Category: Students

2024 CEGE Department Awards

The annual Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering Departmental Awards Ceremony was held on April 11, 2024. Great job and congratulations to the award winners.

Department Scholar Award

Interim Chair Brian Barkdoll and Parker Lyden
Interim Chair Brian Barkdoll and Parker Lyden

Senior status during the next academic year

• Represents the best of student scholarship in the department

• Participates in research or scholarly activities

• Has a high level of intellectual curiosity

• Shows intellectual creativity

• Demonstrates communication skills 

Presented to: Parker Lyden, environmental engineering major – nominated Nominated by Audra Morse

I have come to know Parker much better as the advisor of the Built World Enterprise, and although there are many deserving students, I think Parker truly represents the attitude, curiosity, and passion a department scholar should possess. 

I met Parker when he attended the inaugural year of Prep4Tech program. The next year, he helped support the Prep4Tech program in a leadership position. He joined the Built World Enterprise in his second year, and he volunteered to lead a group of fellow students in the Timber-Strong Design Build Competition sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Why is this significant? No one at Michigan Tech had participated in the Timber-Strong Competition, ever. Parker was a second-year student taking statics and solid mechanics, and he is an environmental engineering major and did not have any structural expertise. Did that stop him and his team? Absolutely not! They had the largest structure and the fastest building time at the competition. He is leading the team again this year. I believe taking on this role and learning about structural design shows a high level of intellectual curiosity and intellectual creativity.

Parker is a talented oral communicator, and he has strong written skills. I think he positively fulfills the behavior, attitude and passion expected of a departmental scholar. 

Nicole Bloom Award for Environmental Sustainability

Interim Chair Brian Barkdoll and Cailin Bishop
Interim Chair Brian Barkdoll and Cailin Bishop

This award is made annually to an undergraduate civil, environmental, or geospatial engineering student who has demonstrated leadership, passion, and activism for effecting environmental sustainability at the local, national, or global level. This award is accompanied by the Pati and Soumitri Reddy $1000 endowed scholarship.

Presented to:  Cailin Bishop  (nominated by Noel Urban)

From the nomination: It is humbling and awe-inspiring to be surrounded by so many fabulous students that it is difficult to decide whom to nominate for the undergraduate awards.  I would like to nominate Cailin Bishop for this year’s Nicole Bloom award.  Unlike Nicole Bloom, Cailin is one of our first-generation students who grew up without family role models for finding success, finding inspiration, or finding a pathway for her own life through education.  Without that pathway laid out for her, Cailin has had to consciously choose what she values and what is worth working toward in her life.  As did Nicole, Cailin has chosen to excel in academics – she was usually on the Dean’s list and will graduate with honors this spring.  As did Nicole, Cailin has chosen to work to improve the environment around her – she is a long-term member of the Green Campus Enterprise where she has pushed forward the effort to implement composting on campus.  As did Nicole, Cailin has chosen independent research as a tool for learning about topics of interest.  She was awarded a SURF fellowship to study impacts of climate change on lakes.  She has assisted multiple grad students in their research into contaminants in fish.  In her upcoming research MS program, Cailin will also use research as a means for bettering the environment as she develops a monitoring tool for Torch Lake.  Fortunately for all of us, the artistry, the joy in life, the insistence on improving the world that Nicole Bloom exhibited lives on in many of the students here, including Cailin Bishop.

Undergraduate Department Service Award

This award is to recognize a CEGE students that have shown exemplary service to the CEGE Department through student organizations affiliated with the Department (ASCE, Chi Epsilon, Douglass Houghton Student Chapter, EWB, Husky Construction, and Rail Engineering Activity Club). This award is accompanied by a $500 scholarship.

This year we will be recognizing several students for their service to the various programs of the CEGE Department.

