• Beedle Family at Lehigh
  • Lehigh Valley ASCE in Fritz Lab with Norma Jean Mattei
  • Lynn S. Beedle Award for Ted Galambos
  • Ted Galambos receives Lynn S. Beedle Award
  • Craig Benson and John Simon
  • Craig Benson keynote address
  • John Coulter and Rick Weisman
  • Guests watching lecture
  • Norma Jean Mattei, ASCE president
  • Thomas Wenk '78G
  • Alysson Mondoro with John Wilson and Irving Oppenheim
  • Mark Sarkisian Lehigh
  • Practice Panel, Lehigh CEE 150th
  • Lunch in Fritz Lab
  • Lehigh CEE Poster Display
  • Education Panel, Lehigh CEE 150th
  • Guests at Lehigh CEE Sesquicentennial

2016: A Banner Year for Lehigh CEE

As the calendar turned toward Lehigh's 150th year, so it did for the civil and environmental engineering department.

CEE's history is intertwined with that of the university. It is one of the original departments implemented by Asa Packer in 1865. The laboratory constructed by John Fritz in 1909 was and remains one of the most influential structural engineering research labs in American academic history. The hydraulics research lab Mansfield Merriman established at the turn of the 20th century is the oldest such lab affiliated with a university in the United States. And the department's relationship with the Bethlehem Steel Corporation combined with the unique capabilities offered by both the 800,000 kp Riehle testing machine and the five million kp Baldwin machine means Lehigh CEE's footprint can be seen on many of the world's largest and most important structures and pieces of infrastructure, including the Golden Gate Bridge, the Panama Canal, the World Trade Center, and the "Telstar" telecommunications satellite.

It's tempting on such an occasion to look back on decades-old laurels and remember where we've been, and indeed, the department has embraced the nostalgia of its sesquicentennial throughout the last 12 months.

During our celebration event in the spring of 2016, however, it was all about looking forward and defining Lehigh CEE's place in the future of civil and environmental engineering — a promising one in which we find ourselves well-placed to lead thanks to a truly banner year for faculty, students, and alumni in classrooms, research labs, and job sites across America and the world.

Our faculty have been recognized nationally, internationally, and within the Lehigh community in prestigious and meaningful ways.

It was another noteworthy year for Dan M. Frangopol, the Fazlur R. Khan Endowed Chair of Structural Engineering and Architecture. Following his acceptance of the ASCE OPAL Award for a lifetime achievement in civil engineering education, he was named the inaugural recipient of the ASCE's Alfredo Ang Award for exceptional efforts in advancing and advocating for the life-cycle cost analysis of structures and structural systems. He also received an honorary doctorate from the Politecnico di Milano in April, and on the homefront, Frangopol received Lehigh's 2016 Hillman Award for Excellence in Graduate Advising.

The ASCE bestowed upon Clay Naito, professor of structural engineering, and Richard Sause, professor of structural engineering and director of the Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems (ATLSS) Engineering Research Center, the 2016 Charles Pankow Award for Innovation for their work developing a procedure that allows engineers to use precast concrete design in all seismic regions. Their collaborators on the project who also were acknowledged by the ASCE with the Pankow Award include Dr. Robert B. Fleischman, professor of civil engineering and engineering mechanics at the University of Arizona and a Lehigh graduate ('89G, '95 Ph.D.); Dr. Jose Restrepo, professor of structural engineering at the University of California, San Diego; and Dr. S.K. Ghosh, president of S.K. Ghosh Associates, Inc.

Spencer Quiel, assistant professor of structural engineering, was given the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Milek Fellowship, which is handed out annually to just one pre-tenure professor in the United States to advance structural steel construction in both practice and research. As part of the Fellowship, Quiel received a four-year, $200K research grant from AISC for a proposal titled "Performance-based design of passive fire protection for floor systems in steel-framed buildings."

