The strength and diversity of the department's research, labs, and centers reflect the depth and the often complementary nature of faculty research activities. This interconnectivity and advanced technology helps students and faculty reach new heights for innovation and engineering understanding.

Areas of Research

The environmental and water resources engineering research group at the University of Pittsburgh provides opportunities for graduate education and research in the science and engineering of water and wastewater treatment, water quality and solid and hazardous waste management, air quality control, and environmental impact assessment.

The geotechnical and pavements research group conducts a variety of experimental, mechanistic analytical research.  Through the use of finite element analysis software, multi-layered pavement sections can be modeled with a variety of loading and restraint conditions to accurately simulate pavement response. 

Most recently, a highway section constructed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation consisting of ultra-thin whitetopping (UTW) was successfully modeled using ABAQUS finite element analysis software. Findings for this study were featured at the 2004 Annual Transportation Research Board (TRB) Conference. Pending investigations into the heat-induced curling and moisture-induced warping of pcc pavement slabs will be conducted using finite element analysis software.

Associated Faculty

The structural engineering and mechanics (SEM) group is engaged in a wide variety of experimental, analytical and theoretical research.

The large scale test facilities of the Watkins Haggart Structural Engineering Laboratory is host to projects investigating the structural behavior of innovative structural systems and high performance material testing. A primary theme of much of this testing is rehabilitation and retrofit of deteriorating bridge and building structures. Most experimental work is additionally coupled with analytical study to extend the parameters of a study or to provide a solid mechanistic basis for observed behavior.

The  Laboratory for NDE and SHM Studies conducts state of the art research into non-destructive evaluation techniques and structural health monitoring for infrastructure systems. Specific work focuses on wave-propagation techniques and their application for efficient long-term structural monitoring. Studies include a combination of experimental and analytical components.

The SEM group also conducts extensive field-based studies of both decommissioned and operating structures. Forensic studies, such as that conducted on decommissioned girders recovered from the Lake View Drive Bridge provide significant experience for the entire SEM team.  In situ structural testing, coupled with advanced NDE techniques is a specialty of the SEM group.

The expertise of the SEM group is deeply founded in theoretical and applied mechanics. A variety of studies - with an emphasis on structural dynamics are conducted by all SEM group members.

The SGD group represents the next generation of interdisciplinary education and research in environmental science, engineering, and sustainability. SGD brings together forward-looking and enthusiastic faculty with the requisite experience for coordinated interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches towards research, education, and outreach. Through our research and outreach, we tackle some of the most pressing concerns of the 21st century.

Areas of Research

  • Bioproducts and Biofuels
  • Energy and Electricity
  • Green Design and Construction
  • Living Buildings
  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Exergy and Economic Input Output Analysis


Dr. Melissa M. Bilec

Dr. Vikas Khanna