Interim Chair Brian Barkdoll and Teddy Ellis
Interim Chair Brian Barkdoll and Teddy Ellis

Teddy Ellis

Nominated by the Construction Management faculty

Teddy has been the President of the Husky Construction and Design Association (HCDA) for the past 2 academic years.  When Teddy took over as President the club was having a tough time. As happened with many student organizations, club membership coming out of the pandemic had declined significantly.

Looking to find value for its members, Teddy and the eboard initiated a number of things.  They found new co-advisors, competed and won first place at the Associated Schools of Construction Region 3 Heavy Civil Estimating competition, organized member field trips to see the Soo Locks Construction Project in partnership with Alberici Construction and attend the Associated General Contractors UP Student Construction Awareness Night at NMU, and brought in industry speakers.

The club has surged in membership, with 56 students currently on the roster. While I credit the entire eboard in this effort, it would not have happened without Teddy’s endless effort of time and his positive attitude.

Interim Chair Brian Barkdoll and Ruth Kirby
Interim Chair Brian Barkdoll and Ruth Kirby

Ruth Kirby   

Nominated by Jeffery Hollingsworth and John Bean

She is a senior in the geospatial engineering program and is also a member of the Douglass Houghton Student Chapter.  She has been very active in supporting the department outreach efforts in geospatial engineering.

Interim Chair Brian Barkdoll and Dylan Lane

Dylan Lane

Nominated by David Watkins

Dylan Lane has been very active in EWB and has taken on several leadership roles in the chapter over the last few years.  In addition to serving as the chapter president (2021-2022), he was the project lead for the Guatemala team (2022 – 2023) and facilitated an assessment trip to Fronterizo, Guatemala in May 2023.  He is currently involved in another trip being planned for May 2024.  He also served on the Bolivia team for one year and contributed significantly to planning the 2022 trip to Santa Cruz, Bolivia.  Lastly, he led organization of the chapter’s 2023 Winter Carnival pasty fundraiser event.  All of these activities have involved a tremendous time investment, and they indicate Dylan’s dedication to the chapter and its partner communities.

Interim Chair Brian Barkdoll and Jonathan Wright
Interim Chair Brian Barkdoll and Jonathan Wright

Jonathan Wright

Nominated by Andrew Swartz

Jonathan Wright – Jonathan has put in a lot of time as captain of the Steel Bridge team.  Under his direction, the team has worked to implement significant innovations in order to adapt to new rules and restrictions in a competitive way.  He has also leaned into the recruiting work that comes along with being the captain for this team, not only for the team itself, but also the department.  Jon can frequently be found volunteering for department recruiting events such as Preview Day, and helping with presentations in courses like CEE1000.

Danielle Ladwig Award for Graduate Excellence

Brian Barkdoll and Libia Hazra (with daughter)
Brian Barkdoll and Libia Hazra (with daughter)

Libia Hazra was nominated by Judith Perlinger for this award.  

Libia has excelled in academics, research, and demonstrated service in the doctoral degree program in environmental engineering. She has been a GTA for several environmental engineering courses since joining the CEGE Department in 2021.  In research, Libia has developed analytical chemistry skills in measuring concentrations of contaminants, lipids, and stable isotopes in fish, and ventured on her own initiative into DNA analysis to understand the Lake Superior food web.  Based on her research and the health concerns with contamination in fish, she applied for and was selected for the competitive Copper Shores graduate fellowship in the Summer of 2024. 

Interim Chair Brian Barkdoll and Miaomiao Li
Interim Chair Brian Barkdoll and Miaomiao Li

Miaomiao Li was nominated by Barbara Dai for this award. 

Miaomiao exemplifies the ideals and qualities celebrated by the Danielle Ladwig Award for Graduate Excellence. Her outstanding achievements in research, teaching, and service, coupled with her exemplary character, make her an exceptional candidate for this prestigious honor.

