Department of

Civil and Environmental Engineering


NEWS & EVENTS (IN DETAIL)

July 7, 2015

Respected civil engineering professor Andrew Scanlon retires

After a rewarding 28 years at Penn State, Andrew Scanlon, professor of civil engineering, is trading in his work boots for golf shoes.

He will be retiring at the end of August.

Scanlon has served in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering as a professor, department head and interim department head.

His primary interests include the safety and serviceability of concrete structures and analytical modeling of concrete structures, which he applied to building and bridge research and several projects for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

He also focuses his research on building reinforced concrete floor systems. This work has been included in building codes and has been used by engineering professionals worldwide.

In addition, Scanlon works on seismic analysis and precast buildings.

Looking back, Scanlon considers the influence he had on his students to be one of the most gratifying aspects of his career. He estimates that he has taught roughly 6,000 students during his tenure at Penn State, many with whom he has kept in touch.

“I think one of the most satisfying things is that you can have some kind of an impact,” he said. “It’s always nice when you meet up with one of your students from many years ago, and they still remember you.”

Former graduate student Serdar Astarlioglu, now a structural engineer at Hinman Consulting Engineers, said Scanlon has been much more than an adviser to him.

“He has been a great mentor, friend and colleague,” he said.

Astarlioglu said that he faced some difficulties while seeking his doctorate and Scanlon gave him the support he needed to graduate.

“If it wasn’t for his guidance, support and understanding, I don’t think I would have a Ph.D. today,” he said.

Sezer Atamturktur, a former student who is now an associate professor of civil engineering at Clemson University, said that Scanlon taught her that she could be a friendly and approachable educator yet still be effective.

“You don’t have to be strict and difficult to teach important lessons,” Atamturktur said.

Along with his passion for teaching, Scanlon has always loved to travel, so it’s no surprise that his interest in civil engineering actually started many years ago and many miles away.

Born and raised in Clydebank, Scotland, just outside of Glasgow, Scanlon originally gravitated more toward sports than engineering.

“If I would have had my druthers, I would have preferred to be a professional soccer player,” he said.

But he realized that, although he was good, he would never be the best, so he began exploring other options.

Shipbuilding and manufacturing were some of the main trades in Clydebank at that time, but Scanlon didn’t want to enter into an apprenticeship at 15, which was the common path. He enjoyed school and was naturally good at math and science, so he decided to enroll at the University of Glasgow for engineering.

“I was the first in my family to go to university,” he recalled. “I think my mother would have been quite happy if I had become a plumber or a joiner (carpenter), as long as it had some kind of a skill.”

But Scanlon became much more than that.

He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1966 and moved to Canada to work for the Canadian Department of Public Works and Government Services where he was in charge of fisherman’s wharves on the Bay of Fundy in Brunswick.

There, he worked for two years before returning to school for his graduate degree at the University of Alberta. He began in the master’s program but decided to skip straight to his doctorate instead. While there, Scanlon also met his future wife, Mary, who was studying for her doctorate as an educational psychologist. He and Mary had three children: Aimie, Mark and Christine.

Scanlon graduated from the University of Alberta in 1972 with a doctorate in civil engineering.

He then worked for the consulting company Reid Crowther and Partners in Edmonton for seven years and the Portland Cement Association in Chicago for four years before accepting his first position in academia back at the University of Alberta. There he stayed until 1987 when he accepted a position at Penn State.

Scanlon said part of what appealed to him most about Penn State was that he would get to help rebuild the structures group. Many of the current faculty members were retiring and this position would allow him to be one of the leaders in the rebuilding process.

Another influential factor was faculty member Harry West, who was the chair of the search committee at the time.

“He and I hit it off right away,” Scanlon said, and the two have remained close friends ever since.

Scanlon said building those relationships, with both faculty and students, was one of the most fulfilling aspects of his career at Penn State.

His least favorite part was grading.

“There is an old saying among academics,” he said. “You'd rather be like Jesus and teach rather than like God and judge.”

Though Scanlon is retiring, he doesn’t plan on leaving civil engineering behind completely.

“I’m retiring from Penn State, but I’m not going to sit in my rocking chair for the rest of my life,” he quipped.

He plans to continue teaching CE341 concrete structures online until a teaching replacement is found, and he’s established a relationship with Northern Arizona University-Flagstaff where he taught a class during a recent sabbatical. He may teach there again while serving on their advisory board.

Scanlon also will stay involved with the American Concrete Institute and American Society of Civil Engineers among others, primarily through society committee work, but he is looking forward to some well-deserved free time, too.

He’s an avid golfer and is planning some golf trips in the coming months. He also hopes to do some writing, develop his piano skills and hike the scenic landscape of Sedona, Arizona where he and his wife will now call home.

And, of course, he plans to travel.

“I’ve always enjoyed traveling,” he said. “I’m like the black sheep of my family. My mom and dad lived their entire lives in the town I grew up in. They never had any desire to go anywhere else.”

Scanlon, on the other hand, has spent nearly 50 years away from home, over half of them at Penn State.

“I’ve met a lot of good people over the years,” Scanlon said. “And that’s the important thing to me.”

 

July 2, 2015

Geological Society grant supports Susquehanna Shale Hills research

Yu Zhang, an environmental engineering doctoral candidate, recently received a Geological Society of America (GSA) research grant to help fund his hydrological-morphodynamic modeling research on the Susquehanna Shale Hills.

Zhang, along with Christopher Duffy, professor of civil engineering, and Rudy Slingerland, professor of geosciences, are using the $1,100 grant to design and build a 3-D landscape evolution model of the Susquehanna Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory (SSHCZO) in order to perform long-term simulations of sediment transport and monitor the landscape changes over time.

The Critical Zone Observatory, located in Penn State’s Stone Valley Forest, is a nationally funded observatory established in 2007. Their research promotes the understanding of how a forested, first-order catchment of shale bedrock evolves over time in a temperate climate.

The goal of this project is to study the possible causes of an asymmetric slope and thickness to the layer of rocky material covering bedrock on the north- and south-facing hill slopes at the Observatory and to analyze how the hill slope and thickness of the rocky material progresses toward a normal symmetrical state.

