Student Research Opportunities

The opportunity for students to do one-on-one research with faculty members is a major advantage of a Lafayette College education. The Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering encourages students to take advantage of this opportunity and ask the faculty members about their research.

One-on-one research benefits the student by providing:

  • Much greater depth of coverage of topics than can be achieved in the classroom
  • Excellent preparation for graduate school; it strengthens your grad school application and improves your chances of receiving assistantships and fellowships
  • Closer relationships with faculty members who have networks outside Lafayette that are likely to be beneficial to you in the future

Students may conduct research with a faculty member through the  EXCEL Scholars program, independent study, and departmental honors.

Direct questions to department head Arthur D. Kney, Ph.D., PE.


Professor Kristen Sanford Bernhardt Explores New Ideas through Collaborative Research with Students


Like many children who grow up to be civil engineers, Kristen Sanford Bernhardt, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and chair of the engineering studies program, loved playing with blocks. That, along with an affinity for science and math, created the perfect recipe for a career as a civil engineer and professor.

As an undergraduate at Duke University, Sanford Bernhardt concentrated in structural and architectural engineering, but realizing it wasn’t something she wanted to make a career of, she pursued sustainable civil infrastructure systems in graduate school at Carnegie Mellon University where she earned masters and doctorate degrees. It was there that she realized teaching and research were her passions.

“I discovered that I really enjoyed both interacting with undergraduates and doing research,” she explains. “I love that exploring new ideas and learning are part of my job. As my dad says, I get paid to think.”

Lafayette’s focus on undergraduates and providing opportunities for collaborative research with faculty led Sanford Bernhardt to leave her position at a research university to join the faculty almost 10 years ago. The liberal arts education the College provides its engineering students is essential in today’s engineering landscape, she says.

“I wanted to focus on undergraduates and believe that a liberal arts education is crucial to adequately preparing engineers for 21st century challenges,” she says. “The students here continue to impress me with their intelligence and curiosity, and they challenge me to grow as a teacher and a scholar. I am often inspired by my students. They bring different perspectives and fresh enthusiasm.”[…}

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