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College of Engineering


Richard C. Benson, Dean
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs: Bevlee A. Watford
Associate Dean for Administration, and Chief of Staff: Edward L. Nelson
Associate Dean for International Programs and Information Technology: Glenda R. Scales
Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies: Donald L. Leo


Mission of the College

    Virginia Tech is the home of the commonwealth's leading College of Engineering. It is known in Virginia and throughout the nation for the excellence of its programs in engineering education, research, and public service. It is the state’s largest engineering college, and eighth largest nationally for undergraduate degrees awarded.

    The mission of the College of Engineering is to offer high quality support for our stakeholders in order to provide a successful experience in the engineering education pursuits of our customers. The vision of the college is to foster strong working relationships between faculty, student and industry partners that will ultimately bring research opportunities through engineering educational offerings. The goals of the college are to attract high-caliber students and to provide them with a top-quality engineering education in preparation for productive careers; to invest in faculty development to enhance Virginia Tech's reputation as a research university and a leader in graduate education; and to forge new links with industry and government to facilitate economic development within the Commonwealth and the nation.

    In U.S. News & World Report's “America’s Best Colleges 2009” survey, the College of Engineering’s undergraduate program again ranked 14th among all accredited engineering schools. Two undergraduate engineering programs rated among the top 10: aerospace engineering at 10th and industrial engineering at 6th. On the graduate school level, the college ranked 27th among all schools of engineering, with four departments finishing in the top 10 of their respective category. The National Science Foundation placed the college 11th in the nation among the hundreds of engineering colleges for research expenditures.

    The College of Engineering offers bachelor of science degrees in the following areas: Aerospace Engineering, Biological Systems Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Construction Engineering and Management, Electrical Engineering, Engineering Science and Mechanics, Industrial and Systems Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Mining Engineering and Ocean Engineering. All other College of Engineering undergraduate programs in engineering are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, 111 Market Place, Suite 1050, Baltimore, MD 21202-4012, telephone: (410) 347-7700. The Computer Science program is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET, 111 Market Place, Suite 1050, Baltimore, MD 21202-4012, telephone: (410) 347-7700.

    Engineers play an important role in modern society. They design and develop new and better materials, products and processes for households and industries, from tiny semiconductors to huge dams. Engineers are needed across a broad spectrum of industry from the traditional field such as mechanical to the emerging fields of robotics and biomedicine. Engineers must not only satisfy society's demand for improved performance, reliability and safety of products, they also are expected to supply solutions for environmental and social problems created by new technology.

    Men and women trained in engineering will find many professional outlets. They may join large or small manufacturing industries or they may offer their skills and knowledge as professional consultants. They may work in government or private research laboratories or teach and do research in universities. If the future leads them into other professions (medicine, law or business), their engineering education will provide a sound base. Graduates of the College of Engineering are in high demand. Our student-run Engineering EXPO attracted more than 270 employers in 2008, and we are a key recruiting school for more than 40 major corporations.

    It is essential that engineers, regardless of specialty, be well versed in mathematics, the physical sciences and the engineering sciences so that they can adapt readily to meet the profession’s ever-changing demands. But professional training is not enough. Engineers need to have imagination and insight. They must understand the history and traditions of the society in which they live. They also must be broadly familiar with the social sciences and humanities. Last, but not least, engineers must be able to communicate effectively with higher management and the general public. All departments within the college are implementing programs to ensure that every graduate is able to effectively use a variety of spoken, visual and written communication strategies which are necessary for success as a student, for employment, and for life as a responsible citizen. Additional emphasis is being placed in freshmen engineering classes to emphasize the importance of communications in engineering analysis and design. Engineers who are well educated, not just well trained, will be better equipped to develop scientific knowledge into useful technology.

Innovations of the College of Engineering

    In a move recognized by the National Academy of Engineering for its leadership, the College transformed its Engineering Fundamentals program into the Department of Engineering Education. While Engineering Education will continue to train freshmen in the fundamental principles of engineering, that curriculum has been broadened to accommodate the Department of Computer Science within the College. The basic ideas and principles inherent in the freshman year — such as the scientific method, an introduction to design, an understanding of the engineer’s or technologist’s role and responsibility in modern society, and a first exposure to technical communication — can be imparted in both an “analog” and a “digital” environment. Engineering Education also has developed M.S. and Ph.D. programs to prepare students to teach engineering or technology at any level, from kindergarten to college. The National Science Foundation has supported these developments through several major grants.

