June 2020

Message from the Head

Rao Govindaraju

What else could this message possibly be about other than the unprecedented times we have experienced, and will likely continue to experience, in the months to come?

It is not an exaggeration to say that the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak altered our perspectives and approaches to daily life in a dramatic, and perhaps permanent fashion. And, as I write this message, it remains unclear when we will finally return to the way we normally lived just a few months ago.

This uncertainty has been keenly felt here at the Lyles School of Civil Engineering and across Purdue University. Overnight, students, faculty, and staff had to adjust to a remote-education and work schedule. Public lectures, commencement ceremonies, and face-to-face advising were all cancelled.

In short, the Purdue campus experience was suspended to deal with the pandemic. However, our commitment to providing our students with the best education possible, and the world with innovative, cutting-edge research endures on under proper safety protocols.

Our faculty and staff have worked tirelessly to ensure that we made the smoothest transition possible to continue our research and ensure our students received an education that would propel them further into their studies and into their careers. We learned a great deal as we marched forward and we are continually meeting and collaborating to improve the experience.

This event has also influenced our way of thinking and approach to education moving forward. For years, we have known that a high-quality online education option was not just advisable — it was necessary.

The world is changing and is more connected than ever before, and, above all else, civil engineering is a field that moved with — and often led — society through innovative research and practices. In terms of civil engineering education, the next step forward has been made clearer than ever: a more robust online education option must be made available. Indeed, a strong online educational presence enables us to use our time with on campus students more effectively.

Thus, our commitment to improved educational offerings extends to all modes of learning to enhance overall student experience. Along with following Purdue’s health and safety guidelines, we will be doing everything we can to ensure our students, faculty, and staff remain healthy while we resume some semblance of normalcy on campus come fall semester. Over the summer, we have been working on opening the campus to research in a phased and controlled manner to meet sponsor expectations.

I know I speak for just about everyone at the Lyles School of Civil Engineering when I say I cannot wait to see people back on campus this fall as we work together and prepare the next generation of civil engineers.

All the best,

Rao S. Govindaraju
Bowen Engineering Head of Civil Engineering
and Christopher B. and Susan S. Burke Professor of Civil Engineering

Well Wishes to Our Class of 2020!

While we could not hold our typical commencement ceremonies in May, our faculty, staff and alumni still wished to deliver a message of congratulations to all our civil engineers who have joined our incredible, worldwide family.

Message from CE faculty and staff:

Message from CE alumni:

CE Grad Program Ranked #6 in the Nation

The Lyles School of Civil Engineering's Christopher B. and Susan S. Burke Graduate Program in Civil Engineering has been recognized – once again – as a top 10 graduate program in the country.

U.S. News & World Report has released its national rankings of graduate programs for 2021 with Purdue Civil Engineering ranked #6 in the nation. The graduate rankings are computed from the responses to a survey sent to deans, heads, and selected senior faculty.

The Burke Graduate Program has been consistently ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News & World Report for over a decade.

"We take great pride in our graduate program and I am confident it will only continue to impress as our students, faculty, and staff pursue even greater heights in the future," said Rao S. Govindaraju, Bowen Engineering Head of Civil Engineering and Christopher B. and Susan S. Burke Professor of Civil Engineering.

Overall, Purdue’s College of Engineering graduate program was ranked seventh in the nation.

For more information about Purdue Engineering’s 2021 graduate rankings, go here:

Hampton Hall Upgrades Compliments of CESAC

A big thanks to the Civil Engineering Student Advisory Council! They helped fund two big improvements to Hampton Hall that we cannot wait for everyone to see for themselves this fall!

First, our main hallway got a significant upgrade. We introduced a floor to ceiling hallway graphic that showcases many ways civil engineers make an impact on the world. Additionally, it highlights aspects of our school and program for current and prospective students and families. You can view the time lapse of a portion of the wall wrap work here.

Second, we have added new outdoor patio benches for everyone to take advantage of.

