MIT Reports to the President 1994-95

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

It was a good year for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. U.S. News and World Report recognized us as the Number 1 Civil Engineering Graduate Program in the nation. This is no accident; guided by our 1993 Strategic Plan, we are confident that our education and research mission is well focused and on target.

On the educational front, we are ready to receive 21 students in the new Master of Engineering Program (M.Eng.). Philosophically and operationally, this experiment is a major redirection of both our undergraduate and graduate programs. New curricula, new facilities and many expectations are waiting for this first M.Eng. class. We are encouraged by the reception the program has received and are committed to making it work.

New major research initiatives have resulted from the efforts of our faculty and staff. The program with the Province of Mendoza, Argentina, gets us back to the international area we so successfully developed in the past. Several new projects with the Idaho National Engineering Laboratories get us into cutting-edge technologies and promising collaboration with Lincoln Laboratories and the Earth Resources Laboratory. Research and education go hand-in-hand in an innovative program with government and the private sector in developing a light rail system for metropolitan San Juan, Puerto Rico. Students from the University of Puerto Rico and MIT work closely together in this endeavor.

It has also been a good year for resource development. Our friends have been very generous (Robert Thurber, Louis Berger, and Harold Parmelee). The above successes have culminated in the just announced Bacardi Stockholm Water Foundations Professorship. This new relationship was made public on May 31, 1995, in New York with HM King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, MIT President Charles M. Vest, and other dignitaries in the audience.

In September we will receive an incoming graduate class of about 80 new students, selected from the largest and one of the best pools seen in recent years. Our undergraduate program remains healthy with about 40 freshmen so far designating majors in the Department.

Indeed, it was a good year, but much is left to be done. In some cases it feels like going "back to the future". Two recurring issues come to mind. First is the number of undergraduates selecting Civil and Environmental Engineering. It seems to be reaching a plateau of no more than 50 per sophomore class. Historical highs are around 70. This stabilization goes against the apparent trends in many CEE programs throughout the nation, particularly in state schools. Certainly the top students going to those schools would be welcomed at MIT. They are either not applying or not being admitted by the Institute-wide process which we can hardly influence. Nevertheless, the Department can always do more, and we will, i.e., increasing freshman seminars, increasing freshman advising, reading admissions applications, etc.

The other issue of concern is the future of research funding. As well as we are doing, the incoming winds look turbulent. If Congress carries out all of their deficit reduction plans, Federal research funds will decline as much as 20 to 30% over the next five years in real purchasing power. The implications for the research establishment and the future of the country are very serious. We are aggressively and successfully diversifying our portfolio and hope to weather the storm reasonably well.

The Administrative re-organization that occurred in October 1993 is now operating well. The Department's two administrative units, the Ralph M. Parsons Laboratory and the Henry L. Pierce Engineering Laboratory, are ably directed by Professors Harry Hemond and Fred Moavenzadeh, respectively. The Undergraduate Education Committee is chaired by Professor Lorna Gibson. Professor Joseph Sussman chairs the Graduate Education and Admissions Committee. Department Council is composed of the above individuals plus Professors Chiang Mei, Dennis McLaughlin, and Mr. Carl Martland. Mr. Trond Kaalstad and Ms. Patricia Dixon are also members of the Council.


Our two ABET accredited programs are doing well. This past year we had 50 students working on the Civil Engineering degree and 69 working towards a bachelors in Environmental Engineering Science. Some 16 students throughout the Institute are taking minors in our Department.

This last academic year was characterized by major efforts to upgrade undergraduate laboratory facilities and offerings. A new structural/materials laboratory facility is now available. The Environmental Engineering Laboratory was upgraded and its curriculum redesigned.

A New Civil Engineering Clinic was offered this year. Patterned after the successful Environmental Engineering Clinic, students spend on the order of 10 hours a week working in industry. Written and oral reports document progress on the chosen project.

Design is integrated throughout all our undergraduate courses. This past year this integration and coordination was revisited leading to changes in several offerings of our Civil Engineering program.

Undergraduates have been extraordinarily active via the ASCE student chapter. This activity has been recognized by the national organization. Among the many activities, the group sponsored an entry into the regional Concrete Canoe Contest.


The year was dominated by preparations for our new M.Eng. degree. The program was approved by the MIT faculty last November. Since then the Department has been working hard on admitting a new class and completing curricula. Professor David H. Marks deserves special recognition for shepherding the program during this difficult start-up period. The Graduate Education and Admissions Committee, under the leadership of Professor Sussman, worked hard to navigate the new challenges that this experiment presents.

