With the beginning of a new academic year, I am excited to share the latest news from the Swanson School’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The past year has been exceptional with respect to academic programs, student accomplishments and research productivity.
Our enrollment for this fall includes 292 undergraduates, 103 master’s students and 54 PhD students. The Swanson School’s overall averages for the new incoming first-years continue to impress, with an average GPA of 4.325, average SAT of 1406, and average class rank in the top eight percent. Even as freshmen, these students will have the opportunity to engage in research that will have a positive impact on their futures, like recent alumna Naomi Anderson featured in the latest issue of our Newsletter. For the second consecutive year, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) selected the University of Pittsburgh student chapter as recipient of the Distinguished Chapter Award for Region 2.
Likewise, our faculty research continues to attract national awards and attention from other researchers and institutions as well as the public at-large. Melissa Bilec is working with nearby Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens to examine the impact of climate change on our freshwater supply. Vikas Khanna investigated the full life cycle impact of one promising “second-generation biofuel” produced from short-rotation oak and found that second-generation biofuels made from managed trees and perennial grasses may provide a sustainable fuel resource. Andrew Bunger is studying dike swarms located across the planet, which occur when molten rock (magma) rises from depth and creates cracks through the Earth’s crust, to provide useful information about efficient extraction of oil and natural gas in today’s modern world. Piervincenzo Rizzo is exploring fundamental new research that may lead to new sound barriers that mitigate acoustic noise using the architectural system based on the concept of acoustic diodes. Leanne Gilbertson and her research team are studying the inner workings of carbon nanomaterials (CNMs) to develop the best design practices that result in environmentally sustainable CNMs and enhance the ability to control their desirable and undesirable impacts.
This past year we also welcomed four new faculty members: Lev Khazanovich, who joins us as Anthony Gill Chair in Civil Engineering from the University of Minnesota; Stephen Sachs, who completed his PhD at the University of Pittsburgh; Max Stephens, who joins us after finishing his post-doctoral studies at the University of Auckland, New Zealand; and Hao Sun, who joins us after post-doctoral studies at MIT.
Our alumni continue to amaze with their contribution to the profession and to our Department. Wanda Austin and Mike Flowers were recognized at the 53rd annual Distinguished Alumni Banquet as the overall honoree for the entire school and departmental honoree, respectively.
Lastly, I am proud to announce that this year we are launching our new Master of Science in Sustainable Engineering through the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. Developed in collaboration with faculty across the University, as well as alumnus Jack Mascaro, this degree will provide students with the ability to develop innovative and scalable solutions with broad impact.
As always, I look forward to seeing you on campus or on the road. Please feel free to reach out if you are interested in collaborating with us or identifying new opportunities to benefit our students.
I do hope you enjoy browsing through our site where you can find most of the information you may need in terms of undergraduate and graduate admission, or the research interests of our faculty. As always, please feel free to contact us if we can be of additional assistance.
Radisav Vidic, PhD, P.E., BCEE
William Kepler Whiteford Professor and Department Chair