Pitt | Swanson Engineering

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. 

Feb
12
2020

Distinguished Service Award Honoree Dr. John F. Oyler Establishes CEE Fellowship

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (Feb. 12, 2020) The Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department of the School of Engineering is delighted to announce the establishment of the John F. Oyler Fellowship. The Fellowship will provide full tuition support for a graduate student in good academic standing and specializing in structures or solid mechanics in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, with preference for students entering the  Engineering Accelerated Graduate (EAGr) program. It is funded by a gift from the John Francis Oyler and Nancy Lee Victoria Fleck Oyler Foundation to recognize Dr. Oyler’s longstanding connection to the CEE Department. Dr. Oyler was a professor in the Swanson School for 25 years before retiring in 2018. He began his teaching career after 40 years in industry, where he worked for Dravo Corporation, Daxus Corporation, and his own consulting firm, Oyler Consulting Services. During his time at Pitt, he taught Statics, Mechanics of Materials, Materials of Construction, and Senior Design Projects. He hopes that this recent gift will help jumpstart students’ careers in the field in which he dedicated more than 65 years of service. “My family and I are quite grateful for the opportunity the Civil Engineering Department gave me to participate in the education of young engineers for the past two and a half decades,” he said. “It has always been my belief that a civil engineer should acquire proficiency in all of the civil engineering disciplines and a complete mastery of at least one.” Students in the  EAGr program are encouraged to apply for the Fellowship, which will announce its first award in 2020. EAGr is an accelerated master’s program that was established to ease the path toward an advanced degree. Eligible students will earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree within their discipline in five years, rather than six. Interested students should contact Dr. Leonard Casson, the Undergraduate Coordinator for the CEE Department. “I am in agreement with the general opinion in the civil engineering profession that a fifth year of formal education is an essential requirement for achieving the professional level. It certainly was true in my career,” said Dr. Oyler. “We are particularly interested in encouraging students to pursue their master's degrees in solid mechanics and structures via the EAGr program.” In 2017, the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) selected Oyler as recipient of the 2017 Michael A. Gross Meritorious Service Award in recognition of contributions to civil engineering. He was nominated by former students wishing to pay tribute to his role in their professional development and the impact he has had on countless other students over the years. More recently, Dr. Oyler was selected to receive the 2020 Distinguished Service Award from the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers (PSPE). The award recognizes “an individual or individuals for outstanding contributions toward the improvement of the social, economic, and professional status of the Professional Engineer.” “These recent awards are a reflection of what Dr. Oyler has done for decades to elevate the stature of our profession,” said Radisav Vidic, William Kepler Whiteford Professor and chair of civil and environmental engineering. “He has impacted the lives of our students, and with this generous gift, he will continue to support their careers and leave a lasting legacy in the Swanson School.” In addition to the John F. Oyler Fellowship, Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences established the Nancy L. Oyler Student Award with a gift from the Oyler family foundation. The Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling program designed the award to support and encourage graduate level training and clinical excellence in rehabilitation counseling. It was established in 2019 to honor the memory of Mrs. Oyler, who worked as a rehabilitation counselor, which involved providing psychosocial adjustment services to persons with disabilities. # # #

