Department History

The Department of Environmental Science and Engineering (ES&E) at Rice was established in 1968 as one of the first educational and academic units in the United States devoted to the science and engineering of water as a resource. Rice University was an early innovator in introducing environmental science and engineering to its curriculum and experimented with several options for offering environmental engineering over the years.

Initially, ES&E was first housed within Civil Engineering, then moved to Chemical Engineering. Because of its nontraditional approach and requirements for future development, ES&E remained a separate department until 2001. The small number of independent programs in this field imparted considerable national visibility to ES&E and to Rice University. As an independent department for over 30 years, ES&E proved to be highly successful in all facets of education.

Becoming CEE

In 2001, the ES&E department was merged with civil engineering to form the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE).

The department offers two tracks for Ph.D. study, one in environmental engineering and one in structural mechanics and engineering. CEE graduate students pursue a diverse education that includes coursework and research experiences that transcend classical departmental or school divisions. We take an interdisciplinary approach to graduate education that is more strongly based in fundamental sciences than is generally found in traditional civil or environmental programs.

Research projects involve collaborative efforts with professors and students from numerous departments and institutes across campus. This freedom to pursue a truly interdisciplinary research-based education in civil and environmental engineering has benefited our graduate students intellectually and professionally.

Looking Ahead

As the world embraces ever more complex technological approaches, the department stands ready to meet the challenge of the future with a strong engineering base and interdisciplinary exposure for the students of the future.