The Civil and Environmental Engineering Department consists of four sub-disciplines, each of which investigates distinct areas of inquiry to one degree or another.
Environmental Engineering traditionally concentrates on understanding the physical, chemical, and biological processes in environmental systems to protect the natural environment while meeting the demands of human activities. Typical areas of research include aquatic chemistry, water treatment, wastewater treatment, and contaminant fate, transport and remediation.
Geotechnical Engineering is concerned with the behavior of earth systems, including all structures building on, in, or with the ground. Typical areas of study include soil material characterization, design of geo/structural systems (e.g., foundations, retaining structures, dams), and geo-related hazard characterization (earthquakes, landslides, expansive soils).
Hydrology and Water Resources Engineering recognizes the heavy demands on existing water supplies in arid and semi- arid regions, created largely by the human-induced impact on the ecosystem. This motivates research designed to better understand and diagnose hydrologic fluxes, their spatial and temporal variability, and system responses to human perturbations in an effort to devise optimal methods for water resource planning and management. New research explores land surface modeling, hydrometeorology, and remote sensing and data assimilation.
Structural Engineering and Mechanics incorporates the classic areas of structural mechanics, nonlinear analysis, structural dynamics, structural design, earthquake engineering, structural testing, and computational/solid mechanics as well as emerging areas such as meshfree methods, damage mechanics, and performance-based structural design. The corresponding research agenda includes examining the behavior of reinforced concrete structural elements and systems, analyzing homeland security design for structures, multiscale materials modeling, and generally pursuing optimum structural design.