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. 

Read our latest newsletter below



Apr
6
2018

Eleven Pitt Students Awarded 2018 National Science Foundation Fellowships

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, MEMS, Student Profiles

University of Pittsburgh News Release PITTSBURGH – Eleven University of Pittsburgh students and four alumni were awarded the 2018 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Eleven Pitt students and four alumni also received honorable mentions. The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program is designed to ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce in the United States. The program recognizes and supports outstanding students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees. Fellows receive a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 as well as a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance for tuition and fees. The fellowship program has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers. The support accorded NSF Graduate Research Fellows nurtures their ambition to become lifelong leaders who contribute significantly to both scientific innovation and teaching. Among this year's Pitt cohort, eight undergraduate and graduate students were awarded fellowships, joined by two Swanson School alumni now in graduate school. Four undergraduate and graduate students and one alumnus received honorable mentions. Mary Besterfield-Sacre, the Swanson School’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, attributed this year's increase in winners from engineering to a strategically focused mentor-mentee program. “The program diversity among this year’s Swanson School NSF fellows is thanks in great part to Bioengineering Professor Pat Loughlin for working with each department to identify strong candidates and faculty mentors to help them build winning portfolios,” Dr. Besterfield-Sacre said. “The NSF Graduate Research Program is incredibly competitive and we’re especially proud that undergraduates make up half of our fellows.” Current Pitt students who were awarded the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship are seniors from: - Swanson School of Engineering: Abraham Charles Cullom (civil and environmental engineering), Vani Hiremath Sundaram (mechanical engineering and material science), Adam Lewis Smoulder (bioengineering) and Henry Phalen (bioengineering); and graduate students Megan Routzong (bioengineering), Monica Fei Liu (bioengineering), Angelica Janina Herrera (bioengineering) and Sarah Hemler (bioengineering). - Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences: Graduate students Brett Baribault Bankson (psychology), Stefanie Lee Sequeira (psychology) and Alaina Nicole McDonnell (chemistry). Current Pitt students who received honorable mentions are from: - Swanson School of Engineering: seniors Anthony Joseph O’Brian (chemical and petroleum engineering), Anthony Louis Mercader (mechanical engineering and material science), Zachary Smith (electrical and computer engineering); and graduate student Maria Kathleen Jantz (bioengineering). - Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences: graduate students Amy Ryan (chemistry), Kathryn Mae Rothenhoefer (neuroscience), Andrea Marie Fetters (biological sciences), Mariah Denhart, (biological sciences), Timothy Stephen Coleman (statistics), Hope Elizabeth Anne Brooks (biological sciences), Mary Elizabeth Rouse Braza (geology and environmental science). Alumni who were awarded the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship include Thomas Robert Werkmeister (engineering science) and Luke Drnach (bioengineering) from the Swanson School, and Julianne Griffith (psychology and sociology) and Aleza Wallace (psychology) from the Dietrich School. Alumni who received honorable mentions include Corey Williams (bioengineering) from the Swanson School, Sarah Elise Post (biological sciences), Hannah Katherine Dollish (neuroscience and Slavik studies) and Krista Bullard (chemistry), the latter three from the Dietrich School. Visit https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/grfp/Login.do for a full list of fellows and honorable mentions and to learn more about the Graduate Research Fellowship Program. # # #
Amerigo Allegretto, University Communications
Apr
4
2018

Swanson School’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Presents Victor Bertolina with 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award

