# Math Requirements for a Civil Engineer Major

If you have dreams of building bridges or designing complex public transport systems, a career in civil engineering may be in your future. Civil engineers are responsible for designing major public works like bridges, airports, tunnels and dams. Like many technical career paths, civil engineering requires an expertise in complex mathematics. The coursework can be challenging, but it's necessary to master math so you can successfully complete the college requirements.

## Introductory Math

Prior to taking the core math courses in college, you need to have completed introductory college math in high school. Geometry and pre-calculus is required before formal entry into a civil engineering program, though some schools may grant you entry with a deficiency, so long as you complete the course within your first semester of college. The basic math concepts you learn in these courses will be used throughout your entire four-year program in everything from chemistry to physics, and dynamics to design.

## Linear Algebra

Linear algebra is the area of math dealing with linear equations, vectors and matrices. This subset of mathematics is better understood by explaining its use. The simplest example of linear algebra is determining where two lines intersect on a graph. A set of two linear equations can be used to solve this problem, and high school students generally learn this in their math courses. However, in reality, its uses are much more complex and mostly used in computer-based programs. For example, the forces that a bridge experiences in its beams can be solved using a very complex set of linear equations.

## Calculus

Calculus is the mathematical study change. It helps provide a method for modeling real-life systems in order to predict behavior. Most engineering schools require three specific courses in calculus. The engineering school at Arizona State University offers calculus with analytical geometry in three levels, with each class taking a semester to complete. Calculus must be completed within the first two years of college, since the concepts are often prerequisites for other courses.

## Differential Equations

Differential equations is one of the most challenging math courses that you will take when pursuing a civil engineering degree. Many students struggle to do well in the course since the topics are often abstract and difficult to understand. Differential equations describe the relationship between the rate of change in one variable compared to another. Civil engineers can use differential equations to model a skyscraper's vibration in response to an earthquake to ensure a building meets required safety performance.

References

Writer Bio

Auston Matta is an experienced engineer who has worked in the packaging industry since 2003. He holds a bachelor's degree in bio-engineering and a master's degree in engineering management. Auston has also contributed to "Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News."