CAMBRIDGE, Mass.-- MIT's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) signed a contract last month with Prentice Hall, a division of Pearson Education, to produce a new textbook series that will be published both in print and electronic formats.
The CEE faculty hopes "to influence the future of the profession in the way that physics education was influenced years ago by an MIT-series of books that defined content and the way that subject was taught," said department head Rafael L. Bras, who would like to see the new MIT CEE/Prentice Hall series become the imprimatur of the best textbooks in the field.
Civil and environmental engineering faculty members at MIT have been pioneers in their fields, writing many of the key textbooks of the profession and defining aspects of its practice -- from the key role in sanitary-engineering education and research they played early in the 20th century to the introduction of computers in engineering practice in the early 1960s to defining new paradigms of structural design and global-scale hydrology and land-atmosphere interactions.
The department plans to publish several books each year written by MIT faculty as well as researchers at other universities. Potential subjects for inclusion in the series are materials, engineering systems design, structural design, hydrology, fluid mechanics, environmental sciences, information technology applied in civil engineering, operations research and logistics, transportation systems, construction management and mechanics. Interdisciplinary approaches will be promoted.
"The electronic versions of textbooks could involve several elements-interactive displays, video streaming, simulations or dynamic versions of the book -- working as supplements to, or substitutions for, the printed page," said Professor Bras, a researcher in hydrology and hydroclimatology. "One potential idea is to make it possible for a customer to choose elements from several books in the series to create an individualized textbook, with the option of ordering that book in either hardcopy or electronic form."
The series' publisher, Prentice Hall, part of Pearson Education, is the world's largest educational publisher and one of the most advanced in electronic textbook publishing.