Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment Names Director

In News by Staff Report

Dr. Kirk Hatfield has accepted an appointment as the Founding Director of the Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure and Environment.

Dr. Hatfield received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from University of Iowa and his Ph.D. degree from University of Massachusetts in Amherst.  Following graduation, he joined the University of Florida Department of Civil Engineering in 1987. He currently serves as the Interim Chair of Civil and Coastal Engineering, the Director of the Florida Water Resources Research Center, and member of the Board of Directors of the National Institutes of Water Resources. Dr. Hatfield’s ongoing research activities are in the areas of aqueous environmental monitoring, contaminant fate and transport modeling in the subsurface, environmental remediation, and water resources systems analysis. He has active research collaborations with universities and institutes in Russia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Hungary, Austria, Australia and Germany. These collaborations have produced several patents and several technical paper awards in 1994, 1998, 2006, and 2011 from ASEE and ASCE and from the editorial board of the most highly cited journal in his discipline, Environmental Science and Technology.  In 2006, the Department of Defense awarded Dr. Hatfield and his colleagues the distinguished “Project of the Year Award” for their research to demonstrate and validate a new technology that provides direct measures of water and contaminant fluxes in subsurface aquifers.

The newly formed Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure and Environment is the nexus where civil, environmental, and coastal and oceanographic faculty come together to solve unique problems of sustainability under prevailing carbon, water, energy, environmental, and societal constraints.  The School is home to the Departments of Civil and Coastal Engineering and Environmental Engineering Sciences and seven research centers and institutes: the Center for Environmental Policy, Center for Multimodal Solutions for Congestion Mitigation, the Howard T. Odum Center for Wetlands, Center for Infrastructure Protection and Physical Security, Transportation Research Center, Water Resources Research Center, and the Bridge Software Institute.  Current research funding exceeds $35 million and the College of Engineering has invested heavily to attract new faculty into the School.  Recent investments include over $4.2 million in new laboratories, another $1millions in new office space, and support for multiple faculty hires.

ESSIE’s long term focus is to foster collaboration between its faculty and those across campus and create synergy both inside and outside the University of Florida. Currently, the School has 43 faculty, 753 undergraduate, 337 masters and 161 doctoral students.  By August 2013, ESSIE expects to increase faculty numbers to 49 with Assistant Professors representing 20%. These new hires will join a dynamic, well-funded, cross-disciplinary group of researchers, and will have ample opportunities for collaborations, both within their research field and with interdisciplinary teams.  Major research themes include:

  • Infrastructure Materials, Construction, Life Cycle, Sustainability, Protection and Physical Security
  • Transportation Systems, Planning, Management, Optimization, and Safety
  • Estuarine and Coastal  Hazards, Hydrodynamics and Ecosystem Dynamics, Wave and Sediment Transport Modeling,
  • Structural Engineering, Structural Health Monitoring, Wind Engineering,
  • Geotechnical Engineering,  In-situ Instrumentation, Pavement Analysis & Design, and Site Characterization
  • Hydrology, Sustainable Water Resource Development, Protection, and Remediation
  • Urban Water and Wastewater Systems and Infrastructure
  • Atmospheric Resources & Air Pollution Control
  • Wetlands & Systems Ecology and Ecological Engineering
  • Solid & Hazardous Waste, Bio remediation

In the immediate future, ESSIE’s highest priorities are to promote student and faculty diversity and instill excellence in teaching, research, leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurship. ESSIE’s undergraduate and graduate student diversity exceeds that of many top programs in Civil and Environmental Engineering; and, its recent faculty hiring initiative creates a perfect opportunity to increase faculty diversity and pursue new areas of engineering sustainability.  The School offers ABET-accredited bachelor’s degrees in both civil engineering and environmental engineering and master’s and doctoral degrees in Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering Sciences, and Coastal and Oceanographic Engineering.  However, a growing number of undergraduate and graduate students are participating in a College-wide initiative to foster concomitant training in entrepreneurship, innovation, and leadership skills in engineering.  This type of comprehensive training is unique to the University of Florida’s College of Engineering, and it promises to place many of more of our graduates in top leadership positions.

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