“The SSHCZO project has been observing and measuring many important data for hydrology, geochemistry, hydropedology, vegetation and others, but there is a lack of data on sediment load and parameters for sediment transport," Zhang said. "The GSA grant will be used to fill that gap.”

The researchers plan to measure the sediment load at the outlet and sediment concentration in stream at different rainfall events and seasons in order to gather basics such as the sediment size and bulk density.

Samples of different soil types will also be collected.

“I was very excited to receive the student grant,” Zhang said. “It is really encouraging because my research proposal has been recognized by the geological community.”

The primary role of the GSA research grants program is to provide partial support of doctoral thesis research in the geological sciences for graduate students enrolled in universities in the United States. 

July 1, 2015

Penn State Engineers in the Spotlight

Ed Gannon: Bridging the Gap Between Communication and Construction

Abington, PA, native Ed Gannon (’82 C E, ’91 MS, ’98 PhD) has dedicated his career to finding ways to improve the construction process. He explains, “Despite all the advances in engineering technology, we really are no more productive today than we were fifty years ago.”

Ed came to the University Park campus to study civil engineering after completing two years at Penn State Abington.

Check out the rest of the article here.

June 24, 2015

Three members of the Penn State Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering are retiring this summer.

LeAnn Anderson has served as the department’s administrative assistant since 2006. She is responsible for maintaining budget records, spreadsheets, databases, commitments and matching funds; financial reporting; salary distribution, supplemental I and II, transfers, buyouts, and graduate lecturers; serving as the liaison to the college’s human resources office; processing faculty visa applications and gifts/endowments; and supervising and hiring staff. Her last day will be June 30.

Andrew Scanlon, professor of civil engineering, joined the department in 1987. His research expertise includes the safety and serviceability of concrete structures and analytical modeling of concrete structures, reinforced concrete floor systems and seismic analysis and precast buildings. He holds a doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Alberta. His last day will be Aug. 31.

Gregory Shufran has served as an instructor in surveying for the department since 1999. His areas of interest include surveying, geodesy and computer-aided drafting and design. Shufran received his bachelor’s degree in education from the California University of Pennsylvania in 1976 and holds a Pennsylvania Professional Land Surveyor registration. His last day will be June 30.

June 23, 2015

Martin Pietrucha, professor of civil engineering at Penn State, was featured in WalletHub’s recent study about 2015's best and worst states for summer road trips

Check out the article here.

June 15, 2015

What would happen if a common tree had the potential to turn cloudy, contaminated water into clean, safe drinking water for millions in need? Penn State researchers are hoping to find out using the seeds of the Moringa oleifera tree.

Lack of potable water is a huge problem in many developing countries. According to UNICEF, 783 million people worldwide are without improved drinking water, and the World Health Organization estimates that lack of proper drinking water causes 1.6 million deaths each year from diarrheal and parasitic diseases.

Part of the problem is that many of these countries must import expensive chemicals to clarify the water, limiting the amount they can afford to produce.

But there may be an alternative.

The Moringa oleifera tree grows abundantly throughout many tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It reaches fruition in only six months and is already being used in many areas as a food source. The seedpods, seeds, leaves, roots and flowers are all edible and nutritious.

In addition to these benefits, something in the tree’s seeds has the ability to kill bacteria and clarify water.

“That has been known for some time,” says Stephanie Butler Velegol, environmental engineering instructor at Penn State. Women in ancient Egypt reportedly rubbed Moringa seeds on their clay water pots, and dried powder from crushed seeds has been used as a handwash for many years.

In recent years, the water-clarifying ability of Moringa powder was found to be due to a positively-charged protein called the Moringa Oleifera Cationic Protein (MOCP). When you crush the seeds and add them to water, this protein will kill some of the microbial organisms and cause them to clump together and settle to the bottom of the container. 

However, the dried seed powder alone is not ideal for water purification because the organic matter from the seed will remain in the water, providing a food source for any bacteria that have not been killed. As a result, water treated with this seed does not remain safe to drink after some time in storage.

In 2012, Velegol and a team of Penn State researchers published a paper showing that MOCP can easily be attached to grains of sand. When the sand is mixed with unsafe water, bacteria stick to the sand and are killed. The newly-clean water can then be removed and stored for later use. Then the sand can be rinsed to remove the organic matter and “recycled” for another round of purification.

In Velegol’s most recent study, published in the April edition of Langmuir, she, along with chemical engineering assistant professor Manish Kumar and chemical engineering students Kevin Shebek, Kathleen Lauser, Allen Schantz and Ian Sines, used a combination of cryogenic electron microscopy and fluorescence assays to discover that the cationic protein isolated from Moringa seeds kills water-borne bacteria by causing their cell membranes to fuse.

This study revealed the mechanism by which MOCP turns polluted water into safe drinking water.

But there are still questions to be answered before the Moringa protein can be used on a large scale to purify water. One question is which Moringa seeds are most efficient in water clarification. The researchers knew that leaves and seeds harvested in different seasons differ in nutrient content, but did the seeds’ ability to kill bacteria also vary based on the season and the seed’s maturity level?

“One of the biggest challenges in using Moringa seeds for cleaning water is that people don’t know which seeds work and don’t work,” Velegol says.

This is a problem because if people use the wrong seeds, they will think their water is clean when, in fact, it’s not.

So the researchers teamed up with Bashir Abubakar, a botanist from Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria. Abubakar brought four kinds of seeds of different maturity levels and harvest times from Nigeria to Penn State. The researchers then studied their mass, oil content and ability to kill bacteria and clarify water.

They found that the extracted protein of mature dried seeds collected in the rainy season is most effective, followed by mature dried seeds collected in the dry season.

Abubakar, a native of Nigeria where about 66 million people do not have access to safe drinking water (UNICEF), foresees benefits to using Moringa that go beyond providing clean water to poor communities.

“The farmers will have an additional income, because not only will they be growing Moringa for food, but they can also grow large plantations of Moringa for the seed,” he says.

