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. 

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 Derek 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
Sep
22
2020

Under (Intraocular) Pressure

Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (Sept. 22, 2020) — Diabetic patients monitor their blood glucose throughout the day, watching for peaks and valleys. Just taking a sample once during a visit to the doctor’s office would not give a clear picture of whether the patient’s diabetes is under control. The same is true of glaucoma patients, whose intraocular pressure (IOP), or pressure within the eye, is too high. IOP varies throughout the day, but there isn’t yet an easy way to monitor changes at home that would provide proven, reliable readings, making it difficult for doctors to monitor the effectiveness of treatment. Piervincenzo Rizzo, PhD, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, is leading a project that will help glaucoma patients monitor their intraocular pressure (IOP) at home, giving them and their doctors a clearer picture of eye health. The project recently received $1,099,984 from the National Science Foundation. The proposed device would use a cylinder containing an array of particles that, when pressed against the closed eyelid, will send an acoustic wave into the eye and wait for it to bounce back. The properties of the returning wave give the device information about the pressure inside the eye. “We’re proposing to use a special family of acoustic waves that can interact with the eye, bouncing back like an echo,” said Rizzo. “It’s like shouting into a small room versus a large one. The properties of the echo depend on the properties of the room.” Rizzo’s team includes Sam Dickerson, PhD, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Swanson School, and Ian Sigal, PhD, Ian Conner, MD, PhD, and Robert Handzel, MD, in Pitt’s Department of Ophthalmology. “We understand that intraocular pressure can have a pretty wide range throughout the day, but have very few ways to assess this critical variable outside of the clinic,” explained Conner, Director of UPMC’s Glaucoma Service. “This technology really has a lot of potential to enable non-clinicians, and even patients themselves, to reliably assess intraocular pressure, which will allow their doctors to better tailor their treatments. The project, titled “Managing Glaucoma in the Digital Age: A New Tonometer to Connect Patients to their Caregivers,” will begin Oct. 1, 2020 and last four years.
Maggie Pavlick
Sep
18
2020

Adding a Layer of Protection to Indoor Air

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (Sept. 18, 2020) — Because the novel coronavirus spreads through the air, experts continue to recommend outdoor activities over remaining indoors. However, the right air filter can make indoor air safer and help prevent the spread of the virus. Melissa Bilec, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, explains how these filters work in a new exhibit at Carnegie Science Center, which employs the HEPA filters that help keep the air clean. Experts have determined that the novel coronavirus is primarily spread by droplets from someone talking, sneezing or coughing nearby. However, it is also potentially “aerosolized,” meaning it can be attached to particles so small that they remain suspended in the air. The display explains the difference between the weight of aerosolized particles versus droplets—a tiny feather versus a golf ball—and how both masks and our buildings can provide another layer of protection. Indoors, HVAC systems circulate air around the building. While research is still determining exactly how much of a role HVAC systems may play in the spread of the virus, Bilec’s display shows how filters that are at least MERV 13 or a HEPA filter can help by trapping the particles carrying the virus. “With so much mis-information about COVID-19, I hope our exhibit will teach people about the way our buildings can do some of that important work for us,” said Bilec the Roberta A. Luxbacher Faculty Fellow and deputy director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. “I am passionate about ensuring my research positively impacts society and the environment, and I’m thrilled to work with the Carnegie Science Center.” Bilec’s research primarily focuses on improving the built environment, with an eye toward the effects of poor air quality and strategies to improve both indoor and ambient air quality. For the past decade she and her students have worked with underserved communities throughout Pittsburgh to help low-income families create a more sustainable home environment. Their solutions focus on projects including energy assessments and indoor air quality. The display will be featured at Carnegie Science Center as well as other Carnegie museums, including The Andy Warhol Museum. "As an advocate for science literacy, we saw the pandemic as an opportunity to combine a message about real research, current events, and museum collections in one place,” said Dennis Bateman, director of exhibits at Carnegie Science Center. "We didn't want to just dwell on the pandemic for our visitors coming to enjoy themselves as an escape from the restrictions in our lives now, but we did want to reassure them about our precautions while they are here, to connect research to real-world examples, like protecting our valuable collections—and our valued guests."
Maggie Pavlick
Sep
17
2020

Plotting a Course for the Circular Economy

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (Sept. 17, 2020) — Experts in sustainability warn that the current economic model, forming a straight line from resource to product to waste, is unsustainable. Researchers are instead turning to the circular economy to disrupt that line, working toward a lifecycle of products that does not end in a landfill. Melissa Bilec, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, is currently leading a team of researchers studying the circular economy, the focus of another NSF Convergence grant, which received $1.3 million last year. Bilec has received $98,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to convene a panel of experts to meet for a workshop on the circular economy that will help set the research agenda for years to come. The workshop brings together experts and thought leaders in academia, industry, government and nonprofits to discuss circular economy design from molecules to the built environment. In the course of three three-hour sessions over three weeks, the workshop will be an opportunity for the wide array of invited constituents to discuss and develop ideas in circular economy research. “The NSF’s Convergence Accelerator Program selects one or two research tracks each year, and this year, and these workshops help to determine what those tracks will be,” explained Bilec, who is also the Roberta A. Luxbacher Faculty Fellow and deputy director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (MCSI). “This is a fantastic opportunity to build, foster and facilitate the community around this emerging area of sustainability research. It also has the potential to shape the direction of major research in the coming years.” Bilec will team with Eric Beckman, Distinguished Service Professor of Chemical Engineering and co-director of MCSI, and Gemma Jiang, director of the Organizational Innovation Lab at the Swanson School. They are collaborating with the University of Georgia’s Jason Locklin, professor of chemical engineering and founding director of the New Materials Institute; Jenna Jambeck, professor of environmental engineering at the University of Georgia, and Gregg Beckham, senior research fellow at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). The group will also call on the expertise of KnowInnovation, a company with extensive experience in virtual workshop facilitation. The workshops are taking place by invitation throughout the month of September.
Maggie Pavlick
Sep
7
2020

Pitt's Construction Management Program Featured on the "Building PA" Podcast

Civil & Environmental

John Sebastian, director of Construction Management Program at the University of Pittsburgh joins co-hosts Chris Martin and Jon O'Brien to discuss how students are learning. Sebastian shared how the program has evolved and what students at the University of Pittsburgh are learning and engaging with industry professionals.Sebastian adds, "the key is to get involved early and engage with our students and the program to learn more of the opportunities that these students bring from the program." He is always looking for opportunities to engage with industry professionals, contractors, architects and engineers. In fact, the university has announced two programs allowing personal development opportunities - certification program and a Master's degree.Listen to the podcast below.
Building PA Podcast

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