Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

The field of Civil and Environmental engineering is rapidly evolving, propelled by expanding societal needs and technological discoveries. From climate change to natural disasters, from renewable energy sources to environmental sustainability, from pandemics to sanitary conditions in mega cities –the need is urgent, yet the problems are ever more complex and large scale. New discoveries in physical, chemical and biological processes and its integration with expanding knowledge in risk, sensing, computing, control, and machine learning & artificial intelligence are expanding our ability to meet these needs, while maintaining a sharp focus in creating an equitable and inclusive human experience.

The strategy to meet these pressing needs demand development of robust, integrated built and natural systems that are quantitative, connected and adaptable on which vibrant, resilient and sustainable communities can be fostered. We live in challenging times. Our infrastructure needs to operate effectively in an uncertain future. From climate change to cyber-attacks to national health emergencies, these systems must be robust and resilient. As we create these new technologies and deploy them, we must be very careful to do so in a manner that promotes inclusivity in access to opportunities including access to clean water, energy, transportation, housing and economic opportunities.

Ruth Richardson, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, in the lab with students. (Photo by Nicola Kountoupes, Cornell University.)

A critical component of CEE’s strategic plan calls for expansion of the school’s research agenda in energy. Energy is understood to hold a critical place in designing and operating robust infrastructure. This motivates CEE’s focus on the environmental consequences of energy production and the construction of energy infrastructure. As society transitions towards renewable energy technologies the scope of these efforts must expand to include the impacts of energy production and use on climate, and its overlaps with environmental processes, fluid mechanics, water resources, and environmental systems. Other areas of interest include water resources, subsurface energy technologies including earth source heat, CO2 management, and nuclear waste storage, as well as the intersection of energy, climate and engineering of smart cities.

CEE’s educational mission is closely coupled with its ambitious research agenda. The school’s strategic plan therefore calls for investments in people, programs, and infrastructure that will drive excellence in research and teaching across the six priority areas outlined below.

CEE’s strategic plan calls for the recruitment of a diverse student body and faculty to catalyze efforts in support of this priority. The impacts of success are far reaching and important. It is clear, for instance, that the services provided by civil and environmental engineers are closely connected to equity. As an example, the interstate highway system brought economic progress, but it often accelerated inequities. As a second example truck pollution disproportionately impacts low-income communities. Hence, actions by civil and environmental engineers can lead to opportunities that help society progress with respect to these issues or could hamper that progress. The school is committed to refining its course offerings to help students understand the connections between the application of the skills they are learning and the resultant and often varied impacts these actions can have on the diversity of communities 11 in the United States. We believe that educating students able to articulate these impacts will lead to well-rounded CEE graduates who can lead the profession.

  • Strategic Priority 1

  • Strategic Priority 2

  • Strategic Priority 3

  • Strategic Priority 4

  • Strategic Priority 5

  • Strategic Priority 6

Hollister Hall in spring

Hollister Hall. (Photo by Jason Koski, Cornell University.)