Geotechnical Group of the University of Michigan

Geotechnical Group of the University of Michigan
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One of the unique characteristics of the geotechnical group at U-M is that we put a strong emphasis on graduate level education. We take pride in preparing not just geotechnical engineers, but geotechnical leaders. Thus, our group has developed a comprehensive course curriculum intended to prepare the MSc students for the geoengineering challenges of the 21st Century. A number of “core” courses are offered annually and are complemented with courses that are offered every second year.

Graduate students pursuing a MSc degree, may decide to complete the degree either in one or in two years. A student staying for one year, will be required to take all the “core” graduate courses and 2 more from the graduate courses that are offered every second year. If the student decides to complete the MSc in 1.5 or 2 years, he/she will have the opportunity to take more classes or perform independent research, that could also be extended to a PhD level. However, our course curriculum is developed in such a manner that students graduating in one year will be well prepared for the challenges they will face in their practice.

By providing the additional courses that are offered every second year, we also give the unique opportunity to PhD students to take many additional geotechnical classes during the course of their study.

A detailed list of the graduate annual courses and the courses offered every second year is provided below:


(3 credits)
Composition and properties of rocks and soils, geologic processes, geologic structures and engineering consequences,  mapping and map analysis, airphoto interpretation, in-situ testing of soils and rocks, field investigations, civil engineering facility siting.

Prerequisite: CEE 345 or equivalent. I (3 credits) 
Application of principles of soil mechanics to: determination of bearing capacity and settlement of spread footings, mats, single piles and pile groups; site investigation, evaluation of data from field and laboratory tests; estimation of stresses in soil masses; soil structure interaction.

Slope stability analyses, seepage through soils, settlements and horizontal movements in embankments, earthen embankment design, landslide and embankment stabilization, earth pressures and retaining structure design.

Prerequisite: CEE 345 or equivalent recommended. II (3 credits) 
Ground motion attenuation relationships, seismic site response analysis, probabilistic seismic hazard assessment (PSHA), evaluation and modeling of dynamic soil properties, soil-structure interaction, evaluation and mitigation of soil liquefaction, seismic code provisions and practice, seismic earth pressures, slope stability and deformation analysis, safety of dams, levees and embankments, performance of pile foundations, and additional current topics.

Recommended: CEE 345 or equivalent. I (3 credits) 
Waste generation and disposal; regulations and siting of waste facilities; site characterization for geoenvironmental applications; types of waste and properties; fate and transport of contaminants in soil; soil-water-contaminant interactions; geosynthetic materials in waste containment applications; design, and construction of liner and leachate collection systems; landfill settlement and stability, introduction to bioreactor landfills and emerging technologies for waste disposal; review of technologies for site restoration and cleanup;


Deformation and strength of soils; total and effective stress; drained and undrained behavior. Constitutive description: elastic-plastic, hardening/softening, Cam clay model, critical state. Stress paths, and testing of soils. Modeling of reinforced soil: multi-component model, and homogenization approach; fiber-reinforced soil. Theorems of limit analysis; applications in stability assessment.

Prerequisite: CEE 345 or equivalent. I (3 credits) 
Analysis of geotechnical problems affecting site use including weak, compressible soil; high shrink-swell potential; and liquefiable soils. Stabilization techniques including compaction, earth reinforcement, admixture stabilization, deep mixing, grouting, precompression, thermal and electrokinetic stabilization, and vibro-compaction.

Prerequisite: CEE 345 or equivalent. I (3 credits) 
Soils engineering as applied to the design, construction and rehabilitation of pavement systems. The design, evaluation and rehabilitation of rigid, flexible and composite pavements.

Prerequisite: CEE 345. II (3 credits) 
Selection of methods of attack for excavation of tunnels and deep vertical-sided openings. Tunneling procedures based on behavioral characteristics of soil and rock. Study of tunnel boring machines, shielded and drill-and-blast operations, linings. Soil liner interaction. Deep excavation procedures related to support of excavation systems, methods of installation and dewatering.

Prerequisite: preceded or accompanied by CEE 345. I (3 credits)
Field and laboratory practice in sampling and testing of soils for engineering purposes. Field sampling and testing; standard split-spoon sampler, Dutch Cone penetrometer, field vane, Iowa borehole shear device. Lab tests; direct shear, unconfined compression, triaxial compression, consolidation. Laboratory and lecture.

The course discusses the application of numerical methods and geotechnical constitutive laws to analyze problems in geotechnical engineering with emphasis on the use of the Finite Element Method (FEM) in Geomechanics, but also the Discrete Element Method (DEM) and some new developments in numerical modeling. Specifically the course will examine the importance of adequately modeling soil behavior. The finite element method will be presented and constitutive laws for geotechnical materials will be developed including linear elastic, nonlinear elastic, linear elastic-perfectly plastic and nonlinear elasto-plastic. The critical state framework for modeling soil behavior will be studied. Students will be introduced to and will use the finite element program PLAXIS to perform static analyses of earth structures and develop recommendations regarding realistic consulting projects.

Prerequisite: ME 211. I (3 credits) 
Engineering properties and classification of rocks. Strength and deformability of intact and jointed rock; in situ stresses; lab and field test methods. Stereonets and structural geology. Rock slopes; stability and reinforcement. Foundations on rock.

Prerequisite: permission of instructor. (3 credits) 
Stress conditions for failure of soils; earth pressures and retaining walls; arching in soils; theories for elastic and plastic deformations of soil masses; theory of bearing capacity; theories for stresses in semi-infinite and layered elastic solids; theory of elastic subgrade reaction.

Prerequisite: CEE 345. II (3 credits) 
Transient and steady state vibrations of foundations; phase plane analysis of foundations with one and two degrees of freedom; dynamic properties of soils; vibration transmission through soils.

Prerequisite: CEE 345 or equivalent. II (3 credits) 
Stability of hillsides and open cuts, geologic considerations; stability of man-made embankments including earth dams and structural fills, compaction and placement of soil in earth embankments, problems of seepage and rapid draw-down, earthquake effects, slope stabilization techniques; lateral earth pressures and retaining walls, braced excavations.


Prerequisites: CEE 511, and CEE 512, or equivalent. II alternate years (3 credits) 
This course is to serve as an introduction to the field of earthquake engineering, specifically the seismic behavior and design of structures. Topics include: tectonic theory; engineering characterization of earthquakes; probabilistic hazard analysis;
structural modeling and analysis; response of structures during earthquakes; performance-based design; seismic detailing considerations; selected advanced topics.

Smart structure systems found in civil, mechanical and aerospace engineering described using basic principles of linear system theory, domain transformations, complex plane analysis and block system modeling. Structural monitoring for effective data processing and system identification. Design of passive and active structural control systems using base isolation, tuned mass damping and active actuators.

Prerequisites: Math 425 or equivalent, CEE 513 or ME 541, or Aero 543 or equivalent. II alternate years (3 credits)
Introduction to concepts of random vibration with applications in civil, mechanical, and aerospace engineering. Topics include: characterization of random processes and random fields, calculus of random processes, applications of random vibrations to linear dynamical systems, brief discussion on applications to nonlinear dynamical systems.

Prerequisite: IOE 265 (statistics and probability) or equivalent. Winter (3 credits) 
Sampling design and data representativity. Univariate and bivariate data analysis: continuous and categorical environmental attributes. Description and modeling of spatial variability. Deterministic vs. stochastic models. Spatial interpolation of environmental attributes. Soil and water pollution data will be analyzed using geostatistical software.