Department of Civil and Urban Engineering


Department of Civil and Urban Engineering
About the Department of Civil & Urban Engineering

The former 4-year BSc Civil Engineering program was changed to 5-year BSc Civil & Urban Engineering program in the year 2008 under the institute of technology, Haramaya University.

As part of the change towards a new five-year degree structure, the department has evaluated its current program. It has identified important, and currently unmet, needs for civil engineers to work in local government specifically, and urban infrastructure generally, to address the backlog in infrastructure and the future needs of a rapidly growing urban population. Working in urban areas, where the civil engineering infrastructure directly services the urban population, there is a need for specialist skills and knowledge that are not necessarily required in other civil engineering works. These relate specifically to the social and financial surround and the specific nature of the physical environment.

To ensure that civil engineers have the appropriate skills and knowledge, the University of Haramaya is working with the Universities of Arba Minch,Hawassa and MadaWalabuin the on-going development and implementation of a new degree program in Civil and Urban Engineering. This program incorporates the core subjects of engineering science and is founded upon the same theoretical base of basic sciences and mathematics as other civil engineering degrees in the country. It therefore meets all the requirements of a civil engineering degree. Where it differs is in the focus of the applications subjects, which are all related specifically to the urban context, and in its management focus, which again links to the management of urban infrastructure.

The new study program has a total duration of 10 semesters including a one semester industry placement for on job training. Each semester carries approximately 30 ECTS and the total ECTS load of the program is 300, which includes optional modules.

Finally the program has introduced new practical modules, including both general and specialized workshop practices, the mandatory industry placement and two new civil engineering design projects.

Objectives of the Department

The Objective of this B.Sc. program is to produce outstanding civil and urban engineering graduates who have been prepared to become technological, managerial and public service leaders capable of understanding the social and environmental challenges that face the country, and who will be in a position to make a meaningful contribution to both national social and economic growth and development as well as being able to respond to, and benefit from, the impact of global change. The faculty and the staff are committed to creating a learning environment that provides a level of knowledge and competency in these areas, through an innovative program of study, supported by a capability in information technology use, coupled with a capacity to integrate the key social and environmental issues facing the country.

This program is aimed primarily at training engineers required for building and developing the cities and towns of the future, though the skills imparted will also enable the graduates to work in all other fields of civil engineering. It will produce well qualified engineers knowledgeable in the core engineering science areas of structural, geotechnical and hydraulic engineering. At the same time those graduates will also have knowledge of civil engineering infrastructure as a resource and as a service, ensuring that they can be actively engaged in the planning, development and management of civil engineering infrastructure projects. Specifically, the trainees will be equipped with the knowledge that enables them to execute the following tasks:

  • Undertake project identification, pre-feasibility and feasibility studies in a challenging social and economic context, and design civil engineering works that are both sustainable and appropriate to that context.
  • Prepare contract documents for civil engineering projects that can be undertaken by either machine- or labour-based construction methods.
  • Manage and maintain the civil engineering works in a cost-effective and efficient manner.
  • Manage the resource flows (water, waste, transport) associated with the existing civil engineering works on a sustainable basis.

Definition of Civil and Urban Engineering

Civil Engineering is a discipline that works to create a built environment on the planet. The traditional definition of the British Institution of Civil Engineers did not define civil engineering per se. Rather it defined the civil engineer as someone who “harnesses the great forces of nature to the benefit of mankind” ((Charter of the Institution of Civil Engineers, United Kingdom, 1828). This is done through the design, construction, operation and maintenance of infrastructure.

This definition was developed in an era where the primarily relationship between people and the planet was exploitative (using this term in a geological context). There is now recognition that the earth’s resources are not unlimited, and exploitation on a major scale is damaging the planet. This in turn requires a modification to the historical definition. The British definition of the civil engineer has therefore been expanded to include ‘care and consideration for the environment’.

This definition retains is dominant technical focus. Whilst this may be adequate (though still questionable) when linked to the needs of developed countries, it has serious shortcomings in an African context, where there is a high level of poverty and where urbanisation is moving into a high growth phase, both occurring at a time when global resource constraints are becoming more evident.

Urban Engineering seeks to expand civil engineering beyond this purely technical definition to take greater account of the interaction between the built environment that is created by the infrastructure and the communities that are served by the infrastructure. Urban Engineering is thus the application of civil engineering works (infrastructure) carried out in a way that integrates this infrastructure with the social context, and situates the delivery and operation of that infrastructure in a framework of sustainability.