Miaomiao has been a dedicated Write-D facilitator in our department for two years, demonstrating her commitment to building this weekly writing workshop for graduate students. In this role, she leads writing workshops, builds communities within graduate students in our department, and creates a welcoming and stress-free atmosphere for attendees. With her research, she has worked to improve the resilience of power systems and pavements. In the past three years, she has attended six academic conferences. She has made significant contributions by presenting her research findings, thereby enhancing the visibility of our institution on a broader stage. She has authored nine publications in reputable journals, highlighting her commitment to disseminating valuable insights and findings to the academic community.

Wilbur Haas Graduate Research Excellence Award

The Graduate Research Excellence Award is made annually to a graduate level student in civil or environmental engineering to recognize outstanding student scholarship and research contributions.  This award is accompanied by a $1000 Wilbur Haas Memorial Fellowship.

Nominations for this award:

Yei Lin – nominated by Zhanping You

Miraj Bhakta Kayastha – nominated by Peifeng Xue

Peifeng Su – nominated by Barbara Dai

Presented to:  Miraj Bhakta Kayastha and Peifeng Su

Interim Chair and Peifeng Su
Interim Chair and Peifeng Su

Peifeng Su

During his time at Michigan Tech, Peifeng demonstrated enthusiasm for research projects. He has made valuable contributions to the evaluation and prediction of reinforced concrete corrosion resistance under various conditions.
To date, his research has led to 10 published and 4 in-preparation submissions. Most of his publications were published in well-acknowledged journals that top in the civil material research field.  His articles have been cited 150 times since 2020, according to Google Scholar (h-index 5 and i10-index.  He also presented his research work in the 14th IACIP Annual Online Student Forum 2024 and American Concrete Institution (ACI) 2022 Fall convention.
His research has been recognized as solid and innovative, particularly in investigating concrete performance using experimental and numerical methods. He is a recipient of the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship (spring 2024) in our department recognizing his academic performance.

Interim Chair Brian Barkdoll and MIraj Bhakta Kayastha
Interim Chair Brian Barkdoll and MIraj Bhakta Kayastha

Miraj Bhakta Kayastha

From his nomination…Ever since becoming a part of my research group in the fall of 2019, Miraj has evolved into a well-recognized early-career scientist through numerous impactful research papers, mentions in the news and media, and a strong presence at international conferences. As a PhD student, his main area of focus has been climate modeling and projections for the Great Lakes area. Miraj’s research integrates state-of-the-art Great Lakes climate modeling, tackling significant questions with wide-ranging implications and skillfully translating academic findings into practical scientific applications. Miraj has been consistently representing Michigan Tech and our research group through his various podium presentations at prestigious international conferences in our fields including the AGU Fall Meetings (December 2022, 2023, typical ~25,000 attendees) and Ocean Science Meetings (February 2024, typical ~6,000 attendees). He is currently scheduled to give a podium presentation about his lake-effect snow research at the prestigious European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Meeting in Austria (April 2024, the most prestigious one in Europe in Geoscience). With his active participation in conferences and multi-institutional project meetings, Miraj has established a strong reputation for his research within the Great Lakes scientific community.

GTA of the Year

Interim Chair Brian Barkdoll and Molly Greene
Interim Chair Brian Barkdoll and Molly Greene

We sincerely thank all of our Graduate Teaching Assistants who have diligently worked to deliver a quality laboratory experience.  The junior and senior level undergraduate CEGE students were invited to recognize their contributions.

The 2024 GTA of the Year Award is presented to:  Molly Greene

Faculty of the Year

The junior and senior level undergraduate CEGE students were also invited to recognize the hard work of our faculty in delivering a quality educational experience. 

Kris Mattila and Jennifer Becker - Faculty of the Year
Kris Mattila and Jennifer Becker – Faculty of the Year

In the Civil (structures, materials, geotech) & Geospatial Engineering category  –

Kris Mattila was voted the 2024 Faculty of the Year

In the Environmental Engineering/Civil (Water Resources) Engineering category –

Jennifer Becker was voted the 2024 Faculty of the Year

Department Citizen Award

David Watkins
David Watkins

The Department Citizen Award recognizes a faculty or staff member who goes the extra mile, whether it be in representing the Department, helping colleagues, or participating at events. This award is decided on by the Department Chair.

