Department debuts Sustainable Land Development MS graduate program

A new Masters of Science program in Sustainable Land Development will provide a valuable resource for civil engineers focusing in planning, design, construction, and management of facilities and infrastructure.

The Sustainable Land Development program will be housed in the Charles E. Via, Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech and will provide students with a unique set of skills to enable them to contribute to the sustainable land development needs of the industry, including how a new development or redevelopment will contribute to community, regional, and societal needs today and in the future.

According to current census projections, the United States will experience a surge in population of 30% over the next 30 years, which will increase pressures on the nation’s aging infrastructure. This will require advancing technologies, state of the art facilities, and a need for modern and sustainable infrastructure, including multi-modal transportation options, inter-connected street networks, underground, modern, smart utilities, stormwater systems that minimize flooding and environmental impact, more efficient buildings, and supporting green infrastructure. Therefore, multiple disciplines are needed to support these efforts and influence how communities will make sustainable decisions.

“This new graduate program crosses a lot of disciplinary boundaries and opens up opportunities for students to study how sustainability and system policy, planning, and design can work together,” said Randel Dymond, who is co-leading the program along with Tripp Shealy.

The need for adaptive, highly skilled land development engineers is at an all-time high with these engineers requiring knowledge in areas including water resources, transportation, urban planning, zoning law, land use, finance and marketing, real estate, construction engineering and management, and data-drive decision-making processes. Most graduate programs focus on individual subject areas, which would differentiate this program that integrates a wide range of disciplines.

 “We believe the program will create future leaders in the Sustainable Land Development area and draw significant interest from students all over the United States as no similar programs exist,” said Dymond.  

The overall goal of the graduate program is to allow students to gain a background and perform research in the area of sustainable land development. In addition, students will learn professional and industry norms and standards from a heavy influence of practitioners in the core classes who will also serve as mentors for projects. Courses will be offered at the Blacksburg campus but up to 50% of the graded coursework hours make be taken at other universities as part of the degree program. The program will begin accepting graduate students soon for Fall 2021.

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