January 2024

Message from the Head

Rao Govindaraju

It has been nearly a year since my last message via eConnections. It is interesting what we realize we miss — and I’ve discovered that these semiannual messages are among them. About a year ago, I went one a six-month sabbatical where I spent the majority of my time teaching, conducting research, meeting with colleagues and attending conferences in India.

Throughout my time overseas, fellow school heads and researchers shared stories with me of their positive experiences with our alumni, faculty, and friends. The stories of inspiration they drew from our work and research, as well as their eagerness to seek further collaborations due to how globally respected and proven Purdue Civil Engineers are, was almost overwhelming.

The work and examples set by the Lyles School of Civil Engineering’s alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends continue to be recognized domestically as well. Earlier this school year, our undergraduate program was ranked fourth in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report. This comes along with our #2-ranked online graduate program and #7-ranked graduate program. For more than two decades now, our programs have consistently been ranked in the top 10.

I expect 2024 to be another great year of success and progress — and I look forward to sharing those stories with you in the months to come.

All the best,

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

When wildfires strike, Andrew Whelton goes into action

Purdue Civil Engineering and Environmental and Ecological Engineering professor Andrew Whelton is driven to help people. He found an opportunity to do that through disaster response.

When communities are hit by devastating wildfires, water contamination can delay their recovery. Whelton, a water quality expert, provides guidance and testing that help local governments and townspeople understand the path back toward normalcy.

In this short film from its series “The Climate and Us,” BBC StoryWorks features Whelton’s efforts to help citizens in Louisville and Superior, Colorado, in the wake of the Marshall Fire.

“After a disaster like the fire, you flail around looking for resources,” Marshall Fire survivor John Wilkens says in the film. “To have Andy come into our lives, unrequested, was an amazing experience because it not only showed us the damage the fire did to our water system, but it provided a road map to get us out of that situation.”


Upcoming Events

  • February 7-11 – President’s Council Naples Annual Weekend
  • April 4 – Civil Engineering Alumni Achievement Awards Celebration
  • April 5 – 20th Anniversary Celebration of Robert L. and Terry L. Bowen Laboratory for Large-Scale Research
  • April 13 – Purdue Spring Fest Celebration
  • May 11 – Civil Engineering Spring Commencement Ceremony and Reception
  • June 14 – 61st Annual CE Open

CE professor, alumnus receive ASCE's OPAL Awards

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) honors some of the most accomplished civil engineers in the industry each year through its Outstanding Projects and Leaders (OPAL) Award. This year, two of the four recipients are Purdue Engineers.

Kumares C. Sinha, the Edgar B. and Hedwig M. Olson Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering, and James E. Rowings (BSCE ’75, MSCE ’79, Ph.D. ’82) were recognized during the OPAL Gala on Oct. 20 at the ASCE 2023 Convention in Chicago.

The 2023 OPALs recognize engineers in four categories – construction, education, government, and management.

Sinha was recognized in the “education” category for demonstrated excellence in furthering civil engineering education, and Rowings in “construction” for innovation and excellence in construction of civil engineering projects and programs.


NHERI Science Plan: a guide for future research in natural hazards engineering

According to the National Institute of Building Sciences, U.S. disaster losses from wind, floods, earthquakes and fires now average $100 billion per year, and in 2017 exceeded $300 billion. Such losses affect communities large and small across our nation.

The new NHERI Science Plan, Third Edition, offers practical research approaches to mitigate these losses.

“Research engineers, working across disciplines, can design safer structures and make our communities more resilient,” said Julio Ramirez, Karl H. Kettelhut Professor in Civil Engineering and principal investigator for the NHERI Network Coordination Office (NCO), headquartered at Purdue University.

“In this third edition of the NHERI Science Plan, we present ways researchers can leverage NSF-funded resources, from centrifuges to cyberinfrastructure — all to protect our civil infrastructure and our communities,” he added.

