Lehigh is planning a master’s in engineering degree for structural engineers who will design the world’s future infrastructure. The proposed M.Eng. in structural engineering will be a project-based professional degree taught by practitioners currently working in the field, says Stephen Pessiki, chair of the department of civil and environmental engineering.

The 10-month residential program will be offered to students with new bachelor’s degrees and to practicing professionals, says Pessiki. The target enrollment for the program is 25 students.

“The goal of our program is simple. We want to shape the future leaders of the world’s top building design and architectural design firms.”

M.Eng. candidates will complete a three-course sequence in structural design in which they work in teams on two projects under the supervision of the professor of practice.

In the group project, all class members will collaborate on the design of a building, bridge, stadium or other major structure. Group members will work in small teams on specific tasks, such as the foundation or superstructure.

he foundation or superstructure. In the small team project, groups of two, three or four students will explore design challenges of personal interest. Teams may work, for example, with Lehigh’s Murray H. Goodman Center for Real Estate Studies on urban-renewal projects, or with Lehigh’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders, which is rebuilding a local water system in rural Honduras.

Through coursework, students in the program will use the world-renowned testing facilities in Lehigh’s Fritz Engineering Laboratory and ATLSS (Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems) Center (below) to test structural components to failure.

And, to gain a global perspective that is becoming increasingly critical, students will collaborate on their projects with engineers at other locations in the U.S. and overseas.

“One feature of contemporary U.S. design practice,” says Pessiki, “is that a major project is worked on by a team of engineers distributed in offices across the country and sometimes across the globe. We will conduct the design courses in a manner that reflects this trend.”

Overall, says Pessiki, students will learn to plan, manage and lead projects while maintaining effective communication among the owner, architect, construction manager and all other players in a project.

players in a project. The program will run from July to May each academic year, beginning in 2008.

Lehigh also offers the M.S. and Ph.D. in civil engineering and in structural engineering. Both are research-oriented programs.