Northeastern launches New MS in Civil Engineering Concentration in Data and Systems

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) is launching a new concentration in Data and Systems as part of its Master’s of Science in Civil Engineering. Students in Data and Systems will gain expertise in big data, machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI), and their application for a systems-level analysis of problems in the civil and environmental engineering domain.

“Today’s public and private sectors increasingly rely on data analysis to power their operations, and the civil and environmental engineering field is no exception,” said Professor Haris Koutsopoulos, Associate Chair for Graduate Studies for the department. “This is an umbrella program that serves all CEE disciplines by providing a solid foundation in ML and AI methods, promoting a systems perspective, developing modern programming language skills such as in Python and R,’ and, importantly, honing these in the context of data-driven CEE problem-solving.”

The graduates of the program will be equipped to apply data analytics and systems methods to study, understand, design, and plan sustainable and resilient complex socio-technical systems. These are also some of the skills identified by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in their recently released Future World Vision: Infrastructure Reimagined (May 2019) as critical for civil and environmental engineers to be able to compete in a rapidly changing world.

Data and Systems in Civil and Environmental Engineering

Data sciences are already deeply integrated in the research conducted by the department faculty. Assistant Professor Ryan Wang recently hosted a conference on “Building Blocks for Smarter Cities,” which explored the intelligent systems and urban informatics necessary for civil engineers to design the cities of the future. Professor and Distinguished Fellow Yang Zhang is a leader in climate and earth systems modeling, analyzing big data to understand the effects of air pollution on public health. Her research can provide useful insights for the private sector, such as recent work that revealed the effects of ozone on perennial crop yields.

Professor Auroop R. Ganguly, Director of the Sustainability and Data Sciences Laboratory, is the lead author of the Artificial Intelligence section of the Applied Climate Assessment (IAC) prepared by an Independent Advisory Committee (refer:; including “History of SCAN”). In addition to his academic research, Ganguly is a co-founder of risQ, a startup utilizing AI to enable public and private entities to incorporate climate change into their risk assessments. “Data-driven sciences and machine intelligence are rapidly becoming indispensable tools for the 21st-century engineer interested in developing a predictive understanding of civil infrastructure and environmental systems, especially when attempting to translate scientific insights, engineering principles and policy imperatives to practice,” said Professor Ganguly. Professor Koutsopoulos uses big data to understand and predict rider behavior on public transportation, increase efficiency. Assistant Professor Hao Sun integrates machine learning and physical principles to model structure behavior under seismic hazards. Other CEE faculty conducting research in this field include Ming Wang, Michael Kane, Amy Mueller, and Ed Beighley.

Urban Engineering at Northeastern

The concentration was developed as part of the Northeastern University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s focus on urban engineering. Urban engineering at Northeastern is a strategic effort to center civil and environmental engineering instruction and research in the critical interdisciplinary areas of infrastructure security, environmental health, and sustainable resource engineering, powered by the emerging technologies of informatics, data science, simulation, and smart sensing.

Students interested in this new concentration may apply to begin study in the Fall 2020 semester.

Related Faculty: Haris Koutsopoulos, Qi “Ryan” Wang, Yang Zhang, Auroop R. Ganguly, Ming L. Wang, Michael Kane, Amy Mueller, R. Edward Beighley

Related Departments:Civil & Environmental Engineering