The built and natural environment frames the human experience; it facilitates human social interactions, enables movement of people from one point to another, and provides us with the air, water and food we need to flourish. Habitats are a cornerstone of our well-being as a society. With growing urbanization, the built urban environment will continue to be pivotal in human lives. The increasing importance of infrastructure in the human experience means that civil and environmental engineers will work closely with social sciences, public health and anthropology to enhance the experiences of humans in their various habitats.
By 2050, the number of people living in extreme poverty in urban communities worldwide, already close to 1 billion, could rise to 3 billion.
We will work to enhance the human experience by promoting interdisciplinary designs that are based on close collaboration with the public. Developing new ways to empathically listen to residents will be critical in order to understand how people experience their built environment and how the infrastructure can subsequently adapt to improve and complement this experience. We will also improve the fundamental understanding of how habitats impact the human experience, including human decision-making and trust in infrastructure. Our focus must be on forming habitats with low water and carbon footprints so that these experiences are sustainable for future generations.
This human-centric focus requires an informed public, empowered to improve their built infrastructure and land, air and water resources. We will lead the way in educating and engaging the public in how infrastructure is used to the benefit of people, and we will educate the next generation of civil and environmental engineers to apply interdisciplinary principles in their infrastructure design.
A plasma reactor zaps airborne viruses – and could help slow the spread of infectious diseases
Using nonthermal plasma reactors, researchers could one day curb the spread of airborne pathogens.
Tracking elderly mobility to improve failing infrastructure
By using affordable, wearable sensors, senior citizens’ heart rate, electrodermal activity, and skin temperature can be tracked to help improve failing infrastructure.
Improving access to transportation
By collecting data in Benton Harbor, MI, and sharing with local officials, University of Michigan researchers hope to improve the services offered and tackle transportation issues.
Our strategic vision positions civil and environmental engineers as the scientific, technological and business leaders tackling the complex societal grand challenges ahead. We have identified five strategic directions that will inform our future growth.Explore our five strategic directions »