The University of Virginia takes pride in
its continued development of modern engineering education and
research. For over one hundred fifty years, the University has
offered regular study in engineering, coinciding with the industrial
development of the South and paralleling the rise of the engineering
profession itself. Today, a total of 10 undergraduate and 33
graduate programs are offered by 8 academic departments.
The growth of applied science into a learned
profession was anticipated in the founding of the University.
As early as 1825, the Rector and Visitors formally indicated
that instruction in military and civil architecture would be
a part of the education program of the University. Such courses
were offered starting in 1827. Notable members of the early
engineering staff were Charles Bonnycastle, trained in military
engineering in England, and William Barton Rogers, later co-founder
of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering instruction
was not sought widely by young men in the predominantly agricultural
South, however; and by 1850, it was announced that the engineering
program would be discontinued.
A new and more successful beginning was
made in 1865 under the direction of Professor Charles Scott
Venable, and by 1869 the University awarded its first degrees
in engineering. Instruction was offered in civil and mining
engineering until the 1881-1882 session, when engineering became
a professional department. William Mynn Thornton became the
first dean of engineering in 1905. Under his leadership, three
new degree programs were added: mechanical engineering in 1891,
electrical engineering in 1897, and chemical engineering in
Between World War I and World War II, the
engineering curricula were revised and strengthened to provide
a broader program of study, including the humanities. During
both wars, the school offered engineering instruction to members
of the armed forces; and ROTC programs for the Navy, Army, and
Air Force were introduced during and after World War II.
Reorganization following World War II led
again to an extensive revision of all curricula and to the graduate
studies now offered. In 1955, two new branches of engineering
study were recognized by degrees: aeronautical and nuclear engineering.
In the same year, the first doctoral programs were instituted
in chemical engineering and engineering physics.
In 1962, the name of the School was changed
to the School of Engineering and Applied Science in anticipation
of the establishment of the Department of Materials Science
(1963), the Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science
(1964), and the Department of Biomedical Engineering (1967).
The Department of Systems Engineering was established in 1975,
and in 1984, Applied Mathematics and Computer Science became
separate departments. Further reorganization has led to the
present school academic structure with its Departments of Biomedical
Engineering; Chemical Engineering; Civil Engineering; Computer
Science; Electrical and Computer Engineering; Materials Science
and Engineering; Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; and Systems
and Information Engineering; and the Division of Technology,
Culture, and Communication. The undergraduate program in engineering
science and the graduate program in engineering physics are
administered by the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
Centers and Institutes
Interdisciplinary research is carried out
through research centers, laboratories, and consortia in which
graduate students in two or more disciplines work together on
a research project.
The Aerogel Research Laboratory was
established in 1996 to investigate fundamental properties as well
as cutting-edge applications of aerogels, which are the lightest
solids ever produced. It is the only university-based aerogel
research program in the United States.
The Applied Electrophysics Laboratories
(AEpL) serve as the University of Virginia's center for research
in solid-state materials, devices, and circuits. AEpL was founded
in 1967 and consists of the Semiconductor Device Laboratory (SDL),
the Laboratory for Optics and Quantum Electronics (LOQE), and
the Millimeter-wave Research Laboratory (MRL). These laboratories
share a 3,500 square-foot clean room facility for device fabrication
and materials growth, as well as a variety of other facilities
for microwave and optical analysis and device design and testing.
The Laboratory for Atomic and Surface
Physics studies the interaction of energetic particles (ions,
electrons) and photons with surfaces. Its goals are to understand
the mechanisms leading to electronic excitations and how these
excitations evolve and lead to the emission of light (luminescence),
electrons, radiation, atoms and molecules (sputtering), and to
radiation damage, chemical changes or heat. The studies have applications
in semiconductor processing, nuclear fusion, gas discharges, biology,
astrophysics, and space exploration. A substantial part of the
laboratory's work consists in modeling and simulations of surface
processes in icy satellites, planetary atmospheres and magnetospheres,
and interstellar grains. Projects are supported by NASA, NSF,
The Automobile Safety Laboratory is
one of a limited number of laboratories conducting impact biomechanics
research with both dummies and cadavers. The laboratory is a 10,000-
square-foot facility equipped with a wide range of biomechanical
test equipment, a machine shop, dummy laboratory, and surrogate
storage. The laboratory has a multi-disciplinary research program.
