Civil and Environmental Engineering Research Divisions

The Civil and Environmental Engineering Department is organized into six divisions. Find out more info below.

Environmental Engineering

The Environmental Engineering (EnvE) Division is a multidisciplinary graduate program in the College of Engineering that provides coursework and research experience for engineers and scientists interested in Environmental Management, One Water Engineering, and Environmental Engineering Science. The EnvE program provides an interdisciplinary educational approach to fundamental principles that can be applied to environmental phenomena. Research projects are an integral part of the program and provide the student with appropriate research experience leading to a thesis or dissertation. Many research projects utilize the world-class research facilities of the Environmental Quality Lab at the Utah Water Research Laboratory.

The faculty in the EnvE Division are involved in leading-edge research which reflect the program’s broad areas of emphasis:

Environmental Management

  • responsible stewardship of environmental resources, energy, and materials

Environmental Engineering - One Water

  • management of municipal water systems including drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater

Environmental Engineering Science

  • fate, control, and management of organic and inorganic pollutants across all media (air/water/soil/biota)

Geotechnical Engineering

Geotechnical engineers use engineering principles to analyze and design systems that incorporate soil or rock. Such systems include: building and bridge foundations, earth embankments, dams and levees, retaining walls, drainage systems, earthquake motion, and buried structures and pipelines. An important part of all geotechnical engineering projects is characterizing the geology and subsurface conditions in order to define the engineering properties used in analysis and design. Site investigation often consist of exploratory borings and probes, geophysical measurements, and laboratory testing.

Undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the department provide students with a solid background in soil mechanics which is the basis of geotechnical analysis and design. The graduate curriculum provides a solid theoretical background balanced with practical applications for analysis and design. This balance prepares students completing a Masters Degree in geotechnical engineering for entry-level jobs, as well as preparing them to understand future developments in Geotechnical practice. Students can also participate in an interdisciplinary emphasis related to Dams and Levees, which includes fundamental and applied research topics involving hydrology, hydraulic, structural, and geotechnical engineering and risk assessments to support the planning, assessment, design, removal, and construction services of these structures.

The geotechnical division has a strong research program. Research areas in the division include: internal erosion in dams and levees, risk assessment of dams and levees, stability of embankments and natural slopes, mechanically stabilized earth embankment reinforcement systems, engineering geophysics for predicting earthquake site response, and laboratory evaluation of dynamic soil properties.

Please contact any of the following professors to get more information:


Irrigation Engineering

In the irrigation engineering area, USU has attained worldwide prestige through the successful professional contributions of its graduates during a period of 80 years. The CEE Department is substantially involved in state, national, overseas research, and training concerning irrigation and water management. Specific research projects in the irrigation and drainage engineering option have included hydraulics of surface irrigation, consumptive use, return flow quantity and quality of irrigation waters, transient flow in tile drainage systems, drain envelopes, sprinkler irrigation, trickle irrigation, crop production and water requirements, salt movement, regional groundwater modeling for optimizing sustainable yield, conveyance system modeling and control, agriculture water optimization, and remote sensing.

Many of the prominent irrigation engineers in the United States and around the world are graduates of the USU program, and the program’s faculty continues a tradition of leadership in international development projects in countries across the globe. Projects have been conducted in Latin America, the Caribbean region, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. At USU, irrigation engineering students are exposed to classroom instruction, laboratory work in hydraulics, remote-sensing, and more. They also have the opportunity to conduct field work.

Graduate students take core courses and then can specialize in the following areas:

  • Integrated Water Management: In this area, students study a broad range of topics related to irrigation, including the use of treated wastewater in irrigation, conjunctive use of surface and ground water, water policy, methodologies for improving water management, and many others.
  • Crop Water Requirements: Students studying crop water requirements focus on the evapotranspiration (ET) of agricultural crops and other vegetation based on weather station instrumentation, soil moisture budgets, lysimeter measurements, flux systems such as eddy covariance and Bowen ratio, and remote sensing. It is important to estimate ET to understand water requirements and improve water management. This sometimes also includes measurements and/or estimations of crop production.
  • Irrigation System Operation and Maintenance: This area focuses on the operation and maintenance of irrigation systems, which includes organizational development and strengthening of institutions such as water users' associations, water conservancy districts, and irrigation companies. Topics include specific procedures, operational plans, maintenance plans, and irrigation system administration.
  • Remote Sensing and Spatial Apps: This is the application of ground-based, airborne, and satellite remote-sensing technologies with Geographical Information Systems for evapotranspiration estimation, irrigation system mapping, crop identification, crop yield estimation, water balance and efficiency estimations, and many others.
  • On-farm Irrigation Methods: Students will learn to design and evaluate on-farm irrigation methods, including surface (furrows, borders, and basins) and pressurized (sprinkler and micro-irrigation) methods. This may also include other topics, such as pressure regulation, water application uniformity, water filtration, chemigation, and many others.

Please contact any of the following professors to get more information:


Structures

The structural engineer is involved in the design, analysis, construction, repair, and retrofit of all types of structures. The two most common structural types are buildings and bridges. Other structural types include towers, dams, tanks, tunnels, industrial facilities, and retaining structures. Because each of the millions of structures in the world is unique, structural engineers face demanding challenges throughout their careers. The safety of the structures we occupy and utilize every day is the responsibility of structural engineers. Structural engineers evaluate the loads placed on a structure, determine their effects, and select the appropriate materials and structural elements, or repair strategy, to withstand these loads. Today’s structural engineer is using new materials in the design of new structures or the retrofit of older structures.