In addition, the money saved by using the locally grown seeds to clarify water could then be used for other projects.

“You can divert the money for other infrastructural and societal needs, either to improve the farmlands or to construct roads,” he says.

This research is the foundation for larger scale studies. The researchers are now seeking funding for those studies.

The Penn State College of Engineering Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) and Research Initiative (CERI) for Undergraduates funded a majority of this research. Bashir Abubakar’s research at Penn State was supported by a grant from the Raw Materials Research and Development Council in Abuja, Nigeria. Also participating in the study were Darrell Velegol, Distinguished Professor of chemical engineering, and Ricky Bates, professor of horticulture.

June 1, 2015

The Journal of Structural Engineering recently selected Gordon Warn, associate professor of civil engineering, as an ASCE 2014 Outstanding Reviewer.

One of the oldest and most respected periodicals in the field, the Journal of Structural Engineering has a history of reporting on fundamental knowledge that advances the state-of-the-art and state-of-the-practice in structural engineering.

Warn has been a member of the Penn State faculty since 2008. His research interests include dynamic systems, performance-based design and earthquake engineering.

May 13, 2015

Our department head Peggy Johnson has announced three faculty promotions in the department this spring: Tong Qiu has been promoted to associate professor with tenure, Eric Donnell has been promoted to full professor and Shelley Stoffels has been promoted to full professor.

May 8, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Bruce Logan, Evan Pugh Professor and Kappe Professor of Environmental Engineering, and Christopher Gorski, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering,  received a National Science Foundation EAGER award to fund their research on technologies that generate and store electrical energy from waste heat using salinity gradients.

NSF Early-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) funding is used to support exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches.

The researchers received a $130,000 grant for the one-year project, which began April 1.

The goal of the project,“Enhanced Electricity Production from Engineered Salinity Gradients using Capacitive Mixing,” is to take a new approach to energy production and storage using a process called CapMix -- captive and pseudo-captive mixing.

“What we propose is a process that will capture electrical energy out of a chemical in water,” Logan said. “Then we can remove that chemical out of the water using waste heat.”

Using the CapMix process, the researchers hope to develop and advance new methods for energy production using primarily only water and simple and renewable materials.

Currently, several technologies are being explored to capture electrical energy from salinity gradients. These gradients may exist naturally in such things as seawater and river water or be engineered by using, for example, waste heat and thermolytic salts.

CapMix is one of the newest methods. In this approach, capacitive and pseudo-capacitive electrodes are alternately exposed to solutions having high and low salt concentrations.

The researchers will be using ammonium bicarbonate as the salty solution and will also experiment with ammonia.

Both ammonia and ammonium bicarbonate can be driven out of water by heat, Logan said. “We hope to use that heat energy as a way to create, essentially, batteries.”

Unlike other technologies, CapMix has a critical advantage because it does not require membrane materials such as reverse osmosis membranes or pressure retarded membranes, which are often prohibitively expensive. The problem with current CapMix methods, however, is that they tend to produce lower power densities than these membrane-based processes.

Logan and Gorski hope to change that. In their system, CapMix processes will use inexpensive and activated carbon and binders, in some cases avoiding the need for costly membranes. Even when a membrane is needed, it will be minimal.

If successful, the technology could produce two results simultaneously while past technologies have only been able to produce one.

“Previous heat recovery technologies only transform heat energy into electricity,” Logan said. “Then there are energy storage systems that cannot transform energy. What makes this a really unique approach is the potential to do both.”

Logan said this technology could improve energy efficiency at power plants and extract energy from waste heat for later use.

“Nobody has tried to create battery-like reactions with these solutions before, so we have to really sift through the chemistry,” Logan said. “… But the potential is out there.”

April 30, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Patrick J. Fox has been named the John A. and Harriette K. Shaw Professor and Head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering within Penn State’s College of Engineering.

Effective Aug. 1, Fox will replace Peggy Johnson, who is stepping down after nine years in the position. Johnson will remain in the department as a faculty member.

“Pat has achieved a great deal in his academic career and has a nationally and internationally prominent research program as well as leadership positions in the profession,” said Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering Amr Elnashai. 

Fox will oversee and provide leadership for the department, which offers a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, as well as master’s and doctorate programs in civil engineering and environmental engineering.

"I am delighted to join Penn State, one of our leading public universities, as department head of civil and environmental engineering,” Fox said. “I look forward to working with the faculty and staff to advance the reputation of the department and deliver a top quality education to its students.”

He is currently a professor of geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering in the Department of Structural Engineering at the University of California-San Diego.

Prior to joining UC San Diego, Fox held tenured academic appointments at multiple universities including Purdue University, Ohio State University and the University of California-Los Angeles.

He has won awards for research, teaching and service and has published over 200 technical papers.  His research awards include the Arthur Casagrande Professional Development Award and the Thomas A. Middlebrooks Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). He has also received the Chandra S. Desai Medal from the International Association for Computer Methods and Advances in Geomechanics, the IGS Award from the International Geosynthetics Society and best paper awards from several professional journals. 

An ASCE fellow, Fox currently serves on the Board of Governors for the ASCE Geo-Institute and recently stepped down as editor-in-chief of the ASCE Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering.

He is also a member of various other professional and scholarly societies.

“Pat's energy and drive, and vision for excellence in education, research and service, will be critical for the next phase of development for the college," Elnashai said.

Fox received his doctorate in civil and environmental engineering with an emphasis in geotechnical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


April 30, 2015

Jennifer A. Kearney will be the student marshal for the civil engineering baccalaureate degree program at the Penn State College of Engineering spring commencement ceremony on May 8. Kearney will receive a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering with a minor in engineering leadership development.

A Schreyer Scholar, Kearney participated in the Integrated Undergraduate/Graduate Program and will also receive a master of science degree in civil engineering. Her thesis is titled “An Analysis of the Dynamic Response of Suspension Footbridges Measured Against Human Comfort Criteria.”

She has chosen John M. Regan, professor of environmental engineering, to be her faculty escort.

College of Engineering student marshals are selected for their outstanding academic achievement and contributions to engineering student life.

