May 26, 2019  
2017-2018 SDSM&T Academic Catalog 
2017-2018 SDSM&T Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geological Engineering, B.S.

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Contact Information

Dr. Laurie Anderson
Department of Geology and Geological Engineering
Mineral Industries 303
(605) 394-2461


Professor Stetler; Associate Professors Katzenstein and Sawyer; Assistant Professor Li; Professors Emeritus Davis and Rahn.

Supporting Faculty

Professors Duke, Masterlark, Price and Uzunlar; Assistant Professors Baran and Ustunisik; Adjunct Faculty M. Anderson, Iles, Roggenthen, and Valder.

Geological Engineering

Geological engineering is the development and conservation of natural resources in ways useful to humankind. It encompasses diverse fields such as groundwater resources, subsurface contamination, slope stability, environmental site design, and mineral and petroleum exploration and production. Instruction in geological engineering provides training at both the undergraduate and graduate levels through the Ph.D.

Geological Engineering (GEOE) as a relatively rare degree program that only 13 schools in the U.S. offer. The degree bridges the gap between the science of geology and multiple engineering disciplines including mining, civil, petroleum and environmental engineering. As such, the curriculum that students complete as part of the degree is very diverse, with courses covering topics in geology, the engineering disciplines stated above, and engineering topics unique to geological engineering.

The GEOE program at SD Mines prides itself in providing a hands-on field based education. Students spend a large amount of instruction time in the field through lab and design courses, as well as a GEOE specific, six-credit field course taken between the junior and senior year. It is this significant field experience and wide breadth of expertise that sets geological engineering graduates apart from other engineering fields, and is a large contributor to why our program has such a high placement rate (89-100% over the past 20 years).

Geological Engineering Program Educational Objectives

The program educational objectives describe what graduates of the geological engineering program are expected to attain within a few years after graduation. These objectives are based on the needs of the programs constituencies.

  1. Graduates of the geological engineering program will perform competently in professional practice in the areas of:
    • groundwater
    • environmental site planning and natural hazards
    • geomechanics and geotechnics
    • fuels or minerals
  2. Graduates will demonstrate the ability to design and implement appropriate solutions to geological engineering problems, within economic constraints, while exercising ethical responsibilities and continued professional development and/or licensure.

In support of these objectives, the program in geological engineering provides students with:

  1. an understanding of the fundamental principles of geological engineering, basic engineering, engineering economics, and geology,
  2. academic training and design experiences to prepare them for engineering practice and career advancement in the geological engineering profession during their first several years of work, and
  3. an education that prepares them to pursue advanced studies if they so desire.

Geological Engineering Education

An integral part of the educational experience is development of the ability to design solutions for meeting desired needs in geological engineering work. The design component of the curriculum is developed within geological engineering courses that integrate basic science (including geology, chemistry, and physics) and engineering science (including statics, mechanics of materials, fluid mechanics, soil mechanics, and thermodynamics). This engineering design experience includes a two-semester capstone design sequence. The capstone engineering design courses build upon and integrate previous coursework to prepare graduates for the professional practice of geological engineering.

The nature of geological engineering is continually evolving as the needs of employers change in response to advances in technology and economic forces. To prepare adequately for careers in geological engineering, students must be willing to engage in life-long learning in order to embrace new technologies and to stay current within the engineering profession. Graduates with a broad range of skills, flexibility in learning new technologies, and sound training in fundamental principles can expect a competitive advantage in the job market and workplace.

The bachelor of science program in geological engineering is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET,, 415 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, Phone +1.410.347.7700.

A minor in geological engineering is not available.

Professional Development

Students in geological engineering are encouraged to participate in the Tech Geological Association as well as to become student members of the Association of Engineering Geologists (AEG), National Ground Water Association, the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration (SME), and/or the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). Students are strongly encouraged to take the Fundamentals of Engineering examination, as the first step in becoming a registered professional engineer.

Geological Engineering Curriculum/Checklist

It is the student‘s responsibility to check with his or her advisor for any program modifications that may occur after the publication of this catalog.

Freshman Year

First Semester

Total: 17

Total: 16

Sophomore Year

First Semester

Total: 15

Second Semester

Total: 15

Junior Year

Total: 16

Total: 15


Total: 6

Senior Year

First Semester

Total: 15

Second Semester

Total: 15

130 credits required for graduation

Curriculum Notes

Additional coursework in mathematics and statistics is encouraged.  MATH 381  and MATH 382  are recommended statistics courses.  MATH 432  is recommended for students interested in numerical modeling of partial differential equations.

1 A grade of “C” or better is required in these courses for graduation with a Geological Engineering BS Degree.

Approved Electives (3 credits required):

2 The purpose of the approved elective is to allow students to gain knowledge that will support their chosen area of expertise through a course that may or may not have significant engineering content.  Commonly, students will enroll in a GEOE or GEOL course, co-op credits, or other advisor-approved courses to satisfy these three credits.  All of the courses listed in the “Professional Elective” list below will also satisfy the approved elective requirement, but courses cannot be double-counted. 


Professional Electives (6 credits required):

3 Professional elective courses must contain significant engineering content.  The list below includes courses that satisfy the GEOE professional elective requirement.  Students may take a course that is not on the list if it is approved by their advisor (including 600-level graduate courses). 

*denotes courses whose prerequisite is also on this list and would be taken as a pair.

ψdenotes courses that have MEM 304/304L Theoretical and Applied Rock Mechanics/Lab  as a prerequisite (typically taken during the spring semester of senior year).

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