January 2012

Welcome to eConnections

Welcome to CE Connections, the online newsletter for the School of Civil Engineering. I am happy to be serving as the Interim Head of Civil Engineering and excited about the opportunity to help alumni, friends, and the public discover the many significant ways we are having an impact on our nation and world on a daily basis.

This last fall, our student enrollment was over 970 students (550 undergrads and 420 graduates) with retention rates well above 90%. In the last year, we increased the number of co-op students and student interns, increased participation of our students in global experiences, and facilitated better coordination between our students and our industrial partners in research activities. The accomplishments of our school and our graduates have been exemplary, and it is our job to continue to shape the future of civil engineering with pioneering research and new advances in student learning.

As I lead the school during this transition time, I want to assure you – our alumni – that we will continue to be at the forefront of engineering education and ensuring that our graduates remain among the very best prepared in the world.

Melba Crawford
Interim Head and Professor of Civil Engineering

Upcoming Events

  • February 17 – CE Alumni Reception in Naples, Floria
  • February 24 – College of Engineering Distinguished Engineering Alumni Awards Luncheon
  • March 12-16 – Purdue Spring Break
  • April 12 – CE Alumni Achievement Awards Banquet
  • April 13 – CE Advisory Council Meeting
  • May 11 – CE Open
  • May 11-13 – Commencement Weekend
  • May 6-16 – CE Study Abroad Program to Brazil
  • May 6-20 – CE Study Abroad Program to Australia
  • October 12 – CE Advisory Council Meeting
  • October 12 – Dedication of the CE Green Roof
  • October 12 – CE Scholarship & Awards Banquet
  • October 13 – CE Homecoming Breakfast
  • October 13 – Dedication of the CE Environmental Teaching Lab
  • October 17 – Lovell Lecture

125 Years of Purdue CE

Celebrating 125 years of Purdue Civil Engineering

"If there were funds available to establish only one of them, which do you think should be chosen, Domestic Economy or Civil Engineering?"......
Civil Engineering

According to Henry Huston, a member of Purdue's original staff in 1874 and professor of physics and applied electricity, the above dialogue took place in June 1887 on the day after commencement. Purdue's fourth president, James Henry Smart posed the question, and the vote in favor of Civil Engineering was cast by Huston, "as they walked along the path between the main building (University Hall) and the Old Dormitory with the president of the Board of Trustees, James Ratliff."

Although a decision of this importance could not have been made so casually, Civil Engineering was declared a separate school in September of that same year.

During 2012, the School of Civil Engineering will celebrate its 125th anniversary with a variety of activities planned throughout the year. Activities include the Civil Engineering Alumni Achievement Awards, various lecture series throughout the year, CE Golf Open, commencement activities, regional alumni receptions, scholarship and awards banquet, homecoming breakfast activities, dedication of the new CE Green Roof, and dedication of the newly renovated Environmental Teaching Lab.

To stay up to date on all 125th anniversary events, visit http://purdue.edu/CE/125

Banks named Vice Chancellor

Dr. M. Katherine Banks, former Head of the School of Civil Engineering, was named vice chancellor for engineering for The Texas A&M University System, dean of the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University, and director of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station effective January 10, 2012. Dr. Banks also holds the Harold J. "Bill" Haynes Dean's Chair in Engineering. She was selected after a national search that resulted in more than 60 nominations for the dual A&M system/university positions.

A&M System Chancellor John Sharp and Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin jointly recommended Banks' appointment, citing her proven record of success and extensive background that includes teaching, research and administration in a variety of academic and service settings.

"We are fortunate indeed to be able to attract Dr. Banks," Sharp said. "She brings to us a stellar academic and leadership background as well as a wealth of experience that will be highly beneficial as we continue to gain national preeminence in the field of engineering to better serve the state, nation and world."

Loftin pointed to Banks service at two land-grant institutions, appointments to key governmental agencies and service in the private sector as key factors in selecting her to lead the university's largest academic colleges, with more than 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The college of engineering, one of the largest engineering units of its type in the nation, ranked ninth among engineering schools at public institutions offering a doctorate, according to the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings of the country's undergraduate universities and programs.

