Our Department offers a comprehensive educational program in structural engineering at both undergraduate and graduate levels.
- The undergraduate B.S. program introduces students to the structural engineering profession and establishes core knowledge in structural analysis and design.
- The M.S. program focuses on professional education through top-notch teaching with opportunities for additional depth and breadth, and an introduction to research in structural engineering. We offer degrees both with or without research or a thesis as a component of the degree, as well as dual degrees with other programs at the university. Students pursuing a coursework-only M.S. degree program typically take from 9 to 15 months. This includes an option to complete your degree in 9 to 11 months.
- The Ph.D. program emphasizes world-class research, learning, and teaching opportunities in collaboration with our outstanding faculty.
The diverse interests of our structures faculty create many opportunities for innovative and creative research. Our faculty have balanced interests in the major areas of design, behavior, analysis and mechanics.
Structural engineers combine science and art to design and build our world’s infrastructure to safely resist natural and man-made forces. Buildings, bridges, stadiums, off-shore and other civil facilities define the traditional core focus of structural engineers. At the periphery of the field, structural engineering extends more broadly to share common interests with mechanical, aerospace and naval engineering for the design of often large, complex systems including power plants, pipelines, aerospace vehicles and ships-submarines.
The tools of the structural engineer include physical testing, mathematical modeling and computer simulation all of which support decisions that aid in the creation and maintenance of safe and economical structures.
A Tradition of Excellence
The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois is consistently cited as one of the best graduate programs in the country. The structural engineering program has historically been a crown jewel of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and a key component of the Illinois tradition at the University of Illinois. The tradition of excellence at the University of Illinois, both in teaching and in research, goes back more that a hundred years. Arthur Newell Talbot was the founder of the strong tradition in research here at Illinois, making contributions in almost every area of civil engineering. He was among the first to systematically study the use of reinforced concrete as a building material.
Talbot was internationally recognized for his work, but his greatest achievement may have been the tradition of excellence he started at Illinois. That tradition manifested in the likes of Hardy Cross — inventor of the moment distribution method and probably one of the most influential structural engineers of the 20th century — and Nathan Newmark — one of the original pioneers of modern earthquake engineering and the person who steered this department to preeminence during the post–war boom in engineering of the fifties and sixties. Many great engineering faculty followed Newmark — Chester Siess, William Hall, Al Ang, and Mete Sozen, to name a few.
For many years, Illinois was the only institution in the country that granted the degree of Ph.D. in civil engineering. As a result, the faculties at virtually every major university in this country, as well as many others throughout the world, are populated, to this day, with graduates from the University of Illinois.
The current structural engineering program is built around thirteen faculty members, including eight who have joined the department since 2001.
Structural engineers often speak of the “Illinois method” of education — a special blend of theory and practice in a unique balance. This blended approach has been the result of a research program that responded very directly to the pressing problems of the professional community.
We are proud of the balance of our program within the discipline of structural engineering. There are many ways to weigh that balance — teaching vs. research, theory vs. practice, tradition vs. innovation, old vs. new . . . Our faculty is evenly divided among those devoted primarily to design and behavior of structures and those devoted primarily to the mechanics of structures. Many of our faculty are equally comfortable on both sides of this division and, in fact, we firmly believe true strength comes from each side informing the other, … on relevance, on practicality, on fundamentals, on new approaches, on traditional biases, on virtually every important aspect of our field.
Newmark Structural Engineering Laboratory
The Newmark Structural Engineering Laboratory (NSEL) of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has a long history of excellence in large-scale, experimental structural research and over the years has contributed greatly to the state-of-the-art in civil engineering. The structural testing section of the laboratory is a versatile area with a three-story clear height that can be used to carry out a wide range of tests of building materials, components, structural assembles, and models. Included in the testing area is a twenty-eight foot tall, L-shaped reaction wall and multi-axial loading units for seismic related experimental research. Selected research from the NSEL is published in the NSEL Report Series on IDEALS.
The mission of the MAE Center is to develop through research, and to disseminate through education and outreach, new integrated approaches necessary to minimize the consequences of future natural and human-made hazards. Integrated interdisciplinary research synthesizing damage across regions, estimating vulnerability across regional and national networks, and identifying different hazards forms the core research activities needed to develop a Multi-hazard Approach to Engineering and to support stakeholder and societal interests in risk assessment and mitigation.