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



Sep
14
2018

Sustainable and Environmental Engineering Positions

Civil & Environmental, Open Positions

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at the University of Pittsburgh invites applications for two tenure-track faculty positions effective September 1, 2019.  These positions are part of the strategic expansion intended to support research and teaching activities in the area of Sustainable and Environmental Engineering (SEE). For the first tenure-track position, we seek candidates with fundamental expertise, research and teaching interests in the areas of environmental aquatic chemistry, water quality, sustainable water treatment technologies, and the water-health nexus. For the second tenure-track position, we seek candidates with expertise and research and teaching interests in the broad area of sustainable urban engineering. This includes, but is not limited to, building energy use evaluation and optimization, infrastructure resiliency, big data analytics and visualization for sustainable urban systems. For both of these positions, we are interested in applicants that build on and will contribute to our current strengths in environmental systems analysis. Applicants with a research program that addresses problems at multiple scales and have the desire to work across disciplinary boundaries are particularly encouraged to apply. Preference will be given to appointees at the Assistant Professor level, but applicants with outstanding credentials will be considered at other levels. We are interested in candidates that can collaborate in interdisciplinary research and teaching within the Department and/or related focus areas in the Swanson School of Engineering. Further, the ability to collaborate with existing centers, such as the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation http://www.engineering.pitt.edu/MCSI and the Center for Energy http://www.engineering.pitt.edu/cfe, is highly desirable. Candidates will have the opportunity to join our vibrant, diverse and growing department of 24 faculty members, 300 undergraduates and 130 full-time graduate students (including 50 PhD students). Successful applicants will be expected to develop and sustain a strong, externally funded research program within their area of expertise. 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) statement of diversity and inclusion, (6) copies of three representative publications, and (7) the names and contact information for at least three references. Please submit the application in a single pdf file. Applicants should request that their references directly e-mail reference letters to the application e-mail below at the time of application submission in order to expedite the review process. Applications for the first position and associated reference letters should be emailed to CEE19SE1@pitt.edu. Applications for the second position and their associated reference letters should be emailed to CEE19SE2@pitt.edu. Review of applications will begin November 1, 2018 and will continue until the positions are filled.

Sep
4
2018

Award-winning drinking water researcher Sarah Haig joins Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Pitt

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (September 4, 2018) … Sarah Haig, an environmental engineer with a focus on the drinking water microbiome, joins the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering this fall as assistant professor. Dr. Haig’s research combines environmental microbiology, environmental chemistry, and public health to improve water quality with a focus on drinking water systems. “Providing safe and reliable drinking water is one of the world’s most critical concerns, not only in developing countries but in many cities throughout the U.S. and developed world,” noted Radisav Vidic, Professor and Department Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Swanson School. “Sarah’s expertise in this field is an important addition to our faculty and we are looking forward not only to her contributions in the discipline but also her passion for teaching young engineers about these issue.” Dr. Haig completed her PhD, “Characterizing the Functional Microbial Ecology of Slow Sand Filters Through Environmental Genomics” in September 2014 at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. She was also a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow (October 2014 – July 2018) at the University of Michigan, in the groups of Lutgarde Raskin (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering) and John LiPuma (Department of Pediatrics), where she focused on linking the drinking water microbiome to human health.Dr. Haig has published several papers in leading journals in the fields of environmental engineering and microbiology and has given numerous presentations at national and international conferences. She has received several honors and awards for her research including Society for General Microbiology and International Water Association Young Water Professional prizes, a Lord Kelvin Adam Smith PhD scholarship, a Microbiology of the Built Environment fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and a Dow Sustainability fellowship. ###

