January 2023

Message from the Head

Rao Govindaraju

With the arrival of the spring semester comes the reminder that school year — and the college careers for many of our students — is just a few months away from coming to an end. Fitting, as both the spring season and graduation mark the start of great new beginnings.

At the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, our primary focus has always been on educating and preparing our students to be the leaders and innovators— and a good number of these graduating students I have personally taught, advised, and conducted research alongside. To see their growth over the years has been such a pleasure, I have every confidence that they will continue the Boilermaker tradition of becoming future influential leaders.

This semester is also extra special for me as I find myself at the beginning of my six-month term serving as the acting school head while Dr. Rao Govindaraju is on sabbatical. In just the handful of weeks in this position, I must say it has been an eye-opening experience for me to see just how many breakthrough technologies are developed by Purdue faculty, students, and staff. The impact they have made in our nation and around the worldwide is tremendous.

I look forward to sharing more news with you in the months to come — and I welcome you to share your own accomplishments with me. And, should you find yourself on campus this semester, know that my door is always open.

Boiler Up!

Luna Lu
Reilly Professor of Civil Engineering
and Acting Head of the Lyles School of Civil Engineering

Online Master’s Program Ranked #2 in the U.S.

The Lyles School of Civil Engineering’s Online Master’s Program has been recognized as #2 in the nation for the third year in a row.

U.S. News & World Report has released its national rankings of Best Online Graduate Programs for 2023 with Purdue Civil Engineering ranked #2 overall. The rankings are based on engagement, faculty credentials and training, expert opinion, services and technologies, and student excellence.

“Whether our students earn their degrees online or on campus, our faculty and staff are committed to ensure they receive the best education possible,” said Luna Lu, acting head of the Lyles School of Civil Engineering and Reilly Professor of Civil Engineering. “Our online program will only continue to grow, scale and excel in the years to come.”

Purdue Civil Engineering’s Online Master’s Program — along with the school’s graduate and undergraduate programs — is a consistent top 10 program in the nation, rated by USNWR rankings.

Upcoming Events

  • Feb. 12: Burke Alumni Reception
  • Feb. 16: Drag Distinguished Lecture Series
  • Feb. 17: Purdue ASCE Bridge Bust
  • March 30: Civil Engineering Alumni Achievement Awards
  • April 13: Distinguished Engineering Alumni Reception
  • May 12: Undergraduate Commencement
  • May 14: Graduate Commencement
  • June 9: 60th Annual CE Open

Cheap sewer pipe repairs can push toxic fumes into homes and schools – here’s how to lower the risk

Across the U.S., children and adults are increasingly exposed to harmful chemicals from a source few people are even aware of, says Lyles School of Civil Engineering and Environmental and Ecological Engineering Professor Andrew Whelton.

It begins on a street outside a home or school, where a worker in a manhole is repairing a sewer pipe. The contractor inserts a resin-soaked sleeve into the buried pipe, then heats it, transforming the resin into a hard plastic pipe.

This is one of the cheapest, most common pipe repair methods, but it comes with a serious risk: Heating the resin generates harmful fumes that can travel through the sewer lines and into surrounding buildings, sometimes several blocks away.

These chemicals have made hundreds of people ill, forced building evacuations and even led to hospitalizations. Playgrounds, day care centers and schools in several states have been affected, including in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin.

Read the full report here.

Purdue team introduces advance in automatic forest mapping technology

How lightning travels from the sky to the ground inspired the concept behind a new algorithmic approach to digitally separate individual trees from their forests in automatic forest mapping.

“When lightning travels from the sky to the ground, it finds the path of least resistance through the atmosphere,” said Joshua Carpenter, a PhD student in Purdue’s Lyles School of Civil Engineering. That led him to think the same way of his digital forest data, or point cloud.

“If I could somehow treat all of the points in this point cloud like a path of least resistance, that will tell me something about where the tree is located,” Carpenter said. The concept also works from a plant biology standpoint.

“Every leaf in a tree needs to be supplied with nutrients, and nutrients come from the ground. So, we find the shortest route for tree nutrients from the canopy down to the ground.”

Carpenter and four Purdue co-authors published the details of their mapping methods recently in the journal Remote Sensing. The approach means the difference between mapping a few trees to mapping hundreds of acres at a time quickly and with high accuracy. It also could lead to making digital twins of forests, which could improve management planning in the face of climate change, disease outbreaks and population growth.

