The School of Civil Engineering at CSU has experienced three milestone stages in her history of development.
The Stage of the Central South Institute of Civil & Architectural Engineering (1953-1960): Dated back to 1953, during the periods of consolidating and re-organizing the universities and institutions of higher education in across the nation, the programs of Civil Engineering, Railway Construction and/or Management Engineering, and other closely-related ones at Hunan University, Wuhan University, Nanchang University, Guangxi University, Sichuan University, Yunan University and South China University of Technology were consolidated to found the Central South Institute of Civil & Architectural Engineering. The current School of Civil Engineering at Central South University is developed from the programs of Railway Construction Engineering and Bridge & Tunnel Engineering at the former Central South Institute of Civil & Architectural Engineering.
The Stage of Changsha Railway University (1960-2000): In 1960, the former Ministry of Railways approved a new site to relocate the former Central South Institute of Civil & Architectural Engineering and its name be officially changed to be the Changsha Railway University. Since then, the two programs of Railway Construction Engineering and Bridge & Tunnel Engineering have undergone remarked development. In 1970, the Department of Railway Engineering was consolidated with that of Bridge & Tunnel Engineering to found the new Department of Railway Engineering (which was renamed as the Department of Civil Engineering later on). In 1997, it was further grown into the School of Civil& Architectural Engineering.
The Stage of Central South University (2000 — the present): In 2000, the former Changsha Railway University, Central South Institute of Technology, and Hunan Medical University were consolidated to form the current Central South University. In 2002, corresponding departments and/or research Institutes in the field of Civil & Architectural Engineering at both the former Changsha Railway University and the former Central South University of Technology were consolidated to form the new School of Civil & Architectural Engineering. In 2011, the programs of Architecture and Urban Planning were separated from the School of Civil & Architectural Engineering and then merged into the School of Architecture and Arts. Since then, the School of Civil & Architectural Engineering has been officially renamed as the School of Civil Engineering.
The School of Civil Engineering currently offers five undergraduate programs of concentration, i.e., Civil Engineering, Railway Engineering, Engineering Management, Engineering Mechanics, and Fire Protection Engineering. More than 2900 full-time undergraduate students are currently studying in the School. The School has set specialized talent-cultivating goals specifically targeting for engineering applications, research innovation, and international partnerships. The School has also developed a variety of instructional models and supporting systems to cultivate talents. They include the synergy between classroom teaching and hands-on research experiences, international partnerships, and educational programs jointly sponsored by the School and private sector corporations.
The School has launched not only international partnerships with domestic and foreign universities and institutions of higher education but also joint educational programs with industrial partners at home and abroad. Typical examples include the “2+2” joint degree programs with the Monash University in Australia and the order-form type “3+1” degree program with leading large-scale state-owned civil engineering corporations. In addition, the School has enrolled international undergraduate students to steadily advance the internationalization of undergraduate education.
Two programs in the School, i.e., Civil Engineering and Engineering Management, have been successively accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Higher Education programs. The Civil Engineering program is not only one of the first screened for priority development by the Ministry of Education as the featuring ones of higher education, but is also one of the first competitively selected for experimenting the nation-wide “comprehensive reforms of higher education programs” and “excellence initiatives”. It is now equipped with a Hunan provincial first-class faculty team. The School has partnered with the Guangzhou Railway Group Corporation and the Hunan Construction Engineering Group Corporation to jointly operate the “National Center for Engineering Practices Education”. The School’s Experimental Teaching Center for Civil Engineering has been accredited as one of the national demonstration centers for experimental teaching, whereas its Experimental Teaching Center for Mechanics has also been accredited as one of the Hunan provincial demonstration centers for foundation courses of higher education. The field trip destination for Engineering Geology course based at the track maintenance division in Loudi, Hunan has been rated as excellent among those maintained by universities and institutions of higher education in Hunan Province. The School has developed two courses of the top quality at the national level, two open and free-access courses of the national-level top quality, and four courses of the top quality at the Hunan provincial level. The School has already published over 70 textbooks and monographs and has received 16 awards for teaching achievement and excellence at both national- and Hunan provincial-levels.
CREC ‘International Engineering Class’ was held by the cooperation between CSU and China Railway Engineering Corporation. ‘3+1’ educational pattern was adopted to this class. Namely, the first three years of education was provided by CSU, in the fourth year, the education would be provided by both CSU and CREC. CREC should provide the students tuition fee, accommodation fee and education grants. After graduation, the students will be directly assigned to overseas projects of CREC. Training the students in the international class to be backbone talents in the management of international engineering projects is the hope of CREC.
