Pitt | Swanson Engineering

A bachelors in Civil Engineering is one of the top five in-demand bachelor's degrees according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Spring 2008 Salary Survey, with starting salaries almost at the top of that list. Employment growth for civil engineers is expected to move at a pace that is faster than the average for all occupations.

The University of Pittsburgh has a proud tradition in civil engineering education, reinforced by a faculty deeply concerned about their students. Graduates from the Department of Civil Engineering have become leaders in their profession, serving with government, private consulting firms and contractors and in research and academic institutions.

Civil engineers at Pitt have the opportunity to engage in undergraduate and graduate programs in a broad range of topics, including structures, environmental, water resources, green construction, geotechnical engineering and construction management. Other electives include  applied mechanics and mathematics, legal issues, and computer aided design.

The department accomplished faculty, top-notch educational and research facilities and partnerships with industry provide the necessary edge for our graduates to discover satisfying careers meeting the challenges of the 21st century. The emphasis is to provide an education that focuses on engineering and construction for sustainable development, leaving the next generations with a society that continues to offer a high quality of life.




Aug
28
2015

Piero Rizzo named 2015 Structural Health Monitoring Person of the Year

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (August 28, 2015) … Piervincenzo (Piero) Rizzo, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering, was named the 2015 recipient of the Structural Health Monitoring Person of the Year Award by the International Workshop on Structural Health Monitoring (IWSHM). Rizzo will receive the award at the IWSHM tenth annual conference at Stanford University in September. According to IWSHM, the award recognizes accomplishments and outstanding contributions to the field of SHM that will benefit society. Contributions can be in the form of theory, analysis, applications, education, or other ways that support the discipline of SHM and benefit society. Awardees are selected by the editors and associate editors of Structural Health Monitoring: An International Journal. "Piero's research and teaching in structural health monitoring is well regarded at the Swanson School, and so we are pleased he received this recognition by his international peers. He is an outstanding faculty colleague and a dedicated teacher and advisor to his students," said Radisav Vidic, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Rizzo's academic and professional interests include nondestructive testing/evaluation, structural health monitoring, signal processing and automatic pattern recognition for real-time prognosis of structural and biological materials, and implementation of embedded sensor network for the health monitoring of civil, mechanical and aerospace structures. Current research is focused on the development of guided wave-based SHM methodologies for pipes, and the investigation of highly-nonlinear solitary waves for the noninvasive assessment of structural and biomaterials including structural buckling. Rizzo earned his laurea (MS) in aeronautical engineering from the University of Palermo, Italy, and his Master and PhD in structural engineering from the University of California - San Diego. About Pitt's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Founded in 1867, the Civil and Environmental Engineering program at the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering is one of the oldest engineering programs in the U.S. Civil engineering students at Pitt have the opportunity to engage in undergraduate and graduate programs in a broad range of topics, including environmental engineering and water resources, geotechnical and pavements, structural engineering and mechanics, and sustainability and green design. ###
Paul Kovach
Aug
25
2015

Pitt, Drexel, and NIH Team up to Study Persistence of Ebola Virus in Wastewater

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH- The historic outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa that began in March 2014 and has killed more than 11,000 people since, has raised new questions about the resilience of the virus and tested scientists' understanding of how to contain it. The latest discovery by a group of microbial risk-assessment and virology researchers suggests that the procedures for disposal of Ebola-contaminated liquid waste might underestimate the virus' ability to survive in wastewater. Current epidemic response procedures from both the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise that after a period of days, Ebola-contaminated liquid can be disposed of directly into a sewage system without additional treatment. However, new data recently published by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, Drexel University , and the National Institutes of Health indicate that Ebola can survive in detectable concentrations in wastewater for at least a week or longer. "Initial research by the WHO and CDC recommended disposing of Ebola-contaminated liquid waste into a latrine or treatment system without disinfection because the virus wasn't expected to persist in wastewater," explained Kyle J. Bibby , assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering and principal investigator of the study "Persistence of Ebola Virus in Sterilized Wastewater," published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters. "However, we found that the virus persisted over a period of at least eight days." The researchers gathered their data by observing the change in viral particle concentration in two samples, spiked with different concentrations of the virus, over an eight-day period. The testing was performed in a secured lab at the NIH. While the researchers observed a 99 percent decrease in concentration after the first day, the remaining viral particles were detectable for the duration of the experiment. "These results demonstrate a greater persistence of Ebola virus in wastewater than previously speculated," said Charles Haas , co-author; head of the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering ; the LD Betz Professor of Environmental Engineering; and director of the Environmental Engineering Program. "While the Ebola virus was found to be generally less persistent than enteric viruses in wastewater, the identified survival period might suggest a potential of a wastewater exposure route." Historically, it was believed that the virus could only be transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids, but there have been cases where people contracted the disease without apparently coming in contact with infected fluids. This, the study suggests, could be an indication that large liquid droplets might be a vector for the virus-which means greater care should be taken when handling contaminated liquid waste. And given that an infected patient may produce up to nine liters of liquid waste per day, if infected liquid could carry the virus to someone else, this could be a significant risk factor.  The team also notes that the virus' seemingly early decay upon entry into wastewater might be due to the viral particles clumping together or latching onto other particles in the water, rather than the virus dying. These phenomena would actually make the viruses less susceptible to environmental factors, such as disinfectants, that would normally kill them off. A proposed solution, already adopted by the WHO, would be to hold the contaminated liquid waste for a longer period of time before releasing it into the sewage system. Another might be to pretreat it with an antiviral agent, such as chlorine, although performance data on disinfectants is needed as well. These options would provide more time for the viral concentration to decay and for the remaining viruses to be inactivated.  "These results indicate that further research is needed with a more holistic approach to assessment of Ebola-infected wastewater, from storage to treatment to disposal and continued monitoring, including a precautionary approach to wastewater handling in all epidemic responses," Bibby said. In addition to studying whether or not Ebola can actually be contracted from exposure to wastewater, the next step for this research thread would be to review variations in the wastewater composition, such as temperature, microbe population and pH level, the use of disinfectants, and the viral concentration's effect on the decay and inactivation of the virus. ###  
Joe Miksch
jmiksch@pitt.edu
Jun
29
2015

