The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Vermont has been awarded a US Department of Education Graduate Assistance in Areas of Nation Need (GAANN) doctoral project. The title of the project is: Research and Education in Sustainable, Equitable, and Climate-Resilient Civil Infrastructure Systems.

The Department is recruiting five highly talented doctoral fellows with the goal of training them to be highly-skilled teacher-scholars capable of 1) designing next generation sustainable and equitable civil infrastructure systems that are climate-resilient, and 2) educating future generations of engineers committed to sustainability, civic-engagement and equity. If you are interested in helping change the future of how to plan, design and build the infrastructure of the future please contact us so we can discuss this exciting and unique opportunity.

The graduate fellows MUST be US Citizens and Permanent Residents.

Fellowship details:

  • The GAANN Fellowships have an yearly stipend of up to $37,000 and tuition.
  • Once admitted, up to $1,000 are available for a campus visit to offset some of the travel expenses.
  • The GAANN fellows will also receive a signing bonus of $1,000 to help defray costs associated with first year student fees.
  • Access to up to $3,000 per year for the first three years for conference travel and other research expenses such as a computer and laboratory supplies.

The focus of this GAANN grant is to develop research and education capabilities in Sustainable, Equitable, and Climate-Resilient Civil Infrastructure Systems. Climate change is among the most pressing challenges of our time. In 2020 alone, the U.S. experienced 22 weather and climate disasters each costing over a billion dollars in damage (NOAA, 2021). Moving forward, the impacts of climate change are expected to further intensify, pointing to the need for immediate action. These impacts cross social strata – every American is vulnerable, from the poorest to the most well-off. However, climate change disproportionately affects vulnerable populations (including low-income households, immigrants, indigenous communities) and particular geographic areas due to their location and their ability to cope with different climate hazards (EPA, 2017).

Infrastructure investments present an opportunity to update natural and built infrastructure systems by positioning them (and the communities they serve) to adapt to a greatly altered climate future and extreme weather events. Climate impacts can also be mitigated by designing infrastructure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, for example by improving the efficiency of water treatment processes, reducing landfill and agricultural emissions, and building infrastructure to support zero emission electric vehicles and non-auto travel. Infrastructure investments also present an opportunity to address historic and ongoing inequities. Built infrastructure does not always yield the same benefits or burdens for everyone; for example, in the 20th century, highway and toxic waste disposal sites were disproportionately located in the heart of communities of color. In recent years, the impacts of climate change have exacerbated existing infrastructure inequities. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina revealed devastating failures of flood control and emergency evacuation that were largely borne by poor Black residents of New Orleans.

Whether disparate outcomes are intentional or not, building a civil engineering workforce that comprises and works with people that are served by these systems is a precursor to designing equitable infrastructure systems. The need for full participation, inclusion, and empowerment of historically under-represented segments of society in all venues where engineering is taught, practiced, and supported is unequivocal.

UVM CEE faculty have the expertise that are critical to educating the next generation of civil and environmental engineers to design sustainable and equitable climate-resilient infrastructure and to conduct the research needed to develop actionable solutions to the challenges posed by climate change.

If you feel that you want to help change the world and envision working on research that will address the pressing need to design civil infrastructure systems for resilience to climate-related risks and to support greenhouse gas reductions the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Vermont might be the place for you.