All SSoE News, Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (April 4, 2018) … This year’s Distinguished Alumni from the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering have worked with lesson plans and strategic plans, cosmetics and the cosmos, brains and barrels and bridges. It’s a diverse group, but each honoree shares two things in common on their long lists of accomplishments: outstanding achievement in their fields, and of course, graduation from the University of Pittsburgh. This year’s recipient for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is Victor Bertolina, BSCE ’71, President of SAI Consulting Engineers, Inc. The six individuals representing each of the Swanson School’s departments and one overall honoree representing the entire school gathered at the 54th annual Distinguished Alumni Banquet at the University of Pittsburgh’s Alumni Hall to accept their awards. Gerald D. Holder, US Steel Dean of Engineering, led the banquet for the final time before his return to the faculty this fall. “After graduating from Pitt in 1971 and earning his commission in the United States Army, Vic worked at the West Virginia Department of Highways and later PennDOT and the city of Pittsburgh as a Bridge Engineer,” said Dean Holder. “This was the springboard to his now 40-plus year career at SAI Consulting Engineers. We applaud Vic for his accomplishments in the field of engineering, and for helping to build bridges that connect us.” About Victor Bertolina Victor Bertolina graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering in 1971 and then received a commission in 1971 in the United States Army as a Second Lieutenant. He worked for the West Virginia Department of Highways as a Civil Engineer Trainee from January to June 1972 before entering Officer Basic Training at Ft. Benning, Ga. In September 1972 he was hired by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and performed a variety of duties including bridge inspection, bridge design, and review of construction documents and inspection reports. Mr. Bertolina left PennDOT in March 1978 to serve as a bridge engineer for the City of Pittsburgh Department of Engineering and Construction. In 1977 Mr. Bertolina registered as a professional engineer in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and subsequently as a P.E. in West Virginia, South Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, and Kansas. He joined SAI Consulting Engineers, Inc. in June 1979 as a project engineer in the structure department performing bridge inspections, bridge analysis, and bridge design before becoming manager of SAI’s Structure Department. Mr. Bertolina later served SAI as Vice President, Engineering and today as President where he is responsible for the management of all functions and personnel engaged in structure design, highway design, construction inspection, in-depth bridge inspection, and structural analysis. Mr. Bertolina has been involved with several notable bridge projects in the Pittsburgh region, including the Liberty Bridge, Fleming Park Bridge, Clairton-Glassport Bridge, Wabash HOV Bridge, and the rehabilitation of the 6th, 7th, and 9th Street Bridges.During his military career he was a member of the United States Army Reserve 420th Combat Engineers, rose to rank of Captain, and held the position of Company Executive Officer. Mr. Bertolina has been a member of the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania’s International Bridge Conference Committee for more than 25 years. His community involvement includes being a long-term member of the Swanson School’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Visiting Committee, and a past parish council member and Sunday School Teacher at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. He lives in Squirrel Hill with Harriet, his wife of 45 years. ###

Apr
3
2018

Building a Reputation: Pitt ASCE Student Chapter Wins Third Distinguished Chapter Award in Three Years

Civil & Environmental, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (April 3, 2018) … Civil and environmental engineering students from the University of Pittsburgh Student Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) have sustained their reputation for another year as the most outstanding chapter in Region 2 of the professional society. The chapter has won the award for the past three years.“Not only did the club do an excellent job of enhancing civil engineering students’ experiences at Pitt, but they also grew by about 20 percent, furthering their impact now more than ever,” says Anthony Iannacchione, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and faculty advisor to the student chapter.The Pitt ASCE student chapter contains about 170 members from the undergraduate civil and environmental engineering program at Pitt. They interact regularly with other student and professional chapters from ASCE Region 2, which includes Washington, DC, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and parts of northern Virginia. Judges select the regional winner of the Distinguished Chapter Award based primarily on activities recorded in the Student Chapter’s Annual Report.“Of all the challenges and obstacles we overcame this year, the greatest was the student-run career fair for civil engineering undergraduates,” says Chaz Donnelly, 2017-18 president of Pitt ASCE. “We brought representatives from 22 civil engineering companies to the campus so students could meet them and learn about internships and employment opportunities.”In 2017, the Pitt chapter also hosted the Region 2 student assembly, which included seven universities, five speakers, and a “Bridges of Pittsburgh” Dinner Cruise. The boat tour featured Pitt Professor John Oyler explaining the history of the surrounding bridges as the boat traveled under them along the city’s three rivers.The chapter members logged an impressive amount of hours doing volunteer work throughout the year on projects such as making holiday cards to send to hospitals throughout the region, the Toys for Tots charity toy drive, and joining more than 3,000 Pitt students to volunteer throughout Pittsburgh during Pitt Make a Difference Day. At the Middle School Engineering Day, members showed local middle school students how to build balsa wood bridges and demonstrated how forces work. They also had a newspaper tower competition and brought samples of concrete and steel to provide students with a hands-on way of learning about different kinds of building materials.Last year, the chapter also received awards for their performance at the Ohio Valley Student Conference hosted by Ohio State University. The competition brought together civil engineering students from 13 universities throughout Kentucky, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Pitt ASCE won first place overall in the surveying and environmental review paper categories.For more information about Pitt ASCE, visit: http://pittasce.weebly.com/ ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
22
2018

