Civil engineering includes the research, development, planning, design, and construction associated with the infrastructure of the built environment. Dealing with the function and safety of such facilities as buildings, bridges, pipelines, dams, power plants, and harbors, it is concerned with the protection of the public against natural hazards such as earthquakes, winds, floods, landslides, water waves, and fires.
Recent advances in technology, the escalation of urban problems, and the exploration of space have broadened the applications of civil engineering, increasing the scope of research. New problems have presented special challenges to the civil engineer well-trained in the fundamentals of their profession. For this reason, in the advanced study of civil engineering at the Institute, the application of fundamental scientific principles and mathematics is emphasized for the solution of engineering problems.
Areas of Research
Graduate work leading to advanced degrees lies chiefly in the following fields: structural engineering and structural dynamics; earthquake engineering; applied mechanics; geotechnical engineering; aerospace structures; and environmental engineering (see also environmental science and engineering). In the past few years, graduate students and members of the faculty have pursued a variety of research programs, including the analysis of structures subjected to earthquakes and other dynamic loadings; optimal performance-based structural design; system identification and control of structures; structural health monitoring; the use of finite element methods for structural analysis; seismic risk and structural reliability; earthquake early warning systems; mechanics of soil and other granular materials; and mechanics of space structures. Students whose interests are in environmental problems may enroll for graduate degrees in either civil engineering or environmental science and engineering.
Civil engineering activities is housed in the Gates-Thomas Laboratory. Excellent computing facilities are available through the campus computing network and in the specialized computing centers of various research groups. Seismic instrumentation networks include the Southern California Seismic Network and the Community Seismic Network.