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Civil Engineering

Civil Engineering

Prof. Mohammed Salifu, Head of Department

Prof Salifu

The Department has a very strong reputation for carrying out researches and collaborating with other institutions on  some projects. Being the first department in the College of Engineering, it works in close collaboration with local  industry and is therefore constantly in tune with the demands of industry. The Department is well represented on  various national and international committees, reflecting its reputation and ensuring its continuing influence on the  civil engineering profession. The Department continues to make progress in the development of partnerships with  international institutions for research and training. The following are programme / projects currently running in the  department.     

Highway and Transportation Engineering
This group focuses on the application of technology and scientific principles to the planning, functional, design, operation and management of facilities for any mode of transportation in order to provide for the safe, rapid, comfortable, convenient, economical, and environmentally compatible movement of people and goods.

Geotechnical Engineering Research Group
The group focuses on research into the engineering behaviour of earth materials. The research is applied in mining, petroleum and any other engineering concerned with construction on or in the ground. The Geo Research Group (Geogroup) in the Department, is made up of Prof. Samuel I.K. Ampadu, Dr. Frederick Owusu-Nimo and Mr. V. K. Acquaah. However, in the implementation of research, the Geogroup is a much larger group and includes participation of other research groups and technical staff of the Soils laboratory. From outside KNUST Prof. Fred Boadu of Duke University also participates as an Adjunct Professor to the College. Currently, the Geogroup focuses on three key Research Areas. Namely;

  • Characterising and Improving the properties of Laterites and Lateritic Soilscivil1pic

A laterite is a highly weathered, red subsoil material rich in secondary oxides of iron and aluminium found in the tropics where high temperatures and high rainfalls accelerate the processes of weathering of the parent rock and greatly increases the contribution of chemical weathering in soil formation. The chemical processes produce oxides of the different mineral contents but the less soluble oxides of alumina and iron which remain after percolation of the soluble ones tend to coat the clay and silt fractions and also cement the soil particles together. This cementation is what makes laterites and lateritic soils unique and leads to the classification in geotechnical literature as “problematic”. The ISSMGE has recognised this special nature of laterites and lateritic soil and formed a technical committee, TC-107 with Prof. Samuel I.K. Ampadu as the Chair. 

The Research Group is currently working on the appropriate laboratory testing procedures for determination of reliable index properties of laterites and lateritic soils and includes studies on improving the properties of lateritic soils through compaction and through the use of cement, lime, pozzolana as stabilising agents. It also includes investigation of the strength and compressibility characteristics of lateritic soils at low and at large strains and the effect of water.

  • Assessing the Health Risks of Heavy Metals and Polycyclic AromaticHydrocarbons
    This is a collaborative research with a multi and cross disciplinary input from Engineering, Science, Agriculture, Community Health and Sociology to assess the Health Risks of Heavy Metals and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons through Soils, Water Resources and Food Crops to inhabitants of the Immediate Environs of Suame Magazine. Within the College of Engineering, the multi-disciplinary input will include, from Geomatic Engineering, digitizing the terrain and using GIS as a tool to model the catchment area of the study. From geological engineering the input will involve an understanding of the geology and hydrogeological modelling of ground water flow. From Water Resources Engineering, will come a modelling of the surface drainage characteristics. The GeoGroup focuses on the soils component of this collaborative research. It is investigating the effect of used motor oil on the index, engineering and the electrical properties of soils of the study area. The studies will model the changes in the electrical and other properties with increasing used motor oil contamination level.


  • Cost Effective Construction and Management of Rural Roads
    Even though rural roads carry low traffic volumes and are constructed to lower technical standards, they play a vital role in the socio-economic development of rural communities. The use of lower technical standards on rural roads imply that they tend to undergo rapid deterioration and there is the need to find appropriate surfacing type that is cost effective. Between the two extremes of a conventional bituminous surfacing and the use of gravel surfacing, there is potentially a range of technologies that can be used to provide cost effective surfacing for rural roads. The Geogroup is researching into the use of otta seal surfacing for rural roads. Its work also cover management issues involved in rural roads.


