Pitt | Swanson Engineering

Welcome to the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department’s website!  We are glad you are here.  Please enjoy exploring and learning about our department.  If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

The University of Pittsburgh is proud of its history and tradition in civil and environmental engineering education, reinforced by a faculty who are dedicated to their students.  The curriculum prepares students to tackle today’s most eminent engineering, environmental and societal challenges.  Undergraduate and graduate students (M.S. and PhD) have the opportunity to study and conduct research in a diverse range of areas, including structures, geotechnical and pavements, water resources, transportation, mining, environmental, water resources, sustainability and green design, and construction management.  Graduates of the department have become leaders in our profession, serving with government, private consulting firms and contractors as well as research in private industry and academic institutions.

The department offers a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree that may be obtained by majoring in civil engineering or a new major in environmental engineering.  You can find more information on the requirements for each degree under the undergraduate tab.  The civil engineering major has been continuously accredited by ABET since its inception in 1936.  The environmental engineering major was established in 2015 in response to strong demand from students, industry and government agencies and will seek ABET accreditation in the Fall of 2017.  The Department also offers minors in civil engineering and environmental engineering to students majoring in other disciplines.

The undergraduate curriculum culminates in a capstone design project, which enables students to put into practice what they learned in the classroom, and offers a direct connection to local civil and environmental engineering professionals who consult with students throughout the semester on their projects. 

The department employs world-class faculty, offers access to first-rate educational and research facilities and partnerships with industry, all of which provide the necessary edge for our graduates to discover and pursue satisfying careers that have profound impact on meeting the current and any future challenges for the society. 





Apr
11
2017

CDC/WHO Ebola Guidelines Could Put Sewer Workers at Risk

Civil & Environmental

PHILADELPHIA (April 11, 2017) ... Research from Drexel University and the University of Pittsburgh suggests that guidelines for safe disposal of liquid waste from patients being treated for the Ebola virus might not go far enough to protect water treatment workers from being exposed. In a study recently published in the journal Water Environment Research, a group of environmental engineering researchers reports that sewer workers downstream of hospitals and treatment centers could contract Ebola via inhalation — a risk that is not currently accounted for in the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention or World Health Organization Ebola response protocol. The study, “ Risks from Ebolavirus Discharge From Hospitals to Sewer Workers,” authored by Charles Haas, PhD, LD Betz professor in Drexel’s College of Engineering and head of the Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering Department; and Leonard Casson, PhD, and Kyle Bibby, PhD, from Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, takes the first steps toward understanding the risk that this untreated waste poses to the people in the water treatment process who work in close proximity to it. (doi:10.2175/106143017X14839994523181) “During the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak we had our first case of Ebola treated in the U.S. and by the end 11 individuals had been treated here—so this is certainly an area of risk assessment that we need to examine more closely,” Haas said. Initial guidelines issued by the WHO during the outbreak suggested that liquid waste generated by individuals being treated for Ebola could be disposed of via sanitary sewer or pit latrine without additional treatment. Months later it issued more conservative guidelines that suggested containing the waste in a holding tank before releasing it into the water treatment system. But according to the researchers, neither of these advisories accounted for risk to the sewer workers. “While current WHO and CDC guidance for disposal of liquid waste from patients undergoing treatment for Ebola virus disease at hospitals in the U.S. is to manage patient excreta as ordinary wastewater without pretreatment. The potential for Ebolavirus transmission via liquid waste discharged into the wastewater environment is currently unknown,” the authors write. “Possible worker inhalation exposure to Ebolavirus-contaminated aerosols in the sewer continues to be a concern within the wastewater treatment community.” The team arrived at its conclusions by first talking to workers at urban wastewater treatment facilities to understand where and under what conditions they might come in contact with untreated sewage aerosols. The researchers then looked at previous Ebola data to create a model of its behavior under similar conditions — from which they conducted a standardized microbial risk assessment analysis that was developed by Haas. It took into account variables such as the amount of waste produced during a treatment period, the degree to which it is diluted, the length of time between its disposal at the hospital and when sewer workers would encounter it and the concentration of viable viruses that could be in the air at treatment facilities. A worker’s risk of exposure varies with the time spent in the contaminated area and whether or not they’re wearing properly fitting protective gear — so the team looked at what the exposure risk would be given a range of protection and viral particle concentration scenarios. “Under the least-favorable scenario, the potential risk of developing Ebola virus disease from inhalation exposure is a value higher than many risk managers may be willing to accept,” they report. “Although further data gathering efforts are necessary to improve the prevision of the risk projections, the results suggest that the potential risk that sewer workers face when operating in a wastewater collection system downstream from a hospital receiving Ebola patients warrants further attention and current authoritative guidance for Ebolavirus liquid waste disposal may be insufficiently protective of sewer worker safety.” While this study suggests that new guidelines from the leading public health authorities are likely in order, the researchers acknowledge that their work is part of the iterative process of understanding how to safely contain and treat the virus. This study builds on Haas and Bibby’s previous work, which has shaped the way experts understand Ebola risk. Their research on how long Ebola can survive outside the body raised important questions about how exposure can occur and how long patients should be quarantined. “We find this area of risk assessment to be particularly vital because of the preponderance of questions that remain about how long Ebolavirus can survive outside the body,” Haas said. “One thing we do know from previous research is that it is possible to inhale the virus to cause a risk — and it wouldn’t take much. At this point we haven’t seen a confirmed case of somebody contracting Ebola in this way, and our hope is that this work can contribute to revised guidelines that will keep it that way.” ###
Author: Britt Faulstick, Drexel University (britt.faulstick@drexel.edu, 215.895.2617)
Apr
11
2017