Thanks to the Civil Engineering Student Advisory Council (CESAC) members for their incredible contributions that made these projects a reality!

Upcoming Events

Due to safety precautions, the Lyles School of Civil Engineering is working on adjusting many of its public lectures and events for the 2020-21 school year.

Major events such as the Scholarships and Award Banquet and the Civil Engineering Alumni Achievement Awards are still expected to be held, but with a need for health and safety concerns and social distancing in mind.

Public lectures will be held remotely and livestreamed or recorded for later sharing.

We will keep you updated as we finalize our plans.

Get Connected!

The Lyles School of Civil Engineering has several ways for you to stay up-to-date with our activities and accomplishments. One of the best ways is to subscribe to our social media channels.

We have active Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram accounts. Join us, interact, and share!

CE Researchers Create 'Intelligent Concrete'

"Intelligent concrete" could cut down on road repairs and traffic

Roads always seem to need repairs. Luna Lu, ACPA Scholar and associate professor in Purdue's Lyles School of Civil Engineering, is giving concrete the ability to "talk" and even heal itself.

Her SMART lab at Purdue University is developing technology that would allow concrete-paved bridges and highways to reveal more accurately when they need repairs and to come equipped with materials that respond to potential damage.

"We look at how we can address problems in infrastructure using materials and sensors that harness artificial intelligence and big data," said Lu, "The idea is to make infrastructure adaptive, sustainable and resilient."

More than one-third of U.S. bridges need repair work, according to a 2020 report by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.

Getting a better idea of when new concrete is ready to take on heavy traffic, for example, could prevent cracks caused by reopening roads too soon. Preventing cracks means fewer repair projects to replace the concrete, which would cut down on traffic typically held up by those projects.

Read the full story here:

CE Researchers Study Effects of Water Systems During COVID-19 Shutdowns

While restaurants, gyms, schools and other buildings are closed indefinitely to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the water left sitting in pipes could change in quality.

It is possible that water left sitting for long periods of time could contain excessive amounts of heavy metals and pathogens concentrated in pipes nationwide, say researchers who have begun a field study on the impact of a pandemic shutdown on buildings.

Stagnant water would not be a problem just for buildings recently closed down. Water could have been bad for months or years in old hospital buildings that cities are reopening to accommodate a potential influx of COVID-19 patients.

"We don't design buildings to be shut down for months. This study focuses on the consequences of shut downs, and could help building owners make sure that their buildings are safe and operational when occupants return," said Andrew Whelton, Purdue's University Faculty Scholar and associate professor of Civil Engineering and Environmental and Ecological Engineering.

Researchers began their study upon receiving funding from the National Science Foundation's Rapid Response Research (RAPID) program only three days after applying. The study involves monitoring water quality in buildings both during a period of extended vacancy and when occupants have returned.

A YouTube video describing this study is available at

Click here to read the full story:

CE Researchers Look at UV Radiation as a Means of COVID-19 Disinfection

The world’s current battle against the COVID-19 pandemic makes this Purdue Engineering podcast interview with Professor Ernest R. (“Chip”) Blatchley III especially relevant. His research deals with disinfection of water. His long-standing efforts to improve water purification in the U.S. and around the world through ultraviolet radiation and halogen chemicals such as chlorine may have implications for disinfecting N95 masks.

Blatchley is the Lee A. Rieth Professor in Environmental Engineering, holding a joint appointment in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering and in Environmental and Ecological Engineering.

His lab research aims to assist in the generation of data about the impact of UV radiation on the newest coronavirus. Past efforts have uncovered beneficial impacts combating previously identified coronaviruses or other waterborne dangers. The research also takes into account the fact that UV and chlorine have proved to be complementary for disinfection purposes by degrading toxic organic compounds. So, COVID-19 may present similar scenarios.

Blatchley sees Purdue providing a full range of capabilities from a number of disciplines that can benefit his areas of research. Environmental engineering is a broad and growing field, and it is inherently interdisciplinary. The potential for wide-ranging collaboration is one of the University’s great strengths, he says, noting that the opportunities for continuous learning are exciting for him and his students.

