February 2017 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!


Grad Recruitment Weekend: Feb 23-25

The graduate recruiting seasons is upon is, and planning is actively underway for this year’s SEAS-wide visitation and recruiting weekend, Feb 23-25. CEE received approximately 150 applications for ME, MS, and PhD degrees. We’ve made nearly 45 offers to MS and PhD applicants and invited nearly 30 prospective students to attend our visitation events. Roughly half of the invitees are already confirmed to attend, from a variety of top programs, including: Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Cornell, Georgia Tech, Morgan State, Notre Dame, and UVA, among others. We are very excited about the high quality and diversity of our admitted applicants, and we are eager to make a very good impression on our visitors!

Recruiting and retaining top-caliber graduate students is absolutely critical for advancing the research and teaching mission of our department and School. Accordingly, we hope that faculty, staff, and current graduate students will fully engage with the recruiting activities and take the time to make the recruits feel welcome. Special thanks to Ms. Peggy Gibson for her diligent efforts in getting the applicants processed and admitted, and also to our grad student recruiting chairs for this year: Gail Moruza, Erin Robartes, and Shraddha Praharaj.

Current graduate students should expect to receive additional information and requests for assistance from the chairs. For now, please consider attending the following department-wide events: an informal dinner with visiting students during the evening of Thursday, February 23; lunch in Observatory Hill Dining Hall from 12-1 pm on Friday, February 24; the CEE Graduate Research Symposium in Slaughter Recreation Center from 1-2:30 pm on Friday, February 24; and various social outings (e.g., Monticello, wineries, etc) on Saturday, February 25, as coordinated by the School and the Graduate Engineering Student Council (GESC).

Regarding the research symposium, this will be the third year for this event. All current MS and PhD students are eligible to present a poster, up to 1-2 persons per research group. Please talk with your adviser if you wish to be selected as a representative from your group. A reminder that cash prizes are awarded to the winners of the symposium, including: “People’s Choice” (as judged by all attendees), and also “Best Overall”, as selected by a panel of celebrity judges. The best overall poster is displayed for one year in a place of honor in Civil Commons. Last year’s winner was Rob Kluger, of Brian Smith’s research group.


CEE was pleased to welcome roughly 10 new grad students for the SP 2017 semester.

Our January Meet-and-Greet was a nice opportunity for new and returning students to catch up. Thank you to all who attended.


Update from GESC

Written by: Sarah Bauer


Two things for CEE grad students to know about ongoing GESC activities:

  • A save-the-date flyer for the University of Virginia Engineering Research Symposium (UVERS) is now available via GESC’s Facebook page. This event will be held Thursday, March 30 in Newcomb Hall. Stay tuned for email announcements regarding abstract submissions.
  • GESC will host a Student Mixer as part of the School’s recruiting efforts (see above). All current SEA graduate students are invited to help welcome the 2017 prospective grad students on Friday, February 24th from 7:30-9:30 PM at Boylan Heights on the Corner. There will be light refreshments and specials available. We hope to see you all there!


CEE Post-Doc David Kahler (right) participates in UVERS 2016. (Photo credit: UVA GESC.)


Looking for funding? Consider Double Hoo!

Graduate students in search of supplemental funding to support their research are encouraged to apply for UVA’s Double Hoo Awards. These grants are made to teams of one UVA graduate student plus one UVA undergraduate student, hence “double” Hoo. They are administered by the University’s Center for Undergraduate Excellence (CUE). The Center receives roughly 50 proposals per year, of which they fund 10-15. Applications are due by 12 pm on Monday, February 13. More information is available via the CUE website. Good luck to all applicants!


New procedures replace Plan of Study

CEE will no longer make use of the paper-based Plan of Study for graduate degree tracking. The new procedure will be entirely online, making use of the Academic Requirements Report (ARR) in SIS. MS and PhD students approaching degree milestones (e.g., qualifying exam, proposal defense, thesis/dissertation defense) should print out their ARR and bring it to the faculty committee to review during their deliberations. The committee chairperson will make notes on the report and/or sign it to indicate that the committee has reviewed and approved it. The signed version of the ARR should be submitted to Ms. Peggy Gibson, along with other pertinent forms. Milestone paperwork will NOT be filed with the School until a signed ARR has been received by departmental staff. This is meant to ensure that graduate students are talking with their adviser about degree trajectories and staying on track with their milestones. Please refer to the pertinent portions of the CEE website for additional details.


Good news from the TRN group

Great things have been happening in the transportation engineering group recently. Erin Robartes, a member of the Chen research group, gave a talk at the 10th University Transportation Centers Spotlight Conference on Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety, in December 2016. She presented her research “Virginia Automobile & Bicycle Crash Safety Analysis.”

Shraddha Praharaj was selected as a SEAS Teaching Intern for spring 2017. She is co-teaching CE 3400, Transportation Infrastructure Design, with her adviser, Professor Donna Chen. Students selected to participate in the SEAS graduate teaching internship program receive a fellowship for the semester of their internship and participate in meaningful teaching-related professional development activities.

Finally, Seongah Hong published her first paper, “Exploring Environmentally Sustainable Traffic Signal Warrant for Planning Application”, in the International Journal of Sustainable Transportation. This work was co-authored by former CEE PhD student Jia Hu and Seongah’s adviser Professor Brian Park. Seongah is a current recipient of CEE’s Mariana S. Hamilton Endowed Fellowship.

Please join us in congratulating these students on their tremendous accomplishments!


Erin Robartes presented at a UTC Spotlight Conference in December 2016.


Have you recently had a paper accepted, or do you have other professional or personal news that you’d like to share?
Email it to cee-grad@virginia.edu!