Tim Larson Appointed Interim Department Chair

Tim Larson

From the desk of Dean Mike Bragg:

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Tim Larson as interim chair of the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, effective March 16, 2017.

Tim is uniquely qualified to lead the department through a chair transition, having served as acting chair for the department twice and as an associate chair.  A respected and longstanding faculty member, Tim is well versed in the administration of the department.  As most of you know, Tim holds an adjunct appointment in Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, and his research focuses on air quality management, measurement methods for atmospheric aerosols, and precipitation scavenging.  I appreciate Tim’s commitment to the department and willingness to once again take on this important leadership role.  I know that CEE will benefit from Tim’s prior experience and his dedication to the mission and excellence of the department.

I would like to thank Greg Miller for his outstanding leadership as Chair of CEE for seven years. During his tenure as chair, Greg oversaw significant growth in faculty hiring, student demand and departmental stature. We are very grateful for his commitment and leadership and look forward to working with him in his new role as vice dean.

Please join me in welcoming Tim as interim chair.  I look forward to working with Tim as we begin a search for the next CEE chair.

Best regards,

Mike

Mike Bragg
Frank & Julie Jungers Dean of Engineering
Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics
College of Engineering
University of Washington

Inaugural CEE Student Film Contest Awards Announced

Best in Creativity winners Ronda Strauch and Sai Siddhartha Nudurupati; Best in Cinematography winner Molly Grear; and honorable mention recipients Begum Birsoz and Wenxin Lin, from left.

Perhaps it’s their problem-solving mindset or technical skills, but it turns out that engineers are naturals at film making. This was evidenced at UW CEE’s inaugural student film contest on March 16. A panel of judges evaluated six student-made films and selected the following winners:

Students began working on their videos in fall 2016. As several students had no prior filmmaking experience, UW Video hosted several sessions to provide technical help. The contest was organized by associate professor Faisal Hossain, a filmmaker in his spare time.

Hossain’s motivation to found the contest stems from his passion to share information about the important work of civil and environmental engineers, which is becoming increasingly interdisciplinary and diverse, he said. He also hopes to inspire and teach students about the importance of being skilled communicators.

“It’s a very important process for our students to become master communicators,” Hossain said. “The work of civil and environmental engineers permeates life and society not only through the usual notions of buildings, construction, highway and clean water, but also through energy, resources, the environment and more.”

Hossain hopes to organize another film contest again in two years. Building upon the success of this year’s contest, he hopes to eventually open it up to students from engineering schools across the U.S.

“We want this to evolve into the nation’s first engineering film festival open to all engineering majors in the U.S.” Hossain said.

Congratulations to the winners!

Tim Larson Appointed Interim Department Chair

Professor Tim Larson

From the desk of Dean Mike Bragg:

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Tim Larson as interim chair of the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, effective March 16, 2017. Tim is uniquely qualified to lead the department through a chair transition, having served as acting chair for the department twice and as an associate chair.  A respected and longstanding faculty member, Tim is well versed in the administration of the department.

As most of you know, Tim holds an adjunct appointment in Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, and his research focuses on air quality management, measurement methods for atmospheric aerosols, and precipitation scavenging.  I appreciate Tim’s commitment to the department and willingness to once again take on this important leadership role.  I know that CEE will benefit from Tim’s prior experience and his dedication to the mission and excellence of the department.

I would like to thank Greg Miller for his outstanding leadership as Chair of CEE for seven years. During his tenure as chair, Greg oversaw significant growth in faculty hiring, student demand and departmental stature. We are very grateful for his commitment and leadership and look forward to working with him in his new role as vice dean.

Please join me in welcoming Tim as interim chair.  I look forward to working with Tim as we begin a search for the next CEE chair.

Best regards,

Mike
Mike Bragg
Frank & Julie Jungers Dean of Engineering
Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics
College of Engineering
University of Washington

Alumna Deb Niemeier Elected to the National Academy of Engineering

UW CEE alumna Deb Niemeier.

UW CEE alumna Deb Niemeier (Ph.D. ’94) has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, one of the most prestigious honors in the engineering field. Reserved for individuals who have made pioneering contributions, Niemeier is recognized for developing groundbreaking tools to improve the accuracy of estimating regional vehicle pollutants, which impact the health of minority populations that reside in close proximity to highways.

“It is an honor to be asked to join such an esteemed group,” Niemeier said. “I am grateful for all of the support I’ve had. No one ever travels a path completely on their own.”

A professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the School of Education at the University of California, Davis, Niemeier has focused her research efforts on developing better methods to estimate vehicle emissions. When she first entered the field, it was known that vehicles were significant polluters. However, despite advances in engine technology that had begun to reduce tailpipe emissions, there weren’t robust methods for estimating the impact of tailpipe emissions on regional air quality. If estimates of vehicle pollution are too low, not enough emissions control technologies are implemented. Conversely, high estimates may lead to the implementation of too many, or the wrong types, of pollution controls.

“It’s a balancing act with significant health implications, mostly for the poor and minorities,” Niemeier said. “If we don’t control emissions enough, we jeopardize health.”

Studies have shown that minority populations, particularly communities of color and low-income households, tend to live closer to congested highways. This exposes them to a variety of pollutants produced by vehicles, especially nitrogen dioxide which causes health problems such as heart attack and asthma.

To address this challenge, Niemeier and her students developed new algorithms for more accurately estimating vehicle emissions. They also drafted new regulatory guidance to ensure that public agencies utilize the new evaluation methods when making decisions related to air quality issues.

Born out of this interest in environmental justice, Niemeier and three of her students also formed a company. Primarily through pro bono work, they collaborate with legal advocacy groups and environmental law clinics on social justice issues associated with transportation-related air quality issues that impact underserved populations.

A Texas native, Niemeier moved to Seattle to attend graduate school at UW after working for a consulting firm in Maine for several years. After considering several prominent east coast engineering schools, none of which felt like a good fit, an undergraduate professor suggested visiting CEE professor Scott Rutherford, who ended up being Niemeier’s Ph.D. advisor.

Coming to UW was the best decision I ever made,” Niemeier said. “Scott was the perfect advisor for me. He set an example for me on how to let students be independent and grow, make a few mistakes, and eventually carve out their own path. I can only hope I have given my students some of what he gave me.”

Of her numerous accomplishments, Niemeier is most proud of her students, many of whom are now faculty at various institutions, including Cornell University, University of Illinois, University of New Mexico, McGill University and Georgia Institute of Technology.

“It is so much fun to watch my students grow beyond me,” Niemeier said. “They’ve taken with them an interest in social justice, working with undergraduates and a dedication to teaching that makes me proud.”

Among the many honors she has received over the years, Niemeier was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2014 and a Guggenheim Fellow in 2015. She has also served as chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Davis.

Congratulations, Deb!

Coming Soon: New Online Energy Infrastructure Master’s Program


 
UW CEE is pleased to announce a new online Master of Science in Civil Engineering: Energy Infrastructure program, which will launch in autumn 2018. With a focus on energy infrastructure, the program will prepare students to plan, design, construct and manage energy related infrastructure projects.

The new program responds to current changes in the country’s energy infrastructure, which is quickly moving from traditional fossil fuel systems to renewable energy sources. These changes are driven by both climate change concerns and technological advancements.

The online master’s degree program allows students to pursue a specialized focus while setting their own schedule, enabling them to participate from any location and work full-time. Students will be able to complete the program in 2-3 years.

Coursework is similar to in-person programs and students communicate with classmates and instructors online. Courses are taught by UW CEE faculty in the Construction, Energy and Sustainable Infrastructure group, as well as experts in the field.

Leading the Way: CEE Seniors Share What It’s Like Leading Concrete Canoe, Steel Bridge and ASCE

DSC_1140_web2

They aren’t CEOs- not yet, at least. But you can begin to see a glimpse of what the future may hold when you learn what the leaders of CEE’s student organizations are achieving through their hard work, devotion and ingenuity. From the Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge teams to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ UW Chapter, four undergraduate seniors share what it’s like leading CEE’s student organizations and what their goals are for the year.

Marissa_web_headshot

Marissa Gelms
Co-leads the UW Concrete Canoe Team.

Iris_web_headshot

Iris Kwong
Co-leads the UW Concrete Canoe Team.

Nick_web2_headshot

Nick Worden
Leads the UW Steel Bridge Team.

Elijah_web_headshot

Elijah Suh
Leads the UW Chapter of American Society of Civil Engineers.

Student Leader Elijah Suh

Elijah_web

Elijah Suh leads the UW Chapter of American Society of Civil Engineers.

Elijah Suh
President, UW Chapter, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
Senior, CEE Bachelor’s Degree Program

How long have you been involved with the organization?
I have been involved in ASCE since my junior year (2015).

What do you enjoy most about being in a leadership position?
What I enjoy most out of being in leadership is the continual collaboration with my fellow ASCE officers to ensure the success of our events in conjunction with achieving the goals we have set forth. We work as a team and support each other whenever help is needed.

How many hours a week do you spend working with the organization?
I put in an average of 10 hours per week.