    Tenured or tenure track faculty teach more than 90 percent of all engineering courses at Virginia Tech. Engineering faculty members focus on solving real world problems, and share these experiences in the classroom. The work of the faculty with industry brings modern, up to date knowledge back to the classroom quicker than any textbook. These experiences provide a hands-on dimension that result in the superlative quality of engineering teaching for which Virginia Tech is so well known.

    Virginia Tech engineering undergraduates are fortunate to have a combination of excellent classroom instruction and the opportunity to participate in "hands-on, minds-on" engineering training. Two unique facilities, established by the generosity of College of Engineering alumni, are available to undergraduates. In the Joseph F. Ware, Jr. Advanced Engineering Laboratory, students design and construct competition projects including Formula SAE race cars, Baja SAE vehicles, human-powered submarines and airplanes, radio-controlled aircraft, steel bridges, autonomous aerial and underwater vehicles, and hybrid electric vehicles. In the Frith Freshman Engineering Design Laboratory, freshmen learn engineering principles by working with a number of mechanisms donated by industry sponsors.

    The Virginia Tech Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS) has emerged as a vital vehicle that presents a strong link to economic development for the entire Commonwealth. Led by Virginia Tech's College of Engineering, ICTAS presents a case for advancement of humankind through collaborative research, and it represents a strong link between all of the colleges of engineering across the Commonwealth. For the undergraduate, ICTAS will provide opportunities for research employment.

    ICTAS incorporates the common features of Organized Research Units (ORUs) that have produced strong economic growth around highly ranked universities. At Virginia Tech, we recognize that a university-affiliated ORU is more than a traditional research center. It must allow for, and encourage, a seamless path from fundamental research, through applied research and development, to technology transfer - not only by publications but also through the licensing of intellectual property, the initiation of new companies, student involvement, and technical assistance to Virginia companies. At Virginia Tech, the common features emerged for the ORUs of ICTAS include: the clustering of synergistic research groups; teaming of researchers with science and engineering backgrounds; a breadth of activities that bridges periods of transition in research emphasis; the employment of full-time researchers and support personnel but with strong linkages to academic units through faculty and student involvement; and an initial investment and financial structure that allows the research unit to become not only self-sustaining but a provider of revenue to the university.

    In 2007 ICTAS dedicated its first building, the Nanoscale Characterization and Fabrication Lab. Located in Virginia Tech’s Corporate Research Center, the lab is a 32,000 square-foot facility on par with the best nanotechnology labs in the world. In March 2009, the ICTAS-I building opened in the College of Engineering corridor along Stanger and Old turner streets. The 99,000-square-foot building now serves as the institute’s home base, housing the School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences as a principal tenant, in addition to the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Management program head by faculty members Marc Edwards and Sunil Sinha.

    Approved by the Virginia General Assembly, the ICTAS-II building soon will be constructed in the university’s life sciences corridor to house research labs with a biotechnology focus. The three facilities will provide a total of 200,000 square feet of additional space for College of Engineering researchers and colleagues from the colleges of Science, Natural Resources, and Veterinary Medicine.

    Work also is moving ahead on the planned Signature Building. To be located near the corner of Stanger Street and Pepper’s Ferry Road, the facility will house many of the College’s core departments and serve as a leading center of engineering education in Virginia.

    It always has been the philosophy of Virginia Tech's College of Engineering to get the right technology in the hands of our students. This reasoning fostered our pioneering decision in 1984 to become the first large public university to require our entering engineering freshmen to purchase a PC. In 2002, the College of Engineering switched the requirement to a Notebook computer. In 2006, in order to provide the opportunity for our engineering students to continue their education at the cutting edge of technology, we moved to the Convertible Tablet PC. Use of this device in and outside of class provides our students with experiences that they will use in the future.

    The Convertible Tablet PC allows students to use digital ink for taking notes, drawing diagrams as part of the notes or homework assignments; annotating faculty PowerPoint slides or other electronic files and easily writing mathematical equations. Additionally, students are able to use digital-ink enabled collaboration software to support learning activities in and outside of class. By having all of their information electronically in one place, students have a tool to support them with organizing their assignments and time as well as collaborating electronically with their peers.