Third "Bamboo in the Urban Environment" symposium further develops standards for bamboo as a sustainable construction resource

Civil & Environmental

Following the successful Symposia held in Pittsburgh (May 2016) and Winnipeg (August 2015), the third Bamboo in the Urban Environment Symposium was held 7-9 March 2017 in Bogor Indonesia, just outside Jakarta. The Symposia series was supported as part of a US-State Department and UK British Council-funded Global Innovation Initiative (GII) project that is supporting the development of bamboo as a sustainable and engineered alternative construction material. The group focuses on the use of bamboo in third-world countries where bamboo is a more sustainable, economical and structurally-sound construction material. The Jakarta meeting, which brought together academic, private sector and civil society actors from 15 countries and territories, was jointly organized by the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, Bogor Agricultural University, Coventry University, and the International Bamboo and Rattan Organization (INBAR), a multilateral organization with 42 member states. This third engagement saw strong engagement and commitment from Indonesia, with stakeholders from eight new institutions joining the symposium series. Speaking on behalf of the Government of Indonesia in his keynote address, Prof. Bambang Prastia, Head of the Indonesian Standards Agency, stated that Indonesia is paying high attention to develop bamboo for the construction sector as part of a broader strategy to standardize and build bamboo industry. The meeting constituted five technical standards meetings and over twenty high quality technical presentations from among the approximately 55 invited delegates. The 2016 ‘Pittsburgh Declaration’ was unanimously reaffirmed at the closing section with new delegates signing on to this important global call to action.Bamboo has a critical role to play in the provision of safe and affordable housing and could be a key contributor to greener urban environments worldwide. This strategic resource combines rapidly renewable properties, strength, and cost-effectiveness – making it an ideal building material and a potential driver of sustainable development in many parts of the world, particularly those where traditional materials such as concrete, steel and wood are economically unfeasible or geographically unavailable.   The case for bamboo is outlined in the ‘Pittsburgh Declaration’ – a global call to action that seeks to increase international recognition of the benefits of bamboo, and outlines recommendations designed to more effectively harness the plant as a building material. To ensure bamboo is harnessed more effectively and becomes a viable building material for the future, the Declaration makes several recommendations. A key consideration is the development of international standards (through the International Organization for Standardization - ISO) - the plant’s use in modern structures has been previously hampered by a lack of formal standards and codes. The Bogor, Pittsburgh and Winnipeg meetings focused on issues of standardization and have already resulted in considerable progress including: Revision of ISO 22157-1 – Test Methods for Bamboo; an effort that will be concluded in 2018 and is chaired by GII coPI David Trujillo of Coventry University. Significant progress toward an ISO Bamboo Grading Standard; also led by David Trujillo. Consensus reached to submit a new proposal to ISO to revise ISO 22156 – Bamboo Structural Design in 2017; led by Prof. Kent Harries GII PI from the University of Pittsburgh. Initiation of work on a new standard proposal to establish material properties of engineered bamboo materials by 2018; co-led by Dr. Bhavna Sharma, former Pitt PhD, now University of Bath faculty; and Arjan van der Vegte, Moso International B.V. “The Pittsburgh Declaration clearly demonstrates a growing consensus among experts on the need to harness bamboo as a building material,” says Oliver Frith, INBAR’s Global Programme Director. “Bamboo is a practical, cost-effective and sustainable option that will provide affordable, and as we have seen recently in Nepal and Ecuador, resilient and secure homes. The recommendations included in the Declaration are an important milestone and offer a framework to ensure the plant plays a more significant role in construction.” “The