Focus Areas

Civil engineering is one of the broadest and most impactful engineering disciplines that deals with designing, constructing, and maintaining the built environment while sustaining the natural environment. At Cal State LA, we cover the breadth of Civil Engineering while focusing on the following six focus areas.


It is essential to sustain our natural environment while creating our built environment. The Environmental focus area prepares students to develop sustainable engineering solutions for preventing and controlling air and water pollution, quantifying air quality and climate effects of various natural and human-made emissions, and assessing integrated environmental impact, environmental sustainability, and energy-water-climate nexus.

→ Expert Faculty: Dr. Arezoo Khodayari and Dr. Gustavo Menezes

Construction Engineering and Management

The annual value of construction in the united states is around $1.3 trillion, making the construction industry one of the main pillars of the economy. To effectively create our built environment, the Construction Engineering and Management focus area prepares students to manage the design, planning, construction, and operation of projects, ranging from buildings to infrastructure systems. Furthermore, students learn different techniques to assess, significantly improving the performance of such construction projects.

→ Expert Faculty: Dr. Michael Ibrahim


When creating our built environment, construction often occurs on the surface or within the ground, either onshore or offshore. This is why geotechnical knowledge is essential, as it investigates the engineering behavior of earth materials. The Geotechnical focus area prepares students to use the principles and methods of soil mechanics and rock mechanics, among others, to solve engineering problems and design engineering works sustainably.

→ Expert Faculty: Dr. Mark Tufenkjian and Dr. Wing Shun (Welson) Kwan


We often use the word "structures" to refer to buildings, bridges, and other components of our built environment. Structural engineers analyze and design the “skeleton” that gives form to these human-made structures. Structural engineers pay special attention to resisting the damaging effects of natural and human-made hazards such as earthquakes. In doing so, structural engineers are key players in protecting the users of buildings and infrastructure.

Visit Structural Engineering Institute (SEI)

→ Expert Faculty: Dr. Maryam Nazari, Dr. Rupa Purasinghe, and Dr. Tonatiuh Rodriguez-Nikl


Our built environment is carefully interconnected since transporting humans and goods is a major part of the world we currently live in. The transportation focus area prepares students to apply technology and scientific principles to plan and functionally design different modes of transportation. Furthermore, the Transportation focus area exposes students to emerging approaches to infrastructure systems focusing on the resiliency and sustainability of interconnected infrastructure.

→ Expert Faculty: Dr. Hassan Hashemian and Dr. Mehran Mazari

Water Resources

Water is essential for life. This is why we carefully design different systems as part of our built environment to ensure water availability when needed while conserving and sustainably managing our water resources. The Water Resources focus area prepares students to design such systems while encouraging students to analyze the impacts of climate variability on the long-term surface and subsurface water, water storage, ecosystems, and water quality using novel modeling techniques and the integration of advanced observation data.

→ Expert Faculty: Dr. Gustavo Menezes, and Dr. Sonya Lopez