Kearney is the daughter of Susan and Gregg Kearney of York. She is a 2011 graduate of Dallastown Area High School in Dallastown.

Her awards and honors include the Penn State Commission for Women’s Achieving Women Award, the Penn State Women in Engineering Program’s Joelle Award for Engineering Leadership, the American Society of Civil Engineers’ New Faces in Civil Engineering Collegiate Edition, the Penn State Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s Class Award in Structural Engineering, the Penn State Leonhard Center Engineering Speaking Contest People’s Choice Award, the Penn State Society of Women Engineer’s Aspire Award and the Bridge Builder Conference Poster Session Research Award.

Kearney was the recipient of the Carpenter’s Company of the City and County of Philadelphia Scholarship, the American Institute of Steel Construction Scholarship, the Susan and Dean Vought Scholarship in Engineering, the American Society of Civil Engineers Student Award, the Engineering Society of York Scholarship, the Society of Women Engineers’ Scholarship, the II-VI Foundation Scholarship and the Chi Epsilon Scholarship.

Her extracurricular activities included Bridges to Prosperity (president, 2013), the Women in Engineering Program (orientation rover, 2012; orientation mentor, 2013; orientation overall lead, 2014), the Steel Bridge Team (logistics and funding officer, 2012-14), Engineers Without Borders (local projects officer, 2012-13), the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers (stayover logistics chair, 2011-12), Engineering Orientation Network (mentor, 2012; head mentor, 2013) and the American Institute of Steel Construction.

Kearney completed two structural engineering internships, one with Carney Engineering Group, where she designed projects including schools, offices, renovations and warehouses, and the other with Johnson, Mirmiran, and Thompson, where she designed single-span and two-span concrete bridges, sound walls and signs and inspected overhead signs.

Following graduation, Kearney will join Thornton Tomasetti as a structural engineer.

April 29, 2015

Pennsylvania's bridges provide safe passage across our state's waterways and roadways, but they also connect communities, spanning geographic, cultural and socioeconomic divides. As the state repairs and rebuilds its bridges for the 21st century, what can it learn from the work done so far? How can Pennsylvania make the best choices today to sustain its connections for future generations?

Check out the Keystone Crossroads: Building Our Communities video here.

April 29, 2015

At Penn State, researchers looking for the next big thing in infrastructure

On the surface, Dr. Farshad Rajabipour's job might not sound that interesting. He's an associate professor of civil engineering at Penn State. And he studies concrete.

"It's actually a material that's used pretty much everywhere in the world," Rajabipour said. "It's so common that people don't notice it."

Concrete is in the roads and bridges you drive over, the buildings where you live and work, and even the pipes that transport your city's stormwater.

Rajabipour works at Penn State's Civil Infrastructure Testing and Evaluation Lab. Researchers at the lab are devoted to making infrastructure safer, less expensive, and longer-lasting.

Pennsylvania's infrastructure is not in the best shape. The state has the second highest percentage of structurally deficient bridges in the country, after Rhode Island. That means those bridges need repairs or they may be weight restricted or closed. And about 44 percent of the state's roads were rated in "fair" or "poor" condition in 2013.

Listen or read the full WHYY story here.

April 22, 2015

China Embedded Field Program

Would you like to earn 4 credits and travel the world this summer?

Consider the China Embedded Field Program: China's Water Realities and Sustainable Solutions with A Field Practicum in China (CE 497D). This 3-week field course teams Penn State undergraduates with students from Nanjing and Jiangnan Universities in China to study the deterioration of China's fresh water supply and the efforts needed to restore and conserve it. The course is a Tech Elective.

Contact Rachel Brennan at rbrennan@engr.psu.edu with any questions. Enrollment is limited.

Application deadline is April 30!

April 15, 2015

Civil engineering's Radlinska wins ACI achievement award

Aleksandra Radlinska, assistant professor of civil engineering at Penn State, has been selected as the 2015 recipient of the ACI Walter P. Moore, Jr. Faculty Achievement Award.

The award, which was presented on April 12 by the American Concrete Institute at the ACI Concrete Convention and Exposition in Kansas City, Missouri, is given to a faculty member with less than seven years served in all faculty positions and recognizes “excellence and innovation in the teachings of concrete design, materials or construction, with demonstrated evidence of technical competence, high character and integrity.”

Radlinska, a Penn State faulty member since August 2012, received her bachelor's and master's degrees in civil engineering with a specialty in structural engineering from West Pomeranian Technological University in 2004 and her doctorate in concrete materials from Purdue University in 2008.

Prior to joining Penn State, Radlinska was an assistant professor at Villanova University from 2008 to 2012.

Radlinska teaches undergraduate courses in materials science as well as graduate courses in concrete materials and properties.

Her research interests include cement and concrete in sustainable design, durability, shrinkage and cracking of concrete, reliability-based analysis of the behavior of construction materials and using alternative cement binders with reduced CO2 emission.

Prior to winning the ACI Walter P. Moore, Jr. Faculty Achievement Award, Radlinska won the ACI Young Member Award for Professional Achievement in 2012, the Best Paper Award from the ASEE Mechanics Division in 2011, the Bryant Mather Award for Best Paper in Concrete Materials from the Transportation Research Board in 2008, and the Magoon Award for Excellence in Teaching from Purdue University in both 2006 and 2007. She was also the 2009 ExCEEd Teaching Fellow.

The ACI Walter P. Moore, Jr. Faculty Achievement Award was established in 2001 to honor the late Walter P. Moore Jr. Moore was an ACI Fellow, an ACI Board Member and a structural engineer in Texas who believed in the development of educators committed to the teaching of concrete.

April 14, 2015

Civil engineering alumnus named Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering at University of Tennessee


One of the oldest departments in the College of Engineering will soon have a new leader: Chris D. Cox has been selected to oversee the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Cox will take over from interim department head Greg Reed on May 1, assuming leadership of a department whose history predates the college itself.

“We conducted a national search for this position, but at the end of the day it was clear that the best choice was already here,” said Wayne Davis, dean of the College of Engineering. “He’s served us well as a professor and as associate department head, and he will be an outstanding department head.”