Following are a few tables of enrollment and history of degrees awarded. The impact of the new M.Eng. is clear.

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Enrollment 1990-1995

      Year            Faculty        Undergraduate        Graduate      Yearly Total      
                                        Students          Students                        
    1994-95              35               120               287         407               
    1993-94              37               134               301         435               
    1992-93              37               119               280         399               
    1991-92              36               113               304         417               
    1990-91              35               123               272         395               

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Graduate Degrees1990-1995

      Year           Master of       Civil Engineer     Ph.D./Sc.D.     Yearly Total      
    1994-95              93                1                 33         127               
    1993-94             101                1                 21         123               
    1992-93              83                3                 23         109               
    1991-92              80                3                 29         112               
    1990-91              80                3                 20         103               


As of July 1, 1995, there will be 36 faculty members in the Department. Dr. Feniosky Peña-Mora is full time in the faculty, after a very successful year working with the Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel Project office. Dr. Peña-Mora worked in the office of the director helping on issues of information and contract management and conflict resolution. His interests are in information technology and construction management. Dr. Shi-Chang Wooh comes to us from Northwestern University. Dr. Wooh specializes on non-destructive evaluation of structures and materials. We are also happy that Dr. Bettina Voekler has accepted an offer to join the faculty next July 1, 1996. An aquatic chemist, Dr. Voekler will be spending this year doing research at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The Department is extremely pleased with all our new faculty members. They represent the best available anywhere. It is important to note that of the 6 hires in the last 3 years, three are from underrepresented minorities and 3 are women. We are very proud to have them with us.

Dr. Eric Adams received the Department's 1994 Effective Teaching Award. He and colleagues are completing a six-year Sea Grant support study of contaminated sediments in Boston Harbor, which will culminate in a monograph to be published this coming year. Dr. Adams is the coordinator of the Undergraduate Environmental Engineering Science Program.

Professor Cynthia Barnhart was promoted to Associate Professor. She is the Mitsui Career Development Professor and continues her work in transportation systems.

Professor Moshe Ben-Akiva is a member of the steering committee and chairman of the scientific committee of the World Conference on Transport Research, convening in Sidney this July. He continues as Director of the MIT Intelligent Transportation Systems Program and PI of a multi-year large-scale research program dealing with the new Boston Central Artery.

Professor Rafael L. Bras was elected Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers. A new edition of his first book, Random Functions and Hydrology (with I. Rodriguez-Iturbe) was published by Dover publications. He continues as Department Head and Associate Director of the Center for Global Change Science. He is Co-PI of a new international education and research program with the Province of Mendoza, Argentina.

Professor Oral Buyukozturk continues leading the Materials and Structures Group. The Society of Experimental Mechanics recognized his student, Hong Rhim, for their work on Radar Imaging of Concrete.

Professor Sallie Chisholm ended her 7-year tenure as Director of the MIT/WHOI Joint Program. She continues teaching part of MIT's biology requirement. She was named McAfee Professor of Engineering in recognition of her scholarly work and contributions to MIT. She leads the Aquatic Sciences Group.

Professor Jerome Connor offered the Distinguished Civil Engineering Lecture at Texas A&M.

Professor Patricia Culligan-Hensley joined the Geotechnical-Geoenvironmental group this past July. She introduced a new course "Waste Containment and Site Remediation Technology" to the CEE graduate program.

Professor Richard deNeufville was named ATT Faculty Fellow.

Professor Herbert Einstein presented keynote lectures in Chile, Japan, and Sweden on underground construction, engineering geology, and rock mechanics.

Professor Elfatih Eltahir finished his first full year in the faculty. He has developed a new course on Surface Hydrology and Environmental Data Analysis. He also participated in an IAP course "The Ecology of the Nile: Big Dams, Big Canals, and Big Problems".

Professor Dara Entekhabi was promoted to Associate Professor. He continues his leadership in the National Weather Service Modernization Committee of the National Research Council.

Professor Lynn W. Gelhar has taken new responsibilities in developing case study materials for the new Master of Engineering program in environmental engineering.

Dr. John T. Germaine was selected as the 1994 Chi Epsilon New England District recipient of the James M. Robbins Excellence in Teaching Award. He leads the Geotechnical/Geoenvironmental group.