Alicja Grzegorzek, Seven Others Receive AGC Michigan Scholarships

Alicja Grzegorzek
Alicja Grzegorzek

Congratulations to construction management student Alicja Grzegorzek for being one of the six students selected by the trustees of the AGC (Associated General Contractors) of Michigan Educational Endowment Fund (EEF) for a 2024–25 endowed scholarship!

Grzegorzek is the recipient of the Louis C. Verrette Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship.

In addition, seven other Michigan Technological University students were awarded 2024–25 AGC of Michigan EEF Trustee Scholarships. Join us in congratulating Rachel Blaine, Brandon Dobson, Theodore Ellis, Cooper Raasch, Austin Ridl, Christopher Short and Rachel Weyenberg on their achievements!

Making A History out of Mysteries: My Journey at Michigan Tech

Guest Blog by Hriatpuii Vanlal, MS in Civil Engineering, Michigan Tech

Hriatpuii Vanlal
Hriatpuii Vanlal

As I embarked upon my academic journey at Michigan Tech, I encountered a multitude of challenges that tested my commitment from the outset. Each obstacle presented a chapter in a narrative that has profoundly shaped my personal and academic trajectory.

Amid the uncertainties that beset me, my steadfast faith and belief began to falter, and I found myself on the brink of surrender. It was during this vulnerable moment of despair that I encountered Dr. Audra Morse, the esteemed Department Chair at the time. Her inquiry into my well-being and subsequent invitation to her office provided a timely beacon of hope, serving as a catalyst for renewed determination. In a milieu where diversity in age, ethnicity, lifestyle, and academic pursuits distinguished me from my peers, I never experienced disregard or neglect. The unwavering support and guidance of the faculty, particularly the professors within my course of study, played an integral role in shaping my academic journey.

It is paramount to recognize the invaluable support provided by Dr. Theresa M. Ahlborn, respected Professor Emerita. Her intense dedication to my academic pursuits was evident through her provision of a dedicated study space within her office. Dr. Ahlborn’s consistent encouragement and guidance were instrumental in navigating the challenges I faced, for both academic and personal development.

Though the trials I faced were arduous and often perplexing, I now reflect with gratitude upon the strength I have gained from confronting them. Each experience has contributed to my personal growth, molding me into a stronger individual than I was before.

“I extend my deepest gratitude to the eminent faculty and officials of Michigan Technological University for their assistance and guidance throughout my coursework for a Master’s Degree. Their collective efforts have undoubtedly played a pivotal role in the fulfillment of my destined purpose.”

Outstanding Student Traffic Safety Achievement Award for Yingtong Tan

Yingtong Tan
Yingtong Tan

WLUC TV6 covered Ph.D. student Yingtong Tan (civil engineering) being awarded an Outstanding Student Traffic Safety Achievement Award by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission (GTSAC) for her research on the safety challenges posed by highway rail-grade crossings. Tan was presented with the award on March 13, 2024, in East Lansing.

Tan was the first in the United States to deploy the Rail Crossing Violation Warning (RCVW) system at rail-grade crossings. This prototype is designed to warn drivers of imminent violations of a crossing based on real-time positioning and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication.

The GTSAC was formed in 2002 to serve as the state’s forum for identifying key traffic safety challenges and developing and implementing plans to address those issues.

Read more at WLUC TV6.

My Story: Naomi Elliot, MTUengineer

Naomi Elliot ‘26, Civil Engineering

Where are you from and where did you grow up?

I grew up in Macomb County, Michigan, near the water. I’ve been there my entire life and absolutely love it. It’s the perfect mix of city and country.

What made you decide to come to Michigan Tech?

I wanted something different that allowed me to be outdoors. I discovered Michigan Tech while doing a project my junior year and fell in love then. I switched around majors a few times, starting in mechanical engineering and then moving to civil engineering. I wanted to have an option to move anywhere and have future job security. Additionally, there are so many opportunities in civil engineering that I love—being able to be outside on job sites or inside designing.

