Nearly 275 students attend largest Engineering Internship and Job Fair

On Tuesday, November 6, nearly 275 students attended the CU Denver Engineering Internship and Job Fair in the Tivoli Turnhalle. This year’s job fair was the largest to-date, with 39 employers attending. And based on participant feedback, the event was a success.

  • Employers collected more than 649 resumes
  • 90% of employers reported they agree or strongly agree that the quality of candidates was good
  • 99% of students who responded to our exit survey said they felt that this event helped them feel prepared for their “next steps” in their professional development

In addition to the Career Center and the Experiential Learning Center, members from the Society of Women Engineers, Tau Beta Pi, Women in Computer Science and Association of Computing Machinery sat on the planning committee for this event.

CU Denver takes the spotlight at ASCE Annual Convention

By: Philip Taylor, civil engineering student

Denver’s booming construction scene took center stage at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Annual Convention last weekend at the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Denver. In addition, CU Denver students hosted ASCE leaders, networked with industry peers and attended dozens of educational sessions at the three-day event.

ASCE’s decision to hold its 2018 convention on CU Denver’s doorstep offered students unique access to the industry’s top leaders and innovators such as Hyperloop Transportation Technologies CEO Dirk Ahlborn. Student attendees also had the opportunity to take behind-the-scenes tours of some of Denver’s biggest construction projects, including the Platte to Park Hill stormwater systems project and CDOT’s Central-70 project to overhaul and widen Interstate 70 through north Denver.

CU Denver made its own mark on the convention by hosting ASCE’s newest president, Robin Kemper, P.E., on Wednesday, Oct. 10. As ASCE president, Kemper leads the nation’s oldest engineering society. ASCE represents roughly 150,000 civil engineers in 177 countries; publishes important civil engineering literature such as the ASCE 7 standard for design loads, among many others; and is a leading organizer of educational events like this weekend’s convention as well as monthly technical dinners in Denver.

Kemper last Wednesday had breakfast with CU Denver’s ASCE Student Chapter officers and faculty advisor, Dr. David Mays, as well as Dr. Caroline Clevenger. Kemper discussed the important role ASCE student chapters play in connecting students to working engineers. She also discussed her job as a senior risk engineering consultant at Zurich Services Corp., where she advises owners, designers and contractors on professional liability, builder’s risk, risk management and best management practices. While designers and contractors play different roles in civil projects, the success of one depends on the success of the other, Kemper said. Effective communication and best practices among designers and contractors are key to limiting risks at the construction site.

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ASCE President Robin Kemper (first row, second from left) joined CU Denver students and faculty for breakfast on Wednesday, Oct. 10.

Kemper later toured the CU Denver campus and gave an hour-long presentation to Dr. Heidi Brothers’ Construction Engineering Systems course. She urged students to take full advantage of the convention’s educational sessions, tours and networking opportunities.

“Meet as many different people as you can,” Kemper said. “And talk to us gray-hairs.”

Kemper encouraged students to stick with ASCE after they graduate and consider becoming politically active. ASCE faces challenges nationwide in retaining its young members. As an incentive to graduates, ASCE offers free memberships to civil engineers during their first year in the workforce and graduated membership fees in the years that follow, Kemper said. She highlighted ASCE’s professional connections, its social and community service events, and its political lobbying on infrastructure matters. ASCE members “speak as one voice,” to policy makers in Washington, D.C., and at statehouses across the nation, Kemper said. Bills such as the Water Resources Development Act, which last week passed the Senate and authorizes billions of dollars in investments in civil works projects, help drive construction of infrastructure that improves the safety and welfare of the public.

“We’ve got your back,” Kemper said of ASCE’s advocacy work. “Public policy helps drive the future of our infrastructure and how we help the public.”

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Kemper speaks to the Construction Engineering Systems course on Wednesday, Oct. 10.

ASCE also supports construction engineering professionals, Kemper said. For example, ASCE’s Construction Institute offers construction professionals the opportunity to share best practices with their peers and take part in technical activities and conferences as well as the development of standards. The Construction Institute – whose goal is to improve communication within the engineering and construction industry, improve construction practices and burnish the image of the construction industry — is one of nine ASCE institutes that provide resources to members in specialty areas.

“You’re going to need to continue your education throughout your lives,” Kemper told students. In addition to passing the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, Kemper recommended student consider pursuing Envision credentials. Envision, which is a certification and training program supported by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure, promotes sustainable approaches to planning, designing, constructing and operating infrastructure projects.