The New Standards of Sustainability

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (March 22, 2018) … In 1948, Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Müller received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering the insecticide properties of organochlorine dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, or DDT. Many heralded it as a “miracle chemical” capable of protecting people from disease-carrying insects. Twenty-four years later, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, established by President Richard Nixon, banned DDT for threatening the environment, especially birds of prey, and human health.“DDT is interesting because it effectively eradicated serious diseases like typhus and malaria but was banned after later realizing its adverse impacts,” says Leanne Gilbertson, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. “There are many examples of new technologies that aren’t so ‘green’ when you consider the entire product life cycle such as compact fluorescent lights that rely on toxic mercury for energy-efficiency gains, solar panels made with finite and rare metals, or electric cars charged by electricity generated from coal.”At the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Gilbertson’s research group takes a “systems approach” to new technologies to determine their impact on the environment from production to disposal. Last December, her research team published a review (DOI: 10.1039/c7en00766c) in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Environmental Science: Nano featuring some of the ways nanotechnology might enhance agriculture sustainability, so long as designers and developers of these innovative solutions see the forest for the trees.“In sustainable engineering, our goal is to consider lasting effects when designing new technologies rather than narrowly focusing on the intended benefit,” says Dr. Gilbertson. “In agriculture, the potential exposure to new materials will almost always be high, so focusing design on reducing the inherent hazard, for example, would have a big impact.”The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization predicts a 34 percent increase in world population and about a 70 percent required increase in food production by 2050. The increased demand for food will affect the entire supply chain including farmers, manufacturers, processors, suppliers, retailers, and consumers. Each individual stakeholder only provides a snapshot of new technology’s impact on the environment, but taking a systems approach forces you to account for the full picture.“A cost-benefit analysis is a common approach to quantify the usefulness of a new technology. Sustainable engineers evaluate new technologies similarly except we don’t only use dollars. We include other metrics like energy consumption or emissions to the environment. Accounting for all the various stakeholders, including their incentives and tradeoffs, allows us to define a design space where there’s a benefit to using emerging technologies,” says Dr. Gilbertson.Another paper (DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.7b03600) recently published by Dr. Gilbertson and her team appears in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering and shows how a sustainability metric called “atom conversion efficiency” could accurately depict the environmental impact of chemical fertilizers. Nitrogen, for example, is a potent fertilizer. It can contaminate drinking water, deplete oxygen supplies in bodies of water, and create massive dead zones in water bodies like the Gulf of Mexico.“Nitrogen is a primary macronutrient in fertilizers, but only about 50 percent actually reaches the crop, meaning the other half is released to the environment. Nanotechnology could be used to increase the amount of nutrient that reaches the crop, simultaneously decreasing the adverse impacts on the environment,” explains Dr. Gilbertson.Using corn as the model crop, Dr. Gilbertson’s paper outlines how atom conversion efficiency tracks nitrogen through its entire agricultural life-cycle, from raw form to how much nitrogen ends up in a corn kernel. Keeping nitrogen on the farm protects the environment and reduces embedded energy loss—or the massive amounts of energy consumed during the production of fertilizer. “Atom conversion efficiency identifies the greatest inefficiencies in a fertilizer system, and thus, scientists and engineers can use it to inform technology development to improve these particular areas of impact,” says Dr. Gilbertson. “Nanotechnology has the potential to revolutionize farming with nano-enabled fertilizers, crop growth regulators, pesticides, packaging materials, and sensors to monitor plant vitals. However, it’s important to take a systems approach to determine which new technologies will have the most desirable impact on the environment before they leave the lab.”If the only metric is controlling disease-carrying insect populations, then DDT is a “miracle chemical.” That designation quickly disappears when considering the entire life-cycle, including DDT’s adverse environmental impacts and potential to cause cancer in humans. Unfortunately, it had already been in use for three decades before the EPA banned it. Dr. Gilbertson is trying to make sure those same mistakes aren’t repeated in nano-agriculture. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
19
2018

