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. 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.
Initially ES&E was associated with both the Department of Civil Engineering, and later the Department of Chemical Engineering. However, because of its nontraditional approach and requirements for future development, ES&E remained largely an independant department for over 30 years and proved to be highly successful in all facets of education. The small number of independent programs in this field imparted considerable national visibility to ES&E and to Rice University.
In 2001 the ES&E department merged with the department of Civil Engineering to form the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) and has developed to offer programs for undergraduate and graduate study, in environmental engineering and structural mechanics and engineering focus areas. CEE students pursue a diverse education that includes coursework and research experiences that transcend classical departmental or school divisions. Since joining, the department has contnued to grow and broaden in offerings, with an interdisciplinary approach to education based firmly in fundamental sciences.
As the world embraces ever more complex technological approaches and environmental challenges, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering educates leaders of tomorrow to contribute to solving societal challenges through discovery and innovation with a strong engineering base and interdisciplinary exposure.