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Three students wearing t-shirts and jeans stand on ladders to build a brick wall.

Civil and architectural engineering and mechanics students participate in classes and extracurricular activities -- such as this home build through the Design-Build Institute of America -- that prepare them for careers and graduate school.

UA Civil Engineering Graduates in Demand

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UA Civil Engineering Graduates in Demand

June 12, 2019
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The 2019 placement rate for UA Civil and Architectural Engineering and Mechanics grads tops 90%.

Almost all of the students receiving degrees in spring 2019 from the University of Arizona Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Mechanics had jobs or were accepted into graduate programs at the time of commencement. Placements ranged from large companies such as Exxon Mobil to local firms like Riley Engineering, and from the Peace Corps to the University of California, San Diego.

“Our faculty and staff work hard to give students the best experience possible during their time at the UA, and our students work hard to make the most of their education,” said CAEM department Head Dominic Boccelli. “I am proud that the diligence of these students, dedication of our educators and commitment of industry partners has paid off.”

The department offers top-notch undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs. In fact, U.S. News & World Report ranks the UA civil engineering graduate program at No. 36 nationally for 2020. About 150 programs are ranked nationwide, with many more not included in the rankings.

Connections for Doing Good Work

Gustavo Guerrero just got his bachelor’s degree and already has a job at Riley Engineering, a company started by alumnus Ronson Chee.

“We know the University of Arizona produces good engineers,” said Chee, who earned his civil engineering master’s and doctoral degrees at the UA in 2008 and 2017.

Guerrero got a practical education that left him well prepared for the workforce, and faculty helped him find the jobs he wanted.

“What I learned was extremely relevant,” he said. “I put a lot of my coursework to use during an internship at Golder. The Computer Applications in Hydraulics course taught me a lot of programs used in water resource engineering. There are a few of them that I’m really glad I ended up learning because I use them on a daily basis.”

What I learned was extremely relevant. I put a lot of my coursework to use during an internship at Golder."

Associate professor Lianyang Zhang helped Guerrero find his internship at Golder, and professor Kevin Lansey told him about the position with Riley Engineering.

“I like the fact that Riley Engineering is local, and it’s not owned by a huge corporation -- that way it’ll keep money in Tucson,” said Guerrero. “And one of Ronson’s goals is to provide water for people within the Navajo Nation. One of the reasons I got into water distribution is because I wanted to work on something everyone needs.”

Global Programs With Staying Power

Melrose Pan likes studying here so much that she doesn’t want to stop. She just earned her master’s degree in civil engineering studying transportation and is continuing on for a PhD. Pan enrolled in CAEM’s certificate to master’s program through China’s Tongji University, through which students complete some of their studies in their home country before coming to the University of Arizona.

A group of approximately 20 students gathered on the steps of the UA Civil Engineering Buidling.
A group of 2019 civil engineering seniors split into four teams to work on a shared capstone project.

Pan especially enjoys the sunshine in Tucson and values the support of her instructors, including her adviser, professor Yi-Chang Chiu. Chu founded Metropia Inc., which provides technology for managing urban transportation systems and optimizing personal travel.

“Before, I had almost no idea about this school, but after I came here, I just felt like it was the right choice for me,” she said. “I really love the university.”

Students across the world are also getting their bachelor’s degrees from CAEM. The department is partnering with American University of Phnom Penh through the University of Arizona’s micro-campus program, in which UA professors provide in-person instruction. The same option will be available at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani starting in fall 2019.

Small Community With Big Appeal

Dalton Thorpe comes from a family of Wildcats. He chose to study civil engineering so he could see his designs come to life. As an undergrad, Thorpe conducted research in the structures lab under professor Robert Fleischman, a renowned expert in earthquake-proof buildings.

Now Thorpe is off to the University of California, San Diego to earn a master’s degree in structural engineering.

“I loved that the department was fairly small. The students were a close-knit group, and it was easy for us to access professors and ask them questions,” he said. “The UA prepared me for grad school because I was able to load my senior year with graduate-level courses.”