What do Civil and Environmental Engineers do?

Civil and Environmental Engineers are responsible for the infrastructure that provides clean water to drink, clean air to breath, and safe buildings to live and work in. We design facilities to provide flood protection, generate and transmit energy, transport goods and people by air, rail, or roadways, and treat and dispose of waste products that would otherwise threaten our health and well-being. Our challenge in southern California is to provide this critical infrastructure within a complex geological and climate environment prone to earthquakes, drought, flooding and landslides, while also minimizing energy consumption and the release of greenhouse gasses. We educate students to address these threats by providing sustainable infrastructure solutions.

The Civil and Environmental Engineering Department consists of five sub-disciplines, each of which investigates distinct areas of inquiry to one degree or another.

  • Civil Engineering Materials: Ongoing research is focused on inorganic, random porous materials and incorporates expertise at the interface of chemistry and materials science to develop the next generation of sustainable construction materials. The work incorporates aspects of first principles and continuum scale simulations and integrated experiments, ranging from nano-to-macro scales. Special efforts are devoted toward developing low-clinker factor cements and concretes, reducing the carbon footprint of construction materials, and increasing the service life of civil engineering infrastructure.
  • Environmental Engineering: Research in environmental engineering focuses on the understanding and management of physical, chemical, and biological processes in the environment and in engineering systems. Areas of research include process development for water and wastewater treatment systems and the investigation of the fate and transport of contam-inants in the environment.
  • Geotechnical Engineering: Research in geotechnical engineering focuses on understanding and advancing the state of knowledge on the effects that soils and soil deposits have on the performance, stability, and safety of civil engineering structures. Areas of research include laboratory investigations of soil behavior under static and dynamic loads, constitutive modeling of soil behavior, behavior of structural foundations under static and dynamic loads, soil improvement techniques, response of soil deposits and earth structures to earthquake loads, and the investi-gation of geotechnical aspects of environmental engineering.
  • Hydrology and Water Resources Engineering: Ongoing research in hydrology and water resources deals with surface and ground-water processes, hydrometeorology and hydroclimatology, watershed response to disturbance, remote sensing, data assimilation, hydrologic modeling and parameter estimation, multiobjective resources planning and management, numerical modeling of solute transport in groundwater, and optimization of conjunctive use of surface water and groundwater.
  • Structures (Structural Mechanics and Earthquake Engineering): Research in structural mechanics is directed toward improving the ability of engineers to understand and interpret structural behavior through experiments and computer analyses. Areas of special interest include computer analysis using finite-element techniques, computational mechanics, structural dynamics, nonlinear behavior, plasticity, micromechanics of composites, damage and fracture mechanics, structural optimization, probabilistic static and dynamic analysis of structures, and experimental stress analysis. Designing structural systems capable of surviving major earthquakes is the goal of experimental studies on the strength of full-scale reinforced concrete structures, computer analysis of soils/structural systems, design of earthquake resistant masonry, and design of seismic-resistant buildings and bridges. Teaching and research areas in structural/earthquake engineering involve assessing the performance of new and existing structures subjected to earthquake ground motions. Specific interests include assessing the behavior of reinforced concrete buildings and bridges, as well as structural steel, masonry, and timber structures. Integration of analytical studies with laboratory and field experiments is emphasized to assist in the development of robust analysis and design tools, as well as design recommendations. Reliability-based design and performance assessment methodologies are also an important field of study.

Guiding Vision of our Department: “Engineering Sustainable Infrastructure for the Future”

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Strives To:

  • Educate engineering leaders who can work in a multi-disciplinary environment to anticipate and address evolving challenges.
  • Develop and apply high performance structural materials and systems.
  • Develop performance‐based earthquake engineering as a new paradigm for analysis and design of disaster‐resistant infrastructure.
  • Improve the reliability, performance, and disaster-resistance of water supplies, treatment processes, and distribution systems.
  • Create new engineering materials to improve the performance of infrastructure.
  • Characterize and mitigate natural and man-made hazards.
  • Improve fundamental knowledge of the inter-relations between the built environment and natural systems.
  • Develop the technological innovations needed to safeguard, improve, and economize infrastructure and society.



The UCLA Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (C&EE) is one of seven departments within the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science (HSSEAS).  Formed in 1983, the Civil Engineering Department (renamed Civil and Environmental Engineering Dept. in 1993) emerged after a long period of engineering school development and evolution extending back to the post-World War II education boom.

Although the department derived from several components, most of the founding faculty came from the former Mechanics and Structures (primarily associated with structures and geotechnical engineering) and Engineering Systems (primarily associated with the environmental and water resources fields) Departments.  Shortly after the department formally was created, it sought and received (in 1985) ABET accreditation in Civil Engineering.  The department subsequently was reviewed favorably by ABET in 1991, 1994, 2000, and 2006.