U.Va. Engineering School Announces Department’s New Research Focus and Name

July 20, 2007 — To reflect an evolving focus on sustainable development and adaptive infrastructure, the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Civil Engineering Department has been renamed the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

As a part of this new focus, the CEE department has announced two main research areas: environmental and water resources engineering and civil infrastructure systems, which include transportation engineering, structural engineering and solid mechanics, and materials, construction and pavement engineering. Through these new research thrusts, designed to incorporate the principles of sustainability with those of conventional civil engineering design, the department seeks to ensure that every relevant aspect of civil infrastructure system design and operation is as safe and durable as possible for the world’s population.

“The objective of our research and education programs is to advance knowledge to improve civil infrastructure systems and thus human health and quality of life,” says Michael J. Demetsky, a professor and the chair of CEE. “Whether it is a water supply in a developing global community, the development and application of new construction materials, or the design of integrated transportation systems, civil engineers must incorporate life-cycle considerations in all that they do.”

In concert with sustainability principles, the new research program also stresses the importance of the role of information technology in fostering the goal of adaptive design.

“This restructuring is reflected in the department’s recent hiring of faculty with more nontraditional backgrounds to be more sensitive to the changing needs of modern civil and environmental engineering systems in its research and educational programs,” Demetsky says. “The three new faculty members who will join us this academic year come from environmental and water resources backgrounds and will be invaluable to the CEE department as we move forward in sustainable development and adaptive infrastructure research and education.”

James H. Aylor, dean of the Engineering School, adds that the department’s new name better reflects the direction of the field and of the department’s research. “Civil engineering is considered the broadest of all engineering disciplines, and our civil and environmental engineering faculty are experts in so many aspects of this continually evolving field,” Aylor says. “The Civil and Environmental Engineering Department’s new name and research thrusts reflect its recognition of the opportunities for sustainable and adaptive engineering in meeting our needs as a society — now and in the future.”

About the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science

Founded in 1836, the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science combines research and educational opportunities at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Within the undergraduate programs, courses in engineering, ethics, mathematics, the sciences and the humanities are available to build a strong foundation for careers in engineering and other professions. Its abundant research opportunities complement the curriculum and educate young men and women to become thoughtful leaders in technology and society. At the graduate level, the Engineering School collaborates with the University’s highly ranked medical and business schools on interdisciplinary research projects and entrepreneurial initiatives. With a distinguished faculty and a student body of 2,000 undergraduates and 650 graduate students, the Engineering School offers an array of engineering disciplines, including cutting-edge research programs in computer and information science and engineering, bioengineering and nanotechnology. For more information, visit www.seas.virginia.edu.