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Historic Review of Coastal Engineering

Jeffrey Havelin, P.E.

Course Outline

This course will review in detail the ancient and modern day Coastal Engineering developments. The basic concepts learned thousands of years ago still apply to today's engineering principles and practices.

The history of coastal engineering reaches back over five thousand years to the ancient world bordering the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf. Coastal engineering, as it relates to harbors, starts with the development of maritime traffic, perhaps before 3500 BC

Recently, archaeologists, using modern survey techniques, excavations, and old documents have revealed some of the sophisticated engineering in these old harbors. Technically interesting features have shown up and are now reappearing in modern port designs. Common to most ancient ports was a well planned and effectively located seawall or breakwater for protection and a quay or mole for loading vessels, features frequently included in modern ports.

In England, coastal engineering works date back to the Romans, who recognized the danger of floods and sea inundation of low-lying lands.

The origins of the USACE date to June of 1775, at the beginning of the American War of Independence, when the Second Continental Congress authorized General Washington to assign a "chief engineer" for the "grand army".

This course is based entirely on Chapter 3 History of Coastal Engineering of "The Coastal Engineering Manual "-EM 1110-2-1100. This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of course materials. You will be quizzed on the attached document in its entirety.

Learning Objective

At the completion of this course the student will have reviewed the following topics, and will possess a good historic background of Coastal Engineering.

Intended Audience

This course would be very informative for engineers or architects who are interested in the history and basis of modern day Coastal Engineering.

Course Introduction

This course will review the design, operation, and theory of Coastal Engineering over thousands of years, showing how advances in Coastal Engineering of today has been refined over thousands of years.

Course Content

This course is based entirely on the review USACE Chapter 3 History of Coastal Engineering of EM 1110-2-1100.

The link to the course materials is as follows:

Chapter 3 History of Coastal Engineering of EM 1110-2-1100

Please click on the above underlined hypertext to view, download or print the document for your study. Because of the large file size, we recommend that you first save the file to your computer by right clicking the mouse and choosing "Save Target As ...", and then open the file in Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Course Summary

At the completion of this class the design professional will have a historical viewpoint of Coastal Engineering, and will understand how the principles of modern day Coastal Engineering have developed over thousands of years.


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.