ESSIE’s Undergraduate Programs Land in USNWR Top 15

For the fifth year in a row, the Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment’s (ESSIE) undergraduate programs have been ranked in the top 20 among public universities, according to the 2024 U.S. News & World Report. Both programs placed in the top 15 in their respective areas, with the Department of Civil and Coastal Engineering at No. 12 and the Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences at No. 10.  

Robert J. Thieke, Ph.D., civil department head and undergraduate coordinator, credits the department’s core curriculum and integration with advanced technology.  

“We require all students to take five core courses, one in each of the following specialty areas in civil—construction, geotechnical, structures, transportation, and water resources,” Thieke said. “Then, the students must take an additional four classes at a higher level before they are allowed to focus on specialties with their final five elective classes of the degree program.”  

In the past year, a sixth area of focus was added to the curriculum where students take classes in data science, data analytics, or machine learning in civil engineering.   

Dr. Thieke notes that students are passing the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam at a disproportionally high rate.  

“In several of the past semesters, about one out of every 50 new CE Professional Engineers in the nation was a UF civil engineering graduate, compared with over 300 ABET-accredited civil engineering programs nationwide,” he added. 

Moreover, the Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences developed a new curriculum centered around five classes. Michael Annable, Ph.D., environmental department head and professor, credits the strategic faculty hires for their expertise in curriculum expansion.  

Out of the nation’s Professional Engineers, 4.2% are graduates from UF’s Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences. 

The goal of the curriculum is to integrate across environmental engineering and foundational topics, and to promote a sense of community within the department. To that end, the primary component of the curriculum is a set of five courses (the Core) that integrate the topics of air, water, ecological engineering, and sustainable materials management. These Core courses also include foundational topics such as statistics, thermodynamics, and microbiology in the context of environmental engineering on a just-in-time basis. And finally, students and faculty move together through the five courses, creating a sense of community among the students and between students and faculty.

In 2011, the Department of Civil and Coastal Engineering and the Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences formed ESSIE. There are 14 research specialization areas across both departments. 


Reba Liddy 

ESSIE Marketing & Communications Specialist