Rock engineering can be considered a more casual term for geological engineering programs. Students in these programs study rock formations, their composition and mining practices. Undergraduate programs include courses in a variety of engineering disciplines, including civil and environmental, and some programs may have optional areas of emphasis in petroleum engineering. Students in a 4-year bachelor's degree programs in geological engineering may be required to complete an internship or work experience as well as a senior research project. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent as well as provide high school transcripts and college entrance exam scores. To take advanced geology and engineering courses, students must complete prerequisite math, chemistry, physics and geology courses.
Individuals who already have an undergraduate degree in a science or engineering field could enroll in a mining engineering post-baccalaureate certificate program. These programs provide students with training regarding underground mine design and rock mechanics. Applicants need a bachelor's degree in science or engineering. They'll need to have taken certain math and science classes during their undergraduate studies. Some professional experience beyond a bachelor's degree is usually required.
Graduate programs in geological engineering are also available. These programs are available in thesis and non-thesis options, and graduates are prepared for careers related to the design and construction of mining and civil engineering projects. Program applicants need a bachelor's degree in engineering, geological science, environmental studies or a related field. Schools may require undergraduate coursework in geology, fluid mechanics, soil mechanics and structures.
Bachelor of Science in Geological Engineering
Individuals interested in rock engineering may pursue a bachelor's degree in geological engineering. This degree program is available at various universities and technical schools. Students learn about the compositions of rocks and their natural occurrences in the Earth. They review topics such as minerals, energy resources, hydro-geology, groundwater, natural geological hazards, rock stability, reclamation and site assessment. They are taught about research methods and practice designing original engineering projects.
Also, students are trained in contemporary social issues. They learn effective communication skills so they can work well with other scientists, engineers and the public. Students learn to plan and execute engineering projects related to the survey and extraction of mineral, water or energy resources to meet the demands of a growing population.
Students need to fulfill general education courses such as communication, sociology, math and English. Laboratory courses that allow individuals to study rocks and conduct engineering experiments are vital components of the curriculum. Required courses in may include:
- Structural geology
- Rock slope engineering
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Mining Engineering Post-Baccalaureate Certificate
A post-baccalaureate certificate in mining engineering is available for individuals who want to continue their education in geological engineering. This training covers the types of mines, mine design, mine ventilation, gas drainage, soil replacement and environmental impact. Students who earn a certificate in mining engineering can seek advancement opportunities in their current employment or seek other career opportunities. They may also seek pursue a graduate or doctoral degree.
Certificate programs focus on specific training. Courses may include:
- Rock mechanics
- Underground mining
- Surface mining
- Sustainable mining
- Risk management
- Mine management
Master of Science in Geological Engineering
Graduate programs in geological engineering provides advanced instruction and research. They give students a greater comprehension of issues they may face as geological engineers.
Graduate students learn more about geological hazards such as sinkholes, landslides, mudflows, floods and earthquakes. They discuss the responses to loading, exposure, fluids and temperature. Students are introduced to a greater variety of construction projects, including dams, foundations, retaining walls and tunnels. They learn analytical and testing techniques, including visualization, sensing, computational geomechanics, soil testing and liquefaction analysis.
Students in a master's degree program in geological engineering will need to take advanced math courses along with their major coursework. Their graduate courses may include:
- Earth pressures
- Land development
- Soil testing
- Earthquake engineering
- Foundation engineering
Graduates with a geological engineering degree may be employed in the business, government and engineering industries. They may find work in:
- Petroleum mining
- Coil, oil or gas production
- Renewable energy engineering
- Groundwater management
- Contamination remediation
- Slope stability analysis
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), mining and geological engineers earned a mean annual wage of $107,880 in May 2015. Their salaries varied according to geographic location and the specific type of engineering jobs. The BLS also reported that employment of mining and geological engineers was expected to grow 6% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov).
After obtaining a bachelor's degree in geological engineering, students are eligible for certification tests to prove their competency. These tests include the Fundamentals of Engineering examination, the first of two exams needed to become a licensed professional engineer in the U.S. After working in the field for about four years, graduates are eligible to take the other test, the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam.
Undergraduate degrees and graduate degrees and certificate programs in geological or mining engineering are all options for those who wish to pursue an education in rock engineering. These programs prepare graduates for various careers within the mining and geology engineering fields.