A Message from the Chair
Welcome to Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at Rice University. Civil and environmental engineering disciplines are very broad, addressing virtually any system or infrastructure relating to earth, water, air or civilization and their processes.
We provide a rigorous, coherent curriculum that gives students a strong understanding of biological, physical, economic and social systems that affect engineering research and practice. We also provide opportunities for international service learning experiences focusing on complex engineering problems that occur in diverse cultural and social situations. Our curriculum is centered around four areas of specialization: environmental engineering, hydrology and water resources, structural engineering and mechanics and urban infrastructure and management.
It also allows students opportunities to improve their written, oral and interpersonal communication skills, especially through collaboration and teamwork. The strengthening of such leadership characteristics, together with challenging academics and leading-edge research make studying in our department a very special educational experience.
CEE at Rice is about connections, about building bridges—both figuratively and literally. So where do our students build bridges? Rice undergraduates in Engineers Without Borders (EWB) are currently building a bridge across a gorge in a small town in Nicaragua. Many of our graduate students are building bridges into the future using nano- and bio-technology to create high-performance, cost-effective water treatment systems and ensure that emerging technologies evolve in an environmentally responsible, sustainable manner.
The first documented engineer was a civil engineer named Imhotep, who built a stepped pyramid in Egypt around 2550 BC. Sanskrit writings from India, dated around 2000 BC show that environmental engineers were devising ways to purify water by boiling, exposing to sunlight, filtering through charcoal, and cooling in earthen vessels. This brief history demonstrates that civil and environmental engineers make some of the most important contributions to society and that our many related specialities continue to contribute to sustainability.
I hope you consider joining us on our beautiful campus and I look forward to seeing you in some of our classes in the years ahead.
Pedro J.J. Alvarez, Ph.D., P.E., DEE., F.ASCE.