Department of Earth Science |Northeastern Illinois University

ESCI 340
Spring, 2007

Course Description: Introduction to basic concepts of design and engineering of earth materials.  Soil and rock mechanics, interaction of soil and rock with water, effective stress, failure models, rock and soil mass behavior, and materials testing.  Especially useful for those interested in environmental and engineering aspects of geology.  Lecture 3 hours.  Prerequisite:  MATH 104 or MATH 106 and eight credit hours in Earth Science at the 200-level or higher.   (From the NEIU catalog.)

Course Syllabus
 Instructor Contact Information    Outline of Topics
Course Requirements

 Evaluation and Grading
What should you bring
to this course?

Course Outcomes and Objectives (What will you take from this course?)

Links and downloads
Hints for Solving 
Quantitative Problems


Contact Information:

Instructor: Dr. Laura L. Sanders              Office: S-142
Most reliable contact method: e-mail L-Sanders (at)

773/442-5710 [Put my name on the cover sheet; the fax machine is in a different office, and they will need to know to whom it should be delivered.]

Office Hours:   Monday       1:30-2:00 pm and 3:50-4:20 pm
            Tuesday      4:05-4:35 pm and 6:55-7:25 pm           
                          Wednesday  1:30-2:00 pm and 3:50-4:20 pm
4:05-4:35 pm and 6:55-7:25 pm
                            Class meeting times: 5:40-6:55 pm, Tuesday and Thursday

Course Prerequisites: MATH 104 (College Algebra) or MATH 106 (Precalculus Mathematics) and eight credit hours in Earth Science at the 200-level or higher.

Text:  Donald P. Coduto, Geotechnical Engineering: Principles and Practices, Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1999.  Readings also may be assigned from other sources.
Course Home Page:

Outline of Topics

* This outline will be adjusted as the semester proceeds.  Please check back frequently for updates.
* Reading assignments listed here are for the Coduto textbook unless otherwise noted.
   Reading assignments should be completed before coming to class on the day listed.
*To see a list of each day's learning objectives, click on the date.  These will be added as the semester progresses.
* Possible field trips may be added at a later date... stay in touch for more info.

JAN  9 INTRODUCTION: What is geotechnical engineering?  Review of geologic principles for geotechnical engineers.  Read:  Chapter 1 (especially p. 1-3, 11-end). JAN 11  Geology review, cont.  Minerals and rocks.  Read: Chapter 2.
JAN 16  Geology review, cont.  Igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks.  Soils.  JAN 18  Geology review, cont.  Soils. 
JAN 23 Geology review, cont.  Discontinuities.  Soil, sediment, and rock.     JAN 25  SOIL COMPOSITION.  Soil phases. Weight-volume parameters.  Solving weight-volume problems.  Read:  Chapter 4.
JAN 30  SOIL COMPOSITION, cont.  Moisture content.  Solving weight-volume problems.  FEB  1  Solving weight-volume problems, continued.
FEB  6  Exam #1.  Get the review sheet here!
FEB  8  Solving weight-volume problems, continued. 
FEB 13  No class; the University is closed due to the snowstorm.
FEB 15  Solving weight-volume problems, continued.  
FEB 20  Solving weight-volume equations: derived equations. 
FEB 22  Solving weight-volume problems, continued.
FEB  27 SOIL CLASSIFICATION: Grain size distribution.
MAR  1  Student presentations on lab methods:  the sieve method for particle size analysis (Maureen and Evelyn).  Fines (silt and clay).  Atterberg limits: liquid limit. 
MAR 6   Student presentations on visual-manual procedure for description and identification of soils (Krys and Hossein), hydrometer method (Rob and Rob).  Atterberg limits: plastic limit and plasticity index.   Read: Chapter 5.  MAR 8    USDA and AASHTO classification systems. 
MAR 13   Student presentations on Unified Soil Classification System (Jeff), and site characterization (Matt and Dustin).   MAR 15 Exam #2.  Get the review sheet here!
MAR 20  Spring Break--No class MAR 22  Spring Break--No class
MAR 27   SITE EXPLORATION.  Historical records, air photos, and maps.  Reading topographic maps and soil surveys.    
MAR 29  Reading geologic maps.  Field reconnaissance and surface exploration.  Subsurface exploration.  Sampling. Read: Chapter 3.  
APR  3  Reading geologic maps. APR  5  Making geotechnical calculations.  In situ and ex situ soil testing.  Description of Geotechnical Project.
APR 10  Constructing geotechnical cross sections.  EARTHWORK.  Field terminology.  Field equipment and methods.  Geotechnical Project (Step 2). APR 12  Making cross sections.  Solving weight/mass/volume problems.  
APR 17  AEG North Central Chapter meeting.  
APR 19  Geotechnical Project (Step 3).   Soil compaction standards and assessment.  Read:  Chapter 6. 
APR 24  Visit to Wang Engineering, Inc. geotechnical laboratory
APR 26  Earthwork and field equipment. Read:  Chapter 6.  Course evaluation.  
MAY 1 FINAL EXAM 6:00-7:50 pm.  Please note the unusual time.   Get the review sheet here!   The Geotechnical Project is due today.
Course Requirements

at all class sessions is expected.  In addition, we mayl be taking some field trips; attendance at field trips is expected if at all possible.

Course Materials: 
Please bring the following to class every day:
    * Your textbook and notebook;
    * Scientific calculator that has keys for logarithms, exponents, and scientific notation, and has at least one memory.
    * Pencil, eraser, 6" ruler, and a colored pencil (any color).

E-Mail: Students must have an e-mail account (either through NEIU or an e-mail service) and must check their e-mail at least three times weekly.
Homework:  Homework will be assigned regularly.  Assignments and due dates will be posted on the homework page.  If your homework is not ready on the due date, this must be discussed with me on or before that date.  No late homework will be accepted unless prior arrangement is made; no late homework will be accepted more than one week past the due date.
Assessments: Students must participate in all assessment activities ("green sheets").  I want to learn how well certain concepts are getting across and how the class is feeling about the material and the course as we go along.  At the end most class periods, you will assess this, anonymously.  On these "green sheets", assessment questions will help me find out how well the day's outcomes were achieved.  This may be done in the form of an ungraded quiz-type question, a concept map, or survey-type questions.  This information will help me to determine the extent to which the course is meeting its goals.  To provide me with the most information so that I can make the course better, I ask that you give me your most thoughtful, honest feedback-- the more, the better.  A list of course outcomes is linked to this syllabus.  In addition to these outcomes, each class day you will receive a list of expected daily outcomes.  You also can find these daily outcomes from the outline of topics in this syllabus; just click on each date.

Academic integrity:    The NEIU policy on academic integrity will be strictly enforced.  A site from the University of Indiana explains and gives examples of plagiarism and provides helpful tips on how to avoid it.

This outline will change as the semester goes along.  Please allow for flexibility in topics and assignments.  Check this web page frequently to see the updated material.

Evaluation and Grading
Three exams, weighted equally.

No extra credit will be given.
In general, 90-100% = A,
80-89% = B,
70-79% = C,
60-69% = D,
<60% =F

What should you bring to this course?  Click here to see a list of the skills and knowledge you should already have as you begin this course.

What will you gain from this course? Click here to see a list of the skills and knowledge you will gain from this course.

Department of Earth Science | Northeastern Illinois University

© 2007 Laura L. Sanders.  Last updated April 12, 2007.