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



Nov
21
2017

Hooked on Aquaponics

Civil & Environmental

DEARBORN, MICH. (November 21, 2017) … The Aquaponics Project, a University of Pittsburgh student group bent on sustainable urban farming, won the grand prize of $10,000 and a Ford Connect Transit Van at the 10th Annual Ford College Community Challenge to support their efforts to provide Pittsburghers with fresh, locally grown food. The Pitt team received an additional $25,000 for finishing in the top 10.“The Ford Fund usually awards $25,000 to 10 universities each year,” says Kareem Rabbat, a sophomore studying environmental engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. “To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the competition, we were invited to the Ford World Headquarters in Michigan to compete with two other schools. We presented our proposal and won first prize in the final round.”Rabbat is co-president of The Aquaponics Project student group, which aims to spread awareness of how aquaponics can be used to produce healthy food, even in densely populated urban areas. Last year, the group debuted a two-story, 160-square foot shipping container capable of producing 10,000 pounds of food annually in an almost entirely closed-loop system.“Aquaponics is an incredibly self-sufficient method of growing food that can be traced back as far as the Aztec civilization,” Rabbat says. “The aquaponics facility was initially installed downtown near the Gateway T station. Its current location is next to the Home Depot in East Liberty. People can go inside to learn about the integrated food production system.” The key to high crop yields in densely populated areas is swapping traditional agriculture with the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. Aquaculture is the umbrella term for cultivating plants and animals in water, and hydroponics means growing plants in water rather than soil. Together, they work really well to create the low-energy, sustainable system of food production called “aquaponics.”“The plants get nutrients from the fish waste and filter the water for the fish, allowing the water to continue cycling through the system,” explains Rabbat. “We use solar panels to power pumps that deliver water from the fish tank on the first floor to the plants on the second floor.”Aquaponics can produce 10 times the amount of food per square foot than traditional farming, while using 70 percent less energy and 90 percent less water. The Aquaponics Project’s facility currently produces basil and tilapia, but a variety of different plants and fish can be used.In 2012, the United States Department of Agriculture announced that more than 47 percent of Pittsburghers live in “food deserts” without access to affordable fruits, vegetables, or healthy whole foods. At the same time, 40 percent of food gets wasted globally, according to the Pittsburgh-based nonprofit 412 Food Rescue’s website. The Aquaponics Project will use the support from the Ford Fund to team up with 412 Food Rescue and help put discarded food to use rather than letting it slowly decompose in a landfill.“Decomposing organic matter releases methane gas into the atmosphere,” says Rabbat. “Our winning proposal integrates our aquaponics facility with an anaerobic digester to decompose the organic matter collected from restaurants and food pantries around Pittsburgh. The cool thing about the anaerobic digester is that we can capture gas from the decomposing food and use it to power the facility.” The aquaponics facility has a Plexiglassgreenhouse on top for growing basil The group started the project to educate the local community about sustainable practices of food production and to implement these practices. After the deployment of their aquaponics facility, the team began to brainstorm ideas on how to mitigate food waste. “By integrating an anaerobic digester into our facility we will not only able to produce fresh food, but also be able to transform food waste into clean energy and fertilizer,” says Rabbat. The team called their proposal “A 21st Century Food System,” as they are trying to use waste from one step of the food cycle as a resource in another. “The facility currently sits next to a community garden in East Liberty, so we can distribute the fertilizer directly on their soil a few feet away,” says Rabbat. “The competition centered on how mobility solutions could be used to meet community needs, and I think we won first place because our idea to better circulate food production and disposal in urban environments really aligned with that mission.”The Aquaponics Project was founded at the University of Pittsburgh in 2015 and has grown to include students from Carnegie Mellon University and The University of Michigan. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Nov
21
2017

WESA FM (NPR) features Hao Sun on his Forbes 30 Under 30 recognition

Civil & Environmental

A University of Pittsburgh researcher's work detecting the "health" of buildings has landed him a spot on Forbes' 30 Under 30 List in science. Hao Sun, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt, has developed a method that could help detect structural problems in buildings after a damaging event such as an earthquake or a hurricane. Read more and listen to the interview with WESA's Joaquin Gonzalez.
Joaquin Gonzalez, Pittsburgh Tech Report Content Producer, 90.5 WESA-FM
Nov
20
2017