    The Tablets are used in engineering classes and incoming freshmen use their Tablets in their first year courses, such as EngE 1024, 1104 and 1114, as well as in many upper division classes. Formerly a "computer requirement,” this now is a "technology requirement.” We group the computer, software and any other tools necessary as part of an integrated requirement. Through this program we know that the students will benefit from their experience.

    The Myers-Lawson School of Construction further enhances Virginia Tech's recognized strong position of national leadership in construction education and research. The primary focus of the Myers-Lawson school is on values-based leadership in the construction industry. The school combines the strengths of two excellent programs - the Department of Building Construction in the College of Architecture, and the Vecellio Construction Engineering Management Program in the Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering - to establish a new standard for construction education and research.

    The School of Construction provides undergraduates and graduates more choices for pursuing construction education. It is anticipated that the undergraduate degree in construction engineering and management will complement the existing degree programs in building construction and in civil and environmental engineering. The school will work with faculty from multiple departments to provide students with additional opportunities to pursue concentrations, minors, or support courses related to construction. The Myers-Lawson School and the Department of Building Construction is located at Bishop-Favro Hall, a 31,600-square-foot building that provides classroom space, seminar rooms, and studios for students. The facility also houses state-of-the-art laboratory spaces, include testing labs, wet labs, material handling, tool and welding labs, and workshops for assembly of construction systems.

Green Engineering

    Virginia Tech was one of the first universities to formally consider the connection between engineering practice and environmental stewardship from an interdisciplinary perspective. The Green Engineering Program was created in 1995 and serves all departments within the College of Engineering.

    This program combines environmentally conscious attitudes, values, and principles with science, technology, and engineering practice, and focuses this interdisciplinary approach toward improving local and global environmental quality. Based on engineering fundamentals, green engineering analyzes the design of products, processes, and systems to minimize the life cycle environmental impacts, from the initial extraction of raw materials to the energy consumption and waste production during manufacturing to the ultimate disposal of materials that cannot be reused or recycled.

    The Green Engineering Program works with students, faculty, and the university administration to provide educational and research opportunities with regard to both the environmental impacts and the environmental solutions that can result from engineering practice.

    A university-recognized minor allows interested students to obtain a minor in Green Engineering in addition to their primary degree(s) in the College of Engineering. To obtain this minor, students are required to take 18 credit hours in the minor area as follows: 6 credits in the two core courses – Introduction to Green Engineering and Environmental Life Cycle Analysis; 6 credits in interdisciplinary elective courses; and 6 credits in disciplinary electives within the students’ major. Detailed lists of the courses which meet the minor requirements can be found in the Green Engineering Web site at www.eng.vt.edu/green.

Examples of Accomplishments at the National Level

    A student team from of the College of Engineering’s Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa) won the grand prize at the 2008 International Capstone Design Fair in South Korea with a trio of pole-climbing serpentine robots. The team scored the cash prize of 1 million won – the currency of South Korea -- with its robots, the HyDRAS-Ascent (Hyper-redundant Discrete Robotic Articulated Serpentine for climbing), the HyDRAS-Ascent II and CIRCA (Climbing Inspection Robot with Compressed Air), at the 2008 International Symposium on Educational Excellence 2008 competition. The autonomous robots are designed to climb scaffolding and buildings by wrapping around a poll or beam and then rolling upward via an oscillating joint motion. Using built-in sensors and cameras, the robots would then inspect the structures or handle other dangerous tasks now done by human.

    The Engineers’ Forum, a magazine produced quarterly by Virginia Tech students on issues relating to the College of Engineering, announced a $100,000 gift to the University’s Education Foundation. The gift will be divided into two funds that will be used to provide scholarship money to officers of the magazine on a permanent basis. In 2001, the Engineers’ Forum created its initial endowment. That first endowment directs scholarship money of $500 per semester to the editor-in-chief of the magazine.