Engineering Students Help to Improve Infrastructure in Panamanian Village

Civil & Environmental, Student Profiles

News Release from Pittwire Most Americans expect rooms to brighten with the flick of a switch and clean water to be available at the turn of a faucet, almost without a thought.However, many communities worldwide view these as more than simple amenities; to them, they are nearly impossible to obtain.That’s where innovative engineering comes into play — with the help of University of Pittsburgh students. The Pitt Humanities, Engineering and Design Club — or Pitt HEAD Club for short — is planning a June return to their work with the Emberá, an indigenous community in Panama’s Chagres National Park, where such amenities are scarce to nonexistent.In October 2017, the team installed about 30 solar panels for the community of 80 people, which will power a freezer to store the community’s freshly caught fish. In addition, new shower heads were installed in some homes to increase water pressure, and a pedestrian bridge was built for easier travel for the monthly journey by community members to the village’s water storage facility. “The project was a true engineering challenge and provided a great learning opportunity for all the students,” said Daniel Budny, associate professor of environmental engineering and the club’s academic adviser.Budny accompanied the six-student team in October to help with building the amenities, something he has been doing since the club’s inception in 2012.“Without him (Budny), nothing would have gotten done,” said team member and senior civil engineering student Nicholas McGinley. “He really pushed us to be successful and was blunt. He said we would have to get down there and we would have to improvise upon what we planned.”The club has been visiting Panama and other locations each semester for the past five years, helping to improve people's lives of people living by designing and installing such amenities as water storage tanks, water lines, community centers and garbage storage facilities, among others. Pitt HEAD Club members (from left to right) Nicholas McGinley, Stephen Anderjack and Robert Kountz work to construct a pedestrian bridge for the Emberá community members to more easily reach their water storage facility. The Team had to work in difficult terrain in the jungles of Chagres National Park, along with sweltering heat and limited technology. The recent mission to the Emberá was the team’s most arduous. The students had to navigate the Chagres River by canoe about 20 minutes round trip each day to reach the community. Along with that, the team didn't have cell phone or wifi access and worked in temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s with high humidity.While language barrier issues were also present, a translator was brought with the team to help communicate with the Emberá villagers.“I had never been in a rainforest before this, but you’re just sliding around on mud and you have a 50-pound bag of sand or a 25-foot beam on your shoulder,” said Robbie Kountz, a team member and senior civil and environmental engineering student. “Nothing really too dangerous though. And the people were amazing and happy to see all this coming together.”Along with that, two of the team’s larger solar panels were damaged during shipping. They had to be replaced as a result, but that did not deter the team from completing its mission. Within a few hours of the chest freezer installation, Emberá community members began storing that day’s fresh catch of corvina, a highly prized fish. About 30 solar panels were installed for the Emberá community during the Pitt HEAD Club's mission in October 2017. The panels collected energy from the sun to power the community's technology, including a freezer that stores freshly caught fish. “It’s really on-the-fly thinking at all times,” said Kountz. “You just can’t stop in your tracks. You have to keep improvising your plans.”While the Pitt HEAD Club funds its own missions and receives some support from local supply companies, it received help this year through a donation from John Swanson, the Swanson School’s namesake.“It was definitely great to know that the guy who this school is named after is a big supporter of what we do,” said McGinley. “It meant a lot.” About 30 bags were packed with batteries and tools needed to complete the mission. The solar panels and the mounts used to place them were designed by mechanical engineering students who did not fly down with the team. Pitt HEAD Club member Jon Abbey measures a support beam while working on a cover for the solar-powered freezer for fish storage. For their return to the village in June, the team members are working on getting more funding for a filtration system to improve the water quality, based on samples taken during this mission.Budny said while the mission serves to improve people’s lives in other parts of the world, it also serves to teach the students and others that engineering and other sciences can solve issues outside the lab.“Our work in many cases solves a lot of issues,” he said. “It shows students the humanitarian and social impact that engineering has on society.”The missions also give students a cultural experience. For some, this was their first time visiting Panama.“It was interesting seeing the different ways people lived,” said team member and senior civil engineering student Stephen Anderjack, one such first-time visitor. “It was really hot and humid, but it was a lot of fun.” ###

Upcoming Events


back
view more