Impact biomechanics, computational mechanics, and vehicle crashworthiness
studies are funded from a variety of industrial and government
The Cognitive Systems Engineering Laboratory
develops decision-aiding systems for operators and engineers
in the domains of process control, medical technology, and aviation.
In all of these domains, teams of people work together to solve
problems in complex, dynamic environments. Typical tasks include
monitoring, diagnosis, control, scheduling, and planning, using
both well-defined strategies and ad-hoc reasoning to meet objectives
while satisfying constraints like organizational or industry-mandated
objectives or rules.
The Communications, Control, and Signal
Processing Laboratory (CCSP) conducts research and development
in a variety of communications and signal processing areas, including
error control coding; data compression; network protocols; detection
and estimation theory; statistical signal analysis (system identification,
channel equalization, sensor arrays and image processing), and
optical communication. Research in CCSP is primarily of an analytical
nature, supported by computer simulations.
The Computational Laboratory for Environmental
Bioremediation (CLEB) complements UVa.'s existing experimental
Bacterial Migration Laboratory-the only laboratory in the world
equipped to measure bacterial transport properties at both the
macroscopic and the individual cell levels. This experimental
capability, combined with the CLEB's modeling and computational
expertise, which draws on analogies to statistical mechanical
methods for molecular transport phenomena, places CLEB in a unique
position to substantially expand the state of quantitative knowledge
about bacterial migration and In Situ Bioremediation (ISB), a
powerful, cost-effective technology for restoring contaminated
sites by exploiting the natural degradative and migratory abilities
The Laboratory for Computer Architecture
focuses on exploring computer "microarchitecture" and the
analysis techniques needed to study microarchitectural questions.
Three of our research thrusts are branch prediction, exploiting
compiler dependence relationships at runtime, and simulation.
The Center for Electrochemical Science
and Engineering is a multi-disciplinary research effort that
incorporates the departments of Materials Science and Engineering,
and Chemical Engineering, as well as interactions with Electrical
Engineering, Computer Science, and Physics. It is one of the nation's
leading research groups of its kind, and its research affects
the performance and reliability of most products manufactured
in the world today.
The Electron Microscope and Image Processing
Facility is a comprehensive service and user facility for
biomedical research. Its services include Transmission Microscopy,
Scanning Microscopy and Confocal Microscopy. Equipment available
includes Transmission and Scanning Electron Microscopes; Laser
Scanning Confocal Microscope; High Resolution Vacuum Evaporator;
Ultramicrotomes; Critical Point Dryer; Sputter Coater; Freeze-substitution
Unit and Gatan Cold Stage, and a Cryotransfer Unit.
The Center for Embedded Computing explores
means through which faculty and staff at U.Va. can coordinate
research on embedded computing technology to produce the new intelligent
devices that our society has come to expect. U.Va. has a unique
combination of abilities that offer great potential to advance
the state of the art in this field.
The Far Infrared Receiver Laboratory
(FIRLab) operates within the Departments of Electrical Engineering
and Physics at the University of Virginia. The FIRLab is fully
equipped to design, assemble and evaluate millimeter and submillimeter
wavelength mixers and multipliers at frequencies from microwave
to THz frequencies. Sources include two submillimeter wavelength
gas laser systems (300 GHz - 4.5 THz) and a variety of millimeter
wavelength sources, multipliers and amplifiers. A Bruker IFS 66V
Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer (200 GHz - 225 THz) is
available for materials and component evaluation, as well as a
variety of power meters, microscopes and probe stations.
High-Performance Low Power Laboratory
(HPLP) focuses primarily on original research in the field
of low power and high performance electronics, spanning digital
VLSI and analog systems, architectures, circuits, and algorithms.