  • Structural Engineering Research Group
    The group focuses on dealing with the analysis and design of structures that support or resist loads. Structural engineering involves the design of buildings and large non-building structures such as design of machinery, medical equipment, vehicles or any item where structural integrity affects the item’s safety.

  •  Environmental Quality Engineering (EQE) Research Group
    The group is involved with the application of science and engineering principles to improve the natural environment (air, water, and /or land resources) to provide healthy water, air, and land for human habitation and to remediate polluted sites. EQE involves water supply, waste water management and air pollution control, recycling, solid waste disposal and public health issues. Below is a summary of grant awarded projects of the Environmental Quality Engineering Group. The following are under the Directorship of Prof. S. N. Odai.


Water Resources Engineering Research Group

This relates to the prediction and management of both quality and quantity of water in both underground(aquifers) and above ground (lakes, rivers, and streams) resources. Water resource engineers analyse and model very small to very large areas of the earth to predict the amount and content of water as it flows into, through or out of a facility. The research interests of the group span a range of topics which fall under these two broad thematic areas:

  1. Water Management, Governance, Policy and Planning;
  2. Water Systems and Hydrologic Modelling.

Also across these two broad thematic areas is the cross cutting theme of understanding the nature of hydrologic variability and change (Theme 2) as they are related to changing climate and land cover/land use and its impact on Water Resources Management (Theme 1). Research is carried out through a combination of hydrologic modeling, laboratory and field works, stakeholder involvement as well as the use of cutting-edge technologies in hydro-geophysics and remote sensing. The following are Ongoing and Proposed Research Projects under this group

  • Long-term analysis of major climate variables and their relevance to water resource management in Ghana
  • Mapping of the irrigation potential in the Volta Basin
  • Examining the relationship between hydro climatological variables and high flow events in the Volta basin
  • Effects of small reservoir on shallow groundwater systems in the Semi-arid parts of Ghana
  • Assimilation of satellite-derived precipitation into regional hydrological models in data scare basins.
  • Distributed hydrologic modeling for flow forecasting using high-resolution satellite data
  • Improving precipitation estimation over the Volta basin by applying the Persiann system, TRMM, TAMSAT, CMORPH, CRU-TS and gauge data
  • The impacts of digital elevation model data type and resolution on hydrologic modeling
  • Hydrologic modeling for flood control in Ghana
  • A hydrogeological evaluation and feasibility analysis of artificial groundwater recharge and recovery in the Volta basin
  • The use of environmental tracers to determine relationships between aquifers and
  • dugouts in the Northern sector of Ghana

The following are summaries of Grant Awarded Projects in the Department

West Africa Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adopted Land use (WASCAL)
WASCAL is a large-scale research-focused programme funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research designed to develop effective adaptation and mitigation measures to climate change. Its overall objective is to enhance the resilience of human and environmental systems to climate change and increased climate variability. This initiative seeks to give support to West African universities to synergise their efforts on a regional basis and maximise their capabilities to improve the training in land use, climate change and geosciences for better overall results and increased benefit to West Africa. The programme ultimately aims at strengthening the research, educational and policy capacity and competency of West-African countries to deal with issues of climate change through adapted land use on a scientific basis in partnership with German institutions. Prof. S. N. Odai, Project Director 

Scientists Networked for Outcomes from Water and Sanitation (SNOWS)
African SNOWS Consortium established in August 2009 by a 5-year grant from the Wellcome Trust aims to build African capacity for interdisciplinary research in Water Supply, Sanitation and Environmental Health, bringing together universities from across the continent, with research active universities in the North. The primary focus of the consortium is to build capacity in research that leads to improved Public Health. This consortium links nine universities from 7 countries (6 African Universities from countries and 3 European Universities from 2 countries) under the name Scientists Networked for Outcomes from Water and Sanitation, SNOWS.