Read the full story here.

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!

Lyles School of Civil Engineering undergraduate program ranked #7 in the nation

The Lyles School of Civil Engineering remains a top 10 civil engineering undergraduate program in the United States.

U.S. News & World Report has released its national rankings of undergraduate programs for 2023 with Purdue Civil Engineering ranked #7 in the nation. The rankings are computed from the responses to a survey sent to deans, heads, and selected senior faculty.

Purdue Civil Engineering has been consistently ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News & World Report for two decades.

"The efforts and accomplishments achieved by our incredible students, faculty, and staff are what make the Lyles School of Civil Engineering such a strong program," said Rao S. Govindaraju, Bowen Engineering Head of Civil Engineering and Christopher B. and Susan S. Burke Professor of Civil Engineering. “I am proud of what they have done and look forward to what the future has in store for our school.”

Overall, Purdue University's College of Engineering undergraduate program was ranked 9th in the nation.

The Lyles School of Civil Engineering faculty members have been sharing their research through Medium — an online publishing platform. Stories submitted by our professors include research into deep neural networks used to monitor nuclear reactors, autonomous and connected vehicles, and smart testing for resilient infrastructure. You can find their articles and more at

  • John Davis (BSCE 1982, MSCE 1987) was elected as the 2023 International Vice President of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) starting January 1, 2023. He is also nominated to be elected as ITE International President with the term starting on January 1, 2024.
  • Willis "Rick" Conner, PE, SE (BSCE 1976) has been elected to the National Academy of Construction. Established in 1999, NAC recognizes industry leaders from across the U.S. who demonstrate exceptional leadership and service with a continued commitment to innovation.
  • Ron Klemencic (BSCE 1985), PE, SE, Hon AIA, chairman and CEO, Magnusson Klemencic Associates and Dr. Amit Varma, Ph.D., Karl H. Kettelhut Professor of Civil Engineering and director of the Bowen Laboratory for Large-Scale Civil Engineering Research, presented the 21st Annual Paul Zia Distinguished Lecture, “Design and Construction of the Rainier Square Redevelopment Project.”
  • Benesch President and CEO Kevin Fitzpatrick, PE (BSCE 1985) has been elected to the National Academy of Construction. Established in 1999, NAC recognizes industry leaders from across the U.S. who demonstrate exceptional leadership and service with a continued commitment to innovation.
  • Dr. Siddharth Saksena (MSCE '14, PhD '19), Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech, has received the A. Ivan Johnson Award for Young Professionals presented by the American Water Resources Association.
  • A multidisciplinary team of researchers led by Claudia Gunsch (BSCE 1998), Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Duke University, will undertake an ambitious endeavor to understand and improve the microbial communities that inhabit the structures in which we live, work and play — what scientists call the "built environment."
  • Ersal Ozdemir (BSCE 1997), Chairman & CEO of Keystone Group and 2022 Civil Engineering Alumni Achievement Award recipient, has been named to Indiana Business Journal's inaugural Indiana 250 list of leading state influencers.