Feb
12
2020

Pitt Student Team Wins First Place in Annual CAWP Student Estimating Competition

Civil & Environmental, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (Feb. 12, 2020) — A student team from the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering placed first in the 4th annual Constructors Association of Western Pennsylvania (CAWP) Student Estimating Competition, held Feb. 6-8, 2020, at the Regional Learning Alliance in Cranberry Township. The competition asked student teams to think like a construction company and bid on a heavy-highway construction project. Students received pre-job documents and attended a pre-bid meeting before they were asked to prepare bids and a schedule. The teams turned in their packages before 5 p.m. on Friday and had 30 minutes the following day to present their bid and process to a panel of judges. Nine teams from five universities in the region—Carnegie Mellon University, Penn State University, Penn State University at Harrisburg, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown—participated in the competition, with two teams hailing from Pitt and one from Pitt Johnstown. Benedum Builders team members Paul Amicucci, Anthony Gansor, Russell Jacobs, Mason Hill, Patrick Schorr, and Brandon McDermott, took home a $1,500 prize for first place. The Brain Storm Troopers, from Pitt at Johnstown, placed second. “We appreciate CAWP and the industry mentors for providing this Estimating Competition opportunity to our students for the fourth straight year,” says John Sebastian, McKamish Director of Construction Management Program at Pitt. “The competition provided not only a realistic experience for the students but also a chance to interact with professionals in the industry. A networking opportunity as well as a competition, teams were invited to participate in a career fair and industry presentations when not presenting their bids. Representatives from local construction companies served as judges for the competition, including Swank Construction Company, Independence Excavating, Michael Facchiano Contracting, Trumbull Corporation, Mascaro Contracting and Brayman Construction Corporation. Pitt’s teams were mentored by members of Independence Excavating and i+iconUSA, a construction company led by Swanson School alumnus Lester Snyder. The CAWP developed the Student Estimating Competition to encourage students to understand the benefits and opportunities the heavy-highway construction industry has to offer. CAWP, established in 1934, is a non-profit organization that assists workers in the heavy, highway and utility construction industry and improves relationships between contractors, their employees and the general public.
Maggie Pavlick
Feb
7
2020

Staying on Track

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (Feb. 7, 2020) — Temperature is an important factor when engineering for the outdoors because materials can change with the weather. Modern railways, the kinds used for high-speed trains, are made of continuous welded rails (CWRs) that are pre-expanded when set so they won’t buckle in the warm weather or crack in the cold. Ensuring the rails remain this way is vital for the safety of trains and longevity of the tracks, but the rails can change with wear, meaning the temperature at which the rail is neither contracting or expanding can fluctuate over time. To help address this issue, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering have developed a nondestructive evaluation method to measure stress in rails, with the eventual aim of calculating when the ambient temperature will be problematic. “When the temperature outside is hotter or colder than usual, trains slow down as a precautionary measure to prevent excess strain on the rails,” explains Piervincenzo Rizzo, PhD, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt and senior author on the paper. “Unnecessary slowdowns create train delays and interruptions in the supply chain, which is why real-time monitoring of the stress on the rails would be so beneficial to the industry.” Rizzo and co-author Amir Nasrollahi, PhD, published their work in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Journal of Nondestructive Evaluation, Diagnostics and Prognostics of Engineering Systems. The ASME selected Rizzo’s paper as one of the top three papers in the 2019 Best Paper competition; it will be recognized at the 47th Annual Review of Progress in Quantitative Nondestructive Evaluation, held in July 2020 in Minneapolis. The paper, “Numerical Analysis and Experimental Validation of a Nondestructive Evaluation Method to Measure Stress in Rails,” (doi: 10.1115/1.4043949) was authored by Rizzo and Amir Nasrollahi, PhD, who previously was a PhD candidate and then post-doctoral researcher in Rizzo’s Laboratory for Nondestructive Evaluation and Structural Health Monitoring Studies at Pitt. Nasrollahi is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Stanford University.
Maggie Pavlick
Jan
27
2020

Recognizing a career of service to generations of students

Civil & Environmental

From the Pittsburgh Professional Engineer newsletter. Reposted with permission. Founded in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers, Engineers’ Week is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well‐educated future engineering workforce by increasing the understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers. Engineers’ Week promotes recognition among parents, teachers, and students of the importance of a technical education and a high level of math, science, and technology literacy. It motivates youth to pursue engineering careers. Each year, Engineers’ Week reaches thousands of schools, businesses, and community groups across the United States. In conjunction with Engineers’ Week, the PSPE Pittsburgh Chapter will hold its annual Awards Banquet at the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania (ESWP) on Saturday, February 22, 2020. The Distinguished Service Award is presented each year to recognize an individual or individuals for outstanding contributions toward the improvement of the social, economic, and professional status of the Professional Engineer. This year’s award recipient is Dr. John Oyler, whose professional interests are specialized in Civil Engineering Materials, Solid Mechanics, and Structural Engineering. He earned a B.S. in civil engineering from The Pennsylvania State University in 1953, an M.S. in Civil Engineering from Carnegie Tech in 1961, and PhD in Civil Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 1972. Dr. Oyler worked for Dravo Corporation from 1953 to 1987 and Daxus Corporation from 1988 to 1991, before forming Oyler Consulting Services in 1991 as a sole proprietorship. He has a strong engineering and solid mechanics background and interest and is a Registered Professional Engineer in five states. He earned his Pennsylvania license in 1959, making him one of the oldest Professional Engineers in the state. Dr. Oyler has had responsibility for all the engineering activities of the 750-member staff of Dravo Engineers. He served as the Project Engineering Manager for the Timken Company’s $450-million greenfield integrated steel-making facility in Canton, Ohio. Dr. Oyler is active nationally in ASCE and ASME and served as an Adjunct Associate Professor from 1993 to 2018 in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, teaching Statics, Mechanics of Materials, Materials of Construction, and Senior Design Projects.

