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THIS YEAR We’re going for a theme. Challenging the norm. Expanding horizons. Reaching for that extra factor in education. We work hard to support our students academically and through extracurricular activities that give them the advantage in the job market. (pictured above: the Zachry Leadership Program retreat)


TABLE OF CONTENTS Celebrating 130 Years


25 by 25 and Exciting New Construction


Department Renovations and Facts


Undergraduate Student Support


Hands on STEM | Camp BUILD


99 Students Abroad| Global Programs


Taste of Research | REU Program


First-Hand Experience | High Bay Lab


A Civil Engineering Family Legacy


Zachry Leadership Program


Aggies Invent Challenge


Engineering Innovation Center


Living Learning Center Engineering Commons



130 YEARS CONTINUING TO BUILD OUR WORLD We are celebrating 130 years as a department! Over these decades, our graduates have contributed to remarkable advances in the built environment that impact society in every aspect of people’s lives. Civil engineering is a broad field that has expanded beyond buildings, highways and clean drinking water. Today it encompasses concerns for sustainable development, energy efficiency and meeting societal priorities for quality of life. The success of our former students and their generosity in supporting the next generation of civil engineers through scholarships, student activities and so many other ways, have made it possible for us to provide opportunities for our civil engineering students that otherwise would not be possible. You would be hard-pressed to find a more dedicated faculty committed to providing an excellent education for our students. One of our goals is to graduate workforce-ready, lifelong learners who want to make a difference. Over the course of 130 years, there have been significant changes in the civil engineering profession. Women were not admitted to Texas A&M University until 1963 and just 20 years ago, there were few women in engineering. Today, about 37 percent of our incoming civil engineering sophomores are women. The department’s efforts to be broadly welcoming have yielded a more diverse population of students who better reflect the society they will be serving. Through all this growth and change, the family spirit in this department remains as strong today as ever. In 2017, we expect to graduate more civil engineering students than any other civil engineering program in the United States. We are meeting workforce needs with exceptional graduates who are well prepared to meet today’s and tomorrow’s challenges. Civil engineering students can broaden their horizons beyond the traditional classroom through study abroad programs in Spain, Italy and Taiwan. Leadership skills can be developed through the Zachry Leadership Program, over a dozen student organizations, and the department’s Ambassador program. Our students welcome challenges, whether in the classroom, student organization competitions, the Aggies Invent program, research opportunities, and other ways that test their abilities and build confidence. Contact with the members of the professional community through events such as Professional Day opens doors for internships and employment after graduation. We are always seeking ways to recruit the next class of civil engineering students through Camp BUILD, Aggieland Saturday, and campus visits with our dedicated student services staff. This spring, we will open the doors to the new Student Services Center, a remodeled space designed to meet the needs of our undergraduate and graduate students. Located on the first floor of the Civil Engineering Office Building, there will be both the undergraduate and graduate advising offices, expansive study areas, tutoring facilities, group work areas, the legacy wall of former student pictures, our discovery touch screen experiences, and more. With all of the faculty located on the upper floors, for the first time in decades, the faculty and students will be housed in the same building. Plus, we will be right next door to the Zachry Engineering Education Center, which promises to be a premier education complex for undergraduate engineering students. Our students will continue to forge lifelong friendships that make the Aggie Network so famous. Throughout the year, we will be celebrating this historic milestone in the history of the department. Watch for events and opportunities to get involved!

Robin Autenrieth, Ph.D., P.E. Department Head and A.P. and Florence Wiley Professor

Texas A&M Engineering Communications 2017




Renderings of Zachry Engineering Education Complex

WHAT IS 25 BY 25? It’s a transformational education program designed to increase access for qualified students to pursue engineering education at Texas A&M University and increase our total enrollment to 25,000 students by 2025. This includes students on our College Station, Galveston and Qatar campuses, online master’s degree students and students in our statewide engineering academies. But 25 by 25 is not just about increasing numbers, it is also about enhancing quality and excellence.


Transform the educational experience

Increase access to engineering education

Deliver affordable engineering education

WHY 25 BY 25?


Engineers are in great demand nationally

Prior to 25 by 25, we were turning away too many qualified students who wanted to pursue an engineering degree at Texas A&M


2.2 million square footage of engineering space

1.1 million additional square footage pending


More than 500 faculty

Maintaining consistent student to faculty ratio

Adding professors of practice, faculty with industry experience, as well as top faculty scholars

Commitment to small class sizes


100% of engineering classes are less than 100 students

54% of undergraduate engineering classes are less than 50 students

94% of graduate engineering classes are less than 20 students


A high-tech, active learning environment dedicated to undergraduate engineering education

Opening spring 2018

525,000 square feet, the largest academic building on campus

Interdisciplinary laboratories

Multi-level tutoring and advising center

Informal meeting and study areas

Student career center

Green roof/terrace

Largest Starbucks® on campus with extended menu



Renderings of the first floor renovations in the Civil Engineering Office Building

Opening mid-April 2017, new offices for the undergraduate and graduate advising staff, study areas, tutoring rooms and more! Renovations to the first floor of the Civil Engineering Office Building (CEOB) began Jan. 2. The new building will feature 24/7 access to the study area, snacks and vending area, fully movable furniture, tutorial schedules, and graduate students will have access to graduate study lounges 24/7.

