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Graduate Student Life

Graduate student life in CEE is exciting, fun and dynamic. We work hard and play hard!

Our students are engaged in Institute clubs and department activities – some related to work and research in the department and some just for fun. Others engage in competitions – some with origins right here in Course 1.

We also rely on our students to be leaders and help guide departmental leadership on important decisions and initiatives.

Not already a part of the great Course 1 graduate student community?




GradCom strives to improve the graduate student experience in Civil and Environmental Engineering while contributing to the all-around development of the graduate community. GradCom is a dynamic and responsive committee that incorporates the evolving needs of the graduate community, and aims to prepare graduate students to prepare them for success post-graduation.

GradCom aims to achieve its broad vision by fostering initiatives that contribute to the overall development of individual graduate students and the community as a whole. In collaboration with the administration, faculty, and other graduate students, GradCom helps design, develop and implement various initiatives to promote the following objectives:

  • Educational Development
  • Professional Development
  • Teaching / Mentoring Opportunities
  • Community Outreach
  • Improving Graduate Life


GradCom consists of MEng, MST, SM and PhD graduate students and aims to achieve representation from Pierce Lab, Parsons Lab, the Transportation program, and other joint programs (such as WHOI, CSE and LGO).

GradCom welcomes applications year-round from members of the graduate community. If you are interested in joining, please do not hesitate to get in touch by contacting

Current Team  

Kirby Heck is a 3rd year PhD student in Michael Howland’s lab studying atmospheric dynamics and wind energy. His research focuses on wind turbine wake interactions with the atmospheric boundary layer and turbine wake modeling. He enjoys playing the trombone, running, and escaping to the White Mountains in NH in his time off. 

Nicolette (Nikki) Bugher is a 4th year PhD student in Desiree Plata’s lab researching improved trace organic compound analyses for water contaminants that are toxic at trace levels. Outside of the lab you can find Nikki reading, watching Survivor, at a concert, hanging out with friends, and/or beating her friends at board games. 

Sabrina Shen is a 5th year PhD student in Markus Buehler’s lab studying nature-inspired solutions for materials sustainability. Her work focuses on biotic composite 3D-printing and modeling hierarchical material architectures. Sabrina enjoys reading, bouldering, and experimental vegan cooking, as well as being outside to picnic, camp, or snowboard. 


Stay in the know! Join our Facebook Group, MIT CEE Grad Students, where we will follow up with announcements for events and updates! The group also serves as an informal chat room to get in touch with people with similar interests.

GradCom will appreciate your advice, comments and suggestions! If you think that any aspect of GradCom should be improved to better reflect the interests of graduate students across the department, please fill out our feedback form. 


The department supports several Institute club competitions that engage and connect with Course 1 students.

Water Prize

MIT’s Water Club hosts several water related events annually. As the department has several students active in this club – both in leadership roles and as members – we are proud to be one of the sponsors for the Water Innovation Prize.

MIT Energy Hackathon

In Spring 2015, three CEE graduate students came up with the concept of the Clean Earth Hack competition to take on environmental challenges from industry and academic partners. The second year of the competition brought a new host, MIT’s Energy Club, and a new name, MIT Energy Hackathon.

Video Competition

Based on the premise that students and postdocs must be able to clearly articulate their work, and the importance of their research in a short time frame the department runs an annual competition for videos that are two minutes or less.

Got an Idea for the next great CEE competition – let us know!

View the videos on Youtube.