"Dr. Banks has served with distinction at two land-grant institutions, so we are confident that she will excel in providing inspired leadership for our engineering programs as well as making her presence felt in a positive manner throughout the university," Loftin said, in also citing her high national standing in the top professional organization in her field.

Lyles I2I Lab Dedication

Lyles Ideas to Innovation Lab Dedicated

On April 8, 2011, Purdue Civil Engineering dedicated the new Lyles Family Ideas to Innovation Laboratory. This semester the lab has three classes for students using the latest technology in this area.

"The Lyles Family I2I lab will be the first teaching laboratory at Purdue to seamlessly integrate lectures, hands-on experimentation and computer simulation," said M. Katherine Banks, the Bowen Engineering Head and Jack and Kay Hockema Professor of Civil Engineering. "Undergraduate students will not only be trained in fundamental science, but also exposed to the use of computer simulation tools."

The laboratory, in room G150, is designed to be a flexible space that can be divided into four specialized areas and will contain workstations for students to conduct simulations related to experimental systems. It has a glass wall on the upper level to provide a view of educational projects for visitors, including touring school students, prospective Purdue students and their parents, alumni, and corporate representatives.

The new $1.5 million lab was funded by a lead gift of $750,000 from Purdue alumni Bill Lyles, Gerald Lyles and Marybeth Lyles Higuera. Bill and Gerald Lyles received bachelor's degrees in civil engineering in 1955 and 1964, respectively. Gerald Lyles also received a master's degree in industrial administration in 1971. Marybeth Lyles Higuera received a bachelor's degree in speech-language pathology in 1959. The family's Purdue connection dates back a century; more than a dozen Lyles have received Purdue degrees.

Lyles I2I Lab Dedication

Additional funds for the lab were made possible by the School of Civil Engineering and gifts from David Boyd, who received a bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1960; Carlos Hernandez, who earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering, and Deborah Hernandez, who earned a bachelor's degree in consumer and family sciences, both in 1976.

In addition to focusing on undergraduate education, the I2I laboratory will be used to attract K-12 students to civil engineering, Banks said. A series of educational modules for outreach as well as an innovative website allows schools from around the country to peek into the laboratory to view experiments and computer animation.

"In addition, we plan to develop a joint program with local area high schools to provide these young students with hands-on experience in civil engineering," Banks said.

LTAP Summer Exchange Program

LTAP Summer Exchange Program

Over the past summer Purdue Civil Engineering (with the Local Technical Assistance Program – LTAP) collaborated with the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez Civil Engineering in a student exchange program through the Dwight D. Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship. The focus of the program is to allow undergraduates to obtain field and research experience in the area of transportation. Through an application and interview process, Susan Refai and Leilany Benejam were selected to represent Purdue in Puerto Rico. Claudio Figueroa Bueno and Jean-Carlos Elias Medina represented Puerto Rico-Mayaguez in West Lafayette. In addition to this exchange program, these students were joined in West Lafayette by Sergio Arambula from Washington State University and Jason Duncanson from Florida State University as part of Purdue's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF).

In Puerto Rico, Professors Ben Colucci (Purdue PhD '84) and Alberto Figueroa (Purdue PhD '05) oversaw the work at Puerto Rico LTAP Center. Refai was assigned a Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil Integrated Bridge Systems project and Benejam coordinated the research of the effectiveness of two different types of pavement edge attachments. Both projects promoted the Every Day Counts initiative of the Federal Highway Administration.

Refai commented, "Every region of the world has a need for some form of transportation infrastructure, and in that sense, has a need for engineers. This experience opened my eyes to the wide variety of work that structural engineers can do on transportation related projects." In regards to the experience as a whole, she went on to say, "Although Puerto Rico is a part of the United States, it is also very different than the States. It was an enlightening experience meshing Civil Engineering work together with a different culture and language. I look forward to doing more work in other regions of the world if I get the chance." Benejam stated, "My favorite part of the overall experience was getting to work with other students and professors from different universities. It was also a good experience to go into the field and learn from real world projects."

In West Lafayette, the Indiana LTAP staff, under the direction of Professor John Haddock, oversaw the work of Bueno, Medina, Arambula, and Duncanson. Bueno queried and analyzed crash data on rural roads in Indiana in an effort to evaluate the effectiveness of sign replacement projects. This project sought to review the actual improvements observed by agencies that have completed their sign replacement projects.

