Pitt | Swanson Engineering

Join With Us In Celebrating Our 2020 Graduating Class! 

Welcome to the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department’s website! 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. 


Pitt alumna and Alabama engineer Renee Corbett '16 helping NYC homeless fight COVID-19

Covid-19, Civil & Environmental, Diversity, Student Profiles, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

This story was originally published by AL.com. In New York City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, the virus that’s forced most people indoors is forcing the homeless outdoors. Renee Corbett, a native of Huntsville who works with the international aid group, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF, has seen it first-hand. Corbett, a civil and environmental engineer by training, is in New York working with an MSF team providing hygiene service and infection control to New York’s homeless population. With public bathrooms and recreation centers closed, the places where homeless people could bathe are gone. So Corbett’s team operates two mobile shower facilities for people that need it. “At our showers we are meeting many people who say that they are choosing to live on the streets instead of in shelters because they feel that they are safer from COVID-19 on the streets,” she said. Before the global pandemic, Corbett had worked primarily in Africa, providing water and hygiene to people in Ethiopia and Sudan. It seems odd that providing a simple need: clean water and a place to bathe, would be just as necessary in America’s largest city as it is in wilds of Africa. ... Read the full article here.
Author: Shelly Haskins, AL.com

Pitt ASCE Chapter Once Again Wins Distinguished Chapter Award and is Ridgway Award Finalist

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (May 4, 2020) ­— The University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering’s student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) received the organization’s Distinguished Chapter Award for Region II. The chapter is also one of five selected as a finalist for the Robert Ridgway Student Chapter Award, presented annually to the single most outstanding ASCE student chapter nationwide. “The chapter’s dedication to our profession and our department is truly inspiring,” says Radisav Vidic, PhD, professor and department chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering. “Their accomplishments are a credit to them, our department, the Swanson School and Pitt.” The Distinguished Chapter Award is based on the chapter’s annual reports from the previous year. Among the highlights of this year was the chapter’s first Civil Engineering Day, which introduced high school students in the area to civil engineering through hands-on experiences. Students from Pitt ASCE won first place overall at the 2019 Ohio Valley Student Conference, attended the ASCE National Conference in Miami, presented at the Environmental & Water Resources Institute Conference, and sent seven students to the Region II Assembly at Drexel University. “As president, I could not be prouder of the students that make up this group. Every member should be very honored about what they've done and been a part of. They put their heart and soul into what they do, and this award really showcases that determination and drive on an national stage,” says 2019-2020 Pitt ASCE President Kaitie DeOre, who won the 2020 ASCE Bridge Leadership Award. “There were a lot of special moments this year, and I'm just really proud to say that I was a part of it. Being a finalist for the biggest award that a student chapter can win is the best possible way to end my tenure as president of Pitt ASCE; being chosen for this award is every president's dream.” The Ridgway Award was named for Robert Ridgway, past president of ASCE, and has been awarded annually since 1963. The Pitt ASCE Student Chapter has been a finalist for this award three times in five years and has received the Distinguished Chapter Award for Region II four times in five years. “This organization has done an excellent job of enhancing the experience of civil engineering undergraduates at the Swanson School,” said Anthony Iannacchione, PhD, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and faculty advisor to the chapter. “Their passion for the field is evident in the events they organize and the way they welcome anyone who wants to be involved.”
Maggie Pavlick

Peering Into Undergraduate Research at Pitt: Swanson School of Engineering Publishes Sixth Edition of Ingenium

All SSoE News, Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, Industrial, MEMS, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (April 15, 2020) … Demonstrating the diverse and exceptional undergraduate research in the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, Associate Dean for Research David A. Vorp recently released the sixth edition of Ingenium. This edition features a collection of 26 articles that highlight work performed throughout the 2019-20 academic year and during the school’s 2019 summer research program. Ingenium mirrors the peer-review process of scientific journals by inviting undergraduate researchers to submit manuscripts to a board of graduate students. The review board provides feedback to which the undergraduates are required to respond before their work is accepted. The co-editors-in-chief for this edition were Monica Liu, a bioengineering graduate student, and Jianan Jian, an electrical and computer engineering graduate student. “I think Ingenium is a great experience for undergraduates,” said Liu. “They have been diligently working on research all year, and Ingenium is a great way for them to present it to a larger audience and get experience writing a scientific paper.” While the publication is designed to help prepare undergraduates, members of the graduate review board also benefit from a different point of view in the academic writing process. “Graduate students spend so much time writing about their research and incorporating feedback,” said Liu. “Ingenium is a great way to experience the other side of things -- taking the time to review others' work gives us a broader perspective when we review our own work.” Ingenium features research from each department in the Swanson School and is divided into five categories: experimental research, computational research, device design, methods, and review. The publication is sponsored by the school’s Office of Research. “With each year and with each edition of Ingenium, we continue to see notable and impressive academic and professional growth and development in our undergraduate students when given opportunities to engage in scientific research,” said Vorp. “We witness students taking the knowledge, skills, and information that they learn in their coursework and apply it in a meaningful and intentional manner outside of the classroom. These thriving students are our future -- of both our highly accredited institution and our world.” ###


