June 2019

Welcome to eConnections

Rao Govindaraju

Happy 150th birthday Purdue University!

On May 6, 1869, Purdue was officially founded — and, since then, the university has continued to be a world leader in both innovation and education. It is hard to believe but Purdue has significantly impacted human history in three separate centuries — and I imagine that will continue to be the case for centuries to come.

I am also confident the very same can be said for the Lyles School of Civil Engineering.

Since 1887, Purdue Civil Engineering has housed world-renowned faculty and researchers, led historic projects, been at the forefront of social change and progressiveness, and has educated some of the greatest civil engineers we have ever known. Like the university, our continued excellence has spanned across three consecutive centuries.

Since our last eConnections in January 2019, much has gone on both at our school and for our thousands of alumni around the world. As always, this edition will bring you up to speed on some accomplishments and milestones we have achieved over the past six months — and we will share a few unique stories as well.

Some of the most significant stories for the Lyles School of Civil Engineering over the past six months include the continued progress of our Resilient ExtraTerrestrial Habitats (RETH) group which recently announced its partnership with NASA to establish the RETH Institute on Purdue’s campus as faculty research how to establish permanent settlements in space.

We were also fortunate to host several incredible lectures from professors at the forefront of civil engineering research. And we were especially honored to host Purdue Civil Engineering alumnus and former Prime Minister of Egypt Dr. Essam Sharaf (BSCE ’75, MSCE’80, PhD ’84).

These are just a few of the many events that took place here in just six months. Below, you will learn more.

I encourage you to share any of your personal milestones so that we may share them in our next edition of eConnections in January 2020. Also, be sure to send your feedback, contact information, and life and career news to Kathy Heath at so that we may share the news!

All the best,

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

Purdue CE ranked #6 in the nation

Burke Graduate Program Ranked #6 in the Nation

The Purdue Lyles School of 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 2020 with Purdue Civil Engineering's Christopher B. and Susan S. Burke Graduate Program ranked #6 in the nation. The graduate rankings are computed from the responses to a survey sent to deans, heads, and selected senior faculty.

Purdue CE has been consistently ranked as a top 10 graduate program by U.S. News & World Report for over a decade.

"I am proud to be part of a school that is consistently recognized as having one of the best civil engineering programs in the United States," said Rao S. Govindaraju, Bowen Engineering Head of Civil Engineering and Christopher B. and Susan S. Burke Professor of Civil Engineering. "We will continue this tradition of excellence and endeavor to reach even greater heights in the future."

Overall, Purdue's College of Engineering graduate program was ranked eighth in the nation.

More information about the 2020 graduate rankings is available at

Spring Commencement

Spring Commencement

Thank you to everyone who joined us in May for Spring Commencement.

Nearly 150 graduate and undergraduate students earned their civil engineering degrees and we were honored that so many graduates, their families, and friends joined us back at Delon and Elizabeth Hampton Hall to share in their celebration. We at the Lyles School of Civil Engineering wish all of our graduates the very best in their professional and personal pursuits.

Resilient ExtraTerrestrial Habitats (RETH) Institute

NASA Backs Purdue Civil Engineering Faculty

In April, NASA announced Purdue Mechanical Engineering and Civil Professor Shirley Dyke will lead the new Resilient ExtraTerrestrial Habitats (RETH) Institute in West Lafayette. She is joined by Profs. Antonio Bobet and Julio Ramirez, the Kettelhut Professor, as Co-PIs in this effort.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the RETH Institute research team to play a role in shaping the future smart space habitats,” Dyke said. “Developing resilient space habitats continues Purdue’s legacy of leadership and collaboration in science, engineering and space exploration.”

In addition to researching resilience, robotics, and responsiveness, Purdue Civil Engineering Professor Antonio Bobet said another focus of the RETH Institute is community engagement.

“We have made it one of our priorities to continually engage with the public and keep them up to date through conferences where we can interact and answer questions,” Bobet said. “We also provide updates through our website and share our lectures online when possible.”

For more information, read the full NASA press release.

Upcoming Events


  • June 14 – CE Open


  • August 19 – Classes begin


  • October 10 – CE Career Fair
  • October 10 – Scholarship Banquet
  • October 12 – Homecoming Breakfast

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!


Undergrad Assists in Autonomous Vehicle Research

Autonomous vehicles certainly appear to be the wave of the future — but are cities adequately prepared to handle them? Purdue Civil Engineering researchers are currently working to ensure they will be.

Lyles School of Civil Engineering Professor Satish Ukkusuri leads a research team tasked with developing a strategic road map for Indiana on Autonomous vehicles (AVs) research and understanding the mobility and safety impacts of AVs. The Indiana Department of Transportation funded Ukkusuri’s research for $200,000 in 2017.

"Right now, we are in a period of transition and states are trying to react to the future when autonomous vehicles will become far more prevalent," Ukkusuri said. "We need to understand all the implications of autonomous vehicles such as adjustments to traffic signals, investments into roadways, safety and overall infrastructure modeling."

