Top Undergraduate Students Acknowledged for Academic Excellence and Leadership

NHERI Lehigh
Panos Diplas and Richard Weisman present Sarah Dudney and Harry August with the Le-Wu Lu Memorial Prize and Michael Drury with the John B. Carson Prize.

At an April luncheon in honor of the retirement of Richard Weisman, professor emeritus of civil engineering, Sarah Dudney '17 and Harry August '17 were named recipients of the Le-Wu Lu Memorial Prize for Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Presented in recognition of exceptional academic work by one graduating senior in civil engineering and one in environmental, this prize is awarded in memory of Dr. Le-Wu Lu, a former department chair and Bruce G. Johnston Professor of structural engineering, and honors his illustrious career at Lehigh University.

Lu gained international renown for his research into the strength and behavior of building structures during a Lehigh career that spanned six decades. He earned his Ph.D. in structural engineering here in 1960 and immediately joined the faculty as an assistant professor. He served as department chair from 1994 until 1998, at which point he was awarded the first Bruce G. Johnston Endowed Professorship. He was published extensively, won numerous professional awards, and helped extensively to start both the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat and Lehigh's Chinese Bridge Project. He passed away in 2014 at the age of 81.

Also at the luncheon, Michael Drury ‘17 received the John B. Carson Prize, which is awarded to the senior civil engineering student showing the most marked excellence in professional courses.

Meanwhile, The MOLES, a prestigious organization of leaders in the heavy construction industry, bestowed its annual award and scholarship upon three Lehigh students this month.

Michael Duffy ‘18 and Melissa Arin Zirps ‘18 have each received a MOLES Scholarship of $6,000, while Zoë Gottlieb ‘18 has been given the MOLES Award of $1,000.

To be considered for the Moles Scholarship, one must show academic excellence within and passion for the field of civil engineering. Duffy and Zirps were both chosen because they have proven to be leaders in and out of the classroom. Duffy has regularly attended project presentations by visiting professional engineers since his first year at Lehigh. He is also currently involved with establishing the first student club for construction at Lehigh with a goal of eventually establishing a larger association in the Lehigh Valley that would organize companies and other groups involved in the construction industry locally.

Zirps has worked with Dan M. Frangopol, the Fazlur R. Khan Endowed Chair of Structural Engineering and Architecture, on research in the area of structural health monitoring while at Lehigh. She also has completed a co-op with Langan Engineering where she worked on site planning and design for commercial and residential developments, stormwater management structures, and drainage design.

The MOLES Award is for a student in engineering whose academic achievement and enthusiastic application shows outstanding promise of personal development leading to a career in construction management.

Gottlieb was recently an intern at Blinderman Construction Inc. in Chicago. There, she assisted project managers on two multi-million dollar projects — a public school renovation project and a naval lift station replacement project. She is also working to establish the Lehigh student club for construction.

MOLES members are dedicated to promoting the industry and supporting their colleagues through outreach programs and networking opportunities. To learn more about the organization, visit the

By John Gilpatrick



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