January 2018

Welcome to eConnections

Rao Govindaraju

It is a new year and a new semester at Purdue University. Once again, the past 12 months have been an exciting time for the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, and I am very much looking forward to what 2018 has in store.

Before we look forward, however, let us look back on some of the events and accomplishments of our students, staff, faculty, and alums over the past six months. Since our June edition of eConnections, the School of Civil Engineering has been hard at work to improve the educational experience for students and expand our resources for staff and faculty.

The most noteworthy effort currently taking place is the $5 million renovation of Delon and Elizabeth Hampton Hall. The first phase of the renovation project began this past fall and is set to complete by fall of this year. Upgrades and additions to the building include new flexible-use teaching laboratories, a new student lounge, and additional space to house lab equipment for flexible teaching opportunities.

We are all excited to see the improvements to the School, as they will certainly enhance the learning and teaching experiences for students, faculty, and staff. I would also like to extend my deepest appreciation and gratitude to all of those who helped make this possible – particularly, S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation, who contributed $2.5 million to the project.

It is because of the incredible support our School receives that we continue to be one of the preeminent civil engineering institutions in the world.

Speaking of gifts, I would also like to remind everyone that Purdue's annual Day of Giving is just a few months away. Last year, our School received more than $3 million in just 24 hours. Again, I am completely humbled by the generosity continually displayed by all, and I look forward to extending my thanks again in my next message.

The generosity of our alumni and friends is a key component to our School's 130 years of success – and it is also why we are continually recognized as one of the top programs in the world! Once again, both our graduate and undergraduate programs were placed among the top 10 in the United States by U.S. News & World Report!

I look forward to sharing even more of our accomplishments with you in this edition of eConnections, and in our IMPACT and Transitions magazines – both of which came out in the fall.

Also, be sure to send us your feedback, contact information, and life and career news. Send your updates to Kathy Heath at

All the best,

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

Hampton renovation model
Phase one of the Hampton Hall renovations are scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2018.

Hampton Hall Renovations

In the fall of 2017, the school began renovations to the Delon and Elizabeth Hampton Hall of Civil Engineering. The first phase of this $5 million project is set to be complete by the start of the fall 2018 semester.

Rao S. Govindaraju, the Bowen Engineering Head of Civil Engineering and Christopher B. and Susan S. Burke Professor of Civil Engineering, says the renovations are necessary to ensure that students, faculty, and staff have the best tools and opportunities available.

"Purdue's School of Civil Engineering is known throughout the world as one of the top civil engineering institutions. We must do all that we can to support growth and innovation so that we remain a premier civil engineering school," Govindaraju said.

Improvement Plans

The first phase of renovations focuses on the ground floor and basement level areas. Improvements to the building will include an accessible entryway, improved air circulation, updates to existing laboratories for state-of-the-art civil engineering teaching and research, and new flexible-use teaching laboratories. The plan includes the following:

  • Three flexible teaching labs: 1,735 sq. ft. for architectural engineering; 1,151 sq. ft. for geomatics engineering; and 1,395 sq. ft. for structural engineering
  • Additional geomatics lab prep/ surveying lockers – 492 sq. ft.
  • A new student lounge to promote collaboration – 204 sq. ft.

Robert Frosch, associate dean for resource planning and management and professor of civil engineering, said that having flexible laboratories allows the school to anticipate future teaching and research needs by providing easily modifiable spaces calibrated to accommodate varying class sizes and a broad range of interdisciplinary activities.

"The portion of the building we're renovating is in desperate need of work, and this will address many issues we've been facing," Frosch said. "These renovations will greatly improve experiences for our students, faculty and staff."

Upcoming Events

  • July 21 – Alumni and Friends Dinner in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Sep. 22 – Advisory Council Meeting
  • Sep. 22 – Scholarship and Awards Banquet
  • Sep. 23 – Homecoming Breakfast
  • Oct. 11 – OTEC Breakfast
  • Oct. 12 – CESAC Career Fair

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, and Instagram accounts. Join us, interact, and share!

Civil Engineering Professor Jon Fricker was more than happy to tell Mariah Cummings' family what a tremendous student she had been at the winter commencement reception.
Civil Engineering Professor Jon Fricker was more than happy to tell Mariah Cummings' family what a tremendous student she had been at the winter commencement reception.