    A student team, consisting of undergraduate and graduate students within the materials science and engineering (MSE) department, created a new, highly durable brick tha tone day could be used to help build moon colonies. The bricks won the 2008 In-Situ Lunar Resource Utilization materials and construction category award from the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES). The award was one of two prizes given out this year by the research center, which is dedicated to supporting life on the moon and beyond. Initially designed to construct a dome, the building material is composed of a lunar rock-like material mixed with powdered aluminum moldable into any shape. Design work on the early-development lunar bricks was based on previous work by the student team’s adviser Kathryn Logan, of the MSE department and the Virginia Tech Langley Professor at the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) in Hampton, Va.

    A student team won first place at the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME) / National Stone, Sand, and Gravel Association (NSSGA) Student Design Competition. The team won a $2,000 cash prize, as well as products donated by InfoMine USA Inc. A second team of students, also from Virginia Tech’s Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering (MME), earned fifth place. It marked the second consecutive year that Virginia Tech placed two teams in the finals, as well as the second year in a row that the university captured the top spot at the competition.

    A team from the Bradley Electrical and Computer Engineering Department won the Smart Radio Challenge competition for the second time in 2008. The event was part of the annual Software Defined Radio conference held in Washington, D.C. Virginia Tech’s Center for Wireless Telecommunications (CWT) team members were awarded first prize for solving the problem of how to handle communications from an infrastructure damaged area. They were grand prize winners in last year’s inaugural competition.

    A team of six undergraduate aerospace engineering students earned first place honors with their entry of STINGRAE in the 2008 NASA Aircraft Design Competition sponsored by the space agency’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate’s Fundamental Aeronautics Program, part of NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate. The students’ entry into the competition was part of a two-semester senior aircraft design course for graduating seniors.

Major Undergraduate Scholarships

    For the 2008-2009 academic year, a total of $2,178,712 was awarded to undergraduate students in the College of Engineering. Funding is provided by 67 scholarships administered by the College and 144 scholarships administered throughout the engineering departments. Four students who entered the College fall semester 2008 were selected as Dean's Scholars. These scholarships are open to all incoming engineering freshmen and are awarded based on academic potential, community service, leadership potential, family circumstances and essay quality. Each scholarship is available for up to four years of undergraduate study, based on academic performance. The College offered three new freshman and 9 continuing Eleanor Davenport Leadership Scholarships. The Davenport Scholarship provides full in-state tuition and fees and is renewable for students who maintain at least a 3.5 grade point average (out of a possible 4.0). The largest sponsor of upper-class scholarships continues to be the Gilbert and Lucille Seay Scholarship Fund, with 128 students receiving a total of $229,100 in scholarship funding.

Additional Facts about the College

    The University Honors Program offers a unique challenge to the student with extraordinary intellectual and creative ability. The program is available to all engineering departments and includes the opportunity for enrollment in accelerated courses, enriched sections, and independent study.

    A five-year Cooperative Education program for qualified students is available in all of the engineering curricula. After at least two qualifying semesters, students may alternate semesters of study on campus with work periods in industry. Participants are required to have a minimum of a 2.0 overall GPA, and students must have earned a 2.0 in the semester prior to any work experience. Individual departments may impose higher GPA restrictions, including ones based on in-major GPA.

    Approximately 7,442 students are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate engineering departments at Virginia Tech as of spring 2009. More than 37 percent of the undergraduate students are from out-of-state, primarily from Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York. In the entering 2008-2009 freshman class, the average SAT score for the general engineering student was 1270 and the average high school grade point average was 3.87 on a 4.0 scale. Approximately 17 percent of the entering class are female. Another 18.3 percent are members of under-represented populations.

    Of the 2007-2008 College of Engineering graduates who were employed full-time, (the most recent year for which statistics are known), 97 percent were employed in a field related to their major. The average annual salary at the bachelor's level was $56,632.


    All students admitted to the College of Engineering as freshmen are placed in the Department of Engineering Education and are designated as General Engineering students. Upon completion of a set of required freshman-level courses, students with acceptable academic records are eligible for transfer into one of the college's 14 degree programs. (The exception is that students who are on the Dean's List their first semester may elect to transfer after one semester.) Admission to a degree program is competitive, with departmental restrictions established each year by the college. Students transferring to Virginia Tech from another college or university will be considered for admission to a degree granting engineering program if they have completed all courses required of Virginia Tech engineering freshmen, based on transfer credit evaluation by the Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Other eligible transfer students may be offered admission into the General Engineering program. All freshmen and transfer admission decisions are made by the University Undergraduate Admissions Office.