LTAP Summer Exchange Program

Medina translated the temporary traffic control chapter of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) into Spanish. Indiana has a considerable Hispanic population and agencies have recognized that there is a language barrier and have worked to create documentation to assist this community in their understanding of safe practices. In addition to use in Indiana, Medina's home in Puerto Rico, and other communities who use this translation will have the opportunity to benefit from his work.

Arambula's project, "Developing Effective Public Relations Documentation for the use of Roundabouts in Spanish," will be used as translations of the temporary traffic control information as well as public information documentation for the safe navigation of roundabouts. The translation of public information documentation into Spanish will to help bridge the language barrier and assist the education in the Hispanic community giving that population the same opportunity to improve their learning curve using roundabouts.

Duncanson focused on a project through the Federal Highway Administration's Accelerated Safety Activities Program titled "Horizontal Curves on Rural Roads, a Systemic Approach to Increasing Safety in Indiana." The goal of this research was to develop a package of improvements that can be applied system wide to curves determined to be high risk and for which countermeasures could be assigned to improve the conditions at those high risk curves. Duncanson's research will be continued through LTAP's Hazard Elimination Project for Existing Roads and Streets (HELPERS).

The students work will help to make Indiana's and Puerto Rico's roadways safer and will be available to help make roadways throughout the country and the world safer. These programs and the projects on which the students worked this summer are a testament to the university's strategic initiatives to launch tomorrow's leaders, have discovery with delivery and reach a global market while keeping a good foundation here at home.

Alumni Notes

  • Robert Bowen (BSCE '62, HDR '07) received the 2012 OPAL Award (Outstanding Projects and Leaders) from ASCE. This award recognizes outstanding civil engineering leaders whose lifetime accomplishments and achievements have made significant difference in Construction, Design, Education, Government, or Management.
  • Jude Rake (BSCE '81) has been appointed President of ETA/Cuisenaire, the nation's leading provider of hands-on supplemental products for math, science and literacy education.
  • Essam Abdel-Aziz Sharaf (MSCE '80, PhD '84) served as interim prime minister of Egypt, playing an instrumental role in the nation's transitional government.

Thanks for keeping us up to date with your contact information, life events, and career news. Send your updates to: Kathy Heath at heathk@purdue.edu.

We'll make sure you get School information, news from campus, and event invitations. We'll also share your news and celebrate awards and achievements in our newsletters.

Faculty & Staff Notes

  • Kathy Banks, former Head of Civil Engineering, was awarded the 2011 ASCE Margaret Petersen Outstanding Woman of the Year Award.
  • Jack Delleur, Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering, was honored with an EWRI 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Robert Frosch, Professor of Civil Engineering, has been recommended to serve on the Board of Direction of the American Concrete Institute.
  • Chad Jafvert, Professor of Civil Engineering, was the first recipient of the inaugural Richard L. Valentine Distinguished Award and Lecture at the University of Iowa.
  • Mike Kreger, Professor of Civil Engineering, has been selected to receive the ACI Foundation – Concrete Research Council Arthur J. Boase Award.
  • Venkatesh Merwade, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, was selected as co-recipient of the 2011 Quentin Martin Best Practice Paper Award.
  • Srinivas Peeta, Professor of Civil Engineering and Director of the NEXTRANS Center at Purdue University, has been awarded a $3.5 million research grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to advance research and education programs that address the nation's critical transportation challenges.
  • Monica Prezzi, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, was awarded the Telford Prize of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).
  • Hoon Sohn, Curtis Visiting Professor of Civil Engineering at Purdue University, is the recipient of this year's Structural Health Monitoring Person of the Year.
  • Ayesha Shah received the Purdue College of Engineering's Professional Achievement Award.
  • Amit Varma, Professor of Civil Engineering, and Venkatesh Merwade, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, were recognized as ASCE 2010 Outstanding Reviewers. Prof. Varma was selected as a 2011 Purdue University Faculty Scholar. The program recognizes outstanding faculty members at the West Lafayette campus who are on an accelerated path for academic distinction.


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