Computers in Civil Engineering

Lec. 3    Credit. 3


Civil engineering is the profession that focuses on the analysis, design, construction and maintenance of buildings, bridges, transportation systems, water and wastewater systems, and other infrastructure of direct relevance to society’s well-being. More recently, amidst growing awareness on environmental protection, this profession is also entrusted with safe guarding the natural environment around us to promote sustainable living. In almost all the different aspects of Civil Engineering, it is virtually impossible to escape the application of computer technology. This application of computers in Civil Engineering goes beyond the normal black-box application and requires the engineer to be an intelligent and cogent user in order to derive physically sound design and analysis. For example, repetitive and highly involved calculations based on regulatory code may be needed in the design of buildings where the tolerance for errors is very low; probability modeling may be needed in the design of robust transportation systems, trial and error approaches combined with novel mathematical modeling may be required in research and analysis of new class of problems encountered in design and project management. This course will therefore attempt to deliver the ‘thinking’ background that is necessary to evolve prospective civil engineers to intelligent and cogent users of computer technology in Civil Engineering, rather than become merely dependent users of a PC or commercial softwares. This ‘thinking background’ is expected to equip graduating civil engineers better for unforeseen problems that are often faced in the real-world.


The overall goal of CEE3100 is to impart a thinking background to become intelligent and cogent users of computer applications in various facets of Civil Engineering design, analysis and research. A secondary goal of this course is to improve the intellectual capacity of students for independent research through application of computers as necessary in graduate school. .


(1)Students will learn spreadsheet computations capabilities and apply tools and functions in the software for solving various classes of civil engineering problems.

(2)Students will learn to conceptualize the algorithm structure of problem solving for computer implementation involving a programming language. This first involves learning the syntax and usage of either one of the two widely used programming language (MATLAB and FORTRAN). The concept of an algorithm will be imparted through problem solving that involves – matrix manipulation, curve fitting, solution of system of equations, numerical integration and differentiation.


During the semester the students will be expected to:

(1)Use spreadsheet application (EXCEL) to graph data, perform least squares curve fitting, solve a system of linear and non-linear equations and perform numerical integration.

(2)Use a programming language (either FORTRAN or MATLAB) to numerically code the algorithm for curve fitting, solving a system of equations, matrix manipulations and numerical integration and differentiation.

(3)Solve a project problem in a related civil engineering area (e.g. transportation, structural, environmental or water resources) requiring highly involved and repetitive numerical manipulations based on steps (1) or (2), that otherwise, can not be solved through manual effort in a finite period of time.


ENGR 1120 and MATH 2110 or consent of the instructor. Students are expected to have some working knowledge of spreadsheet application, computer usage and elementary computer language programming.


Homework: 60%
Quizzes and Class interaction: 10%
End-semester Class Project: 30%


1. Spreadsheet Tools for Engineers using Excel, Byron S. Gottfried, Mc-Graw Hill (ISBN 978-0-070-2971842)
2. Numerical Methods for Engineers – Steven C Chapra and Raymond P. Canale Mc-Graw Hiil (ISBN – 0-07-291873).


1. Numerical Methods for Engineers and Scientists, Joe D Hoffman, Marcel-Dekker (ISBN 0-8247-00443-6)

Computer Usage

  • Spreadsheet applications (Microsoft Excel).
  • Internet/word processing applications for project reporting
  • FORTRAN, or MATLAB application for class project involving real-world problems encountered in civil engineering.


The student will be required to submit various types of written assignments during the semester. The instructor requires that all written portions of the assignments be done in a professional manner (neatness, grammar, sentence structure, and spelling). Substandard work will be returned without a grade. Once the student has returned the corrected assignment, the instructor will determine the effect on the assignment grade. All laboratory and course project reports will be prepared using a word processing program.


Every CEE project report should be accompanied by an Executive Summary. The Executive Summary should include following information: a) Title of the report; b) Name(s) of the author(s); c) Objectives of the project; d) Outlines of project activities; e) Summary of project outcomes (findings); and f) Comments and discussions if any. The length of an Executive Summary should be less than a page. The Executive Summary should be placed after the cover page of a project report.

Instructor: Faisal Hossain
Time and Place: MWF 1.25 -2.20 PM, PH 425
Office Hours: Thur 3-4 PM MW(or by appointment/email)
Office Location: PH332
Email: fhossain@tntech.edu
Tel: 931-372-3257