Thank you to everyone who joined us in December for Winter Commencement. Bill Dudley, 1974 Purdue Civil Engineering alum and vice chairman of Bechtel Group Inc., addressed this year's winter graduates at their commencement. Nearly 100 graduate and undergrad students earned their civil engineering degrees in December and we wish them all the very best in their personal and professional pursuits.

Ron Klemencic
Ron Klemencic

Alumni Impart Wisdom

Last semester, two of Purdue Civil Engineering's more successful alumni returned to Purdue to share their advice and experiences with our students. We recorded the sessions and uploaded the videos to our YouTube page.

In September, Alumnus Ron Klemencic (BSCE '85) shared his insights into the magic which has fueled his career. The event was hosted by The Pankow Foundation and the Lyles School of Civil Engineering. Ron is the Chairman and CEO of Magnusson Klemencic Associates and has been the structural engineer-in-charge for more than 175 buildings over 27-stories high in 19 countries. His firm has completed projects in 47 states and 54 countries with an aggregate construction cost of $99 billion.

In October, as part of the yearlong Lyles School of Civil Engineering Milestones celebration, Martha Rees (BSCE '73) shared insights from her 40-plus years with DuPont USA in a lecture entitled, "Intersections of Civil Engineering and Law." Rees began her career in 1973 as an environmental engineer and rose through the ranks at DuPont while also attending Georgetown Law School, eventually assuming her position of Vice President and Assistant General Counsel in 2006. Rees retired in 2015.

Martha Rees
Martha Rees

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

Dominique Oden

Purdue Women's Basketball star guard Dominique Oden is a sophomore in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering. In just her second year on the team, Oden is top 10 all-time in three-point percentage.

Earlier in the fall, Oden was kind enough to do a Q&A session, which was published in our latest edition of Transitions.

  • Chinese war hero and U.S. ally Sun Li-jen, known as "the ever-victorious general" for his feats in World War II, was recently recognized on the floor of the U.S. Congress. Sun Li-jen was also one of our school's earliest international students, graduating with a degree in civil engineering from Purdue in 1924.

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

  • Undergrad student Adlan Amran is the winner of the fall 2017 Thomas and Evelyn Page ASCE Student Chapter Fund. The award is given to the student who delivered the best final presentation in their Technical Communications in CE class as judged by their fellow classmates, CE faculty, and staff. Adlan's presentation was on "Geothermal Energy at Purdue."
  • Graduate student Michelle Mekker has been named an International Road Federation Fellow in the Class of 2018 and will participate in the 2018 Road Scholar Program.
  • Graduate student Tariq U. Saeed has received a 2017 Board Scholarship by the American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) at the annual meeting and exposition in Atlanta, October 10, 2017.
  • The Purdue transportation student team Boiler Hackers (Xinwu Qian, Wenbo Zhang, Shubham Agarwal, and Hemant Gehlot) recently won the 2016-2017 IATR HACK-A-THON final competition. Their winning proposal involved serving autonomous electric taxis at existing urban parking facilities.
  • PhD student Yining Feng has been selected to attend the Polsky Center Women in STEM Leadership Conference at the University of Chicago on October 27th.
  • PhD student Seungjae Lee was recently named recipient of the prestigious American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Grant-in-Aid Award for 2017-2018. This $10,000 award is given to the most outstanding graduate students performing research in the High Performance Buildings or HVAC fields.
  • Graduate student Seyed Ali Ghahari was recently awarded a competitive scholarship from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to attend the Modeling and Simulation of Transportation Networks Workshop that took place in Cambridge, July 31 - August 4, 2017. He was also awarded a competitive national scholarship by the Foundation of the Association of Energy Engineers (FAEE) to attend the World Energy Engineering Congress (WEEC) in Atlanta, GA, September 27-29, 2017.
  • Graduate student Adnan Rajib, a member in Dr. Venkatesh Merwade's research team, has been named as recipient of the Spring 2017 CE Outstanding Graduate Student Award.
  • PhD student Yunlan Zhang received the 2017 SURF Best Mentor award on August 4th. The purpose of the award is to recognize Purdue graduate student mentors who have provided exceptional guidance and instruction to undergraduate researchers in the SURF program.
  • PhD candidate Daniel Gomez received a SURF Best Mentor award on August 4th. Daniel advised two undergraduate researchers on independent projects during summer 2017.