international standardization process promulgated by the Declaration is instrumental to developing broad recognition of bamboo as an engineered construction material,” says Kent Harries, FACI, FIIFC, P.Eng., Associate Professor of Structural Engineering and Mechanics at Pitt’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, GII PI and Symposium organizer. “Our continuing research at Pitt and other institutions have shown bamboo is one of nature’s perfect building materials, and is primed for greater international use. As the global population continues to increase and the threat of natural and climate disasters threaten greater numbers of people, bamboo is especially poised to become our go-to material for emergency shelters.” ### Pittsburgh DeclarationThe Pittsburgh Declaration is a call to action to promote bamboo and initiate more strategic efforts to harness this strategic resource as a practical, affordable and sustainable building material. The Declaration was issued at the conclusion of the ‘Symposium on Bamboo in the Environment,’ held at the University of Pittsburgh, USA, May 4-6, 2016. The Symposium brought together academic, private sector and civil society actors from 14 countries and territories, and was jointly organized by the University of Pittsburgh, Coventry University, and INBAR. The Declaration can be downloaded here.  The recorded proceedings of the Symposium will be archived and made freely available through both the University of Pittsburgh and INBAR websites.The International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR)INBAR is an intergovernmental organization established in 1997 dedicated to improving the social, economic and environmental benefits of bamboo and rattan. INBAR plays a unique role in finding and demonstrating innovative ways of using bamboo and rattan to protect environments and biodiversity, alleviate poverty and facilitate fairer pro-poor trade. INBAR connects a global network of partners from the government, private, and not-for-profit sectors in over 50 countries to define and implement a global agenda for sustainable development through bamboo and rattan.  INBAR Construction TaskforceThe bamboo construction taskforce, facilitated by INBAR, coordinates the activities of international research institutes and commercial companies interested in the structural uses of bamboo. The Taskforce supports INBAR’s membership of the Global Network for Sustainable Housing – the world’s premier knowledge network on sustainable housing, hosted by UN-Habitat in Nairobi. Its overall objective is to act as the world’s premier information and knowledge center on structural uses of bamboo.

Apr
6
2017

UK’s Leverhulme Trust awards Pitt’s Dr. Kent Harries with prestigious visiting professorship to University of Bath

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (April 6, 2017) … Kent Harries, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and Bicentennial Board of Visitors Faculty Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, was awarded a Leverhulme Visiting Professorship by the Leverhulme Trust in the UK. Dr. Harries will serve as Leverhulme Visiting Professor at the University of Bath from September 2017 – August 2018.   Dr. Harries, whose research focuses on the use of nonconventional materials in construction, will utilize his professorship to develop curricula and other programs on fiber-reinforced polymers (FRP) in collaboration with Bath researchers and instructors. Commonly used in the UK and EU for structural design and repair, FRPs are relevant to UK industry and to code/standards development, with implications for other types of nonconventional materials utilized around the world. “The University of Bath is the pre-eminent institution for the study of nonconventional construction materials in the world, and so this expertise corresponds greatly with my research interests beyond FRP materials, such as the use bamboo in developing regions,” Dr. Harries said. “Both Pitt and Bath will benefit from this professorship through the exchange of our research expertise and curriculum development for students in the U.S. and UK.” Established in 1925 by the will of William Hesketh Lever, the founder of Lever Brothers, the Leverhulme Trust provides grants and scholarships for research and education, and is one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK. ###

