Interdisciplinary Research

It’s no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention that the world faces significant challenges in the decades ahead. Growing population, a changing climate, radical advances in technology, crumbling or inadequate infrastructure, to name but a few.

For our students and scientists, however, the exciting and energizing reality is that many of the solutions to these and other global issues will come from the civil and environmental engineers who are today learning, working and leading in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech.

To answer the call of service from our global society, we’ve started to think differently about our work, including shedding the traditional boundaries between civil and environmental engineering disciplines.

That is freeing us to consider new ideas, new collaborations, new sources of inspiration, and new areas of inquiry.

Now we like to think of our contributions to society in three broad, cross-cutting research areas: Sustainable Communities, Resilient Infrastructure Systems, and Smart Cities.

We are harnessing the potential of data to:

  • create new ways of understanding our built environment and how it interfaces with the natural world.
  • fundamentally change how we build and maintain the systems that enable our societies to function.
  • instrument our interconnected infrastructure systems to assess their health and functionality.
  • model future scenarios for city and regional infrastructure development
  • enable people to make real-time decisions in economic development, transportation, energy-use, construction and beyond.

We are imagining new ways to:

  • provide clean air and water to underserved communities.
  • reduce the carbon footprint of the infrastructure systems that make our growing societies possible.
  • adapt to a changing climate while working to slow those changes
  • address crumbling infrastructure systems, prioritizing repairs and replacements while envisioning next-generation systems.
  • responsibly plan for and build infrastructure in rapidly developing areas.
  • plan for our future communities while balancing the needs of urban and rural areas.
  • plan communities and transportation systems to foster energy-efficient mobility.
  • share water, energy and land resources and use them efficiently.
  • generate electricity via alternative sources.
  • understand the impact of climate change on the interactions between energy, water and land systems in order to mitigate the effects on human society.
  • power our transportation with fuels that emit less carbon.

Our engineers are working to:

  • strengthen our communities to withstand nature’s fury, protecting lives and property.
  • create new systems and knowledge to help us bounce back from disasters.
  • build smart infrastructure systems that can guide response and recovery efforts.
  • improve how we forecast and assess natural disasters.
  • monitor and model global water, energy and greenhouse gas cycles.
  • understand the human psychology and decision-making processes to inform how we build resilience into our communities.

This is where we’re working at the front lines of the world’s grand challenges, at the intersection of social and economic systems, the built environment, and our natural world. By no means do these areas cover the full tapestry of creativity and impact that constitute our research endeavors. But these three broad areas represent the interdisciplinary focus of our scientific work.

It’s work that crosses traditional boundaries to develop new knowledge, technology and innovations, and ultimately, to invent a future where our global society thrives.