Dr. Lorna Gibson was promoted to Full Professor. This spring she coordinated a new Civil Engineering Clinic subject in which seniors worked on projects at local consulting firms and government agencies. She was the Ontario Center for Materials Research Distinguished Lecturer.

Professor Philip Gschwend received the School of Engineering Bose Award for excellence in teaching. This makes the second time in three years that one of our faculty members earns this distinction. The Association of American Publishers, Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division, gave its 1993 award to his book, Environmental Organic Chemistry (with Schwarzenback and Imboden).

Professor Harold Hemond, Director of the Parsons Laboratory, worked with Ms. Sheila Frankel in updating our Environmental Laboratory offerings. He was the 1995 BSCE Freeman Lecturer together with Professor William Thilly. He has been Chairman of the 1995 Gordon Conference on Catchment Science.

Professor Eduardo Kausel joined the Introduction to Computation and Engineering Problem Solving Teaching team by leading the important course this last spring.

Professor Charles Ladd was named Edmund K. Turner Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering He was also elected honorary member of ASCE "for his distinguished career in geotechnical engineering as teacher, researcher, and practitioner".

Professor Steven R. Lerman continues as Director of the Center for Educational Computing Initiatives.

Professor Christopher Leung joined the ASCE/EMD Committee on Properties of Materials.

Professor Robert Logcher is now group leader for Informational Technology.

Professor Ole Madsen, Class of 1968 Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellow, continues his tradition of outstanding teaching. He has also initiated research cooperation with the National University of Singapore.

Professor David H. Marks has taken the leadership role in MIT's Alliance for Global Sustainability, a major research and education initiative between MIT, ETH, and the University of Tokyo. Professor Marks has also been instrumental in developing, and heads, the new M.Eng. program. Marks continues as Head of the Program on Environmental Education and Research (PEEER).

For the fifth time in six years, Mr. Carl Martland was the recipient of the Conrail Best Rail Paper Award, offered by the Transportation Research Forum.

Professor Dennis B. McLaughlin continues to serve as Associate Director of EPA's Northeast Hazardous Substance Research Center. His XFLOW educational software package is now being distributed to other academic institutions and the military. This interactive package gives students the opportunity to design and test site characterization and remediation strategies. Dr. McLaughlin leads the Hydrology Group.

Professor Chiang C. Mei published Mathematical Analysis in Engineering -- How to Use the Basic Tools by Cambridge University Press. He was appointed Honorary Research Scientist by the Institute of Mechanics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He also received the 1995 International Coastal Engineering Award of ASCE. Professor Mei heads the Hydrodynamics Group.

Professor Fred Moavenzadeh, Director of the Pierce Laboratory, has been Co-PI of a new program with the Province of Mendoza, Argentina. He has also been very active in the formulation of a large international cooperation with San Paulo, Brazil.

Professor Heidi Nepf has been named Henry L. and Grace Doherty Professor in Ocean Utilization. She was an invited speaker at ONR's Workshop on Free Surface Turbulent Flows.

Professor Frank Perkins steps down as Dean of the Graduate School. He will join the Department, after a sabbatical leave, as Director of the M.Eng. program.

Professor Daniel Roos has been on sabbatical. He continues as Director of the Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development. He co-taught a new subject, in the Sloan School of Management, on the Automobile and Automobile Industry.

Professor Yossi Sheffi finished another very active and successful year as Director of the Center for Transportation Studies. Traffic Word, a major transportation publication, recently devoted a long, laudatory article to the Center for Transportation Studies.

Professor Joseph M. Sussman completed his term as Chairman of the Executive Committee for the Transportation Research Board. He chaired a landmark TRB conference held in cooperation with the Transportation Interagency Coordinating Committee of the National Science and Technology Council. Sussman was elected to the Board of Directors of ITS America to help represent views of academic and the research community in the "Intelligent Transportation Systems" field. With Mr. Carl Martland and Dr. Oh Kyoung Kwon (Ph.D. `94) he shared the Best Rail Paper Award of the Transportation Research Forum.

Professor Daniele Veneziano has been successful in new avenues of research in transportation and hydrology.

Professor Emeritus Robert V. Whitman received the James R. Croes Medal of ASCE (shared with Professor Andrew Whittle and Dr. Youssef Hashash, Ph.D. `92). He chairs the committee providing management and technical oversight for the effort to develop a new Seismic Loss Estimation Methodology, on behalf of FEMA and the Institute of Building Sciences.

Professor Andrew Whittle received tenure this year. He received the Arthur Casagrande Professional Development Award and the James R. Croes Medal, both from ASCE.