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

  • CE grad students Gaia Cervini and Lena Azimi placed 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in the Indiana Geographic Information Council's first-ever Emerging Professional Research Competition.
  • CE student athletes Sydney Boudreau, member of the Purdue soccer team, and Alex Maxwell, member of the Purdue football team, were named Academic All-Big Ten for fall 2022. To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten, students must carry a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • PhD Student Hunsoo Song won 1st place in the GIS Cup of the 30th ACM SIGSPATIAL. This year's GIS Cup awards the person who developed the most accurate algorithm for 3D building mapping using airborne LiDAR data.
  • CE senior Lauren Sparber is one of seven seniors announced as 2022-2023 Purdue Engineering Fellows. The program was designed to recognize the accomplishments, contributions and potential of outstanding seniors.
  • CE senior Laura Gustafson, senior in the College of Engineering, the College of Liberal Arts and the John Martinson Honors College, has been named a 2022 Udall Scholarship Honorable Mention. The prestigious Udall Scholarship awarded by the Udall Foundation recognizes college sophomores and juniors for leadership, public service and commitment to environmental sustainability.
  • PhD student Fabian B. Rodriguez has received a 2022 John Faber Scholarship from the American Coal Ash Association Educational Foundation (ACAAEF). The ACAAEF awards scholarships to graduate and undergraduate students with demonstrated interest in the management and beneficial use of coal combustion products (CCP). Fabian was also named a member of the 2022 cohort of Trailblazers in Engineering Fellows, a group of 25 PhD students and postdocs in engineering or related disciplines at U.S. research universities selected to participate in a three-day professional development workshop that will prepare them to secure a position as a future engineering faculty and thrive in that role.
  • CE grad student Ismail Olaniyi finished second overall in the Three Minute Thesis competition hosted by the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society (GRSS) as part of the IGARSS 2022 symposium. His thesis speech, "Developing a UAS Data Hub for the Wheat-Coordinated Agricultural Project," encapsulated his entire body of research with the aid of one presentation slide.
  • CE senior Joseph Romanyk, member of the Purdue men's track & field team, earned Big Ten Distinguished Scholar recognition for his academic excellence achieving a GPA of 3.7 or better during the 2021-22 school year.
  • A group of CE grad students advised by Associate Professor Mohammad Jahanshahi placed among the top of team entrants at the 2nd International Competition for Structural Health Monitoring. Tarutal Ghosh Mondal, Abhishek Subedi, Wen Tang, and Rih-Teng Wu placed third in the Project 1 category, while Mondal, Tang and Wu took second place in the Project 2 category.

  • Thanos Tzempelikos, Professor of Civil Engineering, has been appointed as one of the Editors of Building & Environment journal. Building & Environment is the premier international Elsevier journal related to building science, urban physics, and human interaction with the indoor and outdoor built environment, with an impact factor of 7.09.
  • Robert J. Frosch, professor of civil engineering, has been named vice provost for academic facilities, a newly created position, effective January 9th. In the position, Frosch will work closely with all academic units and the Office of Administrative Operations to advance facilities for faculty and student success.
  • Rich Domonkos, Sue Khalifah, and Barbara (Jo) Ritchie were recognized as finalists for the 2022 College of Engineering Staff Awards of Excellence.
  • The Purdue University Board of Trustees on Oct. 7, 2022 ratified the appointment of Luna Lu as the Reilly Professor of Civil Engineering.  WaveLogix, a startup technology company founded by Dr. Lu, received a federal SBIR grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop its Internet of Things sensors for concrete strength monitoring. This smart concrete sensor technology was named a Next Big Thing in Tech by Fast Company magazine.
  • Luna Lu, Reilly Professor of Civil Engineering and Founding Director of the Center for Intelligent Infrastructure, and her PhD student Zhihao Kong, have received the 2022 Alfred Noble Prize awarded by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) for their paper, "Improved Method to Determine Young’s Modulus for Concrete Cylinder Using Electromechanical Spectrum: Principle and Validation," published in Journal of Aerospace Engineering, November 2020.
  • Melba Crawford, the Nancy Uridil and Francis Bossu Professor in Civil Engineering, is the recipient of the 2023 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Mildred Dresselhaus Medal.
  • A new book authored by Ernest Blatchley, Lee A. Rieth Professor in Environmental Engineering and Professor in Environmental and Ecological Engineering, provides comprehensive coverage of photochemical reactors and will be used as the text for a class to be taught in the spring.
  • Rodrigo Salgado, Charles Pankow Professor in Civil Engineering, received the Richard R. Torrens Award for outstanding contributions to the ASCE publications program.
  • Satish V. Ukkusuri, Reilly Professor of Civil Engineering and director of the Urban Mobility Networks and Intelligence (UMNI) Lab at Purdue, has been named a fellow by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Board of Directors.
  • A multidisciplinary research team led by Panagiota Karava, the Jack and Kay Hockema Professor of Civil Engineering, received a $400,000 supplement from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to further its work on “Sociotechnical Systems to Enable Smart and Connected Energy-Aware Residential Communities.” This award builds on an initial $3.5 million award in 2018.
  • Darcy Bullock, Lyles Family Professor of Civil Engineering and Director of the Joint Transportation Research Program (JTRP), has been awarded the prestigious 2022 Wilbur S. Smith Distinguished Transportation Educator Award by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE).
  • Makarand (Mark) Hastak has been elected 26th president of the International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction (CIB) with a three year term of office. In his acceptance speech he paid tribute to Keith Hampson, the outgoing President, and his energy and infectious enthusiasm despite a period of mainly online interactions.


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