Earlier this year Professor Joe Labuz accepted a five-year
appointment as head of the Department of Civil Engineering. Labuz served
as interim department head since July 2012 and as a member of the
faculty since 1987. He has conducted more than 20
transportation-related research projects in the areas of pavements,
soils, and structures and has also served students as the director of
both undergraduate and graduate studies. Below he shares his vision and
directions for the department.
I am very much looking forward to my tenure for a number of reasons:
the faculty are among the world leaders in their fields; our students
more than ever are focused on developing skills that can be used to
serve society; and the college is committed to supporting and rewarding
cutting-edge research and quality instruction.
I should first acknowledge the previous head, Professor Roberto
Ballarini. Through his leadership, the department experienced growth in
research expenditures and student satisfaction. His vision was one of
excellence in all that we do.
I will try to continue his legacy of excellence, while striving for
my vision of building—building progressive educational programs in civil
engineering, environmental engineering, and geoengineering; building
research thrusts that are aligned with regional and state priorities;
and building a vibrant, cohesive department where faculty and students
are recognized nationally and internationally for distinguished academic
One of my first priorities is to build a state-of-the-art
measurements laboratory for hands-on learning and instruction. Just as
numerical modeling has become a common thread of engineering analysis
and design, so too should sensing be a component of our core programs.
New degree program
Furthermore, the department is proposing a new degree program, the
first in Minnesota: bachelor of environmental engineering (BEnvE). This
reflects the extensive interests of our faculty and students in
forwarding environmental issues within a civil and geoengineering
paradigm. Our interests span from clean energy to water treatment, from
hazardous waste to groundwater remediation, to name a few. The
introduction of this program aligns us with many other leading civil
engineering departments nationwide.
Perhaps the most exciting news is the name change to Department of
Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering. The proposed name will
better reflect the character of the department and readily identify our
degree programs. Note that the name will be unique in the U.S. The name
change, when approved by the Regents, will be official on July 1, 2014.
On the research side, several initiatives are focused on issues
important to the region and nation. Measurement and analysis of
transportation infrastructure, environmental restoration of lakes and
streams, and renewable energy such as wind and biofuels have substantial
funding in the department, and resources such as faculty hires and
laboratory space are being dedicated to these thrust areas.
CE building and labs
Finally, the building itself is being renovated and some laboratories
are being remodeled, as is the second floor student lounge, through the
generous support of WSB & Associates and the College of Science
& Engineering. The unique underground structure received the 1983
outstanding civil engineering achievement award from ASCE. I look
forward to inviting the community to visit sometime in December 2013 to
celebrate the 30-year anniversary.