Civil Engineering students at the U improve community in a capstone project.

Civil Engineering Students Learn while Improving Community

Seniors across campus have great opportunities to test their skills in capstone courses. One course that stands out for its rich experience and real-world impact is in civil engineering. Year after year, students in this course get to work on real, local projects, and since launching in 2002, most of them have been implemented in one form or another.

“The focus of the class isn’t necessarily to save the world but to impact the local community,” says Steven Burian, associate professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.

The latest crop of students demonstrates the impact the course is having — both on the community and the students involved. In fall 2012, the class worked with the Jordan River Commission to develop a comprehensive stormwater management plan. It will be used to guide all development along the 1-mile-wide corridor where the river flows from Utah Lake to the Great Salt Lake.

“Being involved with ‘real’ people, like the Jordan River Commission and other engineers involved with the Jordan River, brought an element to the class that made you feel like it wasn’t just another college course,” says Tyler Jepsen, a senior in civil engineering who served as a project manager.

All other students in the class had similar experiences, producing not only a hefty 78-page guidance document but also elaborate, sample site plans to illustrate how county officials, developers and engineers can use the document. Working on a real project makes the course more stressful, but the students say it’s worth it.

Hundreds of other students have had a similar experience in this capstone course, designing roads, bridges, landfills and everything in between. Professor Larry Reaveley has taught the vast majority of these classes. In the process, the students are making a major impact on the local community, while also furthering their education and careers.

GET INVOLVED: Learn about the Civil Engineering Department at

2 thoughts on “Civil Engineering Students Learn while Improving Community

  1. More schools should do this, good for them! I’m all for having students being able to learn and being able to function in the real world. What better way to do so than have them experience it first hand. It’s awesome that they were able to develop a plan for handling stormwater.

  2. I think it’s great that Universities are having students have hands on experience in the real world working on projects that benefit the community. That kind of experience can go a long way when entering the workforce or entering in for more education. I live in this general area and I know that stormwater management is highly important in that area.

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