FAST FACTS »» At graduation, ≥ 85% of our undergraduates have competitive job offers or graduate school acceptance. »» Civil engineers in Texas have the fourth highest average statewide salary in the profession: $97,900. »» Texas is home to three of the top 10 metropolitan areas for salaries in civil engineering: Midland (#1 at $117,850), Houston (#4 at $110,160) and Odessa (#9 at $106,910).

NINE EMPHASIS AREAS Coastal Construction Engineering & Management Environmental General Civil

Geotechnical Materials Structural Transportation Water Resources




*Beginning fall 2014, freshmen were no longer admitted directly to departments. The 2014 - 2016 totals include planned admissions through the freshman class.


U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT RANKINGS (rankings among public institutions)

Undergraduate 8 Graduate 8


(sophomores through seniors)

Women: 226 (37%) 1st generation in college: 133 (18.3%) Students from: 84 counties in Texas 8 countries outside the U.S.


Total enrolled undergraduate students in the fall semester










Student Orgs.

Undergrad Advising

Professional Day

SEC Career Fair

Ice Cream Social Dog Therapy Day THE UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT SERVICES OFFICE The civil engineering undergraduate student services office has implemented ACT CIVIL, a series of advising interventions designed to foster student development and success. ACT CIVIL & Eat Ice Cream attracted more than 250 attendees. Students received information on various, often unknown, campus resources while enjoying ice cream, visiting with advisers and each other.

ACT CIVIL & Relax allowed the students to unwind the day before finals. Five friendly dogs were on hand to help students relax and relieve tension. Students appreciated the variety of treats to snack on while snuggling with some canines. Learn more about our undergraduate student services office at:

ENTRY-TO-A-MAJOR Incoming students are now admitted to the general engineering program with a preference for the major noted on the admissions application. These changes offer students the freedom to learn about the different engineering majors and to better equip them to make informed decisions concerning which engineering discipline is the best fit for their career goals. The entry-to-a-major (ETAM) process is designed for students to take ownership of their future to identify at least three majors that are a good match for their career goals and


academic performance. The general engineering advisers, as well as departmental advisers, are available for questions and advice. Students are encouraged to leverage additional resources, including the career center and departmental faculty to get career advice. Now, 90 percent of engineering students are in their first choice major.

STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS The civil engineering department has more than 15 active student organizations. Although each are unique in what they offer, the exposure to the civil engineering field, networking opportunities and various events benefit personal and professional growth. Learn more about our student organizations at:

PROFESSIONAL DAY We host Professional Day every year so students can interact with engineers in the field. Professional engineers from both the public and private sectors visit with students and discuss their


SEC Career Fair is one of the largest student-run engineering career fairs in the nation.

experiences. Professional Day helps students know what to expect and how to succeed in the engineering workforce. Presentations focus on how the profession has developed, what trends to expect in the near future, and what companies expect of new hires. Professional Day also provides career development information from engineers with Engineer in Training, Master of Science and Professional Engineer degrees, and more. A panel discussion with an open Q&A follows the presentations, as well as donated door prizes and dinner. All civil engineering students are invited to participate and expand their network.

SEC CAREER FAIR The SEC Career Fair is the premier recruiting event for the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University.

The career fair is planned, organized and staffed by the Student Engineers’ Council and is one of the largest, studentrun engineering career fairs in the nation.

The program brings industry leaders to the classroom to help prepare the next generation of engineers by sharing their real-world experiences in industry.

Historically, more than 10,400 engineering and industrial distribution students attend the career fair seeking internships, co-ops, and full-time positions from the 425-plus companies that attend.

Their roles across campus include: •

Undergraduate, master’s and doctorate-level classroom instruction

Development of new teaching curriculum reflecting cuttingedge industry technology and new educational practices

Research adviser and principal investigator for research grants

Industry liaisons to identify research topics and support

Professional society officers and members

Student mentors and curriculum advisers Faculty advisers to student professional organizations

Learn more about the SEC Career fair at:

PROFESSORS OF PRACTICE The civil engineering department employs six professors of practice. The professor of practice program was established by the College of Engineering at Texas A&M as part of its 25 by 25 Initiative to grow to 25,000 students (undergraduate and graduate students) by 2025.




Camp BUILD counselors and campers on final day, the bridge build-out competition.

Foamboard beam holds up under full weight.

High school students attending this year’s Camp BUILD explored the world of civil engineering in a whirlwind week filled with hands-on experience, design projects, real-world problem solving, competitions and tours at Texas A&M University.

the water purification process. They also participated in a demonstration of electrical coagulation in water treatment.

Camp BUILD is a one-week camp hosted by the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M to introduce high school juniors and seniors to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and the civil engineering discipline. From purifying water collected in a local creek to designing a bridge, students witnessed the ins and outs of the study and profession of civil engineering in all of its various disciplines. “Camp BUILD is a major K-12 outreach program where we work to minimize common barriers to entering the profession,” said Dr. Kelly Brumbelow, associate professor and assistant department head for undergraduate programs. “Our camp activities follow good STEM practice where everything is hands-on, learning by doing and seeing first-hand. There’s no text or notes to take because we


want students to see their efforts come to tangible fruition by their own work, not by reading it in someone else’s book. Many of us who are now engineers were fortunate to have these types of experiences early in our lives, and we want to bring that engagement to this next generation.”

