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BYU-Idaho Gets New Major

Published On: Oct 28 2011 10:20:34 AM CDT   Updated On: Oct 28 2011 10:47:43 AM CDT
REXBURG, Idaho -

Students at an eastern Idaho university will have a new option next year when it comes to choosing majors.

Brigham Young University-Idaho just announced it's adding a bachelor's degree in civil engineering starting in the fall semester of 2012.

It means the most-requested degree in the school's engineering department will now be a reality, attracting more applicants to eastern Idaho, according to professor Garth Miller, Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Any student wanting to major in civil engineering doesn't need to transfer to another school with the program, which saves them from potentially losing hard-earned credits.

Farid Rivera is a sophomore at BYU-Idaho majoring in mechanical engineering, at least for now. That's because he's already considering a switch to civil engineering.

"I'm kind of interested in it just because it involves more landscape, building bridges and streets, rather than just working with machinery and assembly-line type things," said Rivera.

Reporter Jessica Crandall sat down with Miller on Friday. He said mechanical engineering, which the university already offers as a bachelor's degree, and civil engineering are closely related. In fact, many of the classes overlap, so the major shouldn't be difficult to develop, he said.

"With the numbers here, it just seemed like the logical thing to do with the interest and with the need throughout the U.S. for civil engineers," said Miller.

Miller said with students at BYU-Idaho coming from all 50 states and multiple nations, civil engineering graduates can improve living conditions in the world and right here in eastern Idaho.

"What you'll notice is that much of the highway system, bridges and roads really are in need of repair, and that's kind of a specialty area for civil engineers," said Miller.

BYU-Idaho has offered an associate's degree in civil engineering for years, dating back to when the school was still Rick's College.

It will start the extended program by offering junior-level course work starting next year.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, civil engineers are expected to experience 24 percent employment growth during the next decade. That's compared with an 11 percent average growth in all other occupations.