Apr
6
2017

Civil Engineering’s Piervincenzo Rizzo recognized by ASNT for Best Paper on nondestructive testing

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (April 6, 2017) … Piervincenzo (Piero) Rizzo, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, was awarded the 2017 Outstanding Paper from the American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT), for the paper “ Fractal Analysis Applied to Laser Spot Thermography” published in the journal Materials Evaluation [Volume 74, Issue 3, pgs. 409-417, March 2016]. The ASNT Outstanding Paper in Materials Evaluation Award is presented to a person or persons for a manuscript published in Materials Evaluation, which, in the opinion of the Awards Committee, is an outstanding contribution to the advancement of nondestructive testing. Nominations may only be made by reviewers, Associate Technical Editors or Editors of the Journals, or Outstanding Paper Awards Committee Members. Dr. Rizzo will be recognized at the 2017 ASNT Annual Conference in Nashville, October 30-November 2. Dr. Rizzo’s academic and professional interests include nondestructive testing/evaluation, structural health monitoring, signal processing and automatic pattern recognition for real-time prognosis of structural and biological materials, and implementation of embedded sensor network for the health monitoring of civil, mechanical and aerospace structures. Current research is focused on the development of guided wave-based SHM methodologies for pipes, and the investigation of highly-nonlinear solitary waves for the noninvasive assessment of structural and biomaterials including structural buckling. In 2015 the International Workshop on Structural Health Monitoring recognized him as the Structural Health Monitoring Person of the Year. In 2016 he received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Junior Scholar Award, the Pitt’s most esteemed award given to young faculty.   Dr. Rizzo earned his laurea (MS) in aeronautical engineering from the University of Palermo, Italy, and his Master and PhD in structural engineering from the University of California – San Diego. About Pitt’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Founded in 1867, the Civil and Environmental Engineering program at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering is one of the oldest engineering programs in the U.S. Civil engineering students at Pitt have the opportunity to engage in undergraduate and graduate programs in a broad range of topics, including environmental engineering and water resources, geotechnical and pavements, structural engineering and mechanics, and sustainability and green design. ###

Apr
3
2017

MCSI Seed Grants Fund New Round of Sustainability Research

Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Industrial, MEMS

PITTSBURGH, PA (April 3, 2017) … The Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (MCSI) has announced the recipients of 2017-2018 MCSI seed grant funding. The annual seed grant program engages a core team of researchers who are passionate about sustainability. Seed grants support graduate student and post-doctoral fellows on one-year research projects. The University of Pittsburgh projects and faculty members to receive funding include:• “Protein lithograph: a sustainable technology for sub-5-nm nanomanufacturing.” Mostafa Bedewy, Assistant Professor, Department of Industrial Engineering.• “High efficiency refrigeration and cooling through additive manufactured magnetocaloric devices.” Markus Chmielus, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science.• “Toward machine learning blueprints for greener chelants.” John Keith, Assistant Professor, Inaugural Richard King Mellon Faculty Fellow in Energy, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering.• “H2P: HydroPonics to Pyrolysis: An enclosed system for the phytoremediation and destruction of perfectly persistent emerging contaminants in our water.” Carla Ng, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; David Sanchez, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.MCSI developed the research seed grant program to provide faculty with funding support to allow students to participate in high-quality research, teaching, outreach and creative endeavors. The goals of the grants are: (1) seed funding to develop ideas to the point where external funding can be obtained; (2) awards to support scholarship in areas where external funding is extremely limited; (3) resources to introduce curricular innovations into the classroom; or (4) tools or techniques to encourage community outreach and education. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

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