“There’s no text or notes to take because we want students to see their efforts come to tangible fruition by their own work, not by reading it in someone else’s book.” Throughout the week, campers participated in numerous hands-on lab activities. The activities were designed to expose students to the various specialties within civil engineering. In the environmental engineering lab, students worked alongside Dr. Shankar Chellam, J. Walter “Deak” Porter ’22 and James W. “Bud” Porter ’51 Professor, to explore the use of chemical coagulation in addition to filtration to emphasize the necessity of pre-treatment during

Additionally, students designed and constructed a pipe system spanning a 20-foot gap starting from a garden hose connected to a spigot and ending in a lawn sprinkler. The campers learned the concept of head loss – loss of kinetic energy in the water due to friction. The goal was to achieve the farthest spray out of the sprinkler and soak one of their counselors, sitting some distance away. In the hydrology box experiment, students learned about the rate of water flow in sediment and how it is affected by urbanization. Avery Flessner, a counselor at Camp BUILD and sophomore in the department of civil engineering, studies water resources and was especially thrilled about this subject. “The idea here is to show that increasing urbanization greatly affects how water flows over land, proving a further need for water resources engineers that would manage surface and groundwater run-off,” said Flessner. “It’s fun to be able to interact with them and share my passion for the


Final bridge build on competition day.

candidates from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Campers design for pipe system, attempting to soak a camp counselor with best water pressure.

profession and what I want to study.” Campers participated in a beam design project using scale models they made with foam boards and balsa wood. The campers also got to see aspects of structural engineering up close when touring the new Zachry Engineering Education Complex, the future undergraduate engineering facility currently under construction. “It was a great hands-on experience. I learned I really like the water resources and structural aspects [of civil engineering],” said Elizabeth Chong, a junior from Taylor High School. The wooden bridge project was a daily activity through the week. The campers were split into smaller teams to design a bridge that spanned a minimum of 10 feet and could support a vertical load of 200 pounds. The best bridge was decided in the competition held at the end of the weeklong session, where each team had 25 minutes to construct its bridge based on its preplanned design.

Additionally, campers had the chance to learn and use surveying equipment, apply AutoCAD software to design projects and visit the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI). At the TTI campus, campers were introduced to the multidiscipline research behind most transportation engineering. These activities taught the campers about important civil engineering concepts, teamwork, cooperation, creativity, time management and how to work under time limits. Due to its success over the past two years, the civil engineering department hosted two, one-week sessions of Camp BUILD this year. More than 95 students from Texas, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, California and Louisiana applied to participate in this year’s camps. Sixty applicants were chosen to attend based on academic achievement, with a greater focus on those whose high schools do not offer engineering courses. The 60 students selected represented the most highly qualified

“A key factor in connecting the participants to the university, the college of engineering and the department has been to keep the number of participants at a level that allows them to build relationships with one another, the counselors and faculty,” said Dr. Robin Autenrieth, department head and A.P. and Florence Wiley Professor. “We want each participant to know they are special to us and to leave the camp with fond memories and a deeper awareness of engineering, especially civil engineering.” The rising senior campers have had remarkable success in their applications and admissions to Texas A&M and the college of engineering. Over the past three years, 73 percent of seniors have been admitted into Texas A&M and 85 percent of those have entered or will be entering the college. “This camp has been amazing. I’ve learned so much about being a civil engineer and I can’t wait to apply it,” said Blazer Humphries, a junior from New Diana High School. For more information, visit:




Taiwan group photo on cultural outing.

Looking to explore new horizons — literally and figuratively — 99 students from the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University traveled the world to study the ways civil engineers build our world. The department led four study abroad programs in Spain, Italy and Taiwan this past summer. This marked the first civil engineering study abroad trip to Taiwan, with 14 students attending the inaugural trip, living in Taipei for five weeks. The courses offered on the trip were taught by Texas A&M faculty at the National Taiwan University (NTU) campus located in Taipei. The trip was led by Dr. Kuang-An Chang, professor, and Dr. Kung-Hui Chu, associate professor, who taught the classes and led cultural and technical visits. Founded in 1928, NTU is considered one of the most prestigious universities in Asia. Through NTU, the students enjoyed a worldclass learning environment both in education and culture, as well as opportunities to participate in research and cultural activities. A civil engineering related technical


Student submission of Taiwanese culture in structures.

visit to the Yuansantze Flood Diversion Project was arranged through NTU’s alumni network. Students were impressed by this innovative feat of civil engineering, as the project diverts the Keelung River through a tunnel under a mountain and into the ocean to prevent flooding in the Keelung River Basin.

“It was very cool to get to apply what I’m learning toward real life, especially from an environmental aspect, getting to see how pollution affects the real world.” “The students saw a real structure of a flood mitigation project that diverts flow from a flood-prone river through a 40-foot diameter, 1.5-mile tunnel under a mountain to the ocean on the other side, as well as the sediment pool that minimizes sediment going through the tunnel,” said Chang. “They also saw the other side of the tunnel where the water comes out, the energy dissipation structure at the tunnel exit that minimizes erosion

caused by the high-speed flow, and discussed the environmental issues caused by the high volume of fresh water abruptly entering the ocean and its impact to a local fishery.” Beyond the structural and water resources aspects, this visit also highlighted the environmental aspects of civil engineering at the point where the river meets the ocean. The combination of fresh water into a salt water environment has a large impact of sea life and fishing in the area. Students saw for themselves the impacts of such a project, both beneficial, such as removing the threat of flooding in the area, and detrimental, like dealing with adverse environmental impacts. “It was very cool to get to apply what I’m learning toward real life, especially from an environmental aspect, getting to see how pollution affects the real world,” said Crystal Salazar, a senior civil engineering student who participated in the trip. Studying in Taipei presents a perfect opportunity for students to explore the culture and engineering profession in Asia in a very safe and enriching environment.


