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. 

Nov
23
2020

CDIM POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCHER

Civil & Environmental, Open Positions

A postdoctoral appointment is available in the Computational Diagnostics and Inverse Mechanics (CDIM) research group under the supervision of Dr. John C. Brigham at the University of Pittsburgh Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.   A highly motivated researcher is sought for this unique opportunity to develop existing research areas and help to build exciting new directions within the CDIM group.  The CDIM group is actively involved in a number of projects covering a diverse array of applications, including shape and kinematic analysis of medical imaging data for diagnosis of cardiovascular disease, novel design concepts and optimal design strategies for smart material morphing structures, efficient and accurate computational nondestructive material characterization algorithms, and reduced-order modeling for simulating multi-physics behaviors.  A specific ongoing project involves development and implementation of shape-based methods to evaluate changes in the function of the human heart, including both direct statistical analysis as well as inverse estimation of heart wall mechanical properties.  Another ongoing project is to develop complementary experimental and computational procedures to evaluate mechanical properties of cell/tissue constructs.  The potential areas for further expansion include additional applications of inverse problems in mechanics of biological or artificial structures, with specifics depending upon the particular interests and capabilities of the candidate.  The successful applicant will: possess or be on track to complete a PhD in a relevant STEM discipline and have an excellent academic record.  have expertise in computational mechanics and numerical methods. have experience in coding with one or more software languages (e.g., Python, C++, Fortran, and/or MATLAB).  have a strong work ethic and time management skills along with the ability to work independently and within a multidisciplinary team as required. Additional experience with pattern recognition and machine learning as well as numerical optimization is highly desirable.  The candidate should have completed their Ph.D. prior to the start date of the position. Candidates from underrepresented minority groups and women are strongly encouraged to apply for this position.    The initial appointment will be for one year with the possibility of extension. The start date is flexible, with a preference for candidates capable of starting early in 2021 or as soon as possible. Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled.  Your application should include: Cover Letter Curriculum Vitae 1-page statement of your career goals and how this position will help you achieve your goals Contact information for three references For further information or questions about this position you may contact: Dr. John Brigham directly (brigham@pitt.edu). Applications are being accepted at join.pitt.edu.

Dr. John Brigham
Oct
27
2020

Let’s (Not) Stick Together

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (Oct. 27, 2020) — If you’ve ever had a cold, you know that too much mucus can be an annoyance, but mucus plays a very important role in the body. The respiratory system creates mucus as part of the immune system, meant to trap inhaled bacteria, viruses, and dirt so they can be removed before causing infection. However, for people with the genetic disorder cystic fibrosis (CF), the mucus that their bodies produce is thicker and stickier, leading to an increased risk from infection and decreased ability to breathe over time. New research led by the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering examines the properties of the mucus of CF patients and the role it plays in a pathogens’ ability to survive. The new information could have important implications for CF treatment. [Related: Learn how the new INHALE Lab will help CF patients avoid water-borne pathogens] The researchers examined nonmucoid (PANT) and mucoid (PASL) strains of P. aeruginosa, a common pathogen that infects the lungs. P. aeruginosa adapts to the host environment mutating from a non-mucoid phenotype (PANT) to a mucoid phenotype (PASL). This mutation in P. aeruginosa creates a protective film of mucus around the bacteria thereby forming a more hydrated and slimy biofilm in the mucus. “Think of the cells like grains of rice. PANT cells are like basmati rice, while PASL cells are like sushi rice: coated in such a way that they stick together when they’re compressed,” explained Tagbo Niepa, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering, whose lab led the study. Niepa also has appointments in the Departments of Bioengineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. “We can measure how investigational drugs can alter the sticky nature of the coating that pathogens such as P. aeruginosa create upon mutation.” This mutation gives the mucus unique properties that contribute to increased antibiotic resistance. It also shields them against phagocytic cells, which help the immune system clear out dead or harmful cells by ingesting them. In order to study these properties, the researchers used pendant drop elastometry to compress and expand the biofilm that the cells formed. They also assessed the transcriptional profile of the cells to correlate the film's mechanics to cell physiology. “This is the first time that the pendant drop elastometry technique has been used to study the mechanics of these cells. We demonstrate that these techniques can be used to investigate the efficacy of mucolytic drugs—drugs that are used to break down the film of mucus that the cells are making,” noted Niepa. “This technique could be powerful for investigating those agents, to see if they have the anticipated effect.” The paper, “Material properties of interfacial films of mucoid and nonmucoid Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates,” (DOI: 10.1016/j.actbio.2020.10.010) was published in the journal Acta Biomaterialia. It was authored by Sricharani Rao Balmuri, Nicholas G. Waters, and Tagbo H.R. Niepa from Pitt, and Jonas Hegemann and Jan Kierfeld from the Universität Dortmund in Dortmund, Germany.
Maggie Pavlick
Oct
21
2020

