The Department of Civil Engineering has been instrumental in advancing research at Montana State University, and continues to make major contributions in this area. The Program offers research opportunities in the following areas:



Earthquake engineering

Use of alternative (recycled) materials in structural application

Effect of cold on structural behavior and durability

Reinforced concrete behavior and design

Transportation Engineering

Traffic Safety and Operation

Travel Behavior Studies

Transportation Planning and Economics

Active Transportation and Public Transit

Logistics and Freight Management                                                                

Geotechnical Engineering

Geosynthetics for soil reinforcement

Effect of cold temperature on soft marine clays

Soil-Structure interaction

Highway materials

Water Resources Engineering


Stream and Habitat Restoration

Constructed Wetlands

Computational Fluid Dynamics

Snow and Ice Engineering

Snow mechanics

Snow hydrology

The radiative properties of snow

The remote sensing of snowcovers

Ice sheet and glacier rheology

Advanced techniques for the microstructural characterization of ice and snow



Affiliated Centers & Research

Center for Biofilm Engineering (CBE)

In 1978, the late Professor Bill Charaklis established a research program on biofilms. This research program grew into the Institute for Biological and Chemical Process Analysis (IPA) by 1980, with an Industrial Associates Program and collaboration with faculty members and graduate students from the Department of Microbiology and the Department of Chemical Engineering. In 1990, a major NSF grant elevated the IPA to the Center for Biofilm Engineering (CBE) and administration was transferred to the College of Engineering. Several Department of Civil Engineering faculty members have research programs and administrative responsibilities within the CBE.

Western Transportation Institute (WTI)

The Western Transportation Institute (WTI) was founded by the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in 1994, in cooperation with Montana State University. The institute was initially housed in the Department of Civil Engineering, with Professor Joe Armijo (retired) and John West of Caltrans playing lead roles in defining the institute's mission and administering its research. The U.S. Department of Transportation designated WTI as a National University Transportation Center (UTC) in 1998 and again in 2004. Several Department of Civil Engineering faculty members have research programs and administrative responsibilities within WTI. The institute's research is truly multidisciplinary, with faculty members and students from thirteen MSU departments participating in the program.

SubZero Research Facility

Recent grants from NSF's Major Research Instrumentation Program and the Murdock Charitable Trust have established the SubZero Research Facility, which will be administered by the Department of Civil Engineering. Professor Ed Adams and Professor John Priscu from the Department of Land Rehabilitation & Environmental Sciences prepared the proposals. Although housed in the Department of Civil Engineering, the facility's cold rooms and instruments will be available to faculty members and students all across campus. Construction of the facility on the first floor of Cobleigh Hall is still in the planning stage.

Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP)

In 1982, Montana State University was one of the first ten university sites that housed the then “RTAP,” Rural Technical Assistance Program, in response to the need for rural transportation assistance put into place by the Federal Highway Administration. In 1991, RTAP was changed to the Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) as the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) widened the program’s scope to include urban areas with populations over 50,000. The Local Technical Assistance Program is now a national network of centers—one in every state, six serving tribal governments, and one in Puerto Rico. Montana LTAP, housed under the Western Transportation Institute in the College of Engineering at MSU, focuses on assisting state and county road offices and city street departments in road and bridge maintenance and repair. LTAP provides local agencies with a variety of tools—training events, technology transfer resources, and personalized assistance—for improving their transportation operations. By sharing technical information and improving the distribution of this information, the program promotes efficient use of local transportation agencies' scarce resources. Funding is provided by many entities including the Federal Highway Administration, the Montana Department of Transportation and Montana State University. Montana cities and counties also contribute a portion of their gas tax revenues to the program. LTAP's mission is to foster a safe, efficient, environmentally sound transportation system by improving skills and knowledge of local transportation providers through training, technical assistance and technology transfer.

Montana Department of Transportation (MDT)

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) and the Department of Civil Engineering established a MDT/MSU Design Unit in 1992. The design unit provides a unique opportunity for Civil Engineering and Construction Engineering Technology students to continue their programs of study while gaining practical experience. Students are employed full time during the summer and part-time during the school year. They receive an hourly wage and benefits, and can earn internship credits during the summer. Scott Keller, the MDT/MSU Design Unit Supervisor, is an Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Civil Engineering.