What are your goals for the organization for this academic year?
The goal for this academic year is to provide our members with a myriad of professional development opportunities. We want students to gain the necessary knowledge and connections needed to succeed with whatever route they plan to pursue after graduation.

Can you briefly describe what the group/organization does?
The organization strives to enhance both the personal and professional development of CEE students. We aim to expose students to the professional field of Civil and Environmental Engineering through technical presentations, community service projects, and competitions such as Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge. Additionally, we host social events to foster a community within the CEE department.

How many members are there?
We currently have approximately 90 members and counting

What is your favorite part of being part of the organization?
My favorite part of being in ASCE is gaining the personal connections with other students in the department as well as connections with professional civil engineers. The position provides me the opportunity to reach out and learn from the knowledge and experience of others.

What area of civil & environmental engineering most interests you?
I am interested in the field of transportation.

What do you hope to do after graduation?
I hope to gain an EIT position as a roadway design engineer after graduation.

Student Leader Nick Worden

Nick_web2

Nick Worden leads the UW Steel Bridge Team.

Nick Worden
President, UW Steel Bridge Team
Senior, Bachelor’s Degree Program

How long have you been involved with the organization?
This is my third year on the team.

What do you enjoy most about being in a leadership position? 
I see Steel Bridge Team as a commitment to bettering the university community. Being a leader in this organization helps me to develop the next generation of civil engineers in a real and impactful way. That’s what I enjoy most about it.

How many hours a week do you spend working with the organization?
It ranges, 8-20 hours per week depending on what needs to get done.

What are your goals for the organization for this academic year?
I want the UW Steel Bridge Team to go onto the national competition for the first time in over a decade.

Can you briefly describe what the group/organization does?
In order to develop the next generation of engineers, students need a chance to practice skills they learn in the classroom. Such engineers are better equipped to make progress in the world, and the UW Steel Bridge Team provides such an outlet for growth. That’s why I joined, and that’s what our team is all about.

Over the course of the next year, my team will design and build a 20-foot-long steel bridge culminating in a competition against other regional universities. Students are responsible for a complete project, from initial concept to final presentation. Our design phase starts the year with brainstorming and modeling. During our construction phase, we cut, grind, and weld steel to shape our bridge. At our regional competition our bridge is evaluated on a number of categories including aesthetics, lightness, stiffness, and assembly time. The three best of 17 move on to the national competition.

How many members are there?
25-30 people.

What is your favorite part of being part of the organization?
My favorite part about being a leader in this organization is helping people through the same struggles I faced in the club as an underclassman. Watching people grow in the team is what brings me the most joy.

Has the organization overcome any challenges?
I think the biggest challenge our organization faces is space constraints. We’ve mitigated this by exploring other spaces around the university to complete our project.

What area of civil & environmental engineering most interests you?
Structural engineering.

What do you hope to do after graduation?
I plan to go to law school. I studied engineering during my undergraduate because I wanted to challenge myself. From the moment I stepped into my first course at the UW, I already had a conception that law school was where I was headed. I also knew that law school was incredibly rigorous. I wanted to study a major that would complement that rigor while also giving me a new perspective.

Student Leader Iris Kwong

Iris_web

Iris Kwong co-leads the Concrete Canoe Team.

Iris Kwong
Co-captain, Concrete Canoe Team
Senior, Bachelor’s Degree Program

How long have you been involved with the organization?
Since my freshman year at UW, so this is my third year on the team.

What do you enjoy most about being in a leadership position?
Being able to help build and develop a community within the Civil Engineering Department at the UW. As well as having the opportunity to be a part of a team of amazing individuals and work together to create this final product that we are proud of. Also having the ability to hopefully make a positive impact on the CEE community with the team and bring passion and interest in Civil Engineering. These are just a few things I enjoy most about being in a leadership position, basically having the opportunity to make this type of impact.

How many hours a week do you spend working with the organization?
Approximately 25-30 hours a week. Probably slightly ashamed by the amount of hours spent.

What are your goals for the organization for this academic year?
Some of my goals for the organization for this academic year, obviously includes doing well at competition but more importantly is to be able to create a family at UW. UW is so large, but for students a place where you develop friendships while building a concrete canoe. It’s obviously something that you won’t do once you get out of school, but these memories that are made are long-lasting. So basically, just being able to create this type of community with our team at the UW is my goal for the team. This academic year, just being able to build off of last year’s team and grow/learn together as engineers.

Can you briefly describe what the group/organization does?
We build a concrete canoe! As a team, we design, construct, and race a concrete canoe regionally and nationally. Most importantly, we work together to take concepts we learn in the classroom and put it to work.

How many members are there?
Around 40-50.