Mathematics, physics, and material science constitute a foundation for structural engineering. Structural analysis and design add to this foundation and become the focus of the structural engineering program. Graduate students in the structures program engage in structural mechanics, numerical methods, structural dynamics, geotechnical engineering, and the study of structural materials. Students can also participate in an interdisciplinary emphasis related to Dams and Levees, which includes fundamental and applied research topics involving hydrology, hydraulic, structural, and geotechnical engineering and risk assessments to support the planning, assessment, design, removal, and construction services of these structures.

Examples of current research in the structures area focus on the dynamic characteristics of structures, their potential response to earthquakes, new seismic retrofit measures, the use of advanced composite materials for older structures, durability aspects of structural types and materials, and other areas. Materials research focuses on cementitious materials and constitutive modeling. Current structural research also looks at sustainability issues regarding construction and materials in order to lead growth into the future.

Please contact any of the following professors to get more information:


Transportation Engineering

The Transportation Engineering program offers education and research opportunities in transportation systems planning, design, operations, and management. It is designed to enable aspiring planners, engineers, and managers to obtain advanced degrees while specializing in infrastructure management, traffic network analysis, facility design, traffic operations, transportation economics and finance, planning and forecasting, and project appraisal. Up-to-date computer and laboratory facilities, as well as the Transportation Division’s close links with local and state transportation agencies, enable students to gain hands-on experience and practical perspectives.

Past and present research undertaken by the Transportation Division faculty and researchers ranges from transportation network modeling, emerging mobility services, microscopic traffic flow simulation, and network reliability to traffic safety modeling, transportation asset management, video image processing, and intelligent transportation systems, as well as travel behavior analysis, transportation planning, and travel demand modeling. The focus remains on efficient, effective, and sustainable solutions to transportation problems.

Transportation Division course offerings expose students to the theoretical and practical aspects of goods and passenger transportation. State-of-the-art analytical tools and new research findings are introduced into the courses through periodic revision of notes, examples, problem sets, and computer software. Students are encouraged to design their own programs of study according to their personal and professional goals. Due to the multi-disciplinary nature of transportation, students are encouraged to include in their program of study course offerings from other programs in CEE, as well as from departments of Mathematics and Statistics, Environment and Society, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, Applied Economics, Economics and Finance, Management, Marketing and Strategy, Psychology, and Sociology.

Please contact any of the following professors to get more information:


Water Engineering

The Water Engineering Program is a multidisciplinary graduate program in the College of Engineering and is intended to enable engineers and scientists interested in water to obtain graduate degrees in the areas of hydrology, irrigation, water resources engineering, fluid mechanics and hydraulics, and hydroinformatics.

Hydrology is a branch of geoscience concerned with the origin, distribution, movement, and properties of waters of the earth. This includes fluid flow and transport of contaminants in the subsurface environment. The Water Engineering Program at USU has strengths in field based, theoretical, and applied aspects of hydrology. Past and present research focuses on a broad spectrum of hydrologic problems. These range from quantifying snow distribution and melt, rainfall and infiltration processes, floods, droughts, terminal lake responses, soil erosion, and groundwater/surface water exchanges. Additionally, modeling tools have been developed and/or applied to investigate stream water quality, groundwater contamination characterization and remediation, and complete watershed responses.

Water Resources Engineering draws on principles from hydrology, fluid mechanics, hydraulics, environmental engineering, economics, ecology, political science, and other disciplines in the design and operation of projects and nonstructural methods for water resources planning and management. They need a sound understanding of how water storage, delivery, and other management systems function; of criteria used in evaluating and selecting among alternatives; of the techniques of operations research that can be used in systems design; and of the institutional aspects of decision-making in the public sector. Research in this area focuses on simulation and optimization modeling and hydroinformatics to improve the planning, design, and operation of water systems over different spatial scales (e.g., individual users or transboundary river basins).

Please contact any of the following professors to get more information:

Fluid Mechanics and Hydraulic Engineering covers both fundamental principles and theory and their applications in a variety of engineering fields to solve societies’ water challenges. This can include theoretical fluid mechanics, hydraulic design, open channel hydraulics, fluvial hydraulics, sedimentation, transients, municipal water systems, numerical methods, and various numerical and physical modeling techniques. Current research in this area includes fundamental and applied research in hydraulic structures including flooding, sedimentation and scour, two-phase flows, failure modes, incidents, public safety, and hydraulic design; advanced instrumentation and experimental techniques; flow meters; gates and valves; energy dissipators; and hydromachinery including pumps and turbines.

Please contact any of the following professors to get more information:

Hydroinformatics is the study, design, development, and deployment of hardware and software systems for hydrologic data collection, distribution, interpretation, and analysis to aid in the understanding and management of water in the natural and built environment. Fundamental and advanced hydroinformatics concepts and procedures and current research in this area include automated data collection networks; relational databases, data models, and data management software; data storage formats, metadata, and standards; data transformations and automation of data manipulation tasks to support modeling and analysis; web based data distribution and access using web services; integrated networks of hydro-climate data; and data science techniques for hydrology and water resources engineering.

Please contact any of the following professors to get more information:

Interdisciplinary Water Programs - The water engineering and science field encompasses a broad range of interdisciplinary topics related to:

  1. fluvial systems, including ecohydraulics, river mechanics, river engineering, surface water quality, physical hydrology, and restoration of aquatic ecosystems (see River Mechanics and Modeling).
  2. Dams and Levees, including fundamental and applied research topics involving hydrology, hydraulic, structural, and geotechnical engineering and risk assessments to support the planning, assessment, design, removal, and construction services of these structures (see Dams and Levees)