    The college has a transfer articulation agreement with the Virginia Community College System. VCCS students who complete the Associate Degree in engineering with a minimum 3.0 grade-point-average and who complete a specified list of academic courses are guaranteed admission to the College of Engineering. Not all Virginia Community Colleges offer engineering courses. The Associate Degree in engineering is offered at Central Virginia, J. Sargeant Reynolds, John Tyler, New River, Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Thomas Nelson, Tidewater, and Virginia Western Community Colleges.

    The Associate Degree in science with specialization in engineering is offered at Piedmont Virginia Community College.

    Engineering Technology credits are not accepted for transfer by the College of Engineering.

    Students wishing to transfer into an engineering program from another college or degree program within the university must meet current standards set by the college for each engineering program. Application materials are available in the College of Engineering Academic Affairs office in 212 Hancock Hall.

Required Academic Progress

    Minimum requirements for graduation include the attainment of at least a "C" (2.0 Grade Point Average) average, both overall and in-major. Some departments may have additional requirements or specifications concerning the acceptability of C- or lower grades for in-major courses. Students are expected to sustain progress towards completion of their degree requirements, consulting with their academic advisor regularly.

    In addition to meeting university requirements, requirements for enrollment have been established by individual departments..

    Entry into a degree-granting department requires that a student successfully complete all first year required courses. Additional requirements are specific to degree programs and are as follows:

  • Biological Systems Engineering: a student must have an overall GPA of 2.0 or greater
  • Chemical Engineering: a student must have an overall GPA of 2.0 or greater and have completed CHEM 1036/1046.
  • Civil Engineering: a student must have a competitive GPA as determined by applications to the department, less than 55 hours earned at Virginia Tech, C- or better grade in ENGE 1024 and ENGE 1104/1114.
  • Computer Engineering: a student must earn a grade of C- or greater in the following courses: ENGE 1024 and 1104, MATH 1114, 1224, 1205 and 1206, and PHYS 2305 and have an overall GPA of 2.0 or higher.
  • Computer Science: a student must earn a grade of C or greater in CS 1705 or 1124, and have an overall GPA of 2.3 or greater.
  • Electrical Engineering: a student must earn a grade of C- or greater in the following courses: ENGE 1024 and 1104, MATH 1114, 1224, 1205 and 1206, and PHYS 2305 and have an overall GPA of 2.0 or higher.
  • Engineering Science and Mechanics: a student must have an overall GPA of 2.5 or greater.
  • Industrial and Systems Engineering: a student must have an overall GPA of 2.0 or greater.
  • Mechanical Engineering: a student must have an overall GPA of 2.5 or greater.

Graduation Requirements

    Degree requirements in the college range from 120 to 136 semester hours. Students should see their departmental advisor to determine the exact requirements of their degree. The 2.0 GPA minimum requirement for graduation also applies to all courses attempted in the student's departmental major; substitute non-departmental courses are not included. Where courses have substantial duplication, credit toward graduation will be given for one course only. Up to 2 credits in physical education may be used toward graduation as free elective credit. ESM 4404 and other courses below the academic potential of the engineering student may not be used towards graduation.

    The senior academic year must be completed in residence while enrolled in the major department in the College of Engineering.

    Engineering curricula have uniform minimum requirements in the humanities and social sciences. The 18-credit minimum includes 6 credits of Freshman English, usually completed during the first year, and 12 credits of humanities and social science electives selected from Areas 2 and 3 (6 credits each) of the Curriculum for Liberal Education.

    Although pass/fail courses may be authorized for those who maintain a GPA above 2.0, students should recognize future disadvantages when transferring to other departments or applying for admission to other professional or graduate colleges. Engineering students are expected to take all major department courses on a grade basis. Independent study and undergraduate research courses are available for those who maintain a GPA above 2.0 overall and in their departmental majors; some departments may require a higher GPA.

    The College of Engineering will accept advanced ROTC credit as free elective credit towards graduation. Some departments in engineering may allow the use of selected ROTC courses to meet technical elective requirements. Consult specific departments in the College of Engineering for information.