Read more…

The crossroads between lemon trees and technology

In warmer southern and western states, citrus orchards are important for feeding and bringing communities together as well as providing major sources of income and revenue. This makes the disease Huanglongbing, or citrus greening, especially dangerous for producers. Citrus greening is a bacterial disease spread by the Asian citrus psyllid that leaves the fruit stunted, covered in patches of lime-green coloration and unmarketable.

Currently, there is no cure for citrus greening, but Ismail Olaniyi, a graduate student in Purdue’s civil engineering department, is working on a USDA-funded project analyzing the efficacy of new therapies. Working with Jinha Jung, an associate professor of civil engineering and a member of the Institute for Digital Forestry at Purdue, Olaniyi is seeking solutions to cure citrus greening.

Jung provides the background on the project. “I started working with Kranthi Mandadi, associate professor of the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology at Texas A&M, when I was an assistant professor at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. We worked together to adopt Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technologies to monitor citrus orchards. Our current USDA-funded project analyzes the efficacy of new therapies for citrus greening disease, and my research group is leading the effort to develop a citrus-yield prediction model using UAV data.”


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!

Purdue CE undergrad program #4 in the nation

The Lyles School of Civil Engineering is a top 5 civil engineering undergraduate program in the United States.

U.S. News & World Report released its national rankings of undergraduate programs for 2024 with Purdue Civil Engineering ranked #4 in the nation. The rankings are computed from the responses to a survey sent to deans, heads, and selected senior faculty. Overall, Purdue University's College of Engineering undergraduate program was ranked 8th in the nation.

For more information about Purdue Engineering's 2024 undergraduate rankings, visit

A full listing of the Purdue Engineering national rankings can be viewed at

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

  • Michael Kim (Ph.D. 2021) started as tenure-track assistant professor in Architectural Engineering at Chung-Ang University, South Korea in September 2023.
  • ASCE honored MKA Chairman and CEO Ron Klemencic, PE, SE (BSCE '85) with the Henry L. Michel Award for Industry Advancement of Research.
  • David Restrepo (PhD 2015), Assistant Professor and Endowed Faculty Fellow in Mechanical Engineering at the Univ. of Texas San Antonio, has been awarded a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his groundbreaking work on elastic micro-buckling in periodic architected materials. As a result of this award, Restrepo will receive $641,398 in funding over the next five years.
  • Reza Moini (PhD 2020), Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Princeton University, has been awarded the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award to understand and engineer a new generation of concrete composites, inspired by naturally tough materials such as bone and mother-of-pearl, to allow more resilient and efficient infrastructure.
  • Tomas Morales (BSCE 1975), CEO and Co-Founder of Morales Group, Inc., has been named by the Indiana Historical Society (IHS) to the 2023 class of Indiana Living Legends. Each year, IHS recognizes extraordinary Hoosiers for their local, statewide and national accomplishments in a variety of areas and disciplines.
  • Ryan Sherman (MSCE 2009, PhD 2016), Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has received the American Institute of Steel Construction's 2023 Milek Fellowship for his research exploring 3D printing as an attractive, economically viable option for large-scale structural steel projects.
  • Milo Riverso (MSCE 1982, Ph.D. 1984), CEAAA recipient and Distinguished Engineering Alumnus, began his tenure as the 21st president of Manhattan College on July 1, 2023.
  • George Watson (BSCE 2010), PE, PMP, CPESC, Indiana Bridge Lead and Assistant Vice President at WSP USA, was named the 2023 Indiana Young Engineer of the Year by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Indiana.
  • U.S. Navy Capt. Constance Solina (BSCE 2000) relieved Capt. Jeff Deviney as commodore of Naval Construction Group 2 during a July 7 ceremony in Gulfport, Mississippi, and will also lead all Atlantic-based Seabees. Solina received the CE Alumni Achievement Award in 2017.

