EPFL ranks high in architecture, civil and environmental engineering
The QS World University Rankings for 2016 put EPFL among the top 10 universities in Europe for its architecture, civil engineering and environmental engineering programs. In the Shanghai Ranking, EPFL's civil engineering program came in in 2nd place in Europe and 10th place worldwide, while environmental engineering came in 21st in Europe and 60th worldwide.
For the first time, two widely recognized rankings show how EPFL's architecture, civil and environmental engineering programs stack up against universities worldwide. The results reveal EPFL’s research prowess in these fields.
The QS World University Rankings for 2016 ranked EPFL's architecture, civil and environmental engineering programs in the top 10 in Europe: EPFL came in 7th place in architecture and civil engineering and 10th place in environmental engineering. Worldwide, architecture and civil engineering both came in 21st place and environmental engineering came in 39th.
On the European podium
Another well-regarded ranking, the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), also called the Shanghai Ranking, puts EPFL's civil engineering program at 2nd place in Europe, just behind the Technical University of Denmark, and 10th place worldwide. Environmental engineering came in 21st place in Europe and 60th worldwide.
Several changes were made in this year's rankings. Alexander Nebel, EPFL's rankings specialist, explains: "The ARWU ranking traditionally focused on a series of basic-sciences disciplines like math, physics and chemistry. But starting this year, new engineering-related disciplines are included. This means that EPFL's civil engineering and environmental engineering programs can be compared to other universities in Europe and the rest of the world."
Adapting the criteria for architecture
The Shanghai Ranking does not cover architecture. The QS Ranking, on the other hand, started including it in 2015, although the methodology has generated some debate. To include it, the usual calculations had to be adapted to take into account the specific nature of this field. "The publication culture is different between architecture and other scientific fields," notes Nebel. "Architects publish more critical and historical works than articles for specialized journals like Nature and Science."
For architecture, 80% of the final score in the QS Ranking depends on the program's reputation in the scientific community and among employers, as assessed through reputational surveys. This component normally accounts for only 50% of the score. The remaining 20% is calculated through conventional bibliometric criteria. Interestingly, in the QS Ranking, EPFL's bibliometric results are comparable or, in some cases, better than those of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University, which generally lead the ranking.
The rankings converge
What do these results mean? "Even through their criteria differ, the QS World University Rankings and the Shanghai Ranking agree that EPFL is engaged in high quality research in architecture, civil engineering and environmental science," says Nebel. "It is gratifying to see that our programs in these fields rank alongside those of the most prominent universities from around the world."
Marilyne Andersen, the dean of the School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering, adds: "Despite the question of objectivity inherent in ranking systems of any kind, we are excited to see that our programs rate among the top 10 European universities in the QS ranking, which covers all three of them."