History of the department


Originally under the title of Mathematics and Civil Engineering, Civil Engineering ranks as the first of the professional courses offered by the University. The purpose of that first course at OSU was:

"To enable our pupils to survey their own land, lay out roads, take levels for ditches, embankments, and under-drains, construct bridges, etc. and in short to fit them for the several avocations in life for which a knowledge acquired in this department is indispensable."

And this still remains the ambition of this department.

At the close of that first year the faculty decided that the institution should bestow the degrees of Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Civil Engineering upon those who had gone through the required courses of study. Civil Engineering, therefore, ranks as the first of the "special" or professional courses offered by the University.

Certificates of proficiency in civil engineering were awarded to three persons at the 1881 commencement. In 1882 Civil Engineering became an official department - the Department of Civil Engineering. It was not until 1883 that the University graduated its first civil engineer. Those before 1883 pursued careers as soon as they felt they had learned enough to go to work.

In 1885 the School of Engineering was established and included mechanical, physics, chemical, mining, geology, civil engineering, math and astrology, and military science. In 1890 engineering drawing was established. In 1895 the School of Engineering was changed to the College of Engineering.

The Civil Engineering program was first accredited by the Engineers' Council for Professional Development – ECPD (renamed the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, ABET) in 1936 and has retained accreditation since that time. The Department of Civil Engineering has continually offered environmental engineering coursework as part of the Civil Engineering Program. In 1993 the Environmental Engineering Program at Ohio State was first accredited separate from the Civil Engineering Program. The name of this program, first accredited in 1993, was the Environmental Engineering Option in Civil Engineering. The department was renamed the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in 1993 to reflect the growing importance of environmental engineering to the profession.

As a result of campus-wide restructuring, the department was renamed the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Geodetic Science (CEG) in October 1994. This was a three department merger that took effect – Civil Engineering (a comprehensive program with undergraduate, graduate, and research programs), Geodetic Science and Surveying (a pure graduate and research program), and Engineering Graphics (a freshman service course department with no research or degree responsibilities). The integration of these three dramatically different cultures was particularly challenging over the next ten years.

In December, 2011, the Department was renamed the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering. This was a result of the University PhD program review in 2008, requiring a reassessment of the department program priorities. 

Today the department is a more effective working unit dedicated to giving graduates a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of engineering. At the same time, the department strives to develop student innovation, management, and research abilities.



Geodetic Science was taught on the campus prior to its formation of as a division and the first degrees were awarded in 1953 and 1955 prior to its formation as a department.

On July 1, 1959, under the leadership of Chairman Frederick Doyle, the division of Geodetic Science was established in the Department of Geology.

In 1960 Robert A. Oetjen, Associate Dean of College of Arts and Sciences, is named chair and in 1961 the Geodetic Science division becomes a new Department of Geodetic Science under acting chairman Edward Moulton, who was hired by civil engineering chairman Ken Cosens. Moulton later (1970) became an OSU Vice-President and Secretary of the OSU Board of Trustees.

In April, 1995, the department moves from the College of Mathematical and Physical Sciences to the College of Engineering and in February, 1996, Geodetic Science physically moves from their Cockins Hall location to Hitchcock Hall and merges with the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Graphics. The combined units is renamed the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Geodetic Science under the leadership of Chairman Keith Bedford.

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