Department of Earth Science  /  Northeastern Illinois University

ESCI 340
Spring 2010

Course Description from the NEIU catalog:  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. 

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

Core drilling with a trailer rig

Contact Information

   Instructor: Dr. Laura L. Sanders             
   E-Mail (the fastest way to reach me!): 
          L-Sanders (at)
   Voice Mail: 
Office:  During office hours, I am in S-130 or S-134A.
          Mail may be left for me on the door to S-130.

         12:05-1:40 pm TR
           6:30-6:55 pm TR
           8:20-8:50 pm TR

Class meeting times:
          7:05-8:20 pm, Tues/Thurs, Room S-120.

w What should you bring to this course? 

w What will you gain from this course?




SCHEDULE OF ACTIVITIES       (This outline will change several times per week. Check back frequently for updates!)

JAN 12  INTRODUCTION: What is geotechnical engineering?  READ: Chapter 1 (especially p. 1-3, 11-end).  The Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists (AEG).  JAN 14  Engineering geology: rock, soil, and water.  READ: Chap. 2, p. 15-33.   
JAN 19  Engineering geology, cont'd.  JAN 21  Engineering geology, cont'd. 
JAN 26  Soil: Where does it come from?  READ:  Chap. 2, p. 33-45.   READ: Chap. 4, p. 94-124.  Homework #1 is due today. JAN 28  Soil composition and engineering properties, particle size and shape.    READ: Chap. 4, p. 125-135.  Homework #2 is due today.
FEB  2  Soil composition and engineering properties, particle size and shape, continued.  READ: Chap. 4.  FEB  4  Soil composition and engineering properties, particle size and shape, continued.  READ: Chap. 4. 
FEB  9  Snow day!  University closed. FEB  11  Review of weight-volume problem-solving and soil properties.
FEB 16   Exam #1. FEB 18   Grain size analysis.  READ:  Chap. 4, p. 115-124.  Atterberg limits.  READ:  Chap. 4, p. 125-132.
FEB 23  Soil classification systems: USDA. FEB 25  AASHTO, USCS.  READ: Chap. 5, p. 136-156.  Homework #3 is due today.
MAR  2  USCS classification. MAR  4    Visual-manual soil description. 
MAR  9  Soil compaction.  READ:  Chap. 6, p. 177-193.  Earthwork.  READ: Chap. 6., p. 157-177.  MAR  11  Soil compaction and Earthwork, continued.  Homework #4 is due today.
MAR 16   Soil compaction and earthwork, continued.  MAR 18  Exam #2
MAR 30 The geotechnical report project.  Site characterization: using geologic and topographic maps.  APR  1  Geotechnical project: drilling methods and sampling, continued.  READ: Chap. 3, p. 46-93.  Interpreting boring logs. APR  2  Last day to drop a course.
APR  6  Site characterization, continued: cross sections. APR  8  Site characterization, continued. 
APR  13  Geotechnical project, continued.  Don't forget: A visit to Wang Engineering will be scheduled at some point next week. APR 15  Class cancelled due to instructor illness. 
APR 20  AEG North-Central Section dinner meeting.  Social hour 5:30 pm, dinner 6:30 pm.  Meet at the restaurant! APR 22  Field trip to Wang Engineering, Inc.  Meet at the lab at 12:45 pm.
APR 27  Geotechnical project. APR 29  Exam #3  Get the review sheet here!  Course evaluations. 
MAY 4  Geotechnical Project report is due at 7:05 pm in Room S-130.  


w Attendance at all class sessions, including field trips, is expected. 
w All course requirements must be completed to pass the course. 
w The final date to drop the course, per University policy, is April 2.
w Check e-mail and the course website at least every other day to watch for course announcements and updates.
w Students are expected to participate in all course assessments, for example, "minute papers", ungraded quiz-type questions, concept maps, or survey-type questions. 

"Kissing Silos" in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Taiwan dam failure from 1999 earthquake
Bring the following to class every day:
w Your textbook and notebook

w Scientific calculator with keys for logarithms, exponents, scientific notation, and at least one memory

w Pencil, eraser, ruler, and colored pencil (any color).
Evaluation and Grading
   Assignments (including in-class assignments and homework):    25%         
Exams (three, weighted equally):                                                            60%  
    Project (details here):                                                                                  15%

w Grading scale: A 100-90%; B 89-80%; C 79-70%; D 69-60%; F 59% and lower. 

w Homework assignments either must be computer-printed or hand-written on engineering computation paper.  (See examples here or here.)

w For best results, maximize your homework scores by following the guidelines here.

Late homework assignments will not be accepted unless there is an instructor-approved reason for missing the deadline.

Make-up exams will be permitted only in a case where there is an instructor-approved reason for missing the exam.  Missed exams that are not made up will result in a score of zero for that exam.

Chicago's Deep Tunnel
Academic integrity:  The NEIU policy on academic misconduct will be strictly enforced.  A site from Indiana University explains and gives examples of plagiarism and provides helpful tips on how to avoid it.  Cheating on homework, exams, quizzes, or other course components will result in a score of zero for that assignment or more severe penalties, as described in the NEIU policy. 

Flexibility: The schedule of activities will change several times per week as the semester evolves.  Check this page frequently for updates!

Department of Earth Science | Northeastern Illinois University

Copyright 2010 by Laura L. Sanders.  Last updated April 26, 2010.