Student submission from Spain trip.

Beyond the classes and technical visits, the students visited the Taipei Zoo, Maokong Gondola — a gondola lift system — Taipei 101 — a supertall skyscraper — the National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium, Kenting National Park, the National Palace Museum and the Longshan Temple. Students also had five days for free travel around Taiwan and neighboring countries. “Before this trip, I never considered visiting Asia, and now I want to go everywhere in Asia,” said Salazar. “I feel like it opened more doors for me culturally.” Texas A&M is currently in the process of finalizing an exchange program with NTU, which would allow Aggie engineering students to take classes in Taiwan that count toward their degree. This summer also marked the second year for the trip to Italy and the 11th

Student submission from Rome trip.

year to Spain. The civil engineering program hosted two trips to Italy, led by associate professors Dr. Luca Quadrifoglio and Dr. Ivan Damnjanovic. The first was a three-week course based in the center of Rome. The trip included cultural visits to various locations in Rome as well as to Pompeii and Florence, and a technical visit to METRO C, a civil engineering firm. The second was a five-week trip to Trieste, near Venice. Students studied at the University of Trieste, one of the top 400 universities worldwide. On this trip, students had the opportunity to visit Venice, Vajont Dam/Dolomites, Croatia and Slovenia. Additionally, the students visited Dizzani/De Eccher, a large international civil engineering firm. The yearly trip to Spain included a group of 50 students, led by civil engineering faculty Dr. Joseph Bracci,

professor, and Dr. Francisco Olivera, associate professor, and Dr. Harry Hogan, professor in mechanical engineering. The primary location of the trip was Castilla-La Mancha, however students traveled to Bilbao, San Sebastian and Valencia in Spain, and Porto, Portugal. Students had the opportunity to take a technical visit to the construction of the bypass tunnel of the Undurraga reservoir for water supply of the city of Bilbao, and the Canal de Navarra for irrigation water supply for the Navarra region. It was a heavily immersive experience due to high levels of interaction with Spanish students at the University of Castilla-La Mancha and the opportunity to live with a local host family. For more information, visit: http://




Luna and Gowisnock complete compression testing at Penn State laboratory.

Ross Luna, a junior in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University, had the unique opportunity of participating in the 10-week Research Experience for Undergraduates Program (REUP) over last summer. Students from Texas A&M and Penn State University’s colleges of engineering coordinated to create this program that aims to promote mutual awareness and collaboration between faculty and students at the two prestigious universities. Additionally, it provided opportunities for undergraduate students to participate in real research projects early in their academic careers. The goal is that these experiences will help broaden their engineering education early in their studies. The program was split into two fiveweek sections, half at Texas A&M and half at Penn State. They were advised by Dr. Aleksandra Radlinska, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Penn State and Dr. Zachary Grasley, civil engineering associate professor at Texas A&M. Students had the opportunity to design their own cement mortar, induce it to leaching in ammonium nitrate, 12

Luna presents at symposium.

and test their samples in tension and compression using the machinery in the civil engineering research labs.

to professors in various disciplines of engineering at a symposium and networked with peers and faculty in their fields.

“It was an amazing experience and it truly opened my eyes to wanting to pursue graduate school in structural engineering at Texas A&M.”

“It was an amazing experience and it truly opened my eyes to wanting to pursue graduate school in structural engineering at Texas A&M,” said Luna.

Luna also enjoyed the opportunity to show the students from Penn State around campus, teach them Aggie traditions, introduce them to Texas barbecue and take them on a road trip to Austin to celebrate the Fourth of July. At Penn State, Luna conducted research under Radlinska. This research focused on how different cement mixtures performed against restrained shrinkage around steel reinforcements. The goal of the research at both universities was to explore ways to increase the longevity and durability of concrete. The students were able to take part in real research and assist respected professionals in their fields of study. At the end of the program, Luna and his partner presented their results

Grasley added that the program may help recruit REUP participants to the universities’ graduate programs, once the students discover the opportunities for creativity and discovery that graduate research affords. Although the students spent a majority of their time working with their advisers to advance their research efforts, they also had ample opportunities to explore the culture in the states they visited. During their free time in Pennsylvania, students took a trip to Philadelphia during the Democratic National Convention, visited New York City and attended a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game. The opportunity to participate in such research made a lasting impact on the students involved. For more information, visit:



Clark (right), BUILD members and President Young

volunteers and make contacts with potential donors. So far, BUILD has raised $70,000 of its $100,000 goal for the fall semester construction.

Kenyan medical clinic visited by BUILD’s faculty adviser, which became the inspiration for BUILD taking on the construction of such clinics, as well as the design.