Ukkusuri added that with regards to AVs, governments and researchers have to play a bit of catch-up with the private industries that are developing the technology.

"Often, researchers are ahead of developers, however it is a bit different with autonomous vehicles," he said. "Due to the proprietary nature of this work, several walls have been placed in front of us. Understandably, industries are concerned with competition and safeguarding their own work and research, so data is not as easy to obtain."

Assisting Ukkusuri in recording data is Purdue Civil Engineering undergraduate Ben Bowman. Bowman, who has been part of the research for more than two years, said he has gained invaluable experience.

Bowman added that he is also thankful to the Lyles School of Civil Engineering in general for allowing students to involve themselves in research before even having earned their undergraduate degrees.

"It seems for a lot of students and schools, participating in research in any meaningful way just isn't something that you get to do unless you're working on your Master's or PhD," Bowman said. "I'm just so incredibly thankful to have this opportunity."

Ukkusuri said he, too, is proud to be part of a school that actively encourages research participation by undergraduates.

"Involving undergraduates in research is something me and many other professors have wanted to do," Ukkusuri said. "My overall motivation is not only to train but to show them the excitement in civil engineering and the process behind doing the research."

As for the next stage in the process of this particular research, Ukkusuri said they will continue analyzing the data and develop models as they prepare to release a report in the near future.

Dr. Essam Sharaf
Dr. Essam Sharaf

Civil Engineering Distinguished Lectures

At the Lyles School of Civil Engineering we continually seek to bring in lecturers who are accomplished and at the forefront of their respective fields. This past semester we had three exceptional speakers.

In March, Purdue Civil Engineering alumnus and former Prime Minister of Egypt Dr. Essam Sharaf (BSCE '75, MSCE '80, PhD '84) delivered a lecture for our students, faculty and staff entitled "A Career Journey: From Engineering to Public Service."

In April, we hosted Dr. Andrea Rinaldo (PhD Purdue CE '83), Professor of Hydrology and Water Resources and Director of the Laboratory of Ecohydrology at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland, and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Padova. He held a research workshop on the structural and functional dynamics of complex networks.

Also in April, Randall Poston, Sr., Principal at Pivot Engineers, a structural engineering consulting firm in Austin, Texas, held a seminar and colloquium entitled "One Collapse, Two Load Tests and Several Repairs."

Both Rinaldo and Poston were named as part of Purdue University's inaugural class of Neil Armstrong Distinguished Visiting Fellows.

CE at Imagination Station

Junior Civil Engineers

We had an incredible time this past March with CE Day, an event at Imagination Station, Lafayette's science center. We saw hundreds of people come out and interact with our current students by participating in civil engineering-themed children's activities. This fantastic event was a collaboration between our school, and the students in Purdue's ASCE and Chi Epsilon Student Chapters.

Student Spotlights

The Lyles School of Civil Engineering has a student feature series called “Student Spotlights.” The goal of this effort is to highlight some of our incredibly motivated and gifted students who do so much more than just excel in the classroom.

You can read and watch all about our featured students on our spotlights page.

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


A pair of alumni from the Lyles School of Civil Engineering have been featured in Purdue University’s "Footprints" — a video series highlighting Boilermaker alums who are making "giant leaps" in their fields? So far, alums Ersal Ozdemir and Vicky Keramida have been featured.

You can watch all the videos at the Giant Leaps: Footprints website.

  • Mamon Powers, Jr. (BSCE '70, HDR '14) has been named 2019 Engineer of the Year by the Indiana Society of Professional Engineers for his many contributions to civil engineering and the construction industry.
  • The board of directors of the Fluor Corporation has confirmed the appointment of Carlos M. Hernandez (BSCE '76) as chief executive officer and named him a member of the board of the company.
  • Dr. Essam Sharaf, Purdue University Distinguished Engineering Alumni (BSCE '75, MSCE '80, PhD '84), Professor at Cairo University, and Former Prime Minister of Egypt delivered a lecture to the Lyles School of Civil Engineering's students, faculty, and staff on March 27, 2019, entitled: A Career Journey: From Engineering to Public Service.
  • The Washington Business Journal has honored 51-year-old Steele Foundation LLC as one of the top multi-generational family-owned businesses in Greater Washington, in its fourth annual Family-Owned Business Awards competition. Owned and operated by Andy Steele (BSCE ‘86) and CEAAA recipient Ronald Steele (BSCE ‘60), Steele Foundation is one of only 15 family-owned businesses in this region to receive this year's honor, which exemplifies "overall excellence, innovation, ethics and philanthropy."
  • Anne Bigane Wilson (BSCEM '79, MSCE '81), President of Bigane Paving Co., has been named recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award by the College of Engineering.
  • Shuai Li (PhD '17), Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, has been named the recipient of the ASCE Collingwood Prize for his paper entitled, "Integrating Natural Language Processing and Spatial Reasoning for Utility Compliance Checking," published in the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management.

