Civil Engineering is intimately concerned with what is called the 'built environment'. In this regard, it is directed at the provision of facilities that can be used beneficially by the community. Clearly, such facilities condition the process of social and economic development and, to a large extent, mirror them. The civil engineering industry is therefore of strategic national and regional importance in the Caribbean. An important aspect of research in the Department is the role of the construction sector in the local, national economies.
As civil engineering works are essentially ‘resource hungry’, that is to say, they consume large quantities of materials in their creation, there is a considerable potential for cost savings in the use of materials for construction. One way of achieving this is through more imaginative use of traditional materials. Another is to develop entirely new materials from indigenous sources. Materials research is therefore an area accorded high priority by the Department.
Other areas of priority take account of the special conditions under which civil engineering works are carried out in the Caribbean. This is true of the organisation and management of labour, the techniques of construction, operation and maintenance of facilities, no less than of the design of systems and the specification of materials. Additional focus is placed on hazard resistant construction and coastal engineering.
The research interests of the Department are thus related directly to the critical needs and interests of the wider community. Towards this end, it seeks to cultivate links with organisations and interest groups outside the University. Research funded by the National Institute of Higher Education Research, Science and Technology (NIHERST), IDRC and the EU are typical examples. Funds are also obtained from international sources such as the British Council. The facilities provided are good and constantly being improved. There are eight laboratories: Structures, Concrete, Fluid Mechanics, Environmental Engineering, Soil Mechanics, Highway Materials, Geology and Transportation, and a new computing facility.
The main areas of research are, as follows:
Other areas of research related to the Construction programme are indicated in Section 3.5.4.
The Department offers programmes of study by research leading to the MPhil and PhD degrees in Civil Engineering and Construction Management.