Two Swanson School Projects Win University of Pittsburgh Scaling Grants

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (April 6, 2020) — Two projects from the Swanson School of Engineering have received University of Pittsburgh Scaling Grants.The first, tackling the global problem of plastic waste, is headed by Eric Beckman, PhD, Bevier Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and co-director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. The second project, which will support the push for artificial intelligence innovation in medical imaging, was also awarded a Scaling Grant and is led by Shandong Wu, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Radiology. The Scaling Grants provide $400,000 over two years to support detailed project planning, gathering proof-of-concept results, and reduction of technical risk for teams pursuing an identified large extramural funding opportunity. The Scaling Grants are part of the University’s Pitt Momentum Funds, which offer funding across multiple stages of large, ambitious projects. Addressing the Global Waste Challenge The problem of plastic waste is growing on a global scale, with an annual global production rate of more than 500 million tons per year and predicted to triple by 2036. The project, “Attacking the Global Plastics Waste Problem,” seeks to create a convergent academic center welcoming expertise from across the University that will focus on the circular economy as a solution. “For most new technologies, one group creates the technology in the lab as a pilot, then at full scale. The group launches it, and only later decides if there are environmental and/or policy and/or legal issues,” says Beckman. “We're proposing to do these analyses in parallel, so that each section of the work informs the others. Further, the technology we are proposing to develop is a mixture of chemical engineering, chemistry, and materials science.” The interdisciplinary team will take advantage of its deep expertise in both the science of plast ics recycling and the legal and governance frameworks that will help governments implement a circular economy for plastics. In addition to Beckman, the team consists of Melissa Bilec, PhD, Roberta A. Luxbacher Faculty Fellow, associate professor in civil and environmental engineering (CEE), and deputy director of MCSI; Vikas Khanna, PhD, Wellington C. Carl Faculty Fellow and associate professor in CEE and Chemical and Petroleum Engineering; Gotz Veser, PhD, professor in chemical and petroleum engineering; Peng Liu, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry; Amy Wildermuth, professor and dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law; and Joshua Galperin, visiting associate professor in the School of Law. “Recycling can only do so much. A circular economy framework is a promising solution to the complex, urgent problem that plastic pollution presents,” says Bilec, who is part of a five-university team that received a two-year National Science Foundation grant for $1.3 million to pursue convergence research on the circular economy as a plastic waste solution. “Our proposed center will integrate the science and engineering of plastics recycling, using a novel approach on both the recycling and manufacturing sides, into frameworks tracking its environmental and economic impact.” Applying Artificial Intelligence to Medical Research The second project to receive a Scaling Grant is the “Pittsburgh Center for Artificial Intelligence Innovation in Medical Imaging,” a collaboration between the Departments of Radiology, Bioengineering, Biomedical Informatics, and Computer Science. This work, led by Wu, aims to use artificial intelligence (AI) to reshape medical imaging in radiology and pathology. Through the Pittsburgh Health and Data Alliance, the region is already at work using machine learning to translate “big data” generated in health care to treatments and services that could benefit human health. "The advancement in AI, especially in deep learning, provides a powerful approach for machine learning on big healthcare data,” said Wu. “Deep learning enables large-scale data mining with substantially increased accuracy and efficiency in data analysis." The multidisciplinary research team will work to develop AI imaging methodology and translational applications with the ultimate goal of creating tools that are clinically useful, accurate, explainable and safe. “AI can substantially improve quantitative analysis to medical imaging data and computational modeling of clinical tasks using medical images for disease diagnosis and outcome prediction," explained Wu. David A. Vorp, associate dean for research and John. A. Swanson Professor of Bioengineering, will help facilitate this collaboration in engineering. “Artificial intelligence nicely complements bioengineering and medical research,” said Vorp. “My lab uses AI with CT scans to help predict the prognosis and improve treatment of aortic aneurysm, and that is just one example of how this cutting-edge technology can be applied to medical images. Rather than relying on the naked eye, we can use AI to analyze these images and have a more sensitive detector to identify disease, improve health and save lives.” The group’s long-term vision is to combine the computational expertise and clinical resources across Pitt, UPMC and Carnegie Mellon University to build a center for innovative AI in clinical translational medical imaging. ###
Maggie Pavlick and Leah Russell