BUILD, a student-led organization that is aimed at unifying the student body through physical effort, is making waves across the Texas A&M University campus for its innovative and aspirational endeavors. The organization, which also aims to connect students from all different types of organizations, educational backgrounds, fields of study and aspects of Texas A&M, accomplishes this by encouraging students to work together in planning, organizing and constructing a project. The long-term vision of BUILD is to build and send out portable medical clinics around the world in honor of those who lost their lives in the collapse of the Aggie Bonfire, as it was a tradition that pursued these same Aggie core values. Annie Clark, a senior in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, is heavily involved in the BUILD organization. Passionate about service and giving back, Clark has served as a student supervisor and a member of the marketing command team.

Over the past three years, BUILD has done impressive work for the community, both locally and globally. In 2013, BUILD partnered with the Bryan and College Station Habitat for Humanity chapter to build a house for a local single mother and her family. This was BUILD’s first project, but hundreds came out to help, and it turned out to be a great success.

“My studies and internships in civil engineering have helped me understand what all goes into a large project, from the design to construction to funding,” said Clark. “As a civil engineer you get to help people and make decisions that will impact the public for a long time. BUILD is such a cool project because we are helping people in the Caribbean, Central America and Africa.” What initially drew Clark to BUILD was how the organization’s mission reflects the Aggie core value of selfless service.

In 2014, BUILD began a three-year project to turn 12 shipping containers into portable medical clinics called Texas Aggie Medical Clinics (TAMCs). The 12 portable clinics are dedicated to the 12 Aggies who lost their lives in the Bonfire collapse of 1999. In its final year of this project, BUILD plans to finish the shipping container project by completing and dedicating the final four clinics.

“I wanted to join an organization that completely revolved around service,” she said. “Selfless service is a Texas A&M core value for a reason and we, as a large university with an even larger network, have the manpower and resources to do great things. I was fascinated by BUILD because it related to my career goals to help impoverished communities.”

As a student supervisor, Clark helped oversee and plan the construction of the TAMC units in the fall of 2015. Now on the marketing command team, she has been responsible for creating videos to attract donors and volunteers. Her position also involves speaking to other student organizations to recruit

After graduating, Clark hopes to pursue a master’s degree in water resources in order to help create clean, sustainable water systems in her career as a civil engineer. For more information, visit:




Birely’s team finished building pretensioned bent caps specimens at the precast yard at Bexar Concrete Works. Behind the team is the prestressing bed where pretensioned concrete members are constructed.

The High Bay Structural and Materials Testing Laboratory in the Zachry Department Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University is home to several million dollars’ worth of equipment and is one of the largest and best-equipped facilities of its kind located in the South and Southwest. Dr. Peter Keating, director of the lab and associate professor in the department, is currently conducting research on the integrity of existing pipelines to improve the safety of the operation of these pipelines in the United States. Keating is also studying the fatigue behavior of eyebars, structural supports in bridges, to establish the behavior in which they fatigue over time, the first study of its kind. The 110-year-old eyebars in the laboratory came from decommissioned railroad bridges. Keating has hosted various other materials through the years, including the testing of scaffolding and a Civil War-era ship, the CSS Georgia. “We have done some interesting work including characterizing the strength of a civil war armament on a ship,” Keating


The team’s first beam specimen reached the maximum capacity, causing failure after having the loads applied.

said. “Since the U.S. Army of Engineers had to move this ship for dredging of the Charleston Harbor, they needed to know the limitations of what they could lift.” Dr. Anna Birely, assistant professor in the department, and a team of students are working to validate new design methods to allow prestressed concrete bridge components to be used in bridge substructures.

“Being able to apply concepts learned in my engineering classes has greatly improved my understanding of class material.” This project will determine how prestressed bridge components can be used to eliminate cracking under service loads. The results will be used to validate the preliminary design procedures developed by Birely’s team. Students design the full-scale structure specimen and attend the facilities in which the specimen are constructed. In some instances, students have the hands-on

opportunity to participate in building the specimens and even contribute to the fabrication of pretensioned bridge components at a precast plant, allowing the students to follow the project from beginning to end. “The project has brought together a diverse group of students working together,” Birely said. “We have students from around the globe; students with backgrounds in different industries; students pursuing ME, MS and Ph.D. degrees; and students pursuing careers in industry and academia.” Nicholas Danney, a senior in the civil engineering department, has been working as one of Birely’s assistants since April 2016. He is currently involved with the prestressed bentcap project, where he assists in the set up and tear down of the full-scale concrete bentcaps. “Some days I look down at the lab while I am working on top of a 20-foottall steel frame, and other days I am getting my hands dirty pouring concrete,” said Danney. “Regardless of the various activities, I consistently learn new things every day in the lab.”



The Center for Infrastructure Renewal rendering. Keating demonstrates hydraulic fatigue load frame with 1.5 million pound capacity.

The undergraduate and graduate students employed in the lab with Birely and Keating benefit from opportunities to work with full-scale specimens and they are provided with unique experiences while following the processes from start to finish. “Working in the high bay lab has been a very unique and rewarding experience,” Danney said. “I have been able to translate many aspects of civil engineering that I have learned in the classroom into real-world, hands-on practice. Being able to apply concepts learned in my engineering classes has greatly improved my understanding of class material.” This 4,000-square-foot facility enables the performance of full-scale tests to simulate real-world conditions on structural systems using various types of loads. The lab will begin moving to the Center for Infrastructure Renewal at the end of 2017, and is expected to resume normal functions early in 2018.