Derick Brown, associate department chair and associate professor of environmental engineering, was named to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Science Advisory Board on the Environmental Engineering Committee. (Joining him on this committee is Lehigh CEE alumnus Dr. Craig Benson '85, the Dean of the University of Virginia's School of Engineering and Applied Science.) In this capacity, he and his colleagues will advise the EPA in making policy based on the best environmental decisions to protect human health and the environment. He will serve on the committee for three years.

Shamim Pakzad, associate professor of structural engineering, received a Libsch Early Career Research Award from Lehigh University. The award is given annually to faculty members who are early in their research careers for the demonstration of the potential for nationally recognized scholarly excellence and/or for a high level of research as evidenced by prolific scholarly output.

Muhannad Suleiman, associate professor of geotechnical engineering, received the 2016 Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute's George D. Nasser Award for a paper he co-authored titled "Minimum Confinement Reinforcement for Prestressed Concrete Piles and a Rational Seismic Design Framework," which was published in the PCI Journal's January/February issue this year. (His co-authors were Dr. Sri Sritharan, Ann-Marie Cox, Jinwei Huang, and Dr. K. Arulmoli.)

Finally, two junior faculty were named to endowed professorships here at Lehigh. Tara Troy, assistant professor of water resources engineering, became the latest CEE faculty member to be named a P.C. Rossin Assistant Professor. And Paolo Bocchini, assistant professor of structural engineering, was named a Frank Hook Assistant Professor.

Not long after the members of our class of 2016 tossed their hats in the air, they claimed spots at top engineering firms and agencies — including AECOM, Whiting-Turner, Clark Construction, the LiRo Group, Philadelphia Energy Solutions, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — and graduate programs across the country. Many, in fact, are staying here at Lehigh to pursue their advanced degrees.

Our current students continue to assert themselves as future leaders of the profession. Through the Mountaintop research initiative and alongside their professors, civil engineering majors have explored pipeline blockages, 3D printing techniques for concrete, and ways to create food for future Mars astronauts.

Our Engineers Without Borders student chapter turned the water on in Cebadilla, Nicaragua. Several years of work, on both the applied engineering and social/political sides, led to dozens of citizens in the rural village being able to access a clean source of water right from their homes.

Students also competed at the annual ASCE Steel Bridge competition, and others still prepare for the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) seismic design competition next spring.

It all built up to an exciting and celebratory weekend in April when alumni converged from across the country (and even abroad!) to reconnect and reaffirm their commitment to the advancement of the profession through education.

Dr. Craig Benson '85, Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia and a National Academy of Engineering (NAE) member, offered a value proposition for the future of civil and environmental engineering, in which he outlined societal challenges — like the treatment of wastewater, air pollution control, the design of safe highways, and the construction of enormous and iconic structures — and noted how important it is for civil and environmental engineers to be able to explain to decision-makers that "I can solve your problem, and no one else can." (Click here to watch Benson's talk in full.)

Also speaking at the event was Dr. Norma Jean Mattei, who was recently sworn in as President of the ASCE. She discussed the importance of professional cooperation in meeting these challenges and spoke to the ASCE's vision going forward. She also met with faculty and students during her visit and toured Lehigh CEE's research facilities.

On the event's second day, panels populated by distinguished department alumni further tackled several of the challenges outlined by Benson, Mattei, and others. Mark Sarkisian '85G, Seismic and Structural Engineering Partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, led a panel about civil engineering in practice with fellow graduates Michael Semeraro '79, Managing Principal at Langan Engineering; Daniel Zarrilli '97, Director of the Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency for the City of New York; and Bethany Malusa '09, Project Engineer at Alfred Benesch & Company. (Click here to watch the full practice panel.)

Later, Col. Stephen J. Ressler, Professor Emeritus at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, piloted the panel on the education of future engineers with Dr. Larry A. Fahenstock '98G '06 Ph.D., Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Dr. Tara Troy '01, Assistant Professor of Water Resources Engineering at Lehigh University; and Dr. Jeffrey Evans '84 Ph.D., Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Bucknell University. (Click here to watch the full education panel.)

By John Gilpatrick

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