry, such as oil exploration, or a career in academia should explore graduate education options. An advanced degree provides greater specialization.
Our graduates have found work in the following areas:
- Groundwater and surface water monitoring and cleaning
- Natural-hazards mitigation
- Satellite remote sensing of environmental processes
- GIS mapping of environmental data
- Site investigations of underground hazards
- Slope failure investigations
- Oil or gas exploration and recovery
- Subsurface visualization
- Natural and Induced Seismicity Evaluation
Where have our graduates found employment?
Employers of our alumni include:
- Shell Exploration
- DTE Energy
- Newmont Mining Corporation
- Rio Tinto
- Cliffs Natural Resources
- URS Corporation
- Ciorba Group
- 3M Company
- US Geological Survey
Geological Engineering Advisory Board
- William Griffin, PhD, P.E., U.P. Engineers & Architects, Inc.
- Shannon Lemke, Vice President, Exploration at Epsilon Energy
- Andrew Smits, P.E., Senior Engineer, GEI Consultants, Inc.
- Kevin Richards, Engineer, US Army Corps of Engineers
- Patricia Bryan, P.G., President/Principal Geologist, Bryan Environmental Consultants, Inc.
- Ray Wuolo, P.E., P.G., Hydrogeologist, Barr Engineering Co.