Introduction to Civil Engineering Design

Instructor(s): Prof. Herbert Einstein

MIT Course Number: 1.012

As Taught In: Spring 2002

Level: Undergraduate

Course Description

1.012 introduces students to the theory, tools, and techniques of engineering design and creative problem-solving, as well as design issues and practices in civil engineering. The course includes several design cases, with an emphasis on built facilities (e.g., buildings, bridges and roads). Project design explicitly concerns technical approaches as well as consideration of the existing built environment, natural environment, economic and social factors, and expected life span.


Some Famous Civil Engineering Projects – Bridges, Tunnels and Dams


These links feature some of the most recent and innovative bridge projects all over the world:

Tsing Ma bridge
Matsuo Bridge Co., Ltd.
Höga Kusten bridge


Link between Great Britain and Continental Europe: Channel Tunnel

This is one of the largest project in the United States: Central Artery Tunnel – Boston


These links feature some of the major dam projects in the world:

Glen Canyon Dam
Grand Coulee Dam
Three Gorges Dam
Los Angeles Dam

A report about the performance of dams during the Kobe earthquake

Some famous dam failures:

St. Francis Dam

Readings for Paperweight Design

  1. Sullivan, Louis H. “The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered.” Lippincott’s Magazine, March 1896.

Readings for the Charles River Project

  1. Introduction: Metropolitan District Commission, “Reclaiming the Lost Half Mile.”
  2. McAdow, R. “The Charles River Basin Study Area.” The Charles River. Marlborough: Bliss Publishing, 1992.
  3. Metropolitan District Commission, “Master Plan for the Charles River Basin.”
  4. The Old Colony Trust Company, Boston MA, 1926, “Building the Back Bay.”
  5. Ty, Raymond Kieh Sheng, “History and characteristics of man-made fill in Boston and Cambridge”, M.S. Thesis, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1987.
  6. The Old Charles River Dam: Committee on Charles River Dam, “Report of the Committee on Charles River Dam … to consider the advisability and feasibility of building a dam across the Charles River at or near Craigie Bridge,” 1903.
  7. Hall, M. “Flood Control.” The Charles, the Peoples River. Olympic Marketing Corporation, May 1986.
  8. Alternatives for the New Charles River Dam: The Department of the Army New England Division Corps of Engineers, “Charles River Dam, Design Memorandum No. 2,” 1972.
  9. “Historic Back Bay poised to expand commercial focus: With Boston’s office space tighter than ever, Back Bay has become an attractive alternative.” Boston Business Journal Real Estate Quarterly (January 22-28, 1999).
  10. General Information on Park Area and Development

Readings for the Green Line Project

  1. Koebel, Romin. “Boston Transit Milestones.”


Design Portfolio

Design projects are documented in the design portfolios. The portfolio also serves to document the student’s professional qualifications and should be updated throughout his/her career. Begin by creating your own design portfolio using these guidelines.

The Design Process and Team Work

Design Projects

Design Project 1: Paperweight Design

This project intends to provide an introduction to some basic design concepts.

Design Project 2: Charles River Project

This is a large scale planning project and should be conducted within a team.

Design Project 3: A Coat Stand

This project gives another opportunity to design and build.

Design Project 4: The Green Line Project

This is another major planning project.

Design Exercise

This exercise requires design, fabrication and construction to be completed under a fixed budget and within a given time period.

Download Course Materials:

This package contains the same content as the online version of the course, except for any audio/video materials and other interactive file types.

Download here.


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