The School of Civil Engineering currently has two generic disciplines and eleven areas of specialty that are accredited as Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree programs, fourteen areas of specialty accredited as Master degree programs, and three professional (or continuing education) degree programs. There are 46 faculty members advising doctoral students and 165 faculty members advising master students. The total number of graduate students in the school reaches over 1500. In the past five years, the School has attained a number of noteworthy awards for excellence. Typical examples include one nominee for the national excellent doctoral dissertation award, six recipients of the Hunan provincial excellent doctoral dissertation award, eleven recipients of the Hunan provincial excellent Master thesis award, over 40 grants funded by Hunan provincial government to encourage research innovation of graduate students, three Hunan provincial key projects on educational reforms, one Hunan provincial outstanding graduate-level course, and four recipients of the Ministry of Education’s Young Scholars of Distinction Award. In addition, the school has partnered respectively with the Hunan Construction Engineering Group Corporation and the China Railway No. 5 Engineering Group Corporation to establish the Hunan provincial bases for promoting innovation in graduate education. This provides platforms for graduate students to improve their skills in innovation, entrepreneurship, and practices.
The School of Civil Engineering has pioneered and led a series of characteristic and prominent research areas. They include train derailment analysis, vibration analysis of the time-variant train-bridge system, wind- and earthquake-resistance of bridges, composite structures, foundation of problematic soils, key technologies for slope stability of geologically complex highway projects in mountainous regions, three-dimensional visualization of highway and railway engineering designs, construction technologies for heavy-haul and high-speed railway lines, advanced materials in civil engineering, civil engineering planning & management, and disaster prevention and mitigation in civil engineering.
In the past five years, the School’s faculty members have attracted over 100 research grants from a variety of funding sources to solve pressing needs and challenges. Those funding sources include the nation’s prestigious “973 Project” foundation, the “863 Project” foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the former Ministry of Railways. The total research funds secured amount to about RMB 500 million. The research team working on “securing the serviceability and enhancing the performance of high-speed railway engineering structures” has been competitively selected to be part of the Ministry of Education’s “development plan for Yangtze River Scholars and innovative teams”. The faculty members in the School have published over 800 technical papers in domestic and foreign journals indexed by SCI and/or EI databases, as well as over 70 textbooks and monographs.
The School of Civil Engineering currently has two national key disciplines, i.e., Civil Engineering and Transportation Engineering (developed in conjunction with the School of Traffic & Transportation Engineering). Civil Engineering Program is ranked as NO.7 in the national assessment of discipline. The School of Civil Engineering currently has three national key areas of specialty, i.e., Bridge & Tunnel Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, and Highway & Railway Engineering; and one provincial key area of specialty, i.e., Structural Engineering. The School also operates two Centers for Postdoctoral Studies in Civil Engineering and Transportation Engineering, respectively. In addition, the School is one of the partner organizations of the “Synergistic Innovation Center for Rail Transportation Safety”, one of the first centers of its kind funded for priority development by the nation’s competitive “2011 Project” foundation.
The School’s Civil Engineering program has already been scoped for priority development by the second-phase plan of the nation’s “985 Project”, entitled “the Platform for Science & Technology Innovation in Rail Transportation and Civil Engineering Safety”, as well as by the tenth five-year plan of the nation’s “211 Project”, entitled “Science & Technology for Railway Engineering Safety”. Such intensive supports and the resulting steady development have contributed to the refined research focuses of the two disciplines, i.e., Civil Engineering and Highway & Railway Engineering, as well as to the extensive upgrade of research facilities.
To adapt to the increasing internationalization of education, the School of Civil Engineering has paid great attention in extending joint education programs, talent exchange programs, and international communication and cooperation in the form of international conferences. The School has also initiated beneficial exploration and practices in internationalizing talent cultivation, education and research.
‘2+2’ CSU-Monash University Educational Cooperation Programs, which was a joint education program signed between CSU and Monash University.
Students who have been enrolled at CSU, as undergraduate students, will complete four semesters of the eight-semester Bachelor of Science program at CSU. If accepted into the joint degree Program established between CSU and Monash University, students will be permitted by both universities to complete their final four semesters of study towards the dual Bachelor of Science degrees at Monash University. According to the policies and standards established and officially signed, students who have successfully completed the prescribed credits from both universities will be eligible to receive a Bachelor of Science degree from each university.
‘3+1’ & ‘3+2’ CSU-UIUC Educational Cooperation Programs, which was a joint education program signed between the School of Civil Engineering of CSU and the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering of UIUC.
‘3+1’ Program: The undergraduates have to complete the first three academic years of courses in CSU before going to study in UIUC in the fourth academic year. After a full year of study, the students in this program qualified with the requirements could be awarded the Bachelor’s Degree of CSU.
‘3+2’ Program: The undergraduates have to complete the first three academic years of courses in CSU before their two years of study in UIUC, which would begin in the fourth academic year. Students could be awarded both the Bachelor’s Degree of CSU and the Master’s Degree of UIUC with finishing their studies according to the corresponding requirements.
To broaden the students’ vision and reinforce academic exchange, there are about over 20 academic reports hold by SCE every year, which are presented by professors from overseas universities. Meanwhile, long term research cooperation relationship has been built between SCE and several famous foreign universities, say, UIUC, UBC and UK, etc. The cooperation relationships are great helpful to enhance the research internationalization level of SCE.
SCE has been kept actively building exchanging platforms through abroad visiting. Abroad academic visiting and attending international academic conference are always encouraged and funded. The exchanging platforms have been played active roles to expand the academic influence of CSU on the international academic stage, and are beneficial to improve research level on the relevant subjects and promote the teaching level.