August/September 2016 Newsletter

What’s new in CEE?


Graduate students are the hands, arms, eyes, ears, and legs of CEE when it comes to research and teaching. Accordingly, the goal of the monthly newsletter will be to share information about grad-related matters and also celebrate the achievement of our graduate students; thereby creating a stronger “community of scholars”. If you have professional news  (e.g., papers accepted, thesis/dissertation milestones achieved, or conferences attended, or fellowships received) or noteworthy news (e.g., getting engaged, having a baby), please email it to cee-grad@virginia.edu!

Welcome, new graduate students!

CEE is pleased and honored to welcome the following graduate students: Austin Angulo, Richard Atta Boang, Benjamin Bowes, Fangwei Cheng, Benjamin Goffin, Daniela Gonzales, Austin Goyne, Zhelong He, Di Kang, Zulqarnain Khattak, Frederick King, Sean Laffey, Yuhui Lyu, Abdou Ndong, Shradda Praharaj, Seunghan Ryu, Farzad Shafiei Dijazi, Arun Subramaniam, Thomas Rocco, Yalan Wu, Mengxuan Zhang, Tony Zhang, Xiaoxiao Zhang, Yichao Zhu. We are so glad you are here. Returning students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to introduce themselves and make these new students feel welcome.  It is exciting for the department that this is one of the larger incoming classes that we have had over the past few years.

Welcome, new faculty!

CEE is delighted to welcome two new faculty members: Professors Jose Gomez and Leidy Klotz. Professor Gomez was formerly Director of the  Virginia Transportation Research Council, but he has also been a long-term adjunct faculty member in CEE. He will continue to teach undergraduate and graduate courses (e.g., Design of Metal Structures and Advanced Reinforced Concrete this semester) and will also take on additional responsibilities related to the coordination of the ME program. Professor Leidy Klotz was formerly a faculty member at Clemson University. He now holds a joint appointment between CEE and the School of Architecture. He will teach and do research related to sustainable design. Additional detailed information will be forthcoming in future newsletters. For now, please make our new faculty feel welcome!


Professor Jose Gomez
Professor Leidy Klotz

Feedback from graduate kick-off

Thank you to everyone who attended the Graduate Kick-off/Orientation event on Monday, August 22. This was a great chance to welcome our new students and faculty, reconnect with the department, and lay out the groundwork for what will hopefully be another productive, satisfying year. Special thanks to Peggy Gibson and Pat Gibson for their help in coordinating refreshments and logistics.

The second hour of the kickoff event was dedicated to a discussion of how we can become an even more dynamic “community of scholars”, with special emphasis on the departmental seminar series and also social events as means to foster collegiality, professional development, and connectedness. Thank you to those who stayed for the working session. Feedback is summarized below.


Topic 1: Formulation of a CEE Graduate Social Committee for 2016-2017

Thank you to everyone who nominated himself/herself or another student for this year’s social committee. The members of this committee tentatively include: Kassie Grimes, Lewis Lloyd, Ryan Mahon, Gail Moruza, Dan Plattenberger, Arun Subramaniam, and Yalan Wu. An email will be sent to these folks early next week, so that they can accept or decline their nominations and also move forward with planning. Some suggestions for social events include: bowling, JUMP, James River tubing, football tailgate, pizza party, rec/IM teams (e.g., soccer), holiday-themed events (e.g., Halloween  or potluck Thanksgiving), Fridays after 5, visits to and tours of research facilities (e.g., FHWA, NIST, etc), periodic lunches (e.g., weekly or monthly), mixer on the Corner,  departmental picnics (e.g., with lawn games), and family-friendly events.

Topic 2: Formulation of a CEE Graduate Social Committee for 2016-2017
Thank you to everyone who nominated himself/herself or another student for this year’s seminar committee. The members of this committee tentatively include: Fangwei Cheng, Lewis Lloyd, Jeff Sadler, and Tony Zhang. An email will be sent to these individuals early next week, so that they can accept or decline their nominations and move forward with planning. There were many good suggestions for possible speakers and also procedural changes to improve the overall quality of the seminar series. This information will be shared with the committee.

Update from CEE’s GESC representatives

Written by Sarah Bauer and Katie Nunnelly, Graduate Engineering Student Council (GESC)

Hello new grad students,
Starting graduate school in a new school, a new town, far away from people you know, can be overwhelming.  The Graduate Engineering Student Council (GESC) works to help provide opportunities for grad students, new and veterans, in all engineering disciplines to meet and engage in social and academic activities.

GESC is a student led organization made up of grad student reps from each of the engineering departments here at UVa.  The goal of GESC is to foster interdepartmental exchange and communication through social and academic events, while improving the quality of the graduate experience, increasing the value of the SEAS graduate diploma, and fostering an active research culture among grad students.

CEE has two reps that sit on GESC’s e-board: third-year PhD students, Katie Nunnelley (kgn3x), Secretary and PR Chair, and Sarah Bauer (skb2qc), VP.  You will be receiving emails from both Katie and Sarah throughout the year about GESC events, as well as from GESC’s president via the SEAS grad student list-serv.

GESC has some events coming up in the first couple weeks of the semester.  If you want to meet new people and learn the tips and tricks you need to survive grad school, check out these upcoming events:

  1. Thursday, Sept. 1st – Back to School Picnic, Darden Courtyard, Thornton Hall, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
  2. Wednesday, Sept. 7th – Navigating Grad School Student Panel, Room TBD, 6:00 PM – 7:00 P
  3. Tuesday, Sept. 13th – Entrepreneurial Mindset Seminar, Chemical Eng. Building, Room 005, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Other GESC events include: seminars on graduation requirements and deadlines, publishing scientific research, and the annual University of Virginia Engineering Research Symposium (UVERS), as well as social events, such as GESC’s Halloween Party, annual Winter Formal, End of the Year Cinco de Mayo celebration, and various mixers with other grad student organizations!

Check out more information about GESC and its events on their FB page and Instagram.  Website coming soon!

CEE students win Eisenhower Fellowships

Two CEE graduate students have been awarded prestigious Dwight D. Eisenhower Transportation Fellowships by the US DOT’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA): Erin Robartes and Sean Laffey. Erin is a second-year graduate student in Professor Donna Chen’s group. She holds a BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Connecticut. Sean Laffey is a first-year graduate student in Professor Brian Smith’s group, though he is currently located at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, VA. He holds a BS from CEE at UVA and has worked at AECOM since graduating in 2012. Per the FHWA, these fellowships, “[advance] the transportation workforce by attracting the brightest minds to the field through education, research, and workforce development. CEE is proud of its students for having won this high honor.


Erin Robartes
Sean Laffey

Recent papers from CEE

Here are some recent papers by CEE students, post-docs, and faculty.

Click on the links to check out what your colleagues have been working on (and drive up their download statistics!), and be sure to congratulate them on their hard work.

As a reminder, please link yourself to CEE in Research Gate if you haven’t done so already. This is a great way to highlight your work, network with other researchers, and make yourself visible to potential employers.