The Center for Infrastructure Renewal will house researchers who are developing advanced and sustainable materials and structural systems that will reduce cost and extend infrastructure life, safety, resiliency and durability. Technology and new materials developed in the CIR will lower infrastructure construction costs, increase the lifespan of these materials and perform the repairs in a shorter time frame across the state and nation. When complete, the testing facility will be one of the largest in the world, connecting researchers and experts from the field so that they can work together to find solutions to challenging infrastructure needs. The new facility will enable Texas A&M to test very large structural elements that weren’t previously possible, as well as have the ability to lead in an array of smart infrastructure research initiatives. It will also combine capabilities from electrical, computer science, civil and mechanical engineering, as well as the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) and Texas A&M Transportation Institute

(TTI) in different ways to develop better solutions for infrastructure renewal. With the new visualization facility at the CIR, researchers will be able to visualize the building process as well as different structural failures in 3D, to enhance both the research and workforce development components. After a nationwide search, Dr. Bjorn Birgisson was named director of the CIR. He is a TEES Distinguished Research Professor and a professor in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University. The CIR will be located in on the new RELLIS Campus and is expected to be completed in 2018. The world-class facility will feature laboratories and testing facilities equipped with the latest technology dedicated to: •

Pavement Materials


Materials Evaluation

Electric Power Grid

Pipeline System Integrity

Infrastructure Systems

The CIR is a joint research center of TEES and TTI.




Madeline Ramey, newly graduated, outside of Reed Arena with mom, Melissa Ramey ‘81.

Randall Ramey ‘81 presents his daughter with her Aggie ring, April 2015.

Ramey’s internship on Jack/St. Malo Offshore Platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

A true Aggie legacy, Madeline Ramey is the daughter of two Aggie civil engineers, Melissa and Randall Ramey, both class of 1981. Madeline studied the general track in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering.

field,” she said. “My parents then stepped in and suggested I go for civil because the world always needs more civil engineers, and the career paths are endless.”

She recalls watching concrete and steel pillars being “blown up” in the materials lab, but thinking to herself that she would never actually get to do something that cool as an undergrad.

She feels she has been an Aggie as long as she can remember. She graduated with her very own degree in civil engineering in December 2016.

“During my first semester at Texas A&M, I took the time to find my parents’ senior photos on the civil engineering ‘wall of fame.’ It makes me proud to know that I am following in their footsteps.”

“Come to find out, that’s exactly what I ended up doing in my materials of construction lab,” said Ramey. “I think this exemplifies the culture of the department because they really do teach us real stuff. The entire faculty wants us to succeed and learn everything we can.”

“I’ve been going to Aggie football games since I was in middle school. My dad is a die-hard fan,” said Ramey. “We always parked in the engineering parking lot, lot 50, just so he and my mom could walk across the engineering side of campus to Kyle Field.” Needless to say, the Ramey family has plenty of history on that part of campus. In fact, Mr. and Mrs. Ramey first met in room 110 in the civil engineering building, the same building their daughter took classes of her own. Her path as a civil engineer was not always so clear. “I knew I wanted to go into engineering, but I had no idea what


Luckily her parents’ advice worked out and just like her parents, Ramey quickly fell in love with civil engineering. “I couldn’t imagine studying anything else,” she said. Ramey’s journey with civil engineering began at Aggieland Saturday before her freshman year, where she got to see various demonstrations in the civil engineering labs.

As a graduate, Ramey is proud to follow in her parents’ footsteps. Despite the changing curriculum and new technologies that have transformed the field of civil engineering, and in effect the engineering curriculum, she still feels a sense of connection to her parents through the Department of Civil Engineering. “During my first semester at Texas A&M, I took the time to find my parents’ senior photos on the civil engineering ‘wall of fame,’” said Ramey. “It makes me proud to know that I am


Melissa and Randall at Kyle Field, fall 2015.

following in their footsteps.” Her father specialized in structural engineering, and her mother in geotechnical engineering. In this sense, Ramey has taken her own path, choosing the general track of civil engineering with a certificate in engineering project management. “I chose the general track because I wanted a broad knowledge base and I added on the engineering project management certificate to learn management fundamentals from professors in the Mays Business School,” she said.

Melissa and Randall at Ring Dance, spring 1981.

about civil engineering. Your degree applies to much more than simply roads and buildings,” Ramey said. “Many high-level managers have a background in civil engineering because it’s at the foundation of all major oil and gas projects.” Ramey was successful outside of the classroom as well. She was a member and vice president of member education of Delta Gamma sorority and a Muster host for the 2016 Aggie Muster. As a Muster host, Ramey hosted two families being honored at the 2016 ceremony.

Ramey followed her father’s footsteps and entered the oil and gas industry after graduation, where she knows her civil engineering background will play a major role.

She encourages fellow and future students to be proactive in getting involved in the industry, getting as many internships as possible before graduation so that they can have an idea of the area they’re passionate about.

“Whenever I tell people I want to work for an oil and gas company, they assume that I’m not going to use my civil engineering degree, but that’s one of the great things

“I highly encourage students in their freshman and sophomore year to be proactive with their career development,” she said “Even if you think you won’t get a job because

you haven’t gotten into your civilspecific classes, go ahead and talk to professionals, get an idea of what you would like to do when you graduate.” Ramey will work for Chevron’s San Joaquin Valley Business Unit located in Bakersfield, California. She will be working as a facilities engineer, responsible for supporting enhancements and improved efficiencies within an existing oilfield operation. “I’m looking forward to the new adventure. Not only will I be experiencing a change in scenery moving to California, but I will be faced with engineering challenges I’ve not seen before,” said Ramey. “One of the many reasons for choosing civil engineering was the versatility and many career options that become available. I love being faced with new opportunities and chances for growth.”




