Graduate Fellowships

Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship

International ExperienceResearch Focus | Partners | FAQ 

The Pittsburgh IGERT Sustainable Engineering Fellowship provides the interdisciplinary basis for attacking problems in sustainable engineering and promotes the cross cultural skills needed to address the global issues of sustainability. The curriculum emphasizes team-based design and truly crosses departmental lines, involving all seven University of Pittsburgh engineering programs.

View a list of Pittsburgh IGERT Fellows>  

International Experience

Sustainability is a global issue. For example, a technology appropriate for the United States may be inappropriate for another region.  IGERT students conduct six-month international research rotations in Sao Paulo, Brazil, giving them hands-on experience living and working cross-culturally.

To enable students as they begin this cross-cultural experience, we partner with the University of Pittsburgh's nationally recognized Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) and the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which hosts the international experience for all IGERT fellows.  UNICAMP houses one of the best engineering schools in South America, and its faculty maintain extensive research programs in both green construction and sustainable water use.

Research Focus

The program catalyzes and encourages collaboration.  Our faculty's research agendas incorporate multidisciplinary approaches to tackle the broad topics of green construction and sustainable water use.

Green Construction

Buildings in the United States, over the course of their life-cycles, account for 17 percent of fresh water withdrawals, 25 percent of wood harvests, 40 percent of overall materials use, 54 percent of energy used, and 50 percent of fossil fuels consumed.

Although great strides have been made in greening the process and products of construction, scientific and engineering advances in many fields are still needed to create the next generation of sustainable buildings.  Significantly, research and development performed by the construction industry as a percentage of sales is of an order of magnitude smaller than for most other industries.

  • New Materials for Green Construction 
    Our vision is that the building materials of the future will require less energy to produce, can be designed with recycling in mind, can signal impending failure and/or heal themselves, and will inhibit/reduce the release into the indoor environment of noxious compounds (either synthetic or natural).

  • Reduced Energy Use Through Smarter Design and Control 
    Our vision is that buildings of the future will contain a “nervous” system that provides real-time, highly localized data on energy needs, and that buildings of the future will be constructed so as to minimize energy demand while maximizing comfort.

  • Life Cycle Analysis, Planning, and Economics 
    Our vision is that the designers of new buildings will be able to examine the consequences of design choices on the future productivity of workers and the overall environmental footprint of the building over its lifetime through the use of innovative software tools.

Sustainable Water Use

Water, although often perceived to be an infinite resource, is fast becoming a leading source of friction throughout the world.

In the developed world, competing needs for water among agriculture, industry, and homes can create severe stress upon water supplies. In the developing world, the lack of sufficient clean water is fast becoming the most important obstacle to the creation of sustainable economies.

It is estimated that 1 to 2 billion people currently lack access to clean water, and that 10,000 to 30,000 people die each day from water-born diseases. Agricultural practices in developing countries are more water-intensive than in the developed world, as are commodity production processes. (For example, paper production in China requires twice the water as in the United States or Europe.)

Sustainable Water Treatment and Use 
Our vision is that water collection, treatment, and use in the future will be more efficient and less expensive, yet with less accompanying environmental burden than that employed presently.

For more information see research interests of associated faculty.


University of Campinas

The University of Campinas (UNICAMP) is one of the leading universities in Brazil and in all of South America.  The Guia do Vestibulando, the entrance exam testing service for Brazil, ranks the University of Campinas third in Brazil in overall quality, behind the University of San Paulo and the Federal University of Minas Gerais.  Over the past five years, the Ministry of Education of Brazil has consistently ranked UNICAMP programs in civil engineering, electrical engineering, and chemical engineering in category A (top) of their six categories, and the program in mechanical engineering in category A or B.  UNICAMP is an ideal partner for the University of Pittsburgh in that its faculty are extremely active in research directed at green construction and sustainable water use. 

Center for Latin American Studies, University of Pittsburgh

Since 1964, the University of Pittsburgh has been committed to a Latin American studies program of unique depth and richness.  Its Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) has become internationally recognized for excellence in undergraduate, graduate, and professional education and outreach.  CLAS is designated as a comprehensive National Resource Center on Latin America by the U.S. Department of Education. 


What is the NSF IGERT Program?

The IGERT program has been developed to meet the challenges of educating U.S. PhD scientists and engineers who will pursue careers in research and education, with the interdisciplinary backgrounds, deep knowledge in chosen disciplines, and technical, professional, and personal skills to become, in their own careers, leaders and creative agents for change. The program is intended to catalyze a cultural change in graduate education for students, faculty, and institutions by establishing innovative new models for graduate education and training in a fertile environment for collaborative research that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries. It is also intended to facilitate diversity in student participation and preparation, and to contribute to the development of a diverse, globally-engaged, science and engineering workforce.

What are the goals of the Pittsburgh IGERT Sustainable Engineering Fellowship program?

  • To train graduate engineers to routinely incorporate sustainability into new engineering designs;

  • To educate graduate engineers to appreciate the diversity in sustainable design across countries and cultures so that they can effectively operate in an international context; and

  • To create sustainable products and processes, especially for the construction and water collection/purification industries, thus enhancing the design options of architects, designers, and planners.

How will students be prepared for their research rotation in Brazil?

In order for IGERT Fellows to more effectively study, do research, and live in Brazil for an extended period of time, they take three semesters of Brazilian Portuguese and a one-semester IGERT seminar that introduces fellows to the economic, political, social, and cultural aspects of Latin America in general and Brazil in particular. 

What is the required course sequence?

  • Introduction to Sustainable Engineering;
  • Two elective courses that allow students to focus on sustainability within a specialty area (such as ChemE, CivE, IE, or ME);
  • A two-semester Capstone Design Course sequence;
  • An IGERT Seminar, devoted to preparing students for their Brazil rotations and a one-semester IGERT seminar that introduces fellows to the economic, political, social, and cultural aspects of Latin America in general and Brazil in particular;
  • Three courses of intensive Portuguese language instruction.

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