Jan
27
2020

Bridging the Gaps in Bridge Inspection Data

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (Jan. 27, 2020) — The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania maintains over 25,000 bridges, and the average age of those bridges is 50 years, with a significant portion of them in poor condition. Making sure these bridges are safe is a vital job, but it’s also a dangerous one: Every year, an estimated average of 23  bridge inspectors of state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) lose their lives on the job, highlighting the need for an automated inspection method that is safe, accurate and efficient. Amir Alavi, PhD, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering is undertaking a $200,000 project sponsored by the Impactful Resilient Infrastructure Science and Engineering (IRISE) Consortium at Pitt for work that will improve bridge assessment. IRISE is a public-private consortium focused on solving infrastructure durability problems.  Its members are Allegheny County, Golden Triangle Construction, Michael Baker International, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Alavi’s research will integrate three bridge assessment techniques: structural health monitoring (SHM), non-destructive evaluation (NDE) and visual inspection using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones. The study will establish a data fusion framework to identify the synergies among bridge degradation, remaining service life, and the SHM, NDE and UAV-collected data. Though using UAVs is an emerging civil infrastructure inspection method, it is presenting its own challenges. In the arena of bridge inspection, one of the unanswered questions is how DOTs can integrate the UAV systems with NDE techniques to additionally track deterioration at a higher temporal resolution, or the frequency at which data is collected, improving service-life models forecasting. “We have tons of systems collecting different type of information about the condition of the civil infrastructure systems and, in particular, our bridges. However, the problem is how to combine this information to give inspectors a more descriptive picture of the health status of the bridge,” says Alavi. “While one method can offer a better temporal information, the other may provide better spatial resolution, giving more visual detail but less frequently. One of our primary goals is to identify the level of unique information provided by each data modality and then fuse the data with various levels of spatial and temporal resolution to help bridge inspectors make better decisions more efficiently.” To pursue this research, Alavi and his team will collaborate with the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) at Rutgers University, along with industry partner Wiss, Janney, Elstner (WJE) Inc. It will leverage the data collected by Rutgers’ Bridge Evaluation and Accelerated Structural Testing (BEAST) facility, the world’s first full-scale accelerated testing facility for bridges. The team at the BEAST will monitor a multi-girder steel composite bridge that is 30 by 50 feet. They will expose the bridge to rapid-cycling environmental changes and extreme traffic loading to speed up the bridge’s deterioration, even undergoing simulated winter road maintenance treatments. Over the nine- to 12-month period, the bridge will go through the equivalent of 15 to 20 years of wear and tear. Alavi’s team will evaluate the resulting data to look for correlations between the SHM, NDE and UAV-collected data through the full-life cycle of bridge performance from the first day of service until to the point that the bridge will be functionally deficient and out of service. The team plans to build a layered heat map, stacking the data from each method to provide a more efficient picture of the bridge’s health and potential issues. The goal of the research is for PennDOT and the other IRISE public partner agencies to implement the framework, gaining valuable information that will inform how—and how often—bridge inspectors should use the various modalities to monitor bridge health. “Understanding bridge condition is a critical aspect of infrastructure durability,” says Julie Vandenbossche, PhD, director of IRISE and William Kepler Whiteford professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt. “We’re pleased that Dr. Alavi’s work will improve the state-of-the practice in how those conditions are assessed.” The team will address the reliability of the UAV-based assessment as compared to the commonly-used NDE methods. “The autonomous robotic inspection is the future of bridge inspection, and UAVs play a key role in this game. The problems we are facing for a wide application of UAVs are basically technological issues,” says Alavi. “There are solutions, it’s only a matter of time and research, and our research is a step in the right direction for an effective UAV implementation for bridge inspection in Pennsylvania and beyond.”
Maggie Pavlick

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