What have been the best parts of civil engineering thus far?

The best part of civil engineering is the opportunity to do anything!!

What are the greatest challenges you’ve had thus far?

For me, my greatest challenge right now is not yet being in classes that directly relate to my major. I keep motivated by knowing next year I’ll be all-in for my major.

Any recipes, formulas, or tips for success thus far?

Never try to be something you’re not, and take every opportunity you can. Learn to see the positives in everything and be okay with the uncertainty that is life.

“Michigan Tech teaches you life skills that you will use in all aspects of your life.”

Naomi Elliott

Any thoughts on your long-term career goals?

I either want to do something with water resources or law. I am looking into internships and classes that can help me decide my path.

For my summer internship at Spalding DeDecker, I had the amazing opportunity to go to Memphis, Tennessee. We had been contracted out to do multiple jobs on the Ford Blue Oval site, for electric vehicles throughout the month of August.

During the summer I worked doing many different tasks that helped me learn about the field of surveying. Some weeks I would be out doing a topography survey of schools in the area, helping them get ready for future updates. Other weeks would be spent doing anchor bolt surveys, which is setting up the elevations and center lines for steel columns for buildings. There were some weeks where I had smaller tasks like staking property lines, driveways, and sidewalks. It was all important and I am fortunate to have had the experience to learn these things in the field as I hope they will make me a better engineer.  

Being in Tennessee for a week was such an amazing experience. I will be forever grateful for it. Although it involved long hours and hot weather, I absolutely loved being in Memphis. I was mind-blown at the size of the site and how well we managed all of our jobs when our office was 13 hours away. It was an experience I will never forget.

“There are a ton of opportunities. You just have to be ready to take them.

Advice for incoming students, from MTU civil engineering student Naomi Elliott

My story: Kathryn Krieger, MTUengineer

Kathryn Krieger ’25, Environmental Engineering

Kathryn Krieger, a 3rd-year environmental engineering student at Michigan Tech, shares some of her own experience.

“Michigan Tech has provided me with so many amazing opportunities to learn about the field of Environmental Engineering and grow my professional network. I love attending the CEGE networking reception on the night before career fair and hearing from the alumni that come to have lunch with students. 

“After attending the MTU Career Fair,  I accepted an internship with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), and ended up working for MDOT two summers in a row. In my first summer, I worked in their materials and testing laboratory, doing gradations, concrete strength testing, and aggregate sampling. The next summer, I became a statewide soil erosion and sedimentation control inspector. I really enjoyed being able to shadow a diverse range of professionals within my time at MDOT. I even got to shadow the state wetland specialist, where I discovered that I would really like to work with wetland mitigation, remediation, and restoration in my future.”

“Michigan Tech has provided me with so many amazing opportunities to learn about the field of environmental engineering and grow my professional network. The hands-on coursework alongside extracurricular opportunities have allowed me to speak at regional conferences for the Society of Women Engineers, be on a winning team for the NASA HeroX “Waste to Base” Challenge, help Engineers Without Borders design improvements to a flooded road in Bolivia, study cosmic rays in Argentina, and receive interdisciplinary formal climate training through a fellowship where I will attend the COP28, the UN Conference of Parties in Dubai!”

“My time at Michigan Tech has been life-changing. It has given me a top-notch education and exposed me to a variety of experiences and perspectives.

“I’ve learned to stay curious and open to new opportunities.”

Kathryn Krieger ’25

Dimo Okeyo Selected to Present at 17th Graduate Climate Conference

Dimo Okeyo, a civil engineering master’s student, will be presenting his abstract, titled “Understanding the Impact of Land Use Change on Local Climate Patterns: A Case Study in Urban Environments,” at the 17th Graduate Climate Conference.

Hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), this conference brings together brilliant minds from various disciplines.