What is your favorite part of being part of the organization?
The memories, just being able to work with so many talented individuals to tackle engineering challenges. The sense of accomplishment that I will have the opportunity to look back with so many other future engineers and say, “Hey, we built that together.” Concrete canoe is definitely one of the places where I’ve gotten to know and become closer friends with people.

Has the organization overcome any challenges?
Challenges are inevitable but that is what makes concrete canoe unique. It is the challenges that come about and the way the team solves them. Every team has their own set of challenges and way of going about them. It is great to see everyone working together and almost literally, watching the gears turn as the team comes together to solve problems and issues that come about. All in all, if it weren’t for challenges, canoe would be pretty lame. Of course, as engineers, problem solving is one of the main things that we do. Plus, with these challenges, we all have the opportunity to grow and learn from each one! Which I think is very important for me, as personal growth. As captain, I am glad to watch the team grow and mature out of these challenges.

What area of civil & environmental engineering most interests you?
Structural Engineering

What do you hope to do after graduation?
The plan is to attend graduate school.

Student Leader Marissa Gelms

Marissa_web

Marissa Gelms co-leads the Concrete Canoe Team.

Marissa Gelms
Co-captain, Concrete Canoe Team
Senior, Bachelor’s Degree Program

How long have you been involved with the organization?
I’ve been involved in Concrete Canoe since fall of my Sophomore year (Oct 2014). I started as a general member, became a co-lead for structural analysis my junior year, and have my current positions this year as a senior.

What do you enjoy most about being in a leadership position?
The thing I enjoy the most about being in a leadership position is helping create a team and a community. Being able to inspire the members on the team to constantly discover and solve problems. It’s not about how the canoe turns out or how well you do at competition, although it’s always a plus if you do well, it’s about how we get there.

How many hours a week do you spend working with the organization?
It is hard to put an exact number on the hours per week I spend working with canoe because there is always a lead or member that could need help or a problem that can be solved. But it is probably too much time to admit. School and canoe go side by side, if I’m not doing one I’m probably working on the other.

What are your goals for the organization for this academic year?
An overarching goal for our team this year is to place top 10 at the National Competition. Some goals to reach this include improving last year’s post-tensioning system, which was the first time we had ever done this and creating a sleeker, better design. In general our goal is to have a cohesive team that works together to create a successful final product. We also want to help make next year’s team even better than this year’s so that involves knowledge transfer, communication, and creating those connections with the underclassmen.

Can you briefly describe what the group/organization does?
Very general, the organization designs, builds, and races a canoe made out of concrete. More specifically, we receive rules for the competition in September and then spend fall quarter designing the canoe this involves the hull shape, our concrete mix, and the structural analysis. Winter quarter is when we actually build the canoe, sand, and finish it. Spring quarter is when we compete against other schools in the region and if we place first at regionals we head to nationals.

How many members are there?
There are around 200 members on our mailing list, but there are roughly 40-50 members who consistently show up to general meetings and are involved in our workshops.

What is your favorite part of being part of the organization?
My favorite part about Concrete Canoe is the family and community you make. The club helps make the department and college just a little bit smaller. And of course actually making a canoe out of concrete. This organization is like nothing else. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity. When else are you going to have the chance to do something like this, the answer is you aren’t. It is an interesting, absurd, out of the box engineering application. It can be frustrating and it may take a lot of long nights, but in the end it is just a fun team project that lets you apply your engineering education and allows you to make friendships that will last forever.

Has the organization overcome any challenges?
Yes, the team is always overcoming challenges. We face challenges every day. Some challenges are easy and some not so much. Every year brings a new canoe, a new team, and with it new challenges. A current challenge the team is facing is with the construction and usability of the mold we use to make our canoe. The company who is helping us make the mold has had trouble making it to our plans so the team is figuring out how we can work with the current design or adjust it to fit our needs.

 What area of civil & environmental engineering most interests you?
The area of civil & environmental engineering that is of most interest to me is structural engineering.

What do you hope to do after graduation?
After graduating with my bachelor’s degree, I plan to attend graduate school to get my master’s degree. With which I hope to either work on seismic retrofits or design high-rise buildings.

Any additional relevant details?
The past 4 years the team has placed first at the regional competition and attended the National Competition. In June 2015, the canoe Ska’ana went to Nationals in Clemson, SC and placed 9th overall taking 10th in final product, 6th in presentation, and 5th in design paper. In June 2016, the canoe Edgewater went to nationals in Tyler, TX and placed 10th overall taking 6th in final product and 7th in design paper. Edgewater was only the 5th canoe in University of Washington history to place top 10 at nationals. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to be a part of both teams.