The Building Doctor

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (November 20, 2017) … London Bridge isn’t the only one falling down. Exposure to extreme weather, daily wear and tear, and destructive environmental events like earthquakes all compromise the structural integrity of bridges and buildings. The aging of large structures poses a serious threat to public safety, and the current method of inspection isn’t exactly full-coverage insurance.“Building inspectors must physically be present to examine the structure’s condition, and even then they can’t check every single corner,” says Hao Sun, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. “In the event of a disaster, the inspectors certainly can’t monitor building health in real-time. The fate of that building becomes a guessing game with very destructive consequences.”Dr. Sun’s research into using advanced sensors with Internet-of-Things (IoT) connectivity and data analytics to monitor large structures earned him a spot on Forbes’ 2018 “30 Under 30” in Science list of young innovators and rising stars. They are scientists, professors, entrepreneurs, and inventors determining the future of companies, labs, and ground-breaking research while advancing our understanding of the world and the people in it.“The recognition of my work is truly inspiring,” says Dr. Sun. “The response from my colleagues has been incredible, and this kind of encouragement is critical as I start my career leading research teams at the University of Pittsburgh.”Dr. Sun, 29, arrived at Pitt on Sept. 1 after working as a postdoctoral associate at Massachusetts Institute of technology (MIT). He’s now head of the Lab for Infrastructure Sensing and Data Science at the Swanson School. His research focuses on sensor systems and determining how the enormous amounts of data feedback from those sensors can diagnose building health.“All buildings produce a constant stream of ambient vibrations,” explains Dr. Sun. “A 100-year-old-building is going to sound much differently than a brand new one, but safety is important for both. We can attach monitors that produce big data about the building, then we must correctly mine the data to understand the building’s condition.”Dr. Sun’s sensors combine GPS technology, accelerometers, and tiltmeters, which measure the building’s deformation and vibration. He also uses gauges for monitoring temperature, humidity, wind velocity, and other weather conditions. The sensors communicate to each other through IoT technology, providing consistent and constant feedback while picking up those good vibrations. “Vibration-based structural health monitoring essentially listens to building response to assess potential risks and the current stage of the structure’s lifecycle,” says Dr. Sun. “The great thing about this strategy is it can be recorded anywhere, at any time, including normal operational conditions, intermediate stress conditions, and extreme events.”Currently, the technology developed by Dr. Sun has been tested on MIT’s Green Building and is being applied to monitor the Al-Hamra Tower in Kuwait. The Al-Hamra Tower, a 1,358-foot skyscraper, is the 23rd tallest building in the world. It experiences severe temperature changes in the Arabian Desert and can be affected by earthquakes from nearby epicenters in Iraq and Iran. Dr. Sun is working with the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research to continue the ongoing research collaboration with his colleagues from MIT, and now, Pitt.“I’ve only been here for three months, but I’ve already partnered with several other Pitt researchers,” says Dr. Sun. “My research is interdisciplinary in nature with contributions from civil engineering, mechanics, and sensing and data science. Pitt is a great place for collaborating with researchers from different backgrounds with different strengths and areas of expertise.”Dr. Sun’s research has been supported by Shell Global in collaboration with an MIT team led by Oral Buyukozturk, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Shell team directed by Dirk Smit, Vice President of Exploration Technology; Lorna Ortiz, Global R&D Project Manager; and Haibin Xu, Regional Manager of External Research and Innovation.About Hao SunDr. Sun’s research focuses on the advancement of scientific knowledge and the development of innovative sensing and data analytics to tackle built environment issues, specifically to address the resilience, sustainability, and safety issues of civil infrastructure systems. His interests include advanced sensing, big data analytics, machine learning, uncertainty quantification, and inverse computational mechanics, for structural health monitoring and resilience assessment. Dr. Sun is the receipt of multiple scholarships and awards, such as two poster competition awards from EMI Conference 2014, Boeing Fellowship, NSF Workshop Travel Award, and China National Merit Scholarship. He obtained his PhD and M.Phil. in Engineering Mechanics and MS in civil engineering from Columbia University, after completing his BS in civil engineering at Hohai University in Nanjing, China. Prior to joining Pitt, he was a postdoctoral associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Oct
24
2017

Concrete — a hard material Pitt hopes to make harder

Civil & Environmental

For thousands of years, people have built civilizations with concrete made from readily available local materials. Just mix and heat, add some sand, stone and water and put it where you want it. Of course, give it time to harden — that is, after you have left your hand print or initials. So it’s no surprise that concrete is the world’s most widely used building material. Twice as much concrete has been used to build Pittsburgh — and everything else in the world — than wood and steel combined. So says concrete expert Julie Marie Vandenbossche, a University of Pittsburgh civil engineer. Read David Templeton's full article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
David Templeton, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Sep
22
2017

2018 CEE Faculty Positions

Civil & Environmental, Open Positions

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at the University of Pittsburgh invites applications for tenure-track faculty positions effective September 1, 2018.  These positions are part of the strategic expansion intended to support research and teaching activities in the area of Sustainable and Environmental Engineering (SEE) with a specific focus on environmental engineering. For these tenure-track positions in environmental engineering, we seek candidates with fundamental expertise and research interests in the areas of environmental microbiology and biological processes, environmental aquatic chemistry, and urban infrastructure systems (e.g., water and transportation). We encourage applicants with research that addresses multiple scales and/or at the intersection of food, energy and water.  Additional research areas will be considered. Preference will be given to appointees at the Assistant Professor level but applicants with outstanding credentials will be considered at other levels. Candidates interested in collaborative and interdisciplinary research and teaching within the Department and/or related focus areas in the Swanson School of Engineering, such as the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation and the Center for Energy, are encouraged to apply. Candidates will have the opportunity to join our vibrant, diverse and growing department of 19 faculty members, 300 undergraduates and 160 full-time graduate students (60 of which are PhD students). Successful applicants will be expected to develop and sustain a strong, externally funded research program within their area of expertise and contribute to the teaching mission of our graduate and undergraduate programs. We strongly encourage candidates from underrepresented US minority groups and women to apply for this position.  The University of Pittsburgh is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, marital status, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status. An earned doctorate in civil engineering, environmental engineering and science, earth science or a closely related field is required.  Interested applicants should submit: (1) cover letter, (2) CV, (3) teaching statement, (4) research interests and future plans, (5) copies of three representative publications, and (6) the names and contact information for at least three references.  We are highly motivated to continue growing the diversity of our department, and strongly encourage applicants to include a 1-2 page statement of diversity as a part of their application package.  Please submit the application in a single pdf file to CEE17SEE@pitt.edu. Review of applications will begin November 15, 2017 and will continue until the position is filled.

CEE17SEE@pitt.edu

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