Sustainability was a key driver of the Platte to Park Hill Stormwater Systems Project, which seeks to protect Denver residents from extreme flooding while improving water quality in the South Plate River watershed. The project was one of the construction site tours advertised at the ASCE convention. Platte to Park Hill is a $298 million project for the City and County of Denver that will recontour the City Park Golf Course to intercept storm water; create additional stormwater detention at Park Hill; build a mile-long open drainage channel through north Denver for flood relief and recreation; and install massive below-ground conduits to safely convey stormwater to the South Platte River in Globeville. The City Park Gold Course phase of the project was procured as a design-build contract and awarded to Saunders Construction. Work began in late 2017, and the course is on schedule to reopen in summer 2019. The broader Platte to Park Hill project faces many unique construction challenges associated with building in an urban environment, including land acquisition, environmental risks, traffic management and community outreach.

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A major storm sewer at the Platte to Park Hill project. Photo courtesy of Molly Trujillo.

The ASCE convention underscored the importance of continuing education in the civil engineering profession as well as the need for good communication among civil engineering designers, project managers and contractors. It reinforced the need for innovation to ensure civil engineers continue to protect the safety, health and welfare of the public.

Mays, McIntyre and Chinnasamy published in Water Policy journal

Technical and administrative feasibility of alluvial aquifer storage and recovery on the South Platte River of northeastern Colorado

What is it about?

In a world suffering from increasing water stress, this paper offers one potential option through alluvial aquifer storage and recovery. In particular, this paper suggests a legal framework, under Colorado’s doctrine of prior appropriation, through which the proposed technology is shown to be both technically and administratively feasible.

Why is it important?

Water resource management demands not only technical feasibility, but also administrative feasibility. One cannot implement clever technical designs that violate legal, regulatory, or administrative constraints. The unique contribution of this work is its dual scope that covers both technical and administrative requirements.

Perspectives, David Mays (Author)

Bill McIntyre broke new ground in his doctoral research, some of which was published last year (McIntyre, W.C. and D.C. Mays, 2017, Roles of the water court and the State Engineer for water administration in Colorado, Water Policy, 19:4, 837-850). But it was not until master student Cibi Chinnasamy joined the team that we were able to complete the groundwater simulations required for this second publication. It was a pleasure advising both gentlemen, and I wish them all the best in their careers.

Read Publication

ESIL program receives $1M NSF S-STEM award

Photo-ESIL-PartnersA team of faculty from the College of Engineering and Applied Science and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has received a $1 million National Science Foundation (NSF) S-STEM award to support the new Environmental Stewardship of Indigenous Lands (ESIL) program. This is the second NSF award for the program, which is currently enrolling students for fall 2018.

Timberley Roane, associate professor of integrative biology, David Mays, associate professor of civil engineering, and Rafael Moreno, associate professor of geography and environmental sciences, designed the ESIL program with a focus on land stewardship with the additional goal to recruit Indigenous students and prepare them to serve as liaisons for their tribes and organizations. Two-thirds of the S-STEM grant is earmarked for scholarships, giving full-time undergraduate students in biology, civil engineering, or environmental sciences up to $10,000 per year for up to five years, depending on their financial need.

“There are many examples, such as the Gold King Mine spill of 2015 or the Standing Rock pipeline dispute of 2016–2017, where questions of environmental stewardship have played out in the context of Indigenous lands,” said Mays, explaining that Indigenous is inclusive of Alaskan Natives, American Indians, Native Americans, and Native Hawaiians. Mays continued, “Professor Roane recognized the profound need for a new kind of educational program that would train students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) but also provide the nontechnical skills needed to serve as a liaison between tribal, state and federal organizations. We call it the Environmental Stewardship of Indigenous Lands, or ESIL, program.”

These three co-PIs have teamed up with CU Denver’s American Indian Student Services, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and The Evaluation Center, plus external partners representing numerous tribal, state and federal organizations. At the first ESIL Partners Meeting on Friday 4/6/2018, Roane emphasized a key point that makes this program unique—The simple notion that CU Denver does not own the ESIL program, but rather provides the infrastructure for a collaboration in which each partner’s perspective, insight, and contribution is essential for the program to be successful.

