Mar 29, 2023  
2017-2018 Catalog 
2017-2018 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geophysical Engineering Website

Geophysical Engineering

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Department Head: Dr. Marvin Speece
  (406) 496-4188
  ELC 305
Administrative Assistant: Paige Payne
  (406) 496-4401
  ELC 301
Department FAX (406) 496-4704

Geophysical engineering involves the application of physics and engineering principles to geological problems. The geophysical engineer is concerned with measurements and techniques for the mapping and imaging of physical properties of the earth’s crust much as the medical profession uses a variety of techniques to measure and image the interior of the human body.

Maps, cross-sections and images of physical properties are often required for economic, engineering, safety and environmental reasons. Geophysical measurements are essential for the detection, delineation and development of oil, gas, and mineral deposits as well as groundwater resources. Exploration geophysics is the name often applied to this branch of geophysics. Subsurface information may also be required for the placement of large engineered structures such as dams and bridges or the characterization of sites affected by environmental impacts. Engineering geophysicists conduct investigations for these applications.

The Geophysical Engineering program provides interdisciplinary course study in physics, geology, math, computer science, and engineering. The geophysical engineer is prepared to work on teams which might include geologists, hydrologists, petroleum engineers, mining engineers, and environmental engineers.  The Bachelor of Science degree in Geophysical Engineering is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET,

Program Objectives

Graduates of the Geophysical Engineering Program are expected to:

  1. Demonstrate an ability to apply engineering principles and techniques towards the practical application of geophysical methods.
  2. Demonstrate the skills necessary to enter the geophysical exploration industry, contribution at the professional level and be successful throughout their careers.

Geophysical Engineering Program Outcomes:

Graduates of the Geophysical Engineering Program will have demonstrated:

  1. An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering.
  2. An ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data.
  3. An ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within heath and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability.
  4. An ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams.
  5. An ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems.
  6. An understanding of professional ethical responsibility.
  7. An ability to communicate effectively.
  8. The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context.
  9. A recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning.
  10. A knowledge of contemporary issues.
  11. An ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.

Program Assessment

The curriculum and objectives are reviewed periodically by the faculty with input from students, alumni and an industry advisory board. Students from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists Student Chapter are solicited for their input on the program and suggestions for improvements. The faculty reviews student performance in certain courses and makes suggestions for changes and identifies areas that need improvement. The Advisory Board reviews the curriculum, course content and student support, and helps to make sure that the curriculum and objectives meet current and future industry needs. The Advisory Board, along with industry recruiters, provides important sources of information on industry trends and their impact on the academic background required of students. All of this information is used to update and reshape the curriculum and program objectives.


The faculty in Geophysical Engineering consists of four Ph.D. geophysicists, one lecturer, and a laboratory director. All of the faculty teach in the program, advise students and are involved in the development of the program.

Program expertise covers all of the major geophysical technique areas with specialties and research interests in potential fields (gravity, magnetics and self potential), electrical and electromagnetic methods, ground penetrating radar, seismic exploration, image processing and remote sensing. Undergraduate and graduate research opportunities exist in these areas.


Facilities, besides the usual classrooms and laboratories, include a student library/lounge where informal interaction between students and faculty is encouraged. Computer facilities for the program include a dedicated PC lab equipped with software for word processing, spreadsheet and internet connection, as well as more specialized software for engineering calculations, graphics and geophysical applications. A number of Linux computers are distributed within the department, for use in more advanced course work and research.

The program also has specialized equipment for field measurements. This equipment consists of gravimeters, magnetometers, a gamma ray spectrometer, a spectroradiometer, two infrared radiometers, an imaging spectrometer, electrical equipment for resistivity, IP, VLF, TDEM and CSAMT measurements, ground penetrating radar, and seismic systems.

Fifth Year M.S.

Undergraduates majoring in Geophysical Engineering can obtain a Master’s Degree in Geophysics after receiving their B.S. with one extra year of study. Students in the Fifth Year M.S. program can complete over half of the course requirements for a M.S. in their Junior and Senior years. The requirements for this program are the same as for a standard two-year M.S. degree and are outlined in the Graduate School and M.S. Academic Programs sections of this catalog.

Minor in Physics and Geophysics

The Department of Geophysical Engineering offers Minors in Physics and Geophysics. Each minor requires 20 credits of course work. Details on the requirements for these programs can be found in the Minors section of the catalog.



    Bachelor of ScienceNon-Degree

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