John Sebastian named inaugural McKamish Director of Pitt Engineering’s Construction Management program

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (June 29, 2015) … The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering announced that John T. Sebastian has been named the inaugural McKamish Construction Management Director. Mr. Sebastian, president of Sebastian Consulting Solutions , is a faculty member in the Department. The Directorship was made possible through a gift from the McKamish Family and David McKamish, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh contracting firm McKamish . "The Construction Management concentration is a key component of both undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and I especially want to thank the McKamish Family for establishing this important directorship," said Radisav Vidic, PhD, P.E. , the Swanson School's William Kepler Whiteford Professor and Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "The program prepares students to manage the rebuilding of our public infrastructure and the modernization of our private buildings and plants, which is a critical 21st century challenge. John's decades-long career in the construction industry will make him a valuable member of our faculty, and his expertise will help to shape the program's course development, student engagement, and research." "I am honored to receive the inaugural appointment as the McKamish Director of the Construction Management Program," Mr. Sebastian said. "I look forward to working with the faculty in the Civil and Environmental Department of the Swanson School of Engineering to develop the Construction Management Program into one of national prominence." Pitt's Construction Management Program Concentration encompasses public and private sector perspectives, building and engineering construction, and the roles played by all the participants on the construction team (owners, contractors, design professionals, and other supporting professionals). The program emphasizes managerial decision-making in an engineering context and teaches students decision-making skills that are important to the successful completion of construction projects as measured by time, cost, and quality objectives. In addition, the program develops in the students those professional qualities that will make them effective managers - communication skills, computer applications, ethical standards, and leadership attributes. Mr. Sebastian's management consulting firm, Sebastian Consulting Solutions, LLC, was founded based on his more than 35 years of experience in the construction industry. Mr. Sebastian was Executive Vice President and member of the Board of Directors of Dick Corporation, a national general contractor and dck worldwide, an international contractor and successor company to Dick Corporation. Both companies had annual revenue in excess of $1 billion and were consistently ranked in the top 50 General Contractors in the United States by Engineering News Record.  Mr. Sebastian played a key role in the development and construction of numerous landmark construction projects including: the Historic Renovation of Union Station in Washington, DC (for which he won the Build America Award as the on-site project manager), PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC, The Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, Bahamas, The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas and many monumental government, military and commercial projects among others. Mr. Sebastian is a LEED accredited professional and a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, holding a BS in Civil Engineering as well as an MBA. He is a Construction Excellence Peer for both General Services Administration and the Veterans Administration. He is a board member, executive committee member, finance chair and treasurer of the Sarah Heinz House of Pittsburgh, and is a member of numerous industry groups. About Pitt's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Founded in 1867, the Civil and Environmental Engineering program at the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering is one of the oldest engineering programs in the U.S. Civil engineering students at Pitt have the opportunity to engage in undergraduate and graduate programs in a broad range of topics, including environmental engineering and water resources, geotechnical and pavements, structural engineering and mechanics, and sustainability and green design. ###
Paul Kovach
Jun
8
2015

International consortium led by Pitt engineer receives $200,000 grant to explore use of bamboo as an urban construction material