ESIL students are required to meet the requirements of their home department plus those of the ESIL certificate program, which ensures that all ESIL students have a common core in STEM, social science, cultural diversity, and cross-cultural communication. Through careful curriculum planning, this program does not require CU Denver to support any new courses and does not require ESIL students in civil engineering, biology, or environmental sciences to take additional credit hours for graduation, because all the ESIL courses that are not major requirements can be taken as electives. A key feature of the program, in addition to a traditional four-year STEM degree, is participation in training and internships designed to provide background with nontechnical matters such as cultural awareness, cross-cultural communication, environmental regulations and organizational dynamics. Additionally, this educational program is designed to support recruitment of Indigenous students.

“But not just recruitment,” Roane added. “We plan to guide our students through every step of the process, from applying to CU Denver, through logistical advice on moving to Denver (if necessary), through major advising, internships, and landing their first professional engagement after leaving CU Denver.”

The focus on land stewardship has been selected not only because it demands the expertise of STEM professionals but also because land stewardship is among the top motivations for Indigenous students considering STEM careers.

“If you know a student who might be interested in this program, or if you represent an organization that might be interested in partnering with the ESIL program (perhaps providing internships or extracurricular support to ESIL students), by all means please let us know,” said Mays.

In 2017, the team also received an award of nearly $300,000 from the National Science Foundation to support the ESIL program. This award is one of 27 design and development launch pilots in the second round of NSF’s program for Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES).

 

 

 

 

 

ESIL partners include (top row) Rosa Burnett, Harmony Spoonhunter, Susan Johnson, Ryan Ortiz, Kim Varilek, (bottom row) David Mays, Timberley Roane, Rafael Moreno, and Scott Aikin.

 

Grace RedShirt Tyon and Chelsea Situmeang at the ESIL Partners Meeting (Friday 4/6/2018).

ASCE STUDENT OFFICERS WIN AWARDS FROM COLORADO SECTION

0419181944aThree civil engineering undergraduates have been selected for awards from the Colorado Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). From left to right, they are Phil Taylor, Wesley Engel, and Whitney Benson, each of whom has served as an officer in CU Denver’s ASCE Student Chapter. In addition, Taylor was selected to receive this year’s Jaqueline Arcaris Civil Engineering Scholarship, which recognizes civil engineering students with potential to become outstanding civil engineering professionals. Please join us in congratulating these award-winning ASCE student officers!

Pizano named 2018 Outstanding Staff

pizano_roxanneRoxanne Pizano, program coordinator in the Department of Civil Engineering, has been named the 2018 recipient of the College of Engineering and Applied Science Outstanding Staff award. Roxanne manages graduate admissions and the construction engineering and management program for civil engineering. She will receive a commemorative plaque at the college Year-End Celebration on May 11.

Congratulations!

ASCE TWO FOR TWO IN SOUTH DAKOTA

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(CU Denver’s pre-design team left-to-right: Dan Barlow, Nathan Werner, Khalil Elareir, Badr Husini, Philip Taylor, and Liz Taylor; not pictured: Whitney Benson)

CU Denver’s delegation was small at this weekend’s American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Rocky Mountain Student Conference in Rapid City, South Dakota, but they punched well above their weight.

CU Denver’s Pre-Design Team won first place, beating out seven other schools. Their water supply system design supplied variable amounts of water to specified locations using nothing more than a single valve and clever plumbing, earning a first-place finish with 84 out of a possible 100 points.

In addition, ASCE student chapter Vice President Nathan Werner was part of the first place team in the Mystery Design competition. In this year’s Mystery Design, each student was randomly paired with students from three other schools. Nathan’s team, which included himself and one student each from Colorado School of Mines, New Mexico State University and Brigham Young University, put together the winning bid for a project to clean biofilm from the Catskill Aqueduct.  

In short, our ASCE student chapter competed in two events at this year’s conference and won both of them! We are hopeful CU Denver can participate in additional events at next year’s conference at CU Boulder.

ASCE President Kristina Swallow presents distinguished lecture

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From L to R: Philip Taylor, Badr Husini, Caroline Clevenger, Kristina Swallow, Moatassem Abdallah, Aaron Leopold

On Wednesday, February 28, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) President Kristina Swallow visited CU Denver and presented a lecture, “Engineering the Future” to more than 100 engineering students, faculty, and industry partners. The message: how to best prepare future civil engineers to meet the challenges in our aging infrastructure, innovation of new technologies and capabilities that will enable us to meet the challenges of tomorrow. Ms. Swallow also encouraged the attendees to have the necessary “courageous conversations” to promote sustainability and resiliency in our infrastructure and civil engineering. The visit was coordinated by the CU Denver ASCE student chapter and faculty in the Construction Engineering and Management (CEM) program.

