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Department Overview

Arcade on the Quad with student walking a bike.

From Sallie Images

Our mission is to advance education and research in engineering the built and natural environments, with a particular emphasis on long-term sustainability.

We use technologies from materials science, physics, biology, mathematics, computing and the social sciences to ask how we can best design and manage the buildings and cities, dams and water systems, highway networks and energy grids that support our daily lives.

Both research and teaching in our department have a global reach. Faculty are currently working in Japan, Armenia, Chile, Tanzania, India, France, Israel, Mozambique and Bangladesh, among other countries.

Current projects include engineering and renovation of dams, coral reef hydrodynamics, new approaches to mass transit systems, waste water re-use, the development of novel, bio-based structural materials, and the use of life cycle analyses and seismic technologies to ensure sustainable buildings and infrastructure. We collaborate regularly with academic and industrial partners, utilities, non-profits and governmental agencies worldwide to tackle civil and environmental engineering challenges.

Our teaching and research falls into three broad areas:

  • Atmosphere and Energycombining atmospheric science with energy science and engineering.
  • The Built Environment – focusing on creating a sustainable built environment and including programs in Structural Engineering and Geomechanics , Architectural Design, and Sustainable Design and Construction.
  • The Water Environment – focusing on managing the water environment for sustainable human benefit and developing environmental policies that promote ecosystem heath and human safety, and including programs in Environmental Fluid Mechanics and Hydrology, and Environmental Engineering and Science.

The relationships among these three domains inform the direction of our curriculum. Some of the intersections are depicted here; others will emerge as we continue our research.

The majority of our research is conducted in several centers, laboratories and in large academic and research programs. The newest of these, the Engineering Research Center for Re-inventing the Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt), is an $18.5 million, five-year collaborative project led by Stanford civil and environmental engineers and funded by the National Science Foundation.

Undergraduate students majoring in Civil and Environmental Engineering may pursue a BS in Civil Engineering or in Environmental Engineering. We are also the home department for students majoring in Architectural Design as well as  Atmosphere and Energy. We offer Masters of Science degrees and PhD programs in all subject areas except Architectural Design.

Civil and Environmental Engineering has been central to Stanford University’s mission since its founding. Stanford’s first professor of Civil Engineering, Charles David Marx, was a member of the university’s pioneering faculty of 15. A Department of Civil Engineering was in operation at the university’s opening in 1891.