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 Reza Moini advanced to the final round of the Three Minute Thesis competition with his presentation titled, "Mimicking nature: can we 3D-print stronger buildings?"
  • The Purdue Society of Professional Engineers (PSPE) has been recognized with the Student Organization of the Year Excellence Award, presented to them by the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Life at the annual honors reception held on April 24th.
  • On April 23, 2019, the College of Engineering recognized graduate students and faculty mentors who have received awards at the school, college, university, and national level over the past academic school year. Tariq Saeed received the Award for Outstanding Research; Srinath Shiv Kumar received the Outstanding Service Scholarship; Hadi Shagerdi Esmaeeli, Yu-Chung Lin, Nicholas Olsen, and Zachary Riley received the Estus H. and Vashti L. Magoon Award for Excellence in Teaching.
  • Mohamed Yamany, PhD candidate at the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, has been appointed to the Standing Committee on Bridge Management (AHD35) of the Transportation Research Board (TRB), one of seven program units of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
  • A team of Purdue civil engineering undergraduate and graduate students has won the inaugural national asphalt mixture design competition. The Purdue team of Miguel Montoya, Mohammadreza Pouranian, Harsh Patel, and Chris Allen won the competition scoring 105.3 points out of a possible 100 points. The team received bonus points for high asphalt mixture performance while holding the line on costs. As the first place team, the members will split $5,000 and be recognized by the asphalt industry.
  • The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has announced Lyles School of Civil Engineering undergraduate student Trevor Moore as the top 2019 New Face of Civil Engineering in the College category. The 2019 honorees are rising stars, inspired and inspiring, many of them drawn to the profession by a desire to help others and protect the planet.
  • Margaret Hunter, undergraduate student at the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, has been awarded the 2019 Women's Transportation Seminar (WTS) Greater Indianapolis Chapter Scholarship. The scholarship was established to recognize an undergraduate female in the transportation industry.
  • A paper by PhD student Irina Benedyk and Adjunct Professor of Civil Engineering Srinivas Peeta has received the 2018 Editor's Choice Award from the Springer journal Maritime Economics & Logistics.
  • Lisa L. Losada Rojas, PhD student at the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, has been awarded a $3,000 scholarship from the Women's Transportation Seminar (WTS) Greater Chicago Area chapter for the 2018-2019 academic year.
  • A team of graduate students from the Lyles School of Civil Engineering placed first runner-up in the first image-based structural damage recognition competition, namely PEER Hub ImageNet (PHI) Challenge organized by the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research (PEER) Center. Rih-Teng Wu, Tarutal Ghosh Mondal, Yu-Ting Huang and Cheng Qian are the team members from Smart Informatix Laboratory directed by Assistant Professor Mohammad Jahanshahi.

  • Rao "G.S." Govindaraju, Bowen Engineering Head of Civil Engineering and Christopher B. and Susan S. Burke Professor of Civil Engineering, has been named a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Only 220 of ASCE's more than 150,000 current members can call themselves Distinguished Members. Dr. Govindaraju has also been recognized by ASCE with the Ven Te Chow Award for lifetime achievement in the field of hydrologic engineering.
  • Satish Ukkusuri, Professor of Civil Engineering, was a keynote speaker at the 1st International Conference on Smart Tourism, Smart Cities and Enabling Technologies, referred to as The Smart Conference, May 1-3 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.
  • The Purdue University Board of Trustees on April 12 ratified the naming of Robert J. Connor as the Jack and Kay Hockema Professor in Civil Engineering.
  • Amit Varma, Karl H. Kettelhut Professor in Civil Engineering and Director of Bowen Laboratory, has been selected to receive the 2019 Shortridge Hardesty Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the Structural Engineering Institute (SEI). He was presented the award on April 27, 2019, at the Structures Congress in Orlando, Florida.
  • Robert Frosch, Senior Associate Dean of Facilities and Operations and Professor of Civil Engineering, has been named an ACE Fellow for academic year 2019-20 by the American Council on Education (ACE).
  • Rodrigo Salgado, Charles Pankow Professor in Civil Engineering, was named the new Editor in Chief of the ASCE Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering.
  • Brandon Boor, Assistant Professor in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, received a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his research into the formation, growth, and phase state of organic nanoaerosols in indoor environments.
  • Professor Jie Shan and cohort Charles Toth, Research Professor at Ohio State University, received the 2019 LiDAR Leader Award (2nd Place) from the International LiDAR Mapping Forum. They were recognized for their edited publication, Topographic Laser Ranging and Scanning.
  • A recently published paper co-written by a group of researchers including Shirley Dyke, Santiago Pujol, and Julio Ramirez, has been selected by ASCE as the Editor's Choice.
  • Kumares C. Sinha, Olson Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering, has been recognized by Jadavpur University, India, at the commemoration of its 60th anniversary, as a Distinguished University Alumnus.