While here, Ms. Swallow also spoke with the CEM advisory board, toured the campus and attended a dinner with campus and college leadership hosted by Chancellor Dorothy Horrell and Paul Boulos, president-elect of the Academy of Coastal, Ocean, Port & Navigation Engineers.

Read the ASCE story.

Mays links groundwater, biogeochemistry and chaos through supercomputing

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Associate Professor David Mays

With several colleagues and students, civil engineering associate professor David Mays is pioneering a new approach to clean up contaminated groundwater. According to the National Ground Water Association, groundwater—the water occupying the space between soil grains and fractured rocks in the Earth’s crust—provides drinking water to 44% of Americans plus more than 50 billion gallons per day for agricultural irrigation. When groundwater becomes contaminated, however, cleanup is no easy task.

“Groundwater remediation is a challenge for several reasons,” Mays notes, “For one thing, it is hard to manage subsurface resources, simply because they are out of sight. We share this challenge with geotechnical and petroleum engineers. Second, groundwater remediation works through a complex system of linked hydrological, microbiological, and geochemical processes that we call hydrobiogeochemistry. And third, because groundwater moves slowly, there is essentially no turbulence, which is really frustrating for anyone wanting to mix treatment chemicals into subsurface contaminants. So the cleanup problem is important, invisible, complex, and slow.”

Over the last several decades, researchers from the Environmental and Molecular Sciences Laboratory at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed cutting-edge, sophisticated computer model simulations to understand the hydrobiogeochemistry of groundwater remediation.

Mays explains, “These models account for groundwater flow, geochemical reactions, and microbiological processes, which boils down to solving staggeringly large systems of equations on their Cascade supercomputer. And then, what is really impressive, the team from PNNL can validate the simulations with gene expression data taken from a field site. It’s great stuff.”

While PNNL has been working to address the complexity of groundwater remediation, Mays and colleagues have been working to improve mixing in groundwater aquifers by applying new ideas from chaos theory. According to the fluid mechanics research literature, chaotic advection—where flows have sensitive dependence on initial conditions—provide the best possible mixing in the absence of turbulence. “It sounds like rocket science,” Mays comments, “but actually chaos theory can be quite simple. For us, it boils down to stretching and folding the plume of injected treatment chemical, kind of like a saltwater taffy machine.” This work has been supported by NSF grants awarded in 2011 and 2014, and is illustrated in a short animation.

The goal now is to incorporate chaotic advection into PNNL’s existing computer simulation of hydrobiogeochemistry. Mays explains, “Fortunately, this can be done by a fairly straightforward modification of the hydraulic boundary conditions that does not require changing the overall model architecture. And this has been fun. When I started at CU Denver in 2005, I never imagined that I would ever be doing research with a supercomputer.” Work is in progress, but preliminary results have been presented at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana in December 2017, and most recently at the Hydrologic Sciences and Water Resources Engineering Seminar at CU Boulder in January 2018.

Mays Hosts Indigenous STEM Affinity Group

Civil engineering associate professor David Mays has formed an affinity group within the National Science Foundation’s INCLUDES program, where INCLUDES stands for Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers of Engineering and Science. This affinity group brings together principal investigators (PIs), evaluators, and NSF program officers interested in Indigenous science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), where the term Indigenous comprises the terms Native American, American Indian, Alaskan Native, and Hawaiian Native.

Mays writes, “Under the leadership of NSF director France Córdova, INCLUDES has been designated as one of NSF’s Ten Big Ideas. I am happy to be involved with this effort, because it builds on my prior experience with Teach for America and with my interest in sharing quality engineering education with anyone and everyone. Forming the Indigenous STEM affinity group made a lot of sense, because we can learn a lot from colleagues at other institutions who are united by a common awareness of the value of Indigenous STEM.”

Mays is co-PI on an INCLUDES design and development grant, active from 2018-2019, to build a network of tribal and government partners for Environmental Stewardship of Indigenous Lands. Mays continues, “This undergraduate certificate program, spearheaded by PI and biology associate professor Timberley Roane, is a first-of-its kind program designed to provide students with training in STEM, plus additional training in cross-cultural communication, historical awareness, and facilitation designed to prepare graduates for careers as tribal liaisons. It’s a unique program designed to fill a known gap in our educational system.” Other co-PIs include Grace RedShirt Tyon, director of CU Denver’s American Indian Student Services; Brenda Allen, Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion; and Rafael Moreno-Sanchez, environmental science associate professor.