What Do Civil & Environmental Engineers Do?

Our standard of living depends on our civil infrastructure, a sophisticated system of buildings, bridges, dams, airports, transportation networks, water and power distribution systems, and environmental protection systems.

Civil and environmental engineers are responsible for designing, maintaining and enhancing our civil infrastructure. They help to sustain the living standards and quality of life of the population. Civil engineers are also master builders. They create structures that stand as timeless symbols of our civilization. Environmental engineers identify and design solutions for problems involving the environment. To do so, they have to be broadly educated and technically trained to address a wide spectrum of issues.

Civil & Environmental Engineering @SC

Video thumbnail

Fall 2021

Learn More

Research Labs
and Centers

Learn More

Resources for
Current Students

Learn More

Featured Research Assistant


Lily Shi

Lily Shi, a doctoral candidate in the USC Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is using the tools of environmental organic chemistry to conduct research devoted to mitigating human health risks caused by emerging contaminants in drinking water.

“My early Ph.D. research focused on understanding the formation pathway of halonitromethanes, a class of extremely potent carcinogen, which are often detected in reuse water and drinking water,” Shi says. “Subsequently, I studied the nitromethane removal mechanism during the wastewater recycling process. My future research will be devoted to uncovering the toxic drivers in wastewater reuse and developing new ways to treat water safely.”

Shi is a recipient of the Teh Fu “Dave” Yen Fellowship in Environmental Engineering and a USC TA/RA fellowship. Prior to coming to USC, she earned a master’s degree in environmental engineering from the University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering and science from Tongji
University in Shanghai, China.

Research Areas

Sustainable Development

Sustainability in the context of civil engineering targets long-term viability of natural resources and engineered civil systems.

Water Quality, Access, and Distribution

Providing an adequate supply of potable water, considering population growth and climate variability.

Disasters and Extreme Events

All aspects of an event, from a fundamental understanding of the physical processes controlling its evolution to the resulting environmental and social reaction.

Coupling of Complex Systems

Efforts aim to integrate research across the Sonny Astani Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, as well with all outside disciplines that interact with civil systems.


There are no currently scheduled events that meet your criteria.


Zhiheng Wang Wins 2022 Probabilistic Methods Committee’s Best Student Paper Award

USC Viterbi post-doc Zhiheng Wang has won first place in the 2022 Probabilistic Methods Committee Student Paper Competition by the Engineering Mechanics Institute (EMI) of ASCE. The award was presented at the 2022 EMI Conference in Baltimore, Maryland in early June. Wang, honored for his paper “A Polynomial Chaos Formalism for Sensitivity and Reliability Analysis,” also gave a presentation showcasing … Read More

CEE Students Honored at 2022 Graduate and PhD Awards

On May 2nd, USC Viterbi’s 2022 Graduate and PhD Awards were held at the USC Hotel grand ballroom. The Sonny Astani Department congratulates Raven Althouse, PhD ENE ’22, for receiving the Jenny Wang Excellence in Teaching Award; and Jiaming Shi, PhD ENE ’22 for receiving the Best Research Assistant Award. Additionally, students were honored for their overall excellence. Kexin Shen, … Read More

Qiming Wang Awarded EMI Leonardo Da Vinci Award for Groundbreaking Research

Assistant Professor Qiming Wang received the EMI Leonardo Da Vinci Award. Sponsored by the Engineering Mechanics Institute for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the award honors Wang’s “groundbreaking research in mechanics of bioinspired living materials made by integrating living components (including living chemistry, living bacteria, and living plants) into engineering materials to achieve self-healing, self-growing, and self-strengthening.”     … Read More


Read More

Student Startup Remedy Addresses Healthcare for Unhoused 

Student Startup Remedy Addresses Healthcare for Unhoused 

USC students gain funding for products that support portable medicine storage 

Read More

Deadline: Lives Not Grades Wins LA-Area Emmy

Deadline: Lives Not Grades Wins LA-Area Emmy

A filmed that featured a USC Viterbi class and was made by Daniel Druhora, Yannis Yortsos, Sonny Astani, Burcin Becerik-Gerber, David Gerber, Brad Cracchiola, Adam Smith, Rommel Villa, and Teodora Totoiu, and distributed by PBS was featured.

View all News | Media Coverage

Published on January 25th, 2017

Last updated on July 28th, 2022