HPLP currently has eight active researchers, as well as a new
lab facility containing PCs and workstations donated by IBM and
Hyperpolarized Gas Imaging Research
is a promising option for medical imaging of air spaces and
certain tissues in humans without exposing patients to radiation
associated with other methods (high resolution Computed Tomography
and V/Q techniques, for example.) Since spring of 1996, U.Va.'s
Departmental Research Team for Hyperpolarized Gases has been exploring
and conducting research in this field.
The Integrated Sensing and Processing
Laboratory (ISPL) merges high functional density CMOS image/signal
processing mixed-signal circuits with integrated detection/transduction
structures to achieve improved application performance. Its current
projects are in the areas of infrared imaging, adaptive hyper-spectral
imaging, biomolecular fluourescence detection, and adaptive ultrasonic
imaging. The laboratory's work is supported by the National Science
Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the
Carilion Biomedical Institute, and Agilent Technologies.
The Intelligent Processing of Materials
Laboratory (IPML) is one of the nation's premier centers for
research on the processing of advanced materials. Affiliated with
the University's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the
laboratory incorporates both the synthesis and processing of materials
along with their modeling, sensing, and control. Goals of IPML's
research include development of innovative process technologies,
creating models for predicting materials evolution during processing,
designing advanced in-situ sensors for tracking material changes
during processing, and creating model-based path optimization
and feedback control.
The Program of Interdisciplinary Research
in Contaminant Hydrogeology is dedicated to investigation
of the interplay between chemical, physical, and biological factors
that control the fate and transport of contaminants in the subsurface.
Its research is supported by teams of individuals from the departments
of Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Environmental
The Internet Commerce Group, InterCom,
is a coalition of university faculty and business leaders
that promotes development of electronic commerce in Virginia by
providing technical and business software, training, and consulting
services to companies entering (or already participating in) the
The Internet Technology Innovation Center
(TIC) assists Virginia's newest emerging industry and its
growing base of Internet-related businesses. The Internet TIC
is tasked to nurture an entrepreneurial environment, accelerate
the creation and deployment of network-based information technology,
develop the hardware/software infrastructure that Virginia needs
for the coming knowledge-based economy, and expand Virginia's
high-skill workforce needed to develop, support, and market Internet-based
electronic products and services. Internet TIC is funded by Virginia's
Center for Innovative Technology and is a partnership among the
University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, George Mason University,
and Christopher Newport University.
The Virginia Microelectronics Consortium
(VMEC), a group of colleges and universities including George
Mason University, Old Dominion University, the University of Virginia,
Virginia Tech, and the College of William and Mary that offer
a world-class program in microelectronics education and research.
VMEC was created in 1996 to serve the microelectronics industry
in the Commonwealth and to exploit our diverse industry and educational
microelectronics resources to our mutual benefit.
The Virginia Institute for Justice Information
Systems was created to support the information technology
needs of law enforcement agencies throughout the Commonwealth
of Virginia and on a national level. The Institute is funded by
national funding agencies including the Virginia Department of
Criminal Justice Services, and the National Institute of Justice's
Crime Mapping Research Center.
The Light Metals Center conducts
a wide range of research on light materials including alloy processing,
mechanical properties and microstructural characterization, deformation
mechanisms and environmental effects of light metals. The center's
research advances knowledge of structural materials, which have
a high strength- and/or stiffness-to-weight ratio and at the same
time are able to perform satisfactorily in hostile environments.
The Center for Magnetic Bearings conducts
applied research in the area of magnetic bearings used to support
a variety of machines. The Center receives funding from the Virginia
Center for Innovative Technology, government agencies, and industry,
and it places great emphasis on working with industry to develop
magnetic bearing technology for a wide variety of applications,
particularly in the area of turbomachinery. Many of the research
results and computer programs developed by the faculty and students
are widely used in industry, and in some cases are the industry
The Mathematical Computational Modeling
Laboratory is dedicated to research in mathematical modeling,
computer simulation, and virtual prototyping of various industrial
technologies and industrial processing operations. Recent research
includes studies in high-speed gas flows, two phase flow with
fibrous material, rarefied gas flow, and dynamical motion of galaxies.