Full story and podcast interview:

Why I Love Being a Civil Engineer

Why do YOU love being a civil engineer? Send us a fun, job-related picture and brief description that shows why you love working as a civil engineer. Our favorite entries will be featured in the next edition of eConnections. Send your photos and a brief description to Civil Engineering Marketing and Communications Director Drew Stone at

Prospective Purdue Civil Engineering students often have many questions regarding classes, internship opportunities, and life out of the classroom. Here, nine Lyles School of Civil Engineering undergraduates answer our most frequently asked questions.

To learn more about what to expect as a Purdue Civil Engineering student visit:

  • Stephanie Calhoun (BSCE 2000), a vice president at Clark Construction, has been named to Crain's Chicago Business' 2020 list of Notable Women in Construction and Design. The list recognizes accomplished women in the field of construction, architecture, and commercial/industrial interior design.
  • Wade Miquelon (BSCE 1987), President and CEO of Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts, is having his stores mobilize customers to pitch in with coronavirus relief by distributing free kits to sew face masks and gowns for hospitals and healthcare facilities.
  • Don Meinheit (BSCE '66) received the American Concrete Institute's Alfred E. Lindau Award for his outstanding contributions to reinforced concrete design practice.
  • On the 5th annual International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Shelley Finnigan (BSCE '05, MSCE '06) reflected on her path to a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) career, hopeful that her story will serve to inspire young women around the globe.
  • Brian D. Harlow (BSCE 1978), Vice President, Head of NAFTA Manufacturing, Global Head, Powertrain Manufacturing Engineering at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (retired), and Alex D. Oak (BSCE 1968), CEO & Chairman of Cripe, have been named recipients of the 2020 Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award by the College of Engineering.
  • Ron Klemencic, PE, SE (BSCE '85) and Dr. Essam Sharaf (BSCE '75, MSCE '80, PhD '84) have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer.
  • Dr. Jian Wang, who completed his Ph.D. at Purdue University under the supervision of Dr. Srinivas Peeta in December 2018, has received the 2019 COTA Best Dissertation Award from the Chinese Overseas Transportation Association (COTA).

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

  • CE graduate student Joshua Harmon has received the National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship. The NDSEG Fellowship is a competitive fellowship awarded to students pursuing doctoral degrees in science and engineering disciplines. Josh also received an honorable mention from the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program.
  • The Purdue ASCE Seismic Design team placed 17th out of 46 earlier this semester in the 2020 Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition and were 1 of only 23 towers that survived both ground motions. The team is comprised of Casey Rodgers, Jacan Habersetzer, Sang Kang, Alexandra Gray, Isaac Torres, Wesley Su, Nicky Benedict, Andrea Azzarita, Edgar Coapmar, Ana Zanza, Elizabeth Hacker, Blaise Sellers, Payton Sanders, Daniel Dababneh, Safuan Zainal, Harshal Thakur, Michael Drohomyrecky, Johnny Tsakopoulos, Marco Baez, Alyssa Dang, and David Park.
  • Congratulations to Dominique Oden and Casey Rodgers on being named the CE Outstanding Seniors for 2019-2020. They were selected due to their outstanding service to Purdue University, the community, and their academic achievements.
  • Congratulations to the Purdue Civil Engineering undergraduate research team, advised by Assistant Professor Mirian Velay-Lizancos! They were named a top three presenter at the 2020 Spring Undergraduate Research Conference Symposium for their poster titled, "Effect of elevated temperatures on Recycled PP fiber-reinforced cementitious composites performance under flexural stresses." This event highlights the scholarly work and creative endeavors undergraduate students have been engaged in through oral or poster presentations and awards top students with both financial and non-financial awards.
  • PhD candidate Miguel Montoya has been appointed a member of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Standing Committee on Asphalt Pavement Construction and Rehabilitation (AFH60). This committee is concerned with the construction, rehabilitation and recycling of asphalt pavements. Areas of interest include: construction methods and procedures, in-place recycling techniques, plant production issues which impact construction operations, and paving equipment. He was also selected as one of four students nationwide to receive the Association of Modified Asphalt Producers (AMAP) Dr. David R. Jones IV scholarships for 2020.
  • Seven CE graduate students were recognized by the College of Engineering as students who excel in teaching, service and research. Johnny Condori, Jessica Eisma, Raikhan Tokpatayeva, and Osvaldo Vitali were selected to receive the Magoon Award, given to outstanding teaching assistants and instructors. Amy Getchell received the Outstanding Service Scholarship for her service to the graduate student community, the School, the College and/or the University. Yining Feng received the Outstanding Research Award for demonstrating excellence and leadership in research through publications, participation in professional organizations and willingness to mentor others.
  • CE master's student Justin Mahlberg has been named a recipient of the 2020-2021 Edward J. Cox Memorial Transportation Scholarship Award. The award is presented annually by the Indiana Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers.
  • CE master's student Sarah Adsit has been named a recipient of the 2020-2021 Edward J. Cox Memorial Transportation Scholarship Award. The award is presented annually by the Indiana Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers.
  • PhD candidate Mohamed Yamany and his advisor Professor Dulcy Abraham were awarded the best poster presentation from the 2020 Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committee on Pavement Management Systems.

