Chair's Welcome

Welcome to the department of civil and environmental engineering! Whether you are a first time visitor, a prospective student or a long-time member of the community, I encourage you to explore the CEE website for an in-depth look at our programs and highlights, some of which are touched upon in this message.

Two new faculty members join our department this academic year (2014-15): Prof. Henry Liu from the University of Minnesota and Assistant Prof. Seymour Spence from the University of Notre Dame. With an expertise in traffic network monitoring, modeling and control, and a research focus on smart signal technologies, Dr. Liu will lead the effort to jump-start a new transportation engineering program. An expert in wind engineering, Dr. Spence joins the structures faculty, and adds depth in mitigation of wind energy damage to buildings, using performance-based design, reliability-based design optimization, and data-driven modeling and design strategies. The addition of Liu and Spence brings our faculty number to 34, near a historic high, and represents an increase of nearly 25 percent since 2009. We plan to add a second faculty member in transportation engineering this year to build critical mass in this vital infrastructure sector.

With recent faculty growth, we’ve been able to add new programs for both undergraduate and graduate students, and depth and breadth to existing ones. After just two years, enrollment in our undergraduate environmental engineering degree program is approaching 100, and graduated its first cohort of students. ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) program evaluators visit later this year as we seek to accredit the program. Our 9-credit program in sustainable engineering (PISE) enters its third year, and now boasts 110 declared students. At the graduate level, our dual degree Masters programs with the School of Natural Resources and the Environment (SNRE) in sustainable energy systems and sustainable water resources systems, along with our newest MSE specialization in infrastructure systems, continue to grow and attract a diverse group of graduate students.

This past year brought many honors, awards and distinctions to faculty, students, alumni and staff, as highlighted on our website. Awards for our junior faculty were particularly noteworthy. An unprecedented four National Science Foundation CAREER Awards were received (Profs. Adda Athanasopoulos-Zekkos, Jason McCormick, Carol Menassa, and Krista Wigginton) – bringing the department total to 6 awards in the past three years. Prof. SangHyun Lee received the Rackham Henry Russel Award, the highest honor bestowed upon junior faculty by the University; he also earned the ASCE Halpin Award for outstanding scholarship in construction engineering. Another noteworthy accolade came when Prof. Ann Jeffers was recognized with the Harry C. Bigglestone Award for excellence in communication of fire protection concepts.

Through the generosity of alumni, we were able to designate four faculty scholars. Along with the title, junior faculty who are named faculty scholars receive discretionary funds to support their research. Those receiving this distinction are Profs. Carol Menassa and SangHyun Lee, both named Tishman Faculty Scholars; Krista Wigginton, named the Borchardt and Glysson Water Treatment Faculty Scholar; and Branko Kerkez, named the Berker and Gokyigit Faculty Scholar.

These are exciting times for the CEE community. For aspiring undergraduate and graduate students interested in participating in our journey to influence and shape the future, we welcome you to consider joining our top-ten rated programs in civil and environmental engineering. For alumni wishing to reconnect or to support us in our mission, please contact me or other members of our CEEFA (Civil and Environmental Engineering Friends Association) Board.

Sincerely, Kim F. Hayes
Professor and Chair
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