Read full article here

 

April 13, 2015

Jennifer Kearney, a senior in civil engineering at Penn State, was named the national representative for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in DiscoverE’s fourth annual New Faces of Engineering—College Edition.

Sponsored by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, College Edition recognizes students in the third, fourth and fifth years of their undergraduate engineering degree.

Kearney, who will receive a $500 scholarship, said she hopes to use the award as an opportunity to make a greater impact.

DiscoverE looks for students who exemplify the vision, innovation and leadership skills that form the foundational elements of a successful engineering career.

Kearney is one of 12 representatives from student organizations across the country who were honored by DiscoverE. The students participate in a diverse range of projects and initiatives, including non-engineering related community service, and demonstrate academic excellence and leadership.

Kearney started the Penn State student chapter of Bridges to Prosperity (B2P) – a nonprofit organization that builds pedestrian bridges in developing countries to provide isolated communities access to basic needs. Her B2P chapter constructed a 250-foot suspended pedestrian bridge in Panama that connected the people of Caimital to Penonomé. This provided Caimital residents with much needed access to markets, higher education and doctors.

Kearney also worked on redesigning a chlorine injector to purify water. Her team’s design is now being replicated and distributed by the Moroccan government throughout the country.

In addition to her involvement in ASCE and B2P, Kearney is also involved with Engineers Without Borders-USA, the Society of Women Engineers, the American Concrete Institute, the American Institute of Steel Construction, Tau Beta Pi and Chi Epsilon.

“I am truly honored to be named a New Face of Engineering,” Kearney said. “I had no idea what engineering was before I started high school, and through the help and support of many teachers, professors, mentors, professionals, and my family and friends, I have been able to not only survive the engineering curriculum but also use my skills to make a difference in the world.”

Upon graduation, Kearney will join Thornton Tomasetti in Washington D.C. as a structural engineer.

April 13, 2015

Centre Daily Times Article

Students hit the waters of Lake Perez with concrete canoes

PETERSBURG, HUNTINGDON COUNTY — The waters of Lake Perez at Stone Valley Recreation Center were busy Sunday as several canoes maneuvered and darted on the lake’s surface.

The shape of each was quite familiar, long and pointed at either end, but the swiftness and speed with which the vessels moved were not indicative of the primary material used to construct the canoes. All were made of concrete.

“The concrete canoe, it’s kind of an oxymoron,” said Tom Skibinski, an instructor in civil engineering and faculty adviser for the Penn State concrete canoe team. “It’s very sophisticated.”

Read full article here

April 8, 2015

 

Kearney receives Commission for Women Achieving Women Award

Jennifer Kearney was honored with the Achieving Women Award at the ninth annual Commission for Women Awards Luncheon on April 2.

The award recognizes Penn State women who have shown notable leadership and accomplishment in their fields and have gone beyond the requirements of their employment duties and responsibilities in support of the University's diversity efforts, promotion of equal opportunity or contribution to human causes and public service activities.

Kearney is a senior in civil engineering at Penn State. She was selected as the Women in Engineering Program Orientation Overall Lead in 2014-15. In this role, Kearney affects more than 185 first-year women engineering students from campuses throughout the Penn State system and directs more than 50 upper-level undergraduates. She also founded the Penn State chapter of Bridges to Prosperity (B2P) in 2013, and served as B2P president from 2013-14. In this capacity, she planned, coordinated and managed all aspects of a five-week trip to Panama in 2014 for a team of 10 engineering students. The team designed and built a 240-foot pedestrian bridge connecting impoverished Panamanian citizens to education, health care and resources on the opposite side of a torrential river.

April 8, 2015

 

Alumna Saundra Johnson Austin receives College of Engineering's highest honor

2015 College of Engineering Outstanding Engineering Alumna
Saundra Johnson Austin
National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc. (NACME)

Saundra earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Penn State and an executive master of business administration from Notre Dame. Upon graduation from Penn State, she worked for Bechtel Power Corporation in Gaithersburg, Maryland, where she worked in project controls, estimating, and business development.

Throughout her 25 years of experience in corporate America, secondary and postsecondary education, community and workforce development and non-profit organizations, she has had an amazing time leading and collaborating with key stakeholders and end-users to enable education and community transformation.

In 2007, Saundra founded the Charis Consulting Group, LLC in response to the various needs of academic institutions, non-profit organizations, and businesses.

Since 2010, she has served as the senior vice president for operations at NACME, Inc., the largest private provider of engineering scholarships for African American, American Indian, and Latino young adults. NACME was formed in 1974 by a group of corporate executives at the urging of minority leaders, business interests, and the academic community to achieve greater diversity in the field of engineering. In her current role, Saundra supports the president and CEO on key organizational and strategic direction and is responsible for the execution of programs, research, communications, and engineering public policy.

Previously, Saundra was President & CEO of St. Michael’s High School (2008 – 2010), Executive Vice President for the Community Partnership for Lifelong Learning (CPLL) (2005 – 2008), Executive Director of the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, Inc. (GEM)  (2000 to 2005), and Director of the Minority Engineering Program at Penn State (1994 – 2000).
 
As a champion for the education of underrepresented minorities in engineering and the sciences, she has published and presented papers at national conferences, to Fortune 500 companies, as well as government agencies throughout the United States. She also served on numerous boards and is a member of various national, regional, and local organizations.

Saundra also holds a lifetime membership to the Penn State Alumni Association and is a member of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Industrial and Professional Advisory Committee.

 

April 8, 2015

 

Civil engineering's Appman wins 2015 Chi Epsilon scholarship

Timothy Appman, junior in civil engineering at Penn State, was recently awarded the 2015 Chi Epsilon Undergraduate District Scholarship for the Metropolitan District.

“I was not expecting to get that email,” Appman said. “It was a pleasant surprise.”

The annual recognition honors students in 10 regional districts. The metropolitan district encompasses Pennsylvania, New Jersey and part of New York. A member from each district receives a District Scholarship ($2,000) and a National Scholarship ($3,500).