The Institute for Microelectronics serves
as the University's interdisciplinary microelectronics interface
to outside organizations and within the University itself. Acting
as a focal point for microelectronics communications at the University,
the institute consists primarily of faculty volunteers. Through
organized cooperation they seek to maximize the impact of their
educational and research activities.
The Microscale Heat Transfer Laboratory
is dedicated to developing new techniques to assist in measuring,
understanding, and utilizing microscale thermal phenomena. The
laboratory's research is aimed at developing a fundamental understanding
of energy transport on ultra short time and length scales. Current
work focuses on heat transfer in thin films and in materials with
partial fractal geometry; and on thermophysical property measurements
of thin film materials.
The Millimeter-Wave Research Laboratory
focuses on building communication and receiver components
capable of operating at very high frequencies. The devices have
a host of applications, including communications, radar, atmospheric
monitoring, and radio astronomy.
The Molecular Biomechanics Laboratory,
part of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, is dedicated
to understanding the molecular mechanisms by which cells move,
and the application of this knowledge to the improvement of American
The Center for Nanoscopic Materials
Design will explore new directions in the nanoscale design
and control of self-assembled epitaxial semiconductor quantum
dots by providing new algorithms for understanding and controlling
the coupling of short, medium and long range order in these structures.
The Center will collaborate with industrial, University, and government
laboratories to support and further materials research and education
in this field.
The Laboratory for Next Generation Real-Time
Computing is part of the Computer Science Department at the
University of Virginia. The laboratory studies a wide range of
issues in all aspects of real-time computing. Real-time principles
are becoming important for all systems since audio and video streams
are being utilized in many new contexts from control applications
to the Next Generation Internet.
The Laboratory for Optics and Quantum
Electronics conducts research in photonics and optoelectronics.
Current areas of interest include photonic materials, novel optical
devices, micro-opto-electro-mechanical systems (MOEMS), and organic
polymers like polypropylene and poly-dimethilsiloxane.
The Center for Risk Management of Engineering
Systems develops technology to assist in the management of
risk for a variety of engineering systems. Industry and government
sponsors of research at the Center work closely with faculty and
students, contributing their unique strengths and interests to
the Center. The Center's areas of expertise include environmental
impacts, water resources and technology management, electronic,
safety-critical systems, computer-based systems, including hardware
and software performance and reliability, and reliability modeling
of multiple failure modes in complex systems.
The Rotating Machinery and Controls
Laboratories (ROMAC) conduct research in the areas of rotor
dynamics, turbomachinery, structural dynamics, magnetic bearings,
automatic controls, turbomachinery flows, fluid film bearings,
and seals. The Laboratory's research is supported by a consortium
of industries through the ROMAC Industrial Research Program.
The Center for Safety Critical Systems
explores questions of safety in industries where safety is
a matter of life and death. The goal is to make current systems
even safer for the public. Projects include assessing the safety
of modern rail transportation systems and studying issues of safety
in the nuclear industry. The center has received support for related
projects from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Air
The Science and Engineering of Laser
Interactions with Matter graduate training program is designed
to develop students with enhanced mastery and appreciation of
the knowledge and state-of-the-art technical skills required for
rapid advancements in modern science and technology.
The Semiconductor Device Laboratory
maintains a position of international prominence for research
on solid-state devices for millimeter and submillimeter wavelength
electronics. Research is focused on development of high-sensitivity,
ultra-low-noise Gallium Arsenide Schottky barrier diodes and superconducting
junctions for high frequency (150 Ghz and above) receiver applications.
Research topics include theoretical investigations of high frequency
transport in ultra-small semiconductor devices, fundamental limits
to device performance, and optimization of device design for specific
The Semiconductor Manufacturing Information
Technology Center is a partnership between Dominion Semiconductor
Co. and Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology. The Center's
goals are to improve productivity at Dominion's state-of-the-art
chip fabrication facility, in Manassas, while giving students
hands-on experience with actual manufacturing data. The center
is located at Dominion but has a companion laboratory at U.Va.
Both facilities are staffed by University students and researchers.