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

  • Ayman Habib, the Thomas A. Page Professor of Civil Engineering, has been honored by the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) with the 2023 Outstanding Service Award for his contributions to the field of spatial and image sciences.
  • Kumares C. Sinha, the Edgar B. and Hedwig M. Olson Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering, has been named an Honorary Member by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), the highest recognition of notable and outstanding professional achievement ITE presents to an individual.
  • Edward M. Mikhail, Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering, has been inducted into the Geospatial Intelligence Hall of Fame by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). Established in 2001, NGA's GEOINT Hall of Fame honors and inducts members each year to recognize those who have profoundly affected the geospatial intelligence tradecraft.
  • John Haddock, Professor of Civil Engineering and Director of Indiana Local Technical Assistance Program (IN LTAP), contributed to a PBS docuseries about Indiana infrastructure called Beyond Bridges.
  • Cary Troy, Professor of Civil Engineering, contributed to a recent episode of the PBS news series Great Lakes Now, addressing how climate change and coastal erosion is affecting Indiana shorelines.
  • Mirian Velay-Lizancos, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering, contributed to a recent episode of American Concrete Institute's Engineering Greatness video podcast discussing her career journey in civil engineering.
  • CE staff members Kathy Heath and Kyle Nine were recognized as finalists for the 2023 College of Engineering Staff Awards of Excellence.
  • Reilly Professor of Civil Engineering Luna Lu's Wavelogix concrete strength sensor technology made Time magazine's Best Inventions of 2023 list, and was also highlighted in a recent episode of the National Science Foundation's Science Now series.
  • Monica Prezzi, Professor of Civil Engineering at the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, has been appointed Editor of ASCE's Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, previously known as the Journal of Geotechnical Engineering.
  • Julio Ramirez, Karl H. Kettelhut Professor in Civil Engineering and Director of the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) Network Coordination Office (NCO) Center, has accepted a 2-year appointment to serve as a Special Government Employee (SGE) member of the Advisory Committee on Structural Safety of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Facilities. Dr. Ramirez was also appointed as the ASCE representative on the Technical Committee 29 Network Construction and Joint Utilization of Large Scale Experimental Facilities of the The Asian Civil Engineering Coordinating Council (ACECC).
  • Ernest (Chip) Blatchley, Lee A. Rieth Professor in Environmental Engineering and Professor in Environmental and Ecological Engineering, has started a 2-year term as President-Elect of the International Ultraviolet Association (IUVA). This will be followed by a 2-year term as President.
  • A joint research team that includes Prof. Jinha Jung and PhD student Joshua Carpenter has advanced to the $10 million XPRIZE Rainforest competition finals, a global cross-disciplinary challenge of monitoring tropical biodiversity.
  • Konstantina (Nadia) Gkritza, Professor at the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, a Purdue University Faculty Scholar, Director of the Sustainable Transportation Systems Research Group, and the Campus Director of the NSF ASPIRE Engineering Research Center (ERC), has been named a fellow by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Board of Directors.
  • The Purdue University Board of Trustees ratified the appointment of Melba Crawford, the Nancy Uridil and Francis Bossu Professor in Civil Engineering, as Distinguished Professor. Dr. Crawford was recognized by IEEE with the Mildred Dresselhaus Medal in 2023.
  • A research project led by CE faculty Brandon Boor and Nusrat Jung which seeks to monitor and reduce indoor air pollutant exposures in classrooms has received $24,000 in funding from the U.S. EPA as part of the Agency's People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) Program.
  • Inez Hua, Professor of Civil Engineering and Environmental and Ecological Engineering, Marika Santagata, Professor of Civil Engineering, and Ernest (Chip) Blatchley, Lee A. Rieth Professor in Environmental Engineering and Professor in Environmental and Ecological Engineering, have been selected for induction into Purdue University's Book of Great Teachers. The Book of Great Teachers was dedicated in 1999 and currently holds the names of 428 distinguished faculty.
  • Hubo Cai, Professor of Civil Engineering and Construction Engineering and Management and Interim Head of the School of Construction Management Technology, has received the 2023 Alfred Noble Prize awarded by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) for his paper, "Robust Hybrid Approach of Vision-Based Tracking and Radio-Based Identification and Localization for 3D Tracking of Multiple Construction Workers," published in Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering, July 2020.
  • Ming Qu, professor of civil engineering, has been selected as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar for 2023-2024 in Japan.