Dimo has been selected to present a poster during the event, which will take place in person in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, from November 2–4, 2023.

By Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.

Environmental Engineering Students at the COP27 Climate Conference

Keweenaw Now published a blog post written by Kendra Lachcik ‘23 (environmental engineering) about presentations given by Michigan Tech’s delegation to the COP27 climate conference, held in November in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. MTU students Anna Kavanaugh (environmental engineering, sustainability science and society), Rose Daily (environmental engineering) and Alexis Pascaris (environmental and energy policy) were quoted in the article about their experiences at the conferences.

This year, 12 MTU delegates, including 2 undergraduate students, 7 graduate students, 1 MTU alum, and 2 faculty members, attended the conference as observers under the Research and Independent Non-Governmental Organizations (RINGO) constituency.

MTU delegates were also representing the Youth Environmental Alliance in Higher Education Network (YEAH Network), a transdisciplinary, multi-institutional global network that is a charter of the National Science Foundation.

Read more at Keweenaw Now, by Kendra Lachcik.

SWE Scholarships for Kathryn Krieger and Grace Moeggenborg

SWE Congratulates Spring Lower-Division Scholarship Recipients

Annually, MTU’s Society of Women Engineers (SWE) section awards scholarships to members in the fall and spring semesters. This semester, Spring 2023, the lower-division scholarship recipients were Kathryn Krieger and Grace Moeggenborg, both studying environmental engineering.

Krieger is our campus and community chair for SWE, president of Engineers Without Borders, and is actively involved in Mind Trekkers, the MTU Ultimate Frisbee team, and Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority. Moeggenborg was recently elected as our SWE section secretary. She has served as webmaster and recruitment co-chair. She has enjoyed volunteering at Engineering Days, Spring Fling, the Spring Involvement Fair, and FLARE.

The section congratulates Krieger and Moeggenborg and thanks Milwaukee Tool for supporting these scholarships.

By Gretchen Hein, Advisor, Society of Women Engineers.

Built World Enterprise Teams Compete at WERC Design Competition

Two student teams from Michigan Tech competed in the WERC Environmental Design Contest at New Mexico State University from April 16–19, 2023. In the 33rd year of the competition, student teams set out to solve challenges facing society today. The teams were composed of environmental engineering majors who are members of the Built World Enterprise.

The first team, which included Jenna Cook, Morgan Halberg, Francine Rosinski, Nadia Stauffer, and Eden Traub, participated in Task 1: Sustainable Communities: Wastewater Reuse for Rural Communities. The task was to design a low-energy and low-maintenance wastewater treatment system so that rural communities in the southwest United States could reuse lagoon effluent to meet water needs.

The second team, consisting of Clark Fadior, Jake McDowell, Allison Olson, and Avery Reno, participated in Task 4: Detecting and Quantifying Microplastics in Reservoirs. For the task, they designed a portable system to detect and quantify microplastics in natural aquatic systems in real time.

Both teams had to create a bench-scale prototype of their design and a business plan, and deliver oral and poster presentations, including a four-minute flash talk.

The Task 1 team:

  • won first place overall for their task
  • won first place in the flash talks
  • earned the Pollution Prevention Award
  • will be invited to be published in IEEE Xplore.

The Task 4 team won second place in the flash talk.

Over 20 schools from across the country participated across the contest’s six tasks. Sponsors of the competition include EPA, Freeport-McMoRan, El Paso Electric Company and many more.

Congratulations to both teams!

By Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.

The WERC Environmental Design Contest is a unique design competition that brings industry, government, and academia together in search for improved solutions to today’s environmental challenges in ALL fields of engineering.

W-E-R-C formerly stood for “Waste-management Education Research Consortium,” but we are broadening our scope. In addition to managing waste, students are now focusing their designs on minimizing energy & waste and conserving & recycling resources, including water, energy, and natural resources. We will reveal the new meaning of the W-E-R-C acronym this Spring.

Read more at WERC Design Contest, New Mexico State University.