The Center for Semicustom Integrated
Systems is an internationally respected research group in
the areas of computer engineering and digital systems. The Center's
ultimate missions are to accelerate economic growth, to improve
products and processes, and to integrate the results of academic
research into Very Large-Scale Integration (VLSI) industry developments.
Its research and education programs help satisfy the growing need
for leading-edge design tools and methods in the VLSI industry.
The Smart Travel Laboratory is a
state-of-the-art facility that supports research and education
in the rapidly emerging area of intelligent transportation systems
(ITS). Using the latest information technologies and analysis
and modeling techniques, researchers in the lab are developing
prototype systems and applications that promise to improve the
effectiveness of ITS. The distinguishing characteristic of the
lab is the direct connection established between the lab and transportation
management systems operated by the Virginia Department of Transportation.
This connection provides researchers with direct access to real
ITS data and systems.
The Space Physics and Surface Physics
Theory Program studies the physics and chemistry of energetic
ion, electron and UV-photon interactions with surfaces and gases.
The processes of interest are desorption and sputtering, as well
as the radiolysis and photolysis of surfaces and gases. The motivation
for the program's research is to understand problems in space
physics and astronomy.
The Surface Science Center provides
services on surface analysis, including modifying the surface
layers of materials by ion implantation, and surface characterization
and depth profiling of sample compositions using a Perkin-Elmer
560 system. Available techniques are Angle-resolved X-Ray Photoelectron
Spectroscopy (XPS or ESCA), Scanning Auger Electron Microscopy
with sub-micron resolution, and Ion Scattering Spectroscopy. Each
technique can be combined with the others and with sputter etching
(using a differentially pumped ion gun) to obtain composition
The Center for Survivable Information
Systems studies the survivability of critical information
systems-air traffic control, telecommunications, nationwide control
of power distribution, and the financial system. Societal dependence
on these systems is growing and will continue to do so for the
foreseeable future. The Center's research focuses on designing
software which can be tailored to information systems to ensure
the intended operation of their existing components.
The Virginia Institute for Technology
and the Environment develops environmentally sensitive technology
and techniques to mitigate the impacts of current technology on
the environment. More than 25 participating engineering faculty
members support a broad range of research, including environmental
engineering, risk management, contaminant hydrogeology, environmentally
sensitive chemical manufacturing, hazardous waste management,
alternative energy systems, and the interrelationships of society,
technology and the environment.
The Center for Transportation Studies
focuses on issues and problems related to the development,
operation, and maintenance of a safe, efficient intermodal transportation
system for the Commonwealth of Virginia and the nation. The Center's
research program is noted for being responsive to emerging challenges
from the transportation sector and for continually probing into
new areas of transportation-related research, like intelligent
transportation systems, traffic simulation studies, applications
of geographic information systems in facilitating transportation
planning and management, and decision support systems using artificial
The Virginia Artificial Heart Center
is a major research facility for the design, development and
testing of a magnetic bearing supported artificial heart for human
implantation. Several prototypes have been successfully testing
in pumping both water and blood. The current work is on a ventricular
assist version of the pump but future work will be on a total
The Center for Wound Prevention and Repair
explores the principles governing mechanical and biological
events in chronic skin wounds, developing the necessary monitoring
and prevention techniques to eradicate chronic wounds in hospital
settings. At the same time, the Center applies these principles
to accelerating the repair of acute skin wounds caused by trauma,
and improving therapies for skin flap procedures, intestinal
ulcers, and neurological injuries.
Virginia Transportation Research Council is sponsored
by the Virginia Department of Highways in cooperation with
the University, and its offices and laboratories are located
in the Shelburne Building about one-half mile west of Thornton
Hall. The council has two primary objectives: providing training
in the fundamentals of highway engineering; and carrying out
research programs to improve the economic design, construction,
maintenance, and operation of highways. The council operates
laboratories that study problems of highway aggregates, geological
engineering, concrete, bituminous materials, soils, bridge
structures, and traffic and safety.
Transportation Research Council also provides financial assistance
for graduate students whose thesis or dissertation research
is in an area of interest to the council.