Professor John R. Williams assumed leadership of the Department's activities in the Realization Coalition and its Design Studio of the Future project. His research in wavelets has led to a patented compression technique potentially useful in the transmission of high quality image and video data over ordinary telephone lines. MIT is trying to license the technology.

Professor Nigel Wilson serves as leader of the Transportation group and as Co-PI of an innovative education-research program revolving around the development of a light rail system for metropolitan San Juan, Puerto Rico. He also chaired the Institute's Committee on Academic Performance.

Professor Shi-Chang Wooh was named Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Assistant Professor.


The academic year began with an early October symposium at MIT in honor of Professor Emeritus Robert Whitman. The meeting entitled, "The Earth, Engineers and Education", attracted some 200 top researchers in geoenvironmental and geotechnical engineering.

The Department is actively diversifying its research base. The Argentina Program previously mentioned brings new ideas and resources to MIT at large. On-going projects deal with Transportation, Industrial Competitiveness, Energy and Water, and Education and Technology. Seed projects on Environment, Materials, and Information Technology have also begun. The overall goal is to create an atmosphere and the infrastructure for academic research in the service of industry and development.

Also on-going is a joint research/educational program between MIT and the University of Puerto Rico focused on the planing, design, construction, and operation of a new light rail system in the San Juan Metropolitan area. Each year students and faculty from both universities will pursue individual and joint research projects in support of the Tren Urbano initiative. Ten students and faculty from each institution have visited each other last summer and winter. Unique to this endeavor is the close work with the private general manager of the project. Students service as interns in their offices while in the program.

Individual researchers have made their mark in many ways. Present and former members of the Parsons Laboratory published, in Nature, their discovery of the first organism, labeled MIT-13, known to thrive in arsenic. This is one of the outcomes of the Aberjona River Study, jointly with the Center for Environmental Health Sciences. Professor John R. Williams patented a wavelet-based data compression technique useful in video communications. Professor Harry Hemond and colleagues explained to a meeting of Woburn residents how arsenic and chromium found their way into their water supply wells. The unfortunate Kobe earthquake led to highlights of the work and commentaries of Professors Robert Whitman and Eduardo Kausel in the Boston Globe and Christina Science Monitor. Professor Lorna Gibson's work on the properties of cellular materials, particularly those in nature like bamboo and bones, was the focus of another Christian Science Monitor science piece.


Mr. Gerald Grippo (G) received the Marvin E. Goody Prize for his SM thesis proposal "Applications of Sensor Technology for Infrastructure Condition Monitoring".

Leanne M. Attai `95 (1C) received the Steinberg Prize, given to an undergraduate with an excellent academic record and an interest in construction management.

The Leo `24 and Mary Grossman Award for an outstanding undergraduate in transportation went to Jeffrey D. Chapman `96 (1C).

Winners of the Richard Lee Russel Award for outstanding seniors entering graduate studies in civil and environmental engineering were Roderick B. Diaz `95 (1C), James L. Falter `95 (1A), and Karen E. Schmitt `95 (1C).

The Tucker-Voss Award in Building Construction and Engineering went to Peter N. Caulfield (G), Galip Mehmet Okutan (Architecture), David J. Sasek (G), and Jimmy C. Su (Architecture).

Keith Lichten `95 (1E) sliced his way to second place finish at the Division 1 Fencing Championships in epee, and was selected as a First Team All-American. No MIT fencers had finished higher than third at the National Collegiate Athletic Association championships for over 50 years.

One of the five 1994-95 Graduate Student Council Teaching Awards was bestowed on Tom Svrcek (Ph.D. `95) who taught in the Sloan School of Management.

Hong C. Rhim (Ph.D. `95) won the Society for Experimental Mechanics Student Paper competition with "Radar Imaging of Concrete for Non-Destructive Testing".

Youssef Hashash (Ph.D. `92) shared the James R. Croes Medal of ASCE with Professors Andrew Whittle and Robert Whitman.

Lynn I. Yang `95 (1C) received the Marvin and Joanne Grossman Award for excellence in the promotion of international understanding.

Tau Beta Pi awards were received by Roderick B. Diaz `95 (1C), James L. Falter `95 (1A), Karen E. Schmitt `95 (1C), Jonathan J. Sigman `95 (1C), and Lynn I. Yang `95 (1C) for recognition of distinguished scholarship in engineering and exemplary character.

Rafael L. Bras

MIT Reports to the President 1994-95