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UTSA to offer new Ph.D. in civil engineering

UTSA to offer new Ph.D. in civil engineering

Civil and structural engineering researchers will conduct research inside the Large-Scale Structural Testing Facility, which is currently under construction on the UTSA Main Campus.

(Aug. 6, 2018) -- Beginning in Fall 2018, students at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) will be able to enroll in a civil engineering Ph.D. program. The new academic program will meet a growing demand for innovative, well-trained civil engineers in Texas while advancing UTSA’s progress toward National Research University Fund (NRUF) eligibility, which requires institutions to award 200 doctoral degrees annually.

“As a nation, we face many challenges in infrastructure development. We especially see great needs to develop water resources, intelligent transportation, energy, and sustainable infrastructure design and construction techniques in the Texas Triangle,” said JoAnn Browning, dean of the UTSA College of Engineering. “With the new Ph.D. program in civil engineering, we will graduate the next generation of civil engineering experts to meet these challenges.”

The population of Texas is estimated to grow by as much as 50 percent in the next 20 years. That growth will bring about a need for new resilient infrastructure, more sophisticated construction projects and a higher demand for highly trained civil engineers who have experience working in professional, cutting-edge research facilities with nationally recognized researchers.

“Our state is growing and our city is growing, and to meet the new challenges that will come with that growth, we are creating a pipeline for a vibrant civil engineering community,” said Adolfo Matamoros, Peter T. Flawn Distinguished Professor in the UTSA Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and founding director of the university’s civil engineering Ph.D. program. “The challenges civil engineers face are requiring more innovative approaches than ever, and our students will gain the experience necessary to create structures that have the resiliency to withstand the test of time as well as the trials of catastrophic events.”

In addition to creating the structures that help communities thrive, civil engineers are frequently a part of the recovery process in the wake of natural disasters, contributing to the rebuilding process and making buildings and bridges safer from future destruction.

Ph.D. candidates in the new civil engineering program will have the option to specialize in four tracks:

  • structural engineering, which focuses on creating large, modern buildings, bridges, and other structures;
  • water resources engineering, which involves the design of systems and equipment to manage water resources, and coastal engineering problems and solutions
  • geotechnical engineering, characterized by investigating the mechanical properties of earth materials, designing foundations and retaining walls, and designing earth structures like dams and embankments; and
  • transportation engineering, which involves the planning, design operation and management of all modes of transportation

“Our Ph.D. students will benefit from a faculty of active, innovative researchers working with cutting-edge facilities that are among the best in the country,” Matamoros said. “That includes sophisticated laboratories dedicated to water resources, geomaterials, geotechnology and hydrology, in addition to state-of-the art computational facilities.”

In April 2019, UTSA civil engineering students will have access to the university’s new Large Scale Testing Laboratory, a 15,000-square-foot, $10 million facility that will support a wide array of research initiatives, including robust support for geotechnical and structural engineering projects.

In the facility, civil engineering students, faculty and researchers will test a wide range of structural systems, such as bridge and building components and new materials needed for increasingly complex construction projects.

“A large part of our research knowledge originated from tests of reduced-scale models, and as we endeavor to build larger structures that research base has come into question,” Matamoros said. “The new facility will allow us to perform tests in a large and realistic setting to produce more accurate results that engineers can use to learn the safest and most economical approach to design large structures.”

Additionally, the facility will provide a space for learning new methods to build engineering structures that can withstand severe natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes.

“It’s an exciting time for our university and for our state,” Matamoros said. “Engineering is changing and engineers are rising to meet new challenges. Fifty years ago, Texas was a rural state with an agriculture-driven economy. There’s been a dramatic transformation, and the Texas economy is becoming  technology-driven. It’s growing at a rapid pace, and it needs more qualified engineers to create the infrastructure necessary to support that growth.”

The UTSA College of Engineering is a major public provider of undergraduate and graduate engineering in South Texas with enrollment exceeding 3,400 students. The college’s graduate enrollment has more than doubled in the past few years and continues to grow steady with the UTSA’s mission to provide outstanding education and research opportunities to the region’s multicultural community, the nation and beyond.

UTSA is ranked among the nation’s top five young universities, according to Times Higher Education.  

Joanna Carver

Learn more about the UTSA Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the UTSA College of Engineering.

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