Incoming faculty bring diverse interests to CEM

Author: Barbara Leonard
This fall, CEM welcomes new faculty members Amr Kandil, Hubo Cai, and Panagiota Karava. The division is excited by the diversity of knowledge and interest areas each bring, and looks forward to watching their expertise and teaching acumen take root in our classrooms and labs.

Amr KandilKandil comes to Purdue from Iowa State, where he served as assistant professor of construction engineering. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, and having grown up in Dubai, UAE, Kandil studied at the American University in Cairo, receiving his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, before coming to the U.S. to complete his PhD at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. His particular area of interest is in the applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning in construction contract administration.

Owing his interest in CEM to his mentor, master’s thesis advisor, and first employer—Dr. Sherif Farghal—Kandil soon became particularly interested in contract administration and law. “I always enjoyed coursework in this area, which is a true intersection between engineering and legal knowledge.” This interest in legal knowledge “is partly related to my upbringing since both my parents were lawyers, and my father was a judge for his entire career,” Kandil says.

For Kandil, joining the Purdue CEM faculty is recognition of his potential for growth as an educator and innovator in the field. That recognition, for Kandil, “is one of making a mark in your field, and having an impact on education and research in your discipline.” For Kandil, the challenge of joining a university of Purdue’s caliber presents itself in the tradition of excellence that it represents.

When asked what he loves most about teaching and performing research at the college level, Kandil immediately points to his students. “My favorite part of teaching is when I feel I have positively impacted my students’ lives, not just by delivering to them the subject of my course, but by getting them interested in setting their sights on a path of learning in the discipline I belong to.”

A love of the research endeavor is not far behind. “My favorite part of research is that there is hope that the work you are doing will impact your field of research and industry,” Kandil states. “This hope is what makes research a way of life rather than a daily job to me.”

Hubo CaiAn interest in the research and teaching possibilities available at Purdue also excites Cai, who joins CEM this fall from Western Michigan University. He grew up in Ningbo, China, and studied at Tongji University before completing master’s and doctoral degrees at North Carolina State University. His area of study is spatial information technologies in civil infrastructure construction and management.

When asked what drew him to CEM as a career, Cai points to a childhood interest sparked by witnessing the entire construction phase of a school building. It was this experience that led him to undergraduate studies in construction, followed by advanced degrees in the U.S. “My first research project was related to GIS applications in transportation infrastructure modeling, which triggered my interest in spatial information technologies and their applications in infrastructure construction and management,” says Cai.

For Cai, joining the faculty at Purdue is significant. “It means a great platform to work with experts in the field of construction engineering and management, many great collaborative opportunities, and a chance to conduct interdisciplinary research to address infrastructure issues.” What is he most looking forward to? “Great people, interesting research, talented students, and a friendly working environment.”

Also joining Purdue’s CEM faculty this fall is Panagiota Karava, who has been serving as assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering at the University of Western Ontario. Watch these pages to learn more about her research and teaching interests in a future issue.