Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics

610 S. W. Mudd, MC 4709
Phone: 212-854-3143

The Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics focuses on two broad areas of instruction and research. The first, the classical field of civil engineering, deals with the planning, design, construction, and maintenance of the built environment. This includes buildings, foundations, bridges, transportation facilities, nuclear and conventional power plants, hydraulic structures, and other facilities essential to society. The second is the science of mechanics and its applications to various engineering disciplines. Frequently referred to as applied mechanics, it includes the study of the mechanical and other properties of materials, stress analysis of stationary and movable structures, the dynamics and vibrations of complex structures, aero- and hydrodynamics, and the mechanics of biological systems.


The department aims to provide students with a technical foundation anchored in theory together with the breadth needed to follow diverse career paths, whether in the profession via advanced study or apprenticeship, or as a base for other pursuits.

Current Research Activities

Current research activities in the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics are centered in the areas outlined below. A number of these activities impact directly on problems of societal importance, such as rehabilitation of the infrastructure, mitigation of natural or man-made disasters, and environmental concerns.

Solid mechanics: mechanical properties of new and exotic materials, constitutive equations for geologic materials, failure of materials and components, properties of fiber-reinforced cement composites, damage mechanics.

  • Multihazard risk assessment and mitigation: integrated risk studies of the civil infrastructure form a multihazard perspective including earthquake, wind, flooding, fire, blast, and terrorism. The engineering, social, financial, and decision-making perspectives of the problem are examined in an integrated manner.
  • Probabilistic mechanics: random processes and fields to model uncertain loads and material/soil properties, nonlinear random vibrations, reliability and safety of structural systems, computational stochastic mechanics, stochastic finite element and boundary element techniques, Monte Carlo simulation techniques, random micromechanics.
  • Structural control and health monitoring: topics of research in this highly cross-disciplinary field include the development of “smart” systems for the mitigation and reduction of structural vibrations, assessment of the health of structural systems based on their vibration response signatures, and the modeling of nonlinear systems based on measured dynamic behavior.

Fluid mechanics: solid-laden turbulent flows, porous surface turbulence, flow through porous media, numerical simulation of flow and transport processes, flow and transport in fractured rock.

Environmental engineering/water resources: modeling of flow and pollutant transport in surface and subsurface waters, unsaturated zone hydrology, geoenvironmental containment systems, analysis of watershed flows including reservoir simulation.

Structures: dynamics, stability, and design of structures, structural failure and damage detection, fluid and soil structure interaction, ocean structures subjected to wind-induced waves, inelastic dynamic response of reinforced concrete structures, earthquakeresistant design of structures.

Geotechnical engineering: soil behavior, constitutive modeling, reinforced soil structures, geotechnical earthquake engineering, liquefaction and numerical analysis of geotechnical systems.

Structural materials: cement-based materials, micro- and macromodels of fiber-reinforced cement composites, utilization of industrial by-products and waste materials, beneficiation of dredged material.

Earthquake engineering: response of structures to seismic loading, seismic risk analysis, active and passive control of structures subject to earthquake excitation, seismic analysis of long-span cable-supported bridges.

Flight structures: aeroelasticity, aeroacoustics, active vibration and noise control, smart structures, noise transmission into aircraft, and vibroacoustics of space structures.

Advanced materials: multifunctional engineering materials, advanced energy materials, durable infrastructure materials, new concretes/composites using nanotubes, nanoparticles, and other additives with alternative binders, sustainable manufacturing technologies, rheological characterization for advanced cement/concrete placement processes.

Computational mechanics: aimed at understanding and solving problems in science and engineering, topics include multiscale methods in space and time (e.g., homogenization and multigrid methods); multiphysics modeling; material and geometric nonlinearities; strong and weak discontinuities (e.g., cracks and inclusions); discretization techniques (e.g., extended finite element methods and mixed formulations); verification and validation (e.g., error analysis); software development and parallel computing.

Multiscale mechanics: solving various engineering problems that have important features at multiple spatial and temporal scales, such as predicting material properties or system behavior based on information from finer scales; focus on information reduction methods that provide balance between computational feasibility and accuracy.

Construction engineering and management: contracting strategies; alternative project delivery systems, such as design-build, design-build-operate, and design-build-finance-operate; minimizing project delays and disputes; advanced technologies to enhance productivity and efficiency; strategic decisions in global engineering and construction markets.

Infrastructure delivery and management: decision support systems for infrastructure asset management; assessing and managing infrastructure assets and systems; capital budgeting processes and decisions; innovative financing methods; procurement strategies and processes; data management practices and systems; indicators of infrastructure performance and service.


The offices and laboratories of the department are in the S. W. Mudd Building and the Engineering Terrace.


The department manages a substantial computing facility of its own in addition to being networked to all the systems operated by the University. The department facility enables its users to perform symbolic and numeric computation, three-dimensional graphics, and expert systems development. Connections to wide-area networks allow the facility’s users to communicate with centers throughout the world. All faculty and student offices and department laboratories are hardwired to the computing facility, which is also accessible remotely to users. Numerous personal computers and graphics terminals exist throughout the department, and a PC lab is available to students in the department in addition to the larger school-wide facility.


The Robert A. W. Carleton Strength of Materials Laboratory is a very large facility equipped for research into all types of engineering materials and structural elements. The Heffner Laboratory for Hydrologic Research is a newly established facility for both undergraduate instruction and research in all aspects of fluid mechanics and its applications. The Eugene Mindlin Laboratory for Structural Deterioration Research is a teaching and research facility dedicated to all facets of the assessment of structures and the processes of deterioration of structural performance. The concrete laboratory is equipped to perform a wide spectrum of experimental research in cement-based materials. The Donald M. Burmister Soil Mechanics Laboratory is used in both undergraduate and graduate instruction for static and dynamic testing of soils and foundations. The 200G geotechnical centrifuge located in the Carleton Laboratory is used for geotechnical and geoenvironmental research.

The Institute of Flight Structures

The Institute of Flight Structures was established within the department through a grant by the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Foundation. It provides a base for graduate training in aerospace and aeronautical related applications of structural analysis and design.

Center for Infrastructure Studies

The Center was established in the department to provide a professional environment for faculty and students from a variety of disciplines to join with industry and government to develop and apply the technological tools and knowledge bases needed to deal with the massive problems of the city, state, and regional infrastructure. The Center is active in major infrastructure projects through a consortium of universities and agencies.