Students participate in dialogue circles to discuss how to lead with authenticity.

The Zachry Leadership Program is a joint effort between the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University and the Zachry Group. The program aims to empower engineering students to become future leaders well-versed in the free enterprise system, collaborative in their decisionmaking and self-confident in their behaviors. The five-semester leadership program, commencing spring of the sophomore year, is designed to provide a broader perspective of the world in which students will live and work. It gives them a sense of how they will fit into the world of engineering, a deeper insight into their individual potential and a specific view of how they want to begin their professional careers.


The program aims to maximize each participant’s potential to contribute to business and society at large.

“These young people all have a passion for making a difference in the world, and we want to empower each one of them to do so.” The Zachry Leadership Program looks for candidates who are interested in developing their leadership skills and gaining broader business knowledge. Participants have the opportunity to create strong relationships with other participants and professionals, interact with remarkable people and establish

a strong foundation from which to launch their professional careers. “This group of students will be introduced to leadership principles like self-awareness, empathy, creativity and authenticity, and will also learn about business and citizenship,” said Seth Sullivan, director of the Zachry Leadership Program. “These young people all have a passion for making a difference in the world, and we want to empower each one of them to do so.” The Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M had four students join the spring 2017 cohort. Their first semester recently kicked off with a retreat, and already they’ve noticed a change in mentality, as well as the development of aspirations for the program.


CIVIL ENGINEERS IN THE ZACHRY LEADERSHIP PROGRAM | 2017 JOSEPH NELSON, SOPHOMORE | ARLINGTON, TEXAS Civil engineering discipline or area of study: Water resources Some benefits of the Zachry Leadership Program: The benefits of this program to me as a student include evaluation and reflection of what leadership truly is, realizing what leadership means to me personally, and unlocking the intrinsic values and passions within myself to hone my perspective, skills and drive to become a great leader. The benefits in regards to my studies are exposure to how great leaders of today developed their careers and morals, and applying what I learn to how I approach my classes and organizations. Career goals: I have some ideas and options as to what my future holds. However, the ultimate dream is to move from the United States to an underdeveloped country, preferably in Latin America due to personal motives and aspirations, and share what I have to give: knowledge I learn here, application of that knowledge and love.

ELIZABETH “ABBEY” PHILLIPS, SOPHOMORE | HOUSTON, TEXAS Civil engineering discipline or area of study: Undecided but leaning toward construction and management Some benefits of the Zachry Leadership Program: I think particularly in engineering--where your potential effect on the general public could one day be very large--it’s important to know why you want to be a leader and ultimately for what purpose. I personally don’t know the answers to those questions for myself yet; however, the program has already begun steering me to the answers. Throughout this program, we are really trying to identify what is truly important to us, our strengths and weaknesses, and how to foster a positive work environment as a leader. I think all of these things are extremely valuable to bring into academic settings--especially those where collaboration with other students is necessary. I’m currently undecided on what civil engineering track I want to pursue, and I believe that this leadership program will really help to bring some clarity to that decision. Career goals: My ultimate goal is to serve others. I have no idea whether my sphere of influence will be here in Texas or in a completely different state or country, but I do know that I want my work to improve the value of people’s lives no matter where I am.



CIVIL ENGINEERS IN THE ZACHRY LEADERSHIP PROGRAM | 2017 SARAH RICHARD, SOPHOMORE | HOUSTON, TEXAS Civil engineering discipline or area of study: Water resources Some benefits of the Zachry Leadership Program: Based on the first retreat, the program has begun to teach me that there is no set of criteria you have to meet to be a leader. My life story makes me a unique leader and it’s important for me to use my life story to strengthen my values and make myself a leader who leads but also listens. Career goals: My future goals are to pursue a career focused on flood planning and transporting clean water to impoverished areas. With my engineering and business knowledge, I want to share my passion for academia with minority students at schools that lack passionate math teachers. I hope to encourage minority students to pursue a STEM degree and gain confidence in their math and science abilities.

JOSE EMANUEL QUIROS, SOPHOMORE | COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS Civil engineering discipline or area of study: General civil engineering, minor in project management, civil engineering honors student Some benefits of the Zachry Leadership Program: I’ve become a more effective leader in student organizations, even earning higher leadership positions in organizations like the American Society of Civil Engineers since joining the program. The opportunity to join the program has definitely helped me and many of my peers discover what we truly want to do with our degrees. This is thanks to the amazing instructors and mentors, in addition to the visiting members of industry who provide us with advice and guidance. The program serves as a supplement to my academic studies here at Texas A&M. By being a part of this program, I will gain a broad understanding of business and have the opportunity to develop my leadership skills; these are things that are not necessarily included in most engineering curricula. I am fortunate to be surrounded by other high achieving and highly motivated students from all of the different engineering disciplines. I’m able to gain knowledge about the other engineering fields and learn to work with my fellow students in an effort to devise solutions to complex problems. An added benefit of being around this particular group of students is that we push one another to do our best, even when things get tough. In fact, many of us study together or tutor one another if needed. Career goals: Once I graduate, I plan on working under a licensed professional engineer (PE) until I am able to earn my PE license. Afterwards, I want to start my own engineering consulting firm.