Core Services and Activities

There are four core service areas of civil and urban engineering:

  • Water Engineering. This covers all aspects of the water cycle as it functions within an urban catchment management framework, and incorporates: urban hydrology; urban drainage; water storage, treatment and supply; post-use water discharge.
  • Energy and waste management. This covers solid waste and sanitation, both of which have a major potential for resource recovery and re-use, and other urban energy forms such as methane gas recovery, solar and wind power.
  • Transportation and movement networks. This covers the transportation planning, multi-modal use of movement networks, and the geometric and structural design of pavements.
  • Engineering mechanics. This incorporates structural and geotechnical works, both linked to the above (e.g. bridges, reservoirs) and as building works.

In order to work effectively with the core services outlined above, the civil and urban engineer will be involved in, and require an understanding of, the following activities:

1. Infrastructure Planning

  • Carry out reviews of existing problems and situations.
  • Identify innovative and economical solutions.
  • Work effectively and in a collaborative way in a multidisciplinary environment.
  • Develop proposals that are matched to the social, economic and environmental.

2. Analysis and Design

  • Have a working knowledge of current design standards, guidelines and hand books.
  • Carry out topographic survey.
  • Carry out preliminary and final designs.
  • Prepare Bills of Quantities and Specifications.
  • Prepare cost estimates.
  • Manage a tendering process.
  • Evaluate tenders.

3. Contract Administration

  • Review and approve contractor’s program, method and schedule.
  • Supervise projects to ensure that drawings, specifications, materials and workmanship are as specified in the contract.
  • Check and approve measurement of work executed.
  • Administer claims and disputes.
  • Issue engineering instruction and variation order, check and approve variation order.
  • Manage construction activities and available resources including planning, scheduling, controlling and reporting.

4. Construction Management:

  • Decide method of construction.
  • Manage labour-based construction projects.
  • Conduct studies on cost of construction, materials, labour, equipment and productivity.
  • Manage construction activities and available resources including planning, scheduling, cost estimating, controlling and reporting.

5. Technical Management of Infrastructure

  • Develop and manage the mapping system for infrastructure in a town or city.
  • Work with the infrastructure system in a GIS environment.
  • Develop plans for new infrastructure projects.
  • Develop and manage contracts for consultants.
  • Plan and organize the maintenance and repair of existing infrastructure.
  • Work in a management team with other disciplines.
  • Plan and organise laboratory tests on soils, rocks and construction materials.

6. Financial Management of Infrastructure

  • Develop an asset management plan for the infrastructure.
  • Develop life-cycle costing plans for assets.
  • Prepare budgets for capital investment.
  • Prepare operation and maintenance budgets.
  • Plan, execute and monitor spending programs.

7. Associated skills

  • Prepare a brief for an environmental impact assessment.
  • Calculate the carbon value of resources used in infrastructure management, covering the products (e.g. human waste) or the activity (e.g. aggregate extraction from a quarry).
  • Incorporate environmental costs into life cycle costing.
  • Prepare a brief for a social survey linked to infrastructure need and/or use.
  • Evaluate the impact of an infrastructure project proposal on social equity and affordability.

Students Admission and Enrolment

The target population for admission into the Civil and Urban Engineering program is primarily students who have successfully completed the 10 plus 2 years preparatory secondary education and have secured a minimum cut-off point with high scores in Physics and Mathematics.

Depending on available spaces, diploma graduates from TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) in the fields of civil engineering will be admitted based on grades on competitive basis.

Applicants with a minimum cut-off point and with high scores in Physics and Mathematics in foreign countries examinations equivalent to the 10+2 preparatory program are also eligible. The equivalence is determined by the department.

Department Placement

After successful completion of the orientation semester (1st semester), students will choose academic departments according to their desired field of study. In view of the high number of applicants, admission to the civil engineering department is usually on competitive basis based on academic performance. 30% of the total available places shall be reserved for females in addition to their right to compete in the 70% places. The department admits, on average, 200 students every year.

In the last four years it has admitted over 200 civil & urban engineering students every year. And the first batch of students in the new program will be graduated in the year 2013. The current total student enrolment in the 5-year BSc program is over 2000.

Admissions to all regular undergraduate programs in all public institutions are processed through the Ministry of Education (MoE) of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

Graduation Requirements

Students must take and pass all the required courses to satisfy the requirements for graduation. The total number of credit points required for graduation with the Degree of Bachelor of Science in Civil and Urban Engineering is 300 ECTS, including the 30 ECTS mandatory internship (public sector/consultancy/industry placement).

