Underground Construction and Tunnel Engineering

Degrees Offered

  • Master of Science in Underground Construction and Tunnel Engineering, Non-Thesis
  • Master of Science in Underground Construction and Tunnel Engineering, Thesis
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Underground Construction and Tunnel Engineering
  • Graduate Certificate in Underground Construction and Tunnel Engineering

Program Description

Underground Construction and Tunnel Engineering (UCTE) is an interdisciplinary field primarily involving civil engineering, geological engineering and mining engineering, and secondarily involving mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, geophysics, geology and others. UCTE deals with the design, construction, rehabilitation and management of underground space including caverns, shafts and tunnels for commercial, transportation, water and wastewater use. UCTE is a challenging field involving complex soil and rock behavior, groundwater conditions, excavation methods, construction materials, structural design flow, heterogeneity, and very low tolerance for deformation due to existing infrastructure in urban environments. Students pursuing a graduate degree in UCTE will gain a strong and interdisciplinary foundation in these topics.

The graduate program in UCTE is offered jointly by the Departments of Civil & Environmental Engineering (CEE), Geology & Geological Engineering (GEGN), and Mining Engineering (MN). UCTE faculty from each department are collectively responsible for the operations of the program. Participating thesis students reside in one of these departments, typically the home department of their advisor.

Program coursework is selected from multiple departments at Mines (primarily CEE, GEGN, MN) and is approved for each student by the student’s advisor and graduate committee. To earn the Certificate, students will complete four specified online courses. To achieve the MS degree, students may elect the non-thesis option based upon coursework and an independent study report tied to a required internship. Students may alternatively select the thesis option comprised of coursework and a research project performed under the guidance of a UCTE faculty advisor and presented in a written thesis approved by the student’s thesis committee. 

PhD students are expected to complete a combination of coursework and novel, original research under the guidance of a UCTE faculty advisor and doctoral committee, which culminates in a significant scholarly contribution to a specialized field in UCTE. Full-time enrollment is encouraged and leads to the greatest success, although part-time enrollment is permissible for working professionals.

Program Director

Michael Mooney, UCTE Director, Grewcock Distinguished Chair

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

Marte Gutierrez, J.R. Paden Distinguished Chair & Professor

Reza Hedayat, Assistant Professor

Michael Mooney, Grewcock Distinguished Chair & Professor

Shiling Pei, Associate Professor

Department of Geology & Geological Engineering

Paul Santi, Professor

Gabriel Walton, Associate Professor

Wendy Zhou, Professor

Department of Mining Engineering

Rennie Kaunda, Assistant Professor

Hugh Miller, Associate Professor

Priscilla Nelson, Professor