Qualification for the award is based on the student’s grade-point average, a personal essay, two letters of recommendation, work and research experience, offices held, outside activities and honors.

Chi Epsilon is a national civil engineering honor society for juniors and seniors enrolled in civil engineering. Membership is by invitation and is based on scholarship, character, practicality and sociability. The purpose of this organization is to recognize and develop the fundamental characteristics of the successful civil engineer.

Penn State students have been awarded Chi Epsilon scholarships for three of the past four years with Jennifer Kearney winning the national award in 2014 and Matthew Garver winning the district award in 2012.

Appman plans to use a portion of his award for tuition and would like to focus on transportation during his time at Penn State.

He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, treasurer of Penn State's Club Cross-Country, a member of Marathoners for Medicine and participates in THON. He is also a teaching intern for CE 370- Introduction to Environmental Engineering.

April 8, 2015

 

Student wins three scholarship awards for his efforts in civil engineering

Thomas Pochatko, a junior in civil engineering at Penn State, was recently awarded three scholarships including the 2014-15 National Precast Concrete Association (NPCA) Scholarship, the 2015 American Society of Highway Engineers (ASHE) Scholarship — Southwest Region and the 2015 American Concrete Institute (ACI) Pittsburgh Chapter Art Livingood Scholarship.

“I'm grateful for being the recipient for all three scholarships this year,” Pochatko said. “It was a lot of work applying for them but it was worth it in the end.”

The NPCA Educational Foundation sponsors scholarships for deserving students pursuing a career related to the precast concrete industry. These careers include opportunities in manufacturing facilities, architectural fields, the specifying community, engineering firms and the general construction industry.

The ASHE Scholarship awards a total of $6,500 to three applicants based on the recommendation of the Scholarship Committee. This recommendation is based on an essay students write to describe how they envision their involvement will be with the development of highway systems once they graduate.

The Pittsburgh Chapter of the ACI offers Art Livingood Awards to three eligible students who have an interest in the areas of cement technology, concrete technology, design or construction.

“I plan on using the scholarship money to help pay for graduate school once I am finished with my undergrad,” Pochatko said.

After obtaining his bachelor’s degree, Pochatko would like to pursue either a master of engineering degree or a master of business administration and then work in the heavy highway construction industry. He would also like to obtain his professional engineer license and his professional land surveyor license. Eventually, he’d like to own his own business.

Pochatko is also the Concrete Canoe Team co-captain and president of the Penn State Student Chapter of the American Concrete Institute.

 

April 7, 2015

 

THE GEOMECHANICS GROUP PRESENTS:
Instrumentation and Sensor Technologies for Highway Infrastructure Monitoring
11:15 a.m., April 10, 2015
251 Willard Building

PRESENTED BY:
Dr. Xiaochao Tang
Widener University


With the aging highway infrastructure, growing demands for road usage, and the constrained funding for repair and maintenance, reliable and cost-effective monitoring of the highway infrastructure conditions has become more important than ever in order for the federal and state transportation agencies to effectively make decisions on early scheduling of repair and maintenance. Over the decades, instrumentation and sensor technologies have been increasingly adopted to measure the critical responses and monitor the performance of highway infrastructure. The future instrumentation of highway infrastructure as a component of structural health and response monitoring systems is also being seriously explored, and is increasingly seen as viable. Since embedding instrumentation and sensors in highway infrastructure is perhaps the most reliable way to measure and monitor the in-situ responses and performance, the application of sensors and instrumentation technologies in highway infrastructures is expected to continue growing. This presentation will showcase a study that involves using commercially available sensors for monitoring highway infrastructure. In addition to the technical details on the selection, calibration, and installation of the various kinds of sensors, some outstanding drawbacks of using the traditional sensors will be discussed. This presentation will then offer a look into the future generation of sensor technologies for highway infrastructure monitoring. In particular, the presentation will discuss a category of sensors that are based on ultra-low-cost and open-source hardware and have the potential to lead to reliable and cost-effective infrastructure monitoring on a large scale or at the network level.

 

March 30, 2015

 

THE GEOMECHANICS GROUP PRESENTS:
The Role of Verification and Validation in Predictive Geomechanics
11:30a.m., April 3, 2015
251 Willard Building

PRESENTED BY:
Majid T. Manzari, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
The George Washington University
Washington, DC


Reliable and accurate prediction of the response of engineering materials is a challenging task that engineers in charge of design and analysis of constructed facilities and manufactured devices face in their daily work.  The task is particularly daunting when the material of choice is a geomaterial.  Difficulty in proper characterization of material properties, complexity in the stress-strain-strength behavior of geomaterials, and multiscale/multiphysics nature of the response of these materials in boundary value problems have been a major source of concern for practicing engineers who often decide to stay with simpler tools and to rely heavily on what has worked in the past.  The availability of tremendous computational power and advanced numerical modeling techniques as well as significant improvement in the understanding and modeling of geomaterials in recent years have provided engineers with an unprecedented opportunity to use advanced modeling tools as an aid in their design works.   A major obstacle to the adoption of the new simulation tools in practice is the question of validity and reliability of the new modeling techniques. 
In this presentation, the role of verification and validation in laying out a strong foundation for predictive geomechanics is discussed.  A case study will be presented in which a series of blind predictions were used to assess the capabilities and limitations of advanced modeling tools in the simulation of seismic response of saturated soil structures containing liquefiable soils.  The performances of a few advanced elastoplastic constitutive models for soils and the capabilities and limitations of a fully-coupled effective stress-based analysis procedure will be discussed.

 

March 19, 2015

In the most recent institutional rankings released by the National Science Foundation of total research expenditures for science and engineering, Penn State stands second in the nation, behind only Johns Hopkins and tied with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in the number of fields in which it is ranked in the top ten.

The rankings, released in February 2015, are for the 2013 fiscal year. Overall, Penn State ranked 17th nationally in total research expenditures across the board. In 12 individual fields, however, the University achieved rankings in the top ten nationally. Only Johns Hopkins, with 15 top-ten rankings, had more.