Pitt Engineering Alumnus Dedicates Major Gift Toward Undergraduate Tuition Support

All SSoE News, Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, Industrial, MEMS, Student Profiles, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs, Nuclear, Diversity, Investing Now

PITTSBURGH (October 21, 2020) …  An eight-figure donation from an anonymous graduate of the Swanson School of Engineering and spouse to the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering in their estate planning to provide financial aid to undergraduate students who are enrolled in the Pitt EXCEL Program. Announced today by Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher and US Steel Dean of Engineering James R. Martin II, the donors' bequest will provide tuition support for underprivileged or underrepresented engineering students who are residents of the United States of America and in need of financial aid. “I am extremely grateful for this gift, which supports the University of Pittsburgh’s efforts to tackle one of society’s greatest challenges—the inequity of opportunity,” Gallagher said. “Put into action, this commitment will help students from underrepresented groups access a world-class Pitt education and—in doing so—help elevate the entire field of engineering.” “Our dedication as engineers is to create new knowledge that benefits the human condition, and that includes educating the next generation of engineers. Our students’ success informs our mission, and I am honored and humbled that our donors are vested in helping to expand the diversity of engineering students at Pitt,” Martin noted. “Often the most successful engineers are those who have the greatest need or who lack access, and support such as this is critical to expanding our outreach and strengthening the role of engineers in society.” A Gift to Prepare the Workforce of the Future Martin noted that the gift is timely because it was made shortly after Chancellor Gallagher’s call this past summer to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment for all, especially for the University’s future students. The gift – and the donors’ passion for the Swanson School – show that there is untapped potential as well as significant interest in addressing unmet need for students who represent a demographic shift in the American workforce.  “By 2050, when the U.S. will have a minority-majority population, two-thirds of the American workforce will require a post-secondary education,” Martin explained. “We are already reimagining how we deliver engineering education and research, and generosity such as this will lessen the financial burden that students will face to prepare for that future workforce.” A Half-Century of IMPACT on Engineering Equity In 1969 the late Dr. Karl Lewis (1/15/1936-3/5/2019) founded the IMPACT Program at the University of Pittsburgh to encourage minority and financially and culturally disadvantaged students to enter and graduate from the field of engineering. The six-week program prepared incoming first year students through exposure to university academic life, development of study skills, academic and career counseling, and coursework to reinforce strengths or remedy weaknesses. Many Pitt alumni today still note the role that Lewis and IMPACT had on their personal and professional lives.  Under Lewis’ leadership, IMPACT sparked the creation of two award-winning initiatives within the Swanson School’s Office of Diversity: INVESTING NOW, a college preparatory program created to stimulate, support, and recognize the high academic performance of pre-college students from groups that are historically underrepresented in STEM majors. Pitt EXCEL, a comprehensive undergraduate diversity program committed to the recruitment, retention, and graduation of academically excellent engineering undergraduates, particularly individuals from groups historically underrepresented in the field. “Dr. Lewis, like so many of his generation, started a movement that grew beyond one person’s idea,” said Yvette Wisher, Director of Pitt EXCEL. “Anyone who talks to today’s EXCEL students can hear the passion of Dr. Lewis and see how exceptional these young people will be as engineers and individuals. They and the hundreds of students who preceded them are the reason why Pitt EXCEL is game-changer for so many.”  Since its inception, Pitt EXCEL has helped more than 1,500 students earn their engineering degrees and become leaders and change agents in their communities. Ms. Wisher says the most important concept she teaches students who are enrolled in the program is to give back however they can once they graduate—through mentorship, volunteerism, philanthropy, or advocacy.  Supporting the Change Agents of Tomorrow “Pitt EXCEL is a home - but more importantly, a family. The strong familial bonds within Pitt EXCEL are what attracted me to Swanson as a graduating high school senior, what kept me going throughout my time in undergrad and what keeps me energized to this very day as a PhD student,” explained Isaiah M. Spencer Williams, BSCE ’19 and currently a pre-doctoral student in the Swanson School’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “Pitt EXCEL is a family where iron sharpens iron and where we push each other to be the best that we can be every day. Beyond that, it is a space where you are not only holistically nurtured and supported but are also groomed to pave the way for and invest into those who are coming behind you.  “Pitt EXCEL, and by extension, Dr. Lewis' legacy and movement are the reasons why I am the leader and change agent that I am today. This generous gift will ensure a bright future for underrepresented engineering students in the Pitt EXCEL Program, and will help to continue the outstanding development of the change agents of tomorrow.”  Setting a Foundation for Community Support “Next year marks the 51st anniversary of IMPACT/EXCEL as well as the 175th year of engineering at Pitt and the 50th anniversary of Benedum Hall,” Dean Martin said. “The Swanson School of Engineering represents 28,000 alumni around the world, who in many ways are life-long students of engineering beyond the walls of Benedum, but who share pride in being Pitt Engineers. “The key to our future success is working together as a global community to find within ourselves how we can best support tomorrow’s students,” Martin concluded. “We should all celebrate this as a foundational cornerstone gift for greater engagement.” ###