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (June 8, 2015) … A University of Pittsburgh-led consortium is one of 14 new multilateral university partnerships created by the Global Innovation Initiative , a program funded by the U.S. and UK governments to foster multilateral research collaboration with higher education institutions in Brazil, China, India and Indonesia. The consortium's winning proposal, "Bamboo in the Urban Environment," brings together leading experts in bamboo and sustainable design to engage in extensive, cutting-edge analysis and testing of bamboo as a safe construction resource in urban areas. With partners at Coventry University (UK), the Pitt-led team includes collaborators at Bogor Agricultural University (Indonesia); the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (India); an intergovernmental partner, the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (China); and industry partners in the US and UK. The two-year, $200,000 award will support multiple international student and faculty exchanges and three international workshop/symposia including a flagship symposium to be held at Pitt in May 2016. "This collaborative research has both significant technical and social relevance through the potential to reduce the cost and environmental impact of safe housing for a significant proportion of the world's population," noted Kent Harries , Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering and the consortium's principal investigator. "With continued population growth, especially in developing and lagging countries, the need for a sustainable yet safe and strong construction material is an incredibly pressing need. This work addresses the global grand challenges of urbanization and resilience in the face of natural hazards and climate change through the use of bamboo, one of nature's most renewable 'green' materials." The program also allows for undergraduate and graduate students at each institution to participate in the research. According to Dr. Harries, there is an increasing socio-technical-economic gap developing between scientifically "advanced" countries (e.g. US and UK) and those that are "proficient" (e.g. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), "developing" (e.g. Indonesia) and "lagging" (e.g. Nepal). For those proficient, developing or lagging countries, a lack of stable infrastructure is cited as a primary barrier to the adoption of technology, while the increased emphasis by advanced countries on 'sustainable practices' is viewed as largely unattainable. "Compounding this, migration of the rural poor into urban centers places even greater pressure on informal urban settlements around the world," he explained. "It's estimated that more than one third of the world's urban population lives in inadequate housing. Exposure to natural hazards and the effects of global climate change further compound the global grand challenge of providing adequate and safe urban housing. Bamboo, one of the world's oldest construction resources, is now being rediscovered as a viable, sustainable and engineered alternative to present construction practices in many areas of the world." Dr. Harries' research interests include the use of non-traditional construction materials such as bamboo, which he describes as "the most rapidly renewable structural material in the world." Bamboo can grow up to 30 meters in six months and be mature for structural purposes within three years, achieving mechanical properties that surpass those of oak. When used in its untransformed pole-form, bamboo has a smaller environmental impact than other conventional structural materials, including timber. Bamboo's light weight and relative flexibility make it a particularly attractive alternative for residential construction in seismic regions. Nonetheless, he said, the majority of knowledge of bamboo construction is based on cultural tradition, with approximately one billion people worldwide living in non-engineered or vernacular bamboo structures. To enable the better use and acceptance of this strong, economical and sustainable material, Harries explained that the award will help to empower engineers, architects and builders with modern and comprehensive design and construction standards. "While the use of bamboo in structures dates back thousands of years, the science is in its infancy. Only in the last decade have bamboo construction standards emerged in India and Colombia, as well as being promulgated by the International Standards Organization (ISO)," Dr. Harries said. "By establishing a pathway to standardization we aim to enable greater acceptance of bamboo as a construction material." The Global Innovation Initiative is funded by the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which also serves as the implementing partner in the UK; and the U.S. Department of State. In the United States, the Institute of International Education is implementing the grant program in partnership with the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The Global Innovation Initiative was created to support multilateral research collaboration to address global challenges, in keeping with the vision of UK Prime Minister David Cameron and U.S. President Barack Obama's joint statements on UK and U.S. higher education co-operation in 2011and 2012. About Pitt's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Founded in 1867, the Civil and Environmental Engineering program at the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering is one of the oldest engineering programs in the U.S. Civil engineering students at Pitt have the opportunity to engage in undergraduate and graduate programs in a broad range of topics, including environmental engineering and water resources, geotechnical and pavements, structural engineering and mechanics, and sustainability and green design. ###
Paul Kovach
Apr
15
2015

Pitt and Carnegie Mellon prepare for opening of sixth biennual Engineering Sustainability Conference