Aug
30
2018

Power Plant Safety: From Pipe Dream to Reality

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (August 30, 2018) … A new technology able to detect potentially dangerous conditions in power plants is in the pipeline at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, thanks to a $360,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The device monitors corrosion and erosion in pipelines that, if left undetected, can lead to catastrophic explosions.Piervincenzo (Piero) Rizzo, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, is the principal investigator. The project titled “A new sensing device for disaster prevention and biomedical application” (Award No.: 1809932) will target, at its initial stage, pipes operating at high temperatures in which deterioration poses serious threats and visual inspection presents challenges.“Aging pipelines in petrochemical or nuclear power plants can cause structural failures and safety concerns, not only for workers but also people in surrounding areas,” says Dr. Rizzo. “Currently, humans are responsible for maintenance and inspection. However, the pipes can fail between inspections, human inspection is costly and often inconsistent, and plants may need to be shut down entirely during inspection, slowing down productivity.”Corrosion accounted for 16 percent of pipeline-related incidents and nearly $48 million in damages in 2017, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The data accounts for pipelines in natural gas, hazardous liquid, and liquefied natural gas plants.The main objective of the project is to develop a device that works continuously and remotely and is able to transmit relevant data wirelessly. Research gathered for the grant proposal suggests the device will be able to monitor deterioration in pipes operating at any temperature and at any location, above or below ground.“The device is based on the propagation of highly nonlinear solitary waves along a chain of spherical particles in contact to the outside surface of the pipe. We send a wave of energy through the particles and bounce it off the pipe. Changes in the wave’s shape over time reflect changes in the thickness of the pipe walls, inferring the occurrence of erosion or corrosion,” explains Dr. Rizzo.“Highly nonlinear solitary waves along have found many applications because they are fundamentally different than those waves typically encountered in acoustics and ultrasound,” he added. In his lab, Dr. Rizzo’s basic set up of the device consists of steel ball bearings about the size of gumballs aligned vertically or along an L-shaped in a plastic tube. The device can measure, for example, the internal pressure of a tennis ball simply by placing the tube against the ball and passing a wave through it.“This research will focus on validating the science behind our device and testing different materials and configurations to get the best results,” Dr. Rizzo says. “We will also be looking at other applications for the technology. For example, in a much smaller iteration, we could use the device to monitor eye pressure in individuals with or at risk for developing glaucoma.”He explains, “Glaucoma is an age-related disease and the second leading cause of blindness in the world. The risk of developing glaucoma surges when the intraocular pressure (IOP) increases due to abnormal balance between the production and drainage of the fluid inside the eye. The measurement of IOP is the cornerstone of the diagnosis and management of glaucoma because elevated IOP is the only risk factor that can be modified through invasive surgery.”For this project, Dr. Rizzo and his collaborators will also research and develop a numerical model to link the solitary waves to the IOP.Co-principal investigators Samuel Dickerson and Ian Conner will join Dr. Rizzo on the study. Dr. Dickerson, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, specializes in the electronic development of sensors and will develop a sensor to collect the wave data from the device. Dr. Conner, assistant professor of ophthalmology and bioengineering, is an eye care professional with experience in glaucoma and cataract surgery and will advise the team. ### About Dr. RizzoDr. Rizzo is widely recognized for his expertise in nondestructive testing and evaluation (NDT/E) and in structural health monitoring (SHM). He is the only person worldwide who has received both the Achenbach Medal (2012) and the SHM Person of the Year Award (2015). The Medal recognizes one young researcher who has made an outstanding contribution to the SHM. The Award recognizes “outstanding contribution to the field of SHM that will benefit society.” Both honors are selected by the editors of SHM, an International Journal, the top journal in the field. In 2016, Dr. Rizzo received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Scholar Award, in the category of junior scholar. This is the most esteemed award that Pitt gives to its own faculty. In July 2018, the international scientific committee of the European Workshop on SHM (EWSHM) selected the proposal of Dr. Rizzo to organize and chair the 10th edition of the workshop (EWSHM 2020). This Workshop is held every two years in Europe, and it congregates experts from all over the world to discuss the latest advancements in the area of SHM, smart materials, intelligent infrastructures, and NDE. The 2020 Workshop will be held at the University of Palermo, Italy, Dr. Rizzo’s Alma Mater. He won the competition against Berlin, Paris, and Prague—a testament to the leadership and professional stature that Dr. Rizzo has in the SHM community.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jul
10
2018