Sep
28
2020

Practical Strategies for Inclusive Engineering Education

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (Sept. 28, 2020) — More inclusive classrooms improve learning and academic performance, and under-represented students in particular benefit from inclusion. Melissa Bilec, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, is leading a project called “Collaborative Research: Increasing Implementation of Proven Inclusivity Practices in Undergraduate Engineering Education” that will provide tangible guidance to educators for operating an inclusive classroom. “There is a lot of advice about how to think about inclusivity in the classroom, but when I write a syllabus and plan the arc of a course in engineering, there’s a lack of go-to strategies and actionable advice,” said Bilec, who is also Roberta A. Luxbacher Faculty Fellow and deputy director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. “Our end goal is to provide pragmatic, proven and trusted practices on inclusivity in the engineering classroom specifically.” Bilec will partner with co-PI April Dukes, Faculty and Future Faculty Program Director at the Swanson School’s Engineering Education Research Center, on the project, along with Kristen Parrish at Arizona State University and Amy Landis at the Colorado School of Mines. “Faculty want their students to succeed in the classroom. Many who have tried a few inclusive strategies, don’t see the results they expect and become discouraged,” said Dukes. “We want engineering faculty to succeed in their efforts of inclusion sustainably, by learning how to implement proven strategies which create classrooms where learning is possible for every student. The three-year project was awarded $300,000, with $183,829 designated for Pitt.
Maggie Pavlick
Sep
23
2020

