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Current Research Thrusts In Civil And Environmental Engineering And Implications For Education: A Big 10+ Perspective

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Where are We Going? The Future of Civil Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.378.1 - 11.378.9



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Paper Authors


Ronald Harichandran Michigan State University

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Ronald Harichandran is professor and chairperson of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Michigan State University (MSU). He has been chairperson since 1995 and is a Fellow of ASCE. His department leads the largest engineering-based study abroad programs in the country. He currently serves on the ASCE Department Heads Council Executive Committee, the Accreditation Committee of the ASCE Committee on Academic Prerequisites for Professional Practice, and the ASCE Body of Knowledge II Committee. He is the inaugural chair of the Michigan Transportation Research Board.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Current Research Thrusts in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Implications for Education: A Big 10+ Perspective


Civil and environmental engineering (CEE) is evolving so as to remain at the forefront of new developments aimed at enhancing the built and natural environments. Such evolution is not new for CEE, but it currently is occurring at a faster pace and encompasses a wider range of ar- eas than has been the case hitherto. CEE must necessarily embrace the use and development of new technological breakthroughs that are constantly taking place to address social problems in an increasingly complex, globally connected, and congested world. This white paper outlines a perspective of current research thrusts in CEE, and touches on their implications for CEE educa- tion. The perspective was formed by a group of CEE department chairs/heads from the so-called Big 10+ universities.

In June 2004, Nikolaos Katopodes, CEE chair at the University of Michigan, called the chairs/heads of CEE departments in the Big 10+ universities, perhaps for the first time, to gather at Northwestern University to delineate the common interests of research-intensive universities. A common element of the Big 10+ universities is their emphasis on research. There are several other leading research universities outside of the Big 10+ umbrella who also need to provide in- put toward composing a collective vision for the profession. For the moment, however, the Big 10+ universities provide a convenient framework to begin this discussion.

The Big 10+ group decided to focus its effort on composing a collective vision for CEE re- search thrusts into the foreseeable future. This paper is intended to broadly engage the CEE pro- fession in an important discussion about CEE research thrusts, education, practice, and accredita- tion.

Current Research Thrusts

Current research thrusts in engineering are dominated by the infusion of nanotechnology, bioengineering and information technology into the more traditional disciplines. There is signifi- cantly greater opportunity to secure research grants from federal funding agencies, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), for work that focuses on these new technologies. For exam- ple, a recent SBIR1 program announcement from NSF related to Security Technologies states: “The mission of NSF is to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, pros- perity, and welfare; and to secure the national defense. In support of this mission and consistent with the FY05 Interagency Research and Development Priorities announced by the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the NSF SBIR/STTR2 program will solicit cross- disciplinary proposals to address specific opportunities that enhance the United States of Amer- ica’s security. Under this solicitation, NSF will support priority areas that are addressed by the convergence of at least two of the following three technologies: nanotechnology, biotechnology and information technology (both hardware and software).”3 1 Small Business Innovation Research 2 Small-business Technology Transfer Research 3

Harichandran, R. (2006, June), Current Research Thrusts In Civil And Environmental Engineering And Implications For Education: A Big 10+ Perspective Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--705

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