"This is testament not just to our overall strength, but to the extraordinary breadth and variety of Penn State's research enterprise," said Neil Sharkey, Vice President for Research. "Very few other institutions can demonstrate such a high level of achievement in fields as disparate as materials science and psychology."

Read full article here

March 10, 2015

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native Dennis James wasn’t really interested in attending a college too close to home. Deciding between Arizona State University and Penn State, James spent three days at University Park for Achievers Weekend. He recalled, “I networked with other students who were considering engineering, as well as engineering faculty. I was hooked.”

During his visit, James also met staff from the College of Engineering’s Multicultural Engineering Program (MEP), who helped him sort out his financial aid options. He said, “I was fortunate to be awarded a Bunton-Waller Fellowship.”

The fellowship pays full in-state tuition for James, who is the first in his family to attend college. He said being a Bunton-Waller Fellow has other advantages. “For instance, all fellows live in the same residence hall during their first year. This fosters a sense of community among students and helps ease the transition to the academic atmosphere.”

Read full article here

February 24, 2015

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), this state leads the nation in the number of bridges classified as "structurally deficient."

That's probably not a surprise to most residents who've done any driving throughout the commonwealth. Our 25,000 state-owned bridges are aging -- their average age is over 50 years -- and in need of repair. Civil engineer Farshad Rajabipour and his colleagues are working on solutions.

Rajabipour, together with Aleksandra Radlinska and Gordon Warn, all Penn State civil engineering faculty, are researching methods for enhancing the maintenance and durability of civil infrastructure -- including anything made of concrete, from bridges to roads to buildings.

Read full article here

February 19, 2015

Penn State’s student chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) will be having a joint meeting with the central section of the Mid-Atlantic Section of ITE (MASITE) on Thursday, March 26th. Transportation and traffic engineers from throughout the Mid-Atlantic region will be joining Penn State civil and transportation engineers to discuss the future of our region’s transportation. Representatives from Erdman Anthony will be doing a presentation on the recently completed Juniata River Bridge project, a project which won them the MASITE 2014 Project of the Year award. The meeting will provide an excellent opportunity for our members to network with professionals from throughout the region.

February 18, 2015

Issa Ramaji, a doctoral candidate in architectural engineering at Penn State, has been selected to receive one of two annual Chicago Committee on High-Rise Buildings (CCHRB) scholarships.

He was cited for his research on the application of modular building technology in high-rise buildings, as well as his academic achievements and community service.

Ramaji is advised by Ali Memari, the Bernard and Henrietta Hankin Chair of Residential Construction and director of the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center.

His research focuses on Building Information Modeling and multi-story modular buildings.

Ramaji received his bachelor's and master's degrees in civil engineering from Sharif University of Technology, Iran, and worked for five years in the construction industry before starting his doctoral studies.

He will receive $3,000 and has the option to attend a future CCHRB meeting to be formally recognized.

The CCHRB is a not-for-profit organization founded to investigate problems or enhancements, support research and disseminate information for economic design, construction, operation and rehabilitation of high-rise buildings.

The committee consists of 80 members including architects, engineers, specialty consultants, building owners and building managers, general contractors, specialty contractors, representatives of professional organizations and members of the legal profession.

February 18, 2015

On Wednesday, March 4, 2015, the Penn State Chapter of ACI will be hosting a dinner downtown at the Tavern. This will be a joint function with the Pittsburgh Chapter of ACI. Civil and environmental engineering faculty are encouraged to attend at $25.00 per person.

Confirmation from all attendees is needed by Sunday, March 1 in order to confirm seats. All confirmations can be sent to Tom Pochatko at tompochatko@gmail.com with a subject of: ACI Dinner Confirmation.

If you have any questions please contact tompochatko@gmail.com.

February 18, 2015

PENN STATE KAPPE ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING SEMINAR SERIES PRESENTS:
Challenges and Promising Strategies for Fabricating and Using
Nanomaterial-Enabled Membranes for Water Treatment
4:30pm, Monday, February 23, 2015
358 Willard Building

Mark R. Wiesner, Ph.D.
James L. Meriam Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Duke University


Membrane technologies represent a wide range of solutions for separations required in municipal water treatment. Their small footprint, ability to automate and ability to remove materials form salts to microbes, makes them attractive for both conventional water treatment as well as reuse. The literature describes many cases where nanomaterials have been used to create membranes with new or enhanced properties. However, in many instances, successful implementation these proposed uses of nanomaterials is challenged by limitations in mass transport, thermodynamics, and scale-up. This talk surveys some recent developments in membrane technologies as enabled by nanomaterials for the purposes of desalination, membrane disinfection, water reuse and other applications. The sacrificial use of nanomaterials to reduced membrane fouling, photocatalytic membranes, “high flux” membranes, and templated membranes are among the proposed uses that will be considered. Challenges associated with these strategies for using nanomaterials to enhance membranes processes will be reviewed and promising applications will be highlighted.

Mark R. Wiesner holds the James L. Meriam Chair in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Duke University where he has appointments in the Pratt School of Engineering and the Nicholas School of Environment. He serves as Director of the National Science Foundation’s Center for the Environmental Implications of NanoTechnology (CEINT). Dr. Wiesner’s research established the area of environmental nanotechnology, examining the application of nanotechnologies for environmental quality control and the possible environmental implications of nanomaterials. He co-edited/authored the book “Environmental Nanotechnologies” and serves as Associate Editorof the journals Nanotoxicology and Environmental Engineering Science. Professor Wiesner also pioneered research in the area of applications of low-pressure membranes to water treatment. He co-edited and -authored the book “Water Treatment Membrane Process,” served as the founding Chair of the American Water Works Association’s Membrane Research Committee, and serves on the editorial board of the journal Desalination. Professor Wiesner is a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the International Water Association. Wiesner is a former President of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP), a de Fermat Laureate (2004) and the 2011 recipient of the Clarke Water Prize for his work in improving water quality through advancements in membrane and nanotechnology research.

February 12, 2015

Gordon Warn, associate professor of civil engineering, along with two other Penn State faculty members, recently received a National Science Foundation (NSF) award to fund their research on resilient and sustainable building design.

