News & Features

Meet Dr. Robert Gilbert, New Department Chair


Oct. 18, 2017

Accomplished professor and geotechnical engineer, Robert Gilbert, began his appointment as chair of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin on Sept. 1, 2017.

Gilbert joined UT Austin as a faculty member in 1993 and holds the Brunswick-Abernathy Regents Professorship in Soil Dynamics and Geotechnical Engineering. He has established himself as an expert in assessing and managing risk, consulting on a variety of high profile projects, including flood protection in New Orleans, the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, nuclear waste disposal in Nevada and offshore oil and gas facilities around the world. 

He was awarded the Outstanding Civilian Service Award from the United States Army Corps of Engineers for his service on the American Society of Civil Engineers’ External Review Panel in the forensic analysis of the levee failures in Hurricane Katrina.

“I am honored and excited to lead this department, which is consistently regarded as one of the finest in the nation,” Gilbert said. “I look forward to working with school and university leadership, as well as our outstanding and dedicated alumni, to continue to enhance our students’ experiences, strengthen our faculty community and advance our academic programs.”

In 2011, Gilbert received the Norman Medal, the highest award given by ASCE for a journal paper, and in 2016, he received the E.B. Burwell Award for his work with the National Science Foundation on the 2014 landslide in Oso, Washington. He is currently serving as a Governor for the Geo-Institute of ASCE and a member of the committee responsible for design guidelines for offshore facilities published by the American Petroleum Institute and the International Organization for Standardization.

Gilbert has also made a significant impact on teaching. In addition to teaching a variety of courses in geotechnical engineering and risk management, he has developed a senior capstone course in which students learn about the practice of engineering by applying their engineering skills to community-service projects under the guidance of professional engineer mentors. A number of these projects have been implemented, including rain gardens at schools that have been constructed by volunteers from UT and the community together with K-12 students.

This year, Gilbert was inducted into UT Austin’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers. He is also a past recipient of The University of Texas System’s Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award and the Cockrell School’s Lockheed Martin Teaching Award. Gilbert and his wife live in Austin with their four children. He lives an active lifestyle, having completed two ironman competitions and several marathons.

Follow Bob Gilbert on Twitter @bobgilbertUT