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (April 15, 2015) … Organizers from the University of Pittsburgh's Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation and Carnegie Mellon University's Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research are readying for one of Pittsburgh's signature sustainability events. " Engineering Sustainability 2015: Innovation and the Triple Bottom Line " will be held April 19-21 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and will feature engineers and scientists from academia, government, industry and nonprofit sectors sharing cutting-edge research and practices directed at development of environmentally sustainable buildings and infrastructure. "The built environment, which includes buildings, the transportation grid, and water collection and treatment systems, helps to sustain our economy and way of life, but at the cost of heavy resource use and waste generation," noted Eric Beckman, PhD, Co-Director of MCSI. "We're witnessing this now in Pittsburgh, where Alcosan is developing a $2 billion Wet Weather Plan as part of a federal mandate to address sewer overflow in a decades-old system by 2026, as well as in California, where they are on the verge of a megadrought that could last decades." "Solving these problems won't be simple or affordable, which is why the Engineering Sustainability Conference brings together researchers who are addressing these problems which affect cities and towns across the U.S.," explained Neil Donahue, PhD, Director of the Steinbrenner Institute. "Over the past ten years CMU and Pitt have brought together some of the world's best sustainability thinkers to continue this dialogue and search for solutions." The Engineering Conference is sponsored in part by Mascaro Construction Company LP, Eaton, Master Builders' Association of Western Pennsylvania Inc., PNC Bank, UPMC, and PPG. Partners include the Green Building Alliance, Sustainable Pittsburgh, Engineers' Society of Western PA, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and PGH Green Innovators. For more information and to register visit engineering.pitt.edu/mcsi.   This year's plenary speakers include: Shahzeen Attari Assistant Professor, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University "Water Use: Effective Actions, Perceptions and System Thinking " Shahzeen Attari's research focuses on the interactions between natural and social systems, particularly human behavior and climate change. Her current work investigates effects of real-time energy feedback, how to use games for research and learning, and factors that motivate action in social dilemmas, and her previous work investigated preferences for behavior change and perceptions of energy consumption. Previously, she was a postdoctoral fellow at The Earth Institute and CRED at Columbia University.  She holds a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University, and a Bachelor's of Science in Engineering Physics from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.   Christopher Flavin Senior Fellow and President Emeritus of the Worldwatch Institute  "Building a Sustainable Future: The Road to Low Carbon Energy" Christopher Flavin is a well-known expert on strategies for transforming energy systems to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and power a low-carbon future.  He advises governments, businesses, and international financial institutions, and lectures widely around the world. Mr. Flavin has authored three books: "Power Surge: Guide to the Coming Energy Revolution," "Running on Empty: the Future of the Automobile," and "Renewable Energy: the Power to Choose."  He has also published scores of articles for popular and scholarly publications. He is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy and serves on the Advisory Boards of the American Council on Renewable Energy and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute.  He holds a cum laude degree in economics and biology from Williams College.   Richard Luthy Silas H. Palmer Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University and Senior Fellow in the Woods Institute for the Environment "Re-Inventing Urban Water Supplies in the Arid West" Dick Luthy is the Silas H. Palmer Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, and Senior Fellow in the Woods Institute for the Environment.  His area of teaching and research is environmental engineering and water quality.  He is also the Director of the National Science Foundation's Engineering Research Center for re-inventing the nation's urban water infrastructure (renewit.org) that promotes new strategies for urban water systems to achieve more sustainable solutions to urban water challenges, especially in regions experiencing chronic water shortages and vulnerabilities to cycles of very low precipitation like the American west and southwest.  In related work, his research investigates cost-effective and natural approaches for sediment restoration. Dr. Luthy is a past chair of the National Research Council's Water Science and Technology Board and he has served on various NRC committees. He is a former President of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a registered professional engineer, a board certified environmental engineer, and Water Environment Federation Fellow. Joylette Portlock President, Communitopia " Communicating Climate Change with Humor"   Dr. Joylette Portlock is the President of Communitopia, a nonprofit based in Pittsburgh that focuses on climate change communication.  There, she stars in a series of funny, short web videos on climate change targeted to the general public, called " Don't Just Sit There- Do Something!"  Dr. Portlock studied biology at M.I.T. and completed a Ph.D. in genetics from Stanford University in 2006; she now works to give the public important scientific information it can use.  She has worked on environmental issues at the local, state, and federal level, and has been focused on global climate change since 2007.  Dr. Portlock is a HuffPost blogger and also currently serves on the Allegheny County Board of Health.   Invited Speakers Joule Bergerson Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Calgary   "Energy Systems Sustainable Analysis"  Matthew Eckelman   Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Northeastern University   "Modeling the Non-energy Benefits of Residential Energy Efficiency Measures"  Shelie Miller   Associate Professor, School of Natural Resources and the Environment University of Michigan   "A Proactive approach to Manage Unintended Consequences of Emerging Technologies" Sally Ng   Assistant Professor and Baldwin Junior Faculty Fellow, School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Georgia Institute of Technology "Air Quality and Healthy: Does "Particulate Matter" matter?"     Kristen Parrish Assistant Professor, School of Sustainability and the Built Environment Arizona State University "Small Buildings, Big Impacts: Promoting Energy Efficiency in Small Commercial Building Through 2030 Districts"   Jordan Peccia Associate Professor, Chemical and Environmental Engineering Yale University "Engineering Healthy Buildings" Mike Stenstrom   Distinguished Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering UCLA "Sustainable Water Supplies: Options for Better Stormwater Management" Ashlynn S. Stillwell  Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign "Water, Energy, and a Sustainable Future: An Interdisciplinary Approach"  
Paul Kovach

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