CLEMSON — Clemson University's civil engineering department will offer a new graduate program in “sustainable and resilient infrastructure” with support from a $700,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The program will involve 14 master's degree students in the next three years. The first seven students will begin this fall.

Unlike traditional civil engineering programs, the new program will involve interdisciplinary coursework and internships with external partners to help students focus on broader issues involving the nation's infrastructure problems, from aging roads and bridges to water supplies and power grids.

“The department of civil engineering has recently adopted resilient and sustainable infrastructure as a research and educational focus, and I believe this was instrumental in securing the grant from NSF,” said Nadim M. Aziz, chairman of the department. “The proposal to NSF, as well as the new focus of the department, are the work of teams of faculty dedicated to the national priorities of security, energy and the environment.”

National Science Foundation grants in the sustainable and resilient infrastructure area fund research on geotechnical, structural and earthquake engineering; infrastructure systems management; and response to hazardous events. Although the grant is scheduled for completion in three years, Clemson has extended tuition wavers for the students in the program beyond that period, if necessary.

“We are preparing a generation of engineers who will examine the nation's infrastructure throughout its life, from the planning stages through design, construction, operation, maintenance and rehabilitation,” said Ron Andrus, an associate professor of engineering and principal investigator on the project. “We will link subjects like engineering, materials, construction, environment, architecture, business and public policy to produce graduates with a unique holistic perspective.”

The Clemson students will work in interdisciplinary teams, gain experience with businesses in the field and learn to communicate their ideas to both technical and non-technical audiences.

The external partners will include national laboratories, international engineering firms, state and local government agencies, and non-profit and professional organizations.

“By working in project teams and through extensive interaction with our external partners, these students will gain expertise that will allow them to contribute immediately to the work force in a critical area of the nation's economy,” Aziz said.

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DGE-1011478. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.