Fishy Chemicals in Farmed Salmon

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (July 10, 2018) … Persistent organic pollutants—or POPs—skulk around the environment threatening human health through direct contact, inhalation, and most commonly, eating contaminated food. As people are becoming more aware of their food’s origin, new research at the University of Pittsburgh suggests it might be just as important to pay attention to the origin of your food’s food.The American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology featured research by Carla Ng, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, on the cover of its June 19 issue. Dr. Ng tracked the presence of a class of synthetic flame retardants called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which were once a popular additive to increase fire resistance in consumer products such as electronics, textiles, and plastics (DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.8b00146).“The United States and much of Europe banned several PBDEs in 2004 because of environmental and public health concerns,” says Dr. Ng. “PBDEs can act as endocrine disruptors and cause developmental effects. Children are particularly vulnerable.”The Stockholm Convention, an international environmental treaty established to identify and eliminate organic pollutants, listed PBDEs as persistent organic pollutants in 2009. Despite restrictions on their use, PBDEs continue to be released into the environment because of their long lifetime and abundance in consumer goods. They are particularly dense in areas such as China, Thailand, and Vietnam that process a lot of electronic waste and do not regulate much of their recycling.“The international food trade system is becoming increasingly global in nature and this applies to animal feed as well. Fish farming operations may import their feed or feed ingredients from a number of countries, including those without advanced food safety regulations,” explains Dr. Ng.Most models to predict human exposure to pollutants typically focus on people in relation to their local environment. Dr. Ng’s model compared a variety of factors to find the best predictor of PBDEs in farmed salmon, including pollutants inhaled through gills, how the fish metabolized and eliminated pollutants, and of course, the concentration of pollutants in the feed.She says, “We found that feed is relatively less important in areas that already have high concentrations of pollutants in the environment. However, in otherwise clean and well-regulated environments, contaminated feed can be thousands of times more significant than the location of the farm for determining the PBDE content of salmon fillets.”Dr. Ng says the model could be modified and applied to other fish with high global trading volumes such as tilapia or red snapper. It could also be used to predict pollutant content in livestock or feeds produced in contamination “hot spots.”“Hot spots are places identified as having high levels of pollutants,” says Dr. Ng. “As these chemicals circulate through the environment, much ends up in the ocean. It’s extremely important to pay attention to the sourcing of ocean commodities and areas where pollutant concentrations are particularly high.”Dr. Ng’s model also helps inform contamination control strategies such as substituting fish oils for plant-based materials or taking measures to decontaminate fish oil before human consumption. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jul
2
2018

Discovering “Virtual” Resources in the National Food System

Civil & Environmental, Industrial

PITTSBURGH (July 2, 2018) … Does producing one ton of rice consume more water in Arkansas or California? Is it more sustainable for Texas to import oranges from Florida or grow its own? Will switching to water efficient irrigation pumps reduce both water and energy footprint of food production? To better integrate sustainability across multiple production systems, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded two professors from the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering a $305,764 grant for their research into the interconnectivity of U.S. food, energy, and water resources. The research will focus on modeling the complex network of resources in the United States and strategies for optimizing sustainability in resource production and consumption with a focus on food, energy, and water systems.“People tend to see food, energy, and water as individual diodes on a larger network, when they are more like a mesh of connections. This research is asking how you can model the nexus of these complex systems,” says Vikas Khanna, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt and principal investigator of the study.The study titled "Modeling and Optimization of Sustainable and ResilienT FEW (MOST FEW) Networks" will use publicly available data from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the Department of Agriculture, and related organizations to examine the environmental sustainability of U.S. national food system with an emphasis on interstate trade. The researchers in particular will focus on identifying networks of “virtual resources.”“Virtual resources are those consumed in a process but not intended to be directly used in the exchange itself,” Dr. Khanna explains. “For example, a large amount of water is consumed across the entire supply chain of corn. A singular focus on optimizing corn production could come at the expense of high water consumption or increased fertilizer use, or result in some other negative consequence if relationships within the system aren’t better understood.”Joining Dr. Khanna on the study as co-principal investigator is Oleg Prokopyev, professor of industrial engineering. Dr. Prokopyev specializes in Operations Research and develops tools and algorithms for describing complex, mathematical relationships in networks. Their collaboration began after Dr. Khanna used similar techniques and principles to model the London public transit system. Dr. Prokopyev recognized their common research interests, and the two decided to collaborate on the current project.Dr. Prokopyev says, “When looking at multiple objectives, most often efficiency with one thing will come at the expense of another. These are problems that don’t really have easy solutions, but there are mathematical ways to describe the processes and help people visualize how their decisions impact the network.”During the grant period, the researchers hope to identify “hot spots” for improvement opportunities and provide a range of solutions that minimize environmental impact and maximize the efficiency of resource production and consumption.“When your focus is sustainability, you always have a research application in mind,” says Dr. Khanna. “We face real life problems every day that require tradeoffs like quality for price or personal preference for availability. In the same way consumers can make better decision by being more informed, modeling the food, energy, and water networks will help to inform better decision making about our national resource policies by government, industry, utilities, and more.” ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

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