The UA president, provost and Faculty Senate have given the College the green light to proceed, and an internal search for the head of this new school was initiated April 7, 2009. The new school will be composed of the departments of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Mining and Geological Engineering, Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, and Systems and Industrial Engineering.
The SSES will bring together more than 50 faculty members from five engineering departments and draw on expertise throughout the campus. It will focus on critical linkages between systems in infrastructure, resources, energy and environment. The school will build partnerships with similar schools and work with industry to enhance the economic base in Arizona.
Jeff Goldberg, dean of the College of Engineering, said: “In the Southwest, the need to address competing demands related to environmental preservation, quality of life, and economic growth has never been greater. These issues must be addressed regionally at the community scale and at the individual level to ensure a thriving economic future.
Departments throughout the College of Engineering are already doing considerable research in these areas, and the SSES will build bridges between these departments and research areas. Specifically, the SSES has been formed to foster, coordinate and expand research initiatives that address the broad range of opportunities and problems arising in the Southwest due to:
- The abundance of solar energy that could reduce the cost of imported energy.
- A shortage in potable water that could limit population growth, deter economic expansion, and threaten public health and safety.
- Environmental degradation such as the increasing levels of groundwater salinity. Management of the salts imported through CAP water, for example, will be a major challenge to growth; on the other hand, there are exciting potential business opportunities for processing these materials into valuable products.
- The existence of a strong, but threatened, high-tech manufacturing industry based primarily on semiconductor devices. The long-term environmental sustainability of this industry continues to be a fundamental concern in Arizona.
- Rapid growth and development resulting in a need for new transportation, water and power infrastructure, as well as maintaining existing roadways, bridges and pipeline.
- Continued drawdown of aquifers has resulted in subsidence and earth fissure that have significant economic and public safety issues.