Photo courtesy of Engineering Academic and Student Affairs office (EASA).

Photo courtesy of EASA.

From lifesaving medical applications to progressive classroom technology, Aggies Invent paves the way for multidisciplinary innovation. The College of Engineering at Texas A&M University hosts Aggies Invent several times over the course of the academic year, promoting innovation, creativity and communication skills in all fields of study.

Yazan Zakaria and Purvit Soni are two students within the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering that put their skills to work at Aggies Invent. Zakaria, a senior, and Soni, a master’s student, each joined up with other students in various fields of study to create something meaningful and wide reaching.

Aggies Invent is a 48-hour intensive design experience offered at the Engineering Innovation Center, a 20,000-square-foot rapid prototyping lab on the campus of Texas A&M. These events engage 60 or more students in multidisciplinary and multi-level teams in hands-on projects that challenge and encourage their technical and personal skills. Each event has a specific theme, like medical applications, education or construction management, designed in collaboration with industry and faculty.

“It is one of the most challenging programs that will bring out the best of your abilities and widen your knowledge of this field, giving you both theoretical and practical exposure to face real world problems effectively.” Each team competes for cash awards based on the final presentations of their projects at the end of the 48-hour period. First place takes home $1,000, second place receives $750 and third place is awarded $500. The end goal of Aggies Invent is to provide students the opportunity to acquire skills essential to becoming successful innovation leaders as well as to support them in founding startup companies based on their inventions.

Zakaria participated in the “Conflict, Development and Social Entrepreneurship” event held in October 2015. His team, named Life Pack, developed a backpack designed to provide survival tools for refugees in times of crisis. They created an easy to assemble, rugged pack with various potentially life saving features. “This backpack was easy to make and held many features such as a flotation device, powdered food, a heater, a first-aid kit and even a cooking pot,” said Zakaria. Aggies Invent continued on pg. 22. 21



Photo courtesy of EASA.

Aggies Invent continued from pg. 21.

The pack provides up to two weeks of survival material, and is made of nonflammable, heavy duty material. In their final presentation, Zakaria and his team had the opportunity to present their project with a short video to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Following their presentation, the USAID representative offered to hire the team and begin production of their project if they were able to develop their Life Pack into a fully functioning product. Soni attended the “Bring Your Own Idea” event in September 2016. Soni’s team was called SnapDesk, and their idea was a backpack that can be used as a portable desk and chair for students in developing countries. The lightweight pack was designed for young students to be able to easily carry and convert.


“The concept of a portable desk really touched me,” said Soni. “Being from a developing country, I know that it is a major problem when students don’t have desks to write on and have to hunch on the floor to write in dimly lit classrooms.” As a graduate student on a team of mostly undergraduates, Soni was naturally a valuable asset to the team. He helped in all aspects of the brainstorming and engineering design, as well as researching existing competitors in the market and other data relevant to the project. “It is one of the most challenging programs that will bring out the best of your abilities and widen your knowledge of this field, giving you both theoretical and practical exposure to face real world problems effectively,” Soni said.

Creativity is accelerated through a combination of imagination, ability, space, tools and materials. It is enhanced by having a place where ideas can be tested, refined and tested again as rapidly as possible. Having the right tools and materials readily available allows students to build amazing creations that expand the realms of possibility. The EIC is an open space where engineering students have access to state-of-the-art prototyping tools, equipment, material and support staff. Through partnerships with industry and nonprofit sponsors, the EIC is an environment where concepts become solutions to real-world problems and student teams come together to build new prototypes, acquire new skills and develop new relationships. The EIC is supported with differential tuition funds and it is open to engineering undergraduate students.


COMING FALL 2017 Living on campus just got better! The Engineering Commons-

We’ve got you covered!

Rendering of the renovated lounge area in the Living Learning Center Complex.

The Engineering Commons is a residential program for engineering students, designed to ease the transition into the rigors of university life by offering academic, professional and social support. The Engineering Commons provides an atmosphere that encourages students to strive for academic excellence, develop a strong and cohesive support system that will serve them throughout their academic career, recognize how academic and professional careers are interrelated, and discover what it means to be a part of a community of scholars. Students enrolled in the program are more likely to remain in engineering than students that chose to live elsewhere. Engineering Commons offers residents access to peer mentors and peer tutors to support each student’s academic and personal growth.

Peer mentors are upper-level engineering students who live in the residence halls and help students navigate their first year of college. Peer mentors also plan and host engaging activities to help students get involved and have fun with other freshmen.

Living learning communities work, and we want more students to experience the success associated with this program. Peer tutors are available five nights a week and are located right inside each residence hall. Tutors help students with firstyear engineering, math and science courses, helping to guide the academic efforts of freshmen as they transition from high school to college.

Living learning communities work, and we want more students to experience the success associated with this program. This fall, the university has expanded the program from one residence hall housing 650 students to multiple residence halls with the capacity to house up to 3,000 students. There is no additional cost for living in the Engineering Commons. We have established targeted communities to provide students with the individual support they need to transition into university life. From entrepreneurship-focused communities to leadership and healthy living — we’ve got you covered.





Undergraduate Program Spring Magazine 2017  

2017 Undergraduate Spring magazine for the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University.

Undergraduate Program Spring Magazine 2017  

2017 Undergraduate Spring magazine for the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University.