  • Robert Connor, the Jack and Kay Hockema Professor in Civil Engineering, collaborated on research for the report "Proposed Guideline for Reliability-Based Bridge Inspection Practices" under the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). He was also named recipient of the 2020 Richard S. Fountain Award by the Steel Bridge Task Force of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI); the National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA); and the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) T-14 Technical Committee for Structural Steel Design.
  • The annual Purdue College of Engineering Faculty Excellence Awards honor faculty who have been selected by their peers as the most outstanding in fields such as research, engagement, mentoring, and teaching. Four Lyles School professors have received awards for 2020 – Darcy Bullock, Lyles Family Professor of Civil Engineering and Director of the Joint Transportation Research Program; Jon Fricker, Professor of Civil Engineering; Ayman Habib, Thomas A. Page Professor of Civil Engineering, Co-Director of the Civil Engineering Center for Applications of UAS for a Sustainable Environment (CE-CAUSE), and Associate Director of the Joint Transportation Research Program; and Inez Hua, Professor of Civil Engineering and Environmental and Ecological Engineering.
  • Three Lyles School of Civil Engineering faculty – Darcy Bullock, Lyles Family Professor of Civil Engineering and Director of the Joint Transportation Research Program; Rao Govindaraju, Bowen Engineering Head of Civil Engineering and Christopher B. and Susan S. Burke Professor of Civil Engineering; and Ayman Habib, Thomas A. Page Professor of Civil Engineering, Co-Director of the Civil Engineering Center for Applications of UAS for a Sustainable Environment (CE-CAUSE), and Associate Director of the Joint Transportation Research Program – have been inducted into the Purdue Innovators Hall of Fame.
  • Robert Frosch, Senior Associate Dean of Engineering for Facilities & Operations and Professor of Civil Engineering, has been awarded the American Concrete Institute's Joe W. Kelly Award In recognition of his outstanding contributions to engineering education, insightful research to improve the performance of structural concrete systems, and dedicated service to ACI.
  • A team of Purdue and INDOT colleagues was recognized with an exceptional paper award by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) committee on Traffic Signal Systems. The paper, entitled "Using Connected Vehicle Data to Reassess Dilemma Zone Performance of Heavy Vehicles," reported a new algorithm and field test results obtained during testing on the US 231 Connected Corridor. The Purdue co-authors were Howell Li, Jijo Mathew, Enrique (Daniel) Saldivar-Carranza, and Darcy Bullock, Lyles Family Professor of Civil Engineering and Director of the Joint Transportation Research Program.


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