Using Artificial Intelligence to Connect Vehicles and Traffic Infrastructure

Civil & Environmental

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (September 23, 2020) ... The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, with the University of Pittsburgh, Georgia Institute of Technology, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the City of Chattanooga, have been awarded $1.89 million from the U.S Department of Energy to create a new model for traffic intersections that reduces energy consumption. UTC’s Center for Urban Informatics and Progress will leverage its existing smart corridor to accommodate the new research. “This project is a huge opportunity for us,” CUIP Director and principal investigator, Mina Sartipi, said. “Collaborating with the City of Chattanooga and working with Georgia Tech, Pitt, and ORNL on a project that is future-oriented, novel, and full of potential is exciting. This work will contribute to the existing body of literature and lead the way for future research. Our existing infrastructure, the MLK Smart Corridor, will be the cornerstone for this work, as it gives us a precedent for applied research—research with real-world nuance. In the DOE proposal, the research team noted the U.S. transportation sector alone accounted for more than 69 percent of petroleum consumption and more than 37 percent of the country’s CO2 emissions.1 An earlier 2012 National Traffic Signal Report Card found that inefficient traffic signals contribute to 295 million vehicle hours of traffic delay, accounting for 5-10 percent of all traffic related delays.2 The project will leverage the capabilities of connected vehicles and infrastructures to optimize and manage traffic flow. The researchers note that while adaptive traffic control systems (ATCS) have been in use for a half century to improve mobility and traffic efficiency, they weren’t designed to address fuel consumption and emissions. Likewise, while automobile and vehicle standards have increased significantly, their potential for greater improvement is hampered by inefficient traffic systems that increase idling time and stop-and-go traffic. Finding a solution is paramount since the National Transportation Operations Coalition graded the state of the nation’s traffic signals as D+.3 “Our vehicles and phones have combined to make driving safer while nascent ITS has improved traffic congestion in some cities. The next step in their evolution is the merging of these systems through AI," noted Aleksandar Stevanovic, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering and director of the Pittsburgh Intelligent Transportation Systems (PITTS) Lab. "Creation of such a system, especially for dense urban corridors and sprawling exurbs, can greatly improve energy and sustainability impacts. This is critical as our transportation portfolio will continue to have a heavy reliance on gasoline-powered vehicles for some time. The goal of the 3+ year project is to develop a dynamic feedback Ecological ATCS (Eco-ATCS) which reduces fuel consumption and greenhouse gases while maintaining a highly operable and safe transportation environment. The integration of AI will allow additional infrastructure enhancements including emergency vehicle preemption, transit signal priority, and pedestrian safety. The ultimate goal is to reduce corridor-level fuel consumption by 20 percent. “Chattanooga is a city focused on embracing technology and innovation to create a safer and more efficient environment,” Chattanooga Smart City Director, Kevin Comstock, said. “Being supported and affirmed by the Department of Energy is an enormous vote of confidence in the direction we’re heading.” Georgia Tech team member, Michael Hunter, echoes that sentiment. “Through this project we have the potential to develop a pilot deployment that may be replicated throughout the country, helping realize the vast potential of these technologies,” he said. The team consists of Mina Sartipi, Osama Osman, Dalei Wu, and Yu Liang from UTC, Michael Hunter from Georgia Institute of Technology, Aleksander Stevanovic from University of Pittsburgh, Kevin Comstock from the city of Chattanooga, and Dean D. Deter and Adian Cook from ORNL. The Center for Urban Informatics and Progress is a smart city research center at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. CUIP is committed to applied smart city research that betters the lives of citizens every day. For more on the work we’re doing and our mission, visit www.utc.edu/cuip. ### 1S. Davis and R. G. Boundy, “Transportation energy data book: Edition 38,” tech. rep., Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States), 2020. 2Federal Highway Administration, “Traffic Congestion and Reliability Trends and Advanced Strategies for Congestion Mitigation,” 2005. 3National Transportation Operations Coalition, “National Traffic Signal Report Card Technical Report,” 2012. Funding Acknowledgements This project will leverage the ongoing project funded by the U.S. DOE VTO entitled Creating a Digital Twin for Chattanooga - Regional Mobility (CTWIN) solutions for the United States. The project will also leverage the USDOT investment in Multi-Modal Intelligent Traffic Signal System (MMITSS) through building on the transit signal priority (TSP) and Pedestrian Signal System (PED-SIG) applications, and it will leverage the FHWA CARMA platform. Finally, the project will be able to build upon extensive real-time energy and emissions calculation knowledge gained under the ARPA-E project Network Performance Monitoring and Distributed Simulation to Improve Transportation Energy Efficiency. The EERE funding will facilitate realizing the project goal through building on the currently deployed technologies (Digital Twin, CV communication, and Edge Computing) along the MLK Smart Corridor and leveraging the USDOT MMITSS and FHWA CARMA Platform to develop, implement, and test the proposed Eco-ATCS system. More specifically, the EERE funding will facilitate the core goal of the project to capitalize on vehicle connectivity to improve energy consumption and reduce GHG emissions while maintaining a high-level operability along a corridor with a mixed traffic of CVs and UCVs.
Author: Reid Belew, Center for Urban Informatics and Progress

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