Warn, along with Timothy Simpson, professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, and Lisa Iulo, associate professor of architecture, will collaborate with researchers from the University of Pittsburgh on the project.

Warn and his team received approximately $850,000 of the $1.26 million collaborative grant. The three-year project will begin March 1.

Read full Warn article here

February 13, 2015

High concentrations of dissolved iron from abandoned coal mines in Pennsylvania have been contaminating some of the Commonwealth’s streams and rivers for many years, potentially affecting aquatic habitats and drinking water for millions of residents.

To combat this problem, a team of Penn State researchers has proposed a method to eliminate much of the iron before it reaches the waterways.

Their research, published in the most recent edition of Applied and Environmental Microbiology, uses bacteria and natural iron “terraces” to remove the iron in a process called biological low pH iron oxidation.

Read full iron article here

February 4, 2015

Seminar with Dr. Tyler Ley

Associate Professor

Oklahoma State University

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 @ 9:30 a.m.

202 Hammond (Stavely Conference Room)

“Combining X-ray Tomography and Chemical Mapping for 3D Chemical Segmentation and In-situ Observations of Dissolution and Precipitation in Cementitious Systems”

Dr. Tyler Ley is an Associate Professor and the Williams Foundation Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Oklahoma State University.  He has received many awards for his teaching and research including the NSF Career Award, the OSU Regents Research Award and the ACI Walter P. Moore Jr. Faculty Achievement Award.  He is also the author of Hydration Theater (www.hydrationtheater.com) and Engineering is Everywhere (www.engineeringiseverywhere.com) two novel teaching methods to help college and elementary students learn more about engineering.  His research interest is in characterizing the chemical and physical processes of cementitious systems as they react, development of novel sensors, concrete durability, and concrete construction.  More information can be found at www.tylerley.com.


February 4, 2015

Jennifer Kearney, senior in civil engineering, was named one of 10 national American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) New Faces of Civil Engineering-College Edition.

The annual recognition honors students who demonstrate strong analytical skills, practical ingenuity, creativity, good communication skills, business and management knowledge, leadership, high ethical standards, professionalism and flexibility.

Kearney is now eligible for selection as ASCE’s national representative in the New Faces of Engineering program, sponsored by DiscoverE. The winner will receive a $500 cash scholarship.


Read full article here

February 3, 2015

The 23rd annual Housing and Land Development Conference will be held March 4 and 5 at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in University Park.

Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center (PHRC), the conference is intended for builders, remodelers, code officials, design professionals, engineers, educators, factory-built housing manufacturers, product manufacturers, home performance contractor engineers, developers, design professionals, planners and regulatory officials. 

Wednesday’s theme is "Housing" and participants can choose from one of three tracks: Design & Innovation, Construction or Building Codes.

The keynote speaker is Eric Werling, coordinator for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building America program.

Read full conference article here

February 2, 2015

Tong Qiu, assistant professor of civil engineering, was recently awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Early Career Development (CAREER) Award.

The CAREER award is the most prestigious award given by the NSF and is designed to support junior faculty members who have shown exceptional promise through outstanding research, excellent teaching and the integration of education and research by awarding assistant professors with five years of funding.

Read full NSF article here

February 1, 2015

The Penn State student chapter of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) took first place in the Student Chapters Residential Construction Management Competition, held during the NAHB International Builders Show on Jan. 20 to 22 in Las Vegas.

A total of 34 four-year schools participated in the competition, which gives students the opportunity to apply skills learned in the classroom to a real construction company by completing a management project/proposal.

Read full NAHB article here

January 29, 2015

According to the Schuylkill Action Network, the Schuylkill River and its tributaries provide drinking water to more than 1.5 million Pennsylvania residents and habitats for both fish and wildlife. It’s also being actively polluted.

Two abandoned coalmines in Minersville — the Oak Hill Collieries and the Pine Knot Complex — are releasing thousands of gallons of contaminated water into the river each minute.

In fact, during severe drought, “these two discharges are the Schuylkill River,” said environmental engineering professor William Burgos. “They make up something like 80 to 90 percent of what’s called the base flow.”

Not only do these discharges violate the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (PaDEP) Clean Streams Law, which was established in 1937 to “preserve and improve the purity of the waters of the commonwealth,” but they are detrimental to aquatic life, impact water quality for downstream users and cost Pennsylvania money in lost recreational tourism revenue as well.

To combat this pollution problem, Penn State civil engineering undergraduate students helped the PaDEP develop what will become the largest mine water treatment facility in the state.

The scholarships will provide recognition and financial assistance to academically talented juniors and seniors who are majoring in architectural engineering or civil engineering.

Read full treatment plant article here

January 29, 2015

PJ Dick and Trumbull Corporation have committed a total of $350,000 over the next five years to establish two scholarships in the College of Engineering.

The scholarships will provide recognition and financial assistance to academically talented juniors and seniors who are majoring in architectural engineering or civil engineering.

Read full scholarship article here

January 28, 2015

The 2015 Annual Thomas C. Kavanagh Memorial Structural Engineering Lecture will be presented on Thursday, April 2, 2015. The lecture will be held in 108 Forum beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The 2015 speaker will be Dr. Sharon Wood, professor and dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Wood is a 2013 inductee to the National Academy of Engineering for design of reinforced concrete structures and associated seismic instrumentation for extreme loadings and environment. Dr. Wood is also the vice president of the American Concrete Institute and has been nationally recognized for her research on the earthquake response of reinforced concrete structures.

Her research interests include improving the structural response of reinforced concrete buildings, design and evaluation of bridges, and development of passive sensors for infrastructure systems. She has served on federal advisory committees for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Learn more about the Thomas C. Kavanagh Lecture here

 

January 28, 2015

Penn State’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering added a new faculty member this semester.

Ilgin Guler has joined the department as an assistant professor in civil engineering. She received bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering and industrial engineering from Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2007 and a master’s degree and doctorate in civil and environmental engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2008 and 2012, respectively.

Learn more about Dr. Guler here

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