The project is hosted at the Civil Engineering Department, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana under the directorship of Prof Samuel Nii Odai. Member institutions are: Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (Ghana), Egerton University (Kenya), London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (UK), Mbarara University of Science and Technology, (Uganda), Tshwane University of Technology (South Africa), University of Copenhagen (Denmark), University of East Anglia (UK), University of Gezira (Sudan), University of Venda, (South Africa). The consortium seeks to provide internally excellent Africa-based research that will enable all African children to realise their maximum potential through sustainable water supply, sanitation and hygiene delivery. Prof. S. N. Odai, Project Director 

Within the last year, the following activities have been undertaken. SNOWS KNUST, Egerton, and MUST together with the Centre for Science and Health Communication, Ghana have jointly received a grant of £29,989 towards Public engagement between scientists and Journalists. This award will seek to educate scientists on how to communicate their research output to the media and also how journalists can in turn communicate research findings in a coherent manner.

Africa Centres of Excellence (ACE)
African Centres of Excellence Project at KNUST, Kumasi, is to establish a Regional Water and Environmental Sanitation Centre, Kumasi (RWESCK) is hosted by the Department of Civil Engineering and seeks to offer post graduate training and research programmes for the public and private sectors in the West African Region. The project is supported by national, regional and international partners and KNUST Departments of Mathematics, Planning and Theoretical and Applied Biology. This four-year project officially starts from June 2014 with a funding of US$ 8,Million by the World Bank under the African Centres of Excellence Project. The main aim of the Centre is to achieve excellence through training and research of international standards in water, environmental sanitation and environment to create the needed critical mass of human resources and knowledge for influencing and directing national and regional policies. Prof. S. N. Odai, Project Director 

The Activities of the Centre Include the Following;

  • Establish a secretariat for the Regional Water and Environmental Sanitation Centre, Kumasi (RWESCK)
  • Develop new post graduate programmes in collaboration with National, Regional and International partners
  • Develop and build capacity for research and innovative technology development in collaboration with National, Regional and International partners
  • Build industry and academic partnerships for outreach through students/faculty exchange, networking, conferences and workshops to bridge the gap between academic and industry to solve developmental challenges
  • Position the Centre of excellence to be financially sustainable beyond the project duration.

    The Centre will train over 40 PhDs, 120 MScs and 650 Short Courses participants within the four years.SMART SANITATION 

Sanitation For Urban Poor Project (SaniUP)
Smart Sanitation is a collaboration with UNESCO-IHE to start a project titled Stimulating Local Innovation on Sanitation for the Urban Poor in sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia (Smart Sanitation) over a five (5) year period. This project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to the tune of US$385,000 Overall, the project aims to:

  1. Increase the number of sanitation professionals in developing countries.
  2. Provide adequate research education and training for the new generation of “all-round” sanitary engineers.
  3. Make (Post-Graduate) education in sanitation engineering more accessible to individuals from developing countries.
  4. Further strengthen the pro-poor sanitation component at the academic institutions involved. 



These outputs shall be achieved through specially packaged research programme involving faculty members and the enrollment and successful graduation of
Three (3) PhDs and Fifteen (15)MSc students. Through an internationally competitive process the three PhD students have already been selected.
Dr. K. B. Nyarko, Project Leader. 

Sanitation Knowledge Management Initiative.(SKMI)
The project focus is on:

Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) effectiveness, sustainability and cost studies, the main objective of this study is to measure the cost and effectiveness of
implementing CLTS and to determine the cost-benefit. 

  • Impact of WASH in school activities 
  • Assessment of Latrine Technologies
    This project is funded by UNICEF with an amount of Four Hundred thousand Ghana Cedis (GHS 400,000). Dr. K. B. Nyarko, Project Leader

    WASHcost Sierra-Leone  
    The project seeks to use the  life-cycle cost approach to determine the cost of providing sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in Sierra Leone 

  • for sector planning,  implementation and monitoring of sustainable WASH service delivery. 

This project is funded with an amount of One Hundred and ninety-nine thousand pounds (£ 199,000). Dr. K. B. Nyarko, Project Leader