Four Members of the Swanson School are Recognized by the Carnegie Science Awards

Bioengineering, Civil & Environmental, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (Mar. 11, 2020) … Four members of the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering were recognized by the Carnegie Science Awards, announced on March 10 by the Carnegie Science Center. Bioengineering’s Bryan Brown and Alexis Nolfi received the Postsecondary Educator Award and University Student Award, respectively. Civil and environmental engineering’s David Sanchez and Kareem Rabbat received honorable mentions in the same categories. They will receive the awards at the 24th Annual Carnegie Science Awards Celebration, held May 8, 2020. Bryan Brown, associate professor of bioengineering, Postsecondary Educator Award Brown’s educational efforts in the Department of Bioengineering include teaching and mentoring junior faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students. He also serves as the director of educational outreach at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, where he reaches younger audiences through the McGowan Institute’s Summer School. In July 2014, Brown organized and launched the program, which is a hands-on experiential learning program that aims to provide regional, national, and international students an opportunity to explore the multidisciplinary field of regenerative medicine. Through lectures and laboratory experiences, undergraduate students have the opportunity to interact with more than 20 faculty members from across the University. The program aims to recruit students from underrepresented backgrounds, including those from universities that lack significant bioengineering and/or regenerative medicine programs. In addition to engaging younger audiences in STEM, Brown also targets individuals who wish to continue their education through his course on regenerative medicine hosted by Carnegie Mellon University’s Osher Center for Lifelong Learning program. As an extension of these activities, he also developed an hour long “Open to the Public” session on the “Hype vs. Hope of Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine,” which focuses on the realities of the science and clinical practice related to the use of stem cells in medicine. The program was developed to address the most common questions asked by participants in the Osher classes. Alexis Nolfi, bioengineering graduate student, College Student Award Nolfi is involved in numerous projects centered on how the immune system is involved in the pathogenesis of disease and how we can modify immune response to biomaterials and with biomaterials-based approaches. Much of her work has a distinct focus in women’s health applications, including a polypropylene mesh often used in pelvic surgery and a novel ovarian hydrogel that could one day be used to generate a tissue-appropriate model of endometriosis. According to Nolfi, the field of basic science research in women’s health topics is underserved by the biomaterials and regenerative medicine community. She believes that this research helps to shine light on topics deserving of more attention, and the experimental findings and developments will be applicable to not only biomaterials-based urogynecologic applications, but also to furthering advancement of other biomaterial and immunology-based fields. As part of her work with biomaterials, she and the lab developed a novel contact lens that is coated with an immune modifying molecule for the treatment of dry eye disease. The bioengineering- and opthamology-led research group was recently awarded $100,000 at the 2019 Pitt Innovation Challenge. David Sanchez, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, Postsecondary Educator honorable mention In addition to his appointment in CEE, Sanchez serves as assistant director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. He directs programs including the Undergraduate Summer Research Program, Sustainability certificate, and Master’s in Sustainable Engineering. He is the founding advisor for Pitt Hydroponics and the principal investigator for Sustainable Design Labs. He teaches the Environmental Engineering Lab, core engineering sustainability courses, and in the First Year Engineering program. Sanchez also leads many community engagement efforts. For the past five years, he has held a Summer Teacher workshop that exposes middle school science teachers to sustainability and engineering. This effort indirectly engages around 2000 students each year. He founded the Constellation Energy Inventor Labs and has used it to teach hundreds of Pittsburgh area students about energy using design-build modules. Furthermore, he has worked with the ALCOSAN summer science program for many years and helped create the Clean Water Academy for 2018. Sanchez organizes an annual Makerspace and Mindsets Bootcamp each fall that introduces engineering students to the creative resources available to them and the design thinking that goes with them. He was the recipient of the Swanson School’s Faculty Diversity Award in 2015 in recognition of his significant contributions in increasing diversity. His research focuses on sustainable solutions to pollution, including a recent $420,000 NSF grant to study biofilms grown on electrodes as a method to degrade the contaminant Bisphenol A (BPA). Kareem Rabbat, undergraduate senior in civil and environmental engineering, College Student honorable mention Rabbat’s passion for the environment is clear to anyone he meets. Through research, coursework, internships, competitions and global summits, he has taken full advantage of his four years at Pitt and does not plan to slow down in his pursuit to educate communities about sustainability and develop technology that helps guide a greener future. From an aquaponics project funded by the competitive Ford College Community Challenge sprouted Ecotone Renewables, a company dedicated to local and sustainable urban farming. Rabbat is CIO of the company which has converted shipping containers into biodigesters and greenhouses throughout the city. They also seek to educate the local communities about sustainable practices of agriculture. This past summer, he performed research looking for bacteria and fungi that could solve persistent pollution problems. If successful, the innovation could be used globally to eliminate toxicity caused by nonylphenol and bisphenol (BPA) that contaminate soil and water near old industrial facilities. Rabbat’s environmental work does not end at Pittsburgh’s city limits. In addition to his local achievements, Kareem has also explored global sustainability: he designed and implemented aquaponics/hydroponics systems in Brazil; he studied abroad in Johannesburg, South Africa as part of the Swanson School’s Engineering Design for Social Change program; and he was recently nominated and selected to attend the 2019 Global Grand Challenges Summit Student Competition in London, a program held jointly by the U.S., U.K., and Chinese academies of engineering. His achievements have been recognized locally by the Incline’s Who’s Next: Environment and Energy Class of 2019. # # #

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