Degree Nomenclature

After successful completion of all the requirements a student graduating from the Civil and Urban Engineering department will be entitled to earn a degree in


Degree of Bachelor of Science inበከተማምህንድስናCivil and Urban Engineering

Academic Staffs

The department has currently 22 full-time department members, 8 with M.Sc. degree (Lecturers), 11 with B.Sc. (Assistant Lecturers) and 3 with Adv. Dipl. (Tech. Assistants). Out of the 11 assistant lecturers, 6 are on higher study leave (4 abroad and 2 inland). The department also frequently employs experienced professors from other universities and nearby industries on a short term, part-time basis


The program has a modularized structure and is composed of 21 modules grouped into nine categories, four of which comprise the design projects, B.Sc. thesis, industry placement (internship) and the electives. The remaining five categories comprise general science and engineering, social science and humanities, mechanics, urban engineering and infrastructure management. Overall the program is designed in such a way as to provide a logic flow through the full 10 semesters, constructed around three major categories of civil engineering mechanics, urban engineering and management studies.

The 1st semester is devoted to orientation studies common to all engineering students. The 2nd to 8th semesters focus on the core civil and urban engineering studies. At the end of the 8th semester, the student takes a holistic examination covering all core study modules. The industry placement will be at the 9th semester following a successful result in the exam. The 7th and 8th semesters each have a major design project, as well as further study in advanced core topics and management subjects. 50% of the 10th semester is devoted to the B.Sc. thesis, with the remainder continuing the advanced core, and management, studies.

Teaching Context (Methods of Instructions)

In addition to normal lecture based teaching, students will develop their skills and knowledge through active learning in a variety of ways. Group work in laboratories and design classes is encouraged, since this will allow the students to interact informally with lecturers, technical staff and postgraduate assistants. Computer assisted learning will also be a feature of some classes. Finally, use will be made of guided reading, self-paced learning, and site visits.

Overall, the teaching methodology comprises the following:

  • Classroom lectures, duly supported by audio-visual aids, demonstrations and distribution of notes pertaining to the subject, whenever possible or wherever necessary,
  • Laboratory experiments and design assignments,
  • Instructional tours to appropriate establishments, construction sites, field stations, factories etc.
  • Classroom discussions and lectures by renowned professionals,
  • Enhanced use of modern computing facilities in the teaching-learning environment.

Examination System

Most courses will be assessed by a combination of written examinations. Reports on project work should also be part and parcel of the assessment matrix. The design activities shall be assessed entirely by course work and this often shall include assessment of oral presentations. 

According to the revised curriculum, in addition to regular quizzes, homework and assignments, the students will undertake two major exams for all the courses, the first at the middle (Mid-Term Exam) and the second at the end of each semester (Final Exam). In addition, the students will take holistic examinations covering all basic study modules before they leave for their internship.

In the final year, students should be required to present and defend their B.Sc. thesis work in front of examining professors and interested audience.

Post-Graduate Study

The degree in civil and urban engineering provides students with the knowledge and skills to begin working immediately as a civil engineer, particularly (though not exclusively) where this involves working with infrastructure in an urban context. At the same time graduates are encouraged to pursue further post-graduate studies to further develop their expertise. This degree equips graduates to move into a range of post-graduate studies, including:

  • The range of specialist degree programs linked to infrastructure management.
  • Business administration and public sector administration.
  • Civil engineering mechanics (structural and geotechnical engineering).
  • Urban Planning.
  • Environmental Management.

Potential Employers

A graduate with a degree in civil and urban engineering would have many opportunities for employment in both the public and the private sector. These include:

Local authorities.There the engineers would be involved with the management of the full range of civil engineering infrastructure, as well as the development of new infrastructure.

Federal and Regional Government. Work in policy and strategic planning in a range of Ministries and Regional Bureaus associated with infrastructure (Works and Urban Development, Water Resources).

Consultants. A work focus in the planning and design of infrastructure projects, with some supervision of the implementation of the plans. Increasingly consultants are also becoming involved with long-term contract management on behalf of public sector clients. There are also specialist consultancies working in specific areas, e.g. soil mechanics, environmental planning and management.

Federal and Regional Infrastructure Agencies. Work in these agencies focuses on the planning, design, supervision and management of major public sector works in roads, water resources, electricity supply, telecommunications, and airports.

Private Sector Infrastructure Agencies. The work in these agencies is similar to that of the public sector agencies, with extension into water supply systems.

Contractors. This work relates to the construction of civil engineering infrastructure and other civil engineering works.

Universities. Teaching is an important area of activity and the degree in civil and urban engineering provides a strong foundation for this work.