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Spring 2016 Civil & Environmental Engineering Newsletter


Spring is a most exciting time in the department, but especially this year, as we will be hosting the 2016 ASCE Pacific Northwest Student Conference on April 7-9. We expect some 350-400 students from colleges and universities in Alaska, Washington, Idaho and Oregon. Students are busy designing and constructing a concrete canoe, concrete Frisbees (yes!) and a steel bridge. There will also be a surveying competition, an environmental consulting competition, an engineering trivia contest and a volleyball tournament. Most on-campus events will be held in the Kibbie Dome, while the concrete canoes will brave the chilly waters of the Snake River near Clarkston.

On April 1, U of I Engineers Without Borders will be hosting their annual Fundraising Bash at the 1912 Center in Moscow from 6-9:30 p.m. There will be live music, great food, and a silent auction. Admission is $10 for students and $20 for all others. Their goal is to raise $20,000-30,000 so they can return to Carani, Bolivia, where they have partnered with the local community to develop plans to provide drinking water to individual houses. This summer will be the second of their multi-year commitment. Their first visit was spent conducting assessments and building a working relationship with residents of this very remote, high mountain village.

Spring semester means Senior Design projects are well underway. This year, there are seven sponsored projects. We are most grateful to all of our project sponsors: TerraGraphics Environmental Engineering, Deere & Ault Consultants, Inc., Keller Associates, U of I College of Art and Architecture, James A. Sewell and Associates, Idaho Transportation Department, J-U-B Engineers, Inc., and Brown and Caldwell.

Spring also means EXPO 2016, the signature event on April 29 that features senior design work from all six departments in the College of Engineering. U of I’s Engineering Design EXPO is the Northwest’s longest-running student engineering showcase! This year, CE students will make technical presentations on their design projects, display the concrete canoe and steel bridge and host some booths highlighting Civil Engineering as a career for the many visitors to EXPO, including almost 1,000 middle school and high school students from around the region.

The pinnacle event of the season is Spring Commencement, which will be held on May 14. Although this is a very stressful period for our graduates, it is such an important time for family and friends who will come to campus to celebrate their students’ accomplishments.

Best wishes for an enjoyable spring wherever you are!

Patricia J.S. Colberg, Ph.D., P.E., Professor


Assistant professor Emad Kassem, one of our newest faculty members in the department, was selected by the Engineers’ Council to receive an Outstanding Engineering Achievement Merit Award at the 61st Annual Honors and Award Banquet on February 27 in University City, California. The Engineers’ Council is a not-for-profit professional society organized in 1955 to advance education in engineering and the sciences, encourage engineering career selection in our youth and recognize engineers for their significant accomplishments. Their annual National Engineers Week Honors and Awards Banquet is the largest Engineers Week celebration nationwide, with attendance of more than 500 people representing major engineering/manufacturing, education and technical society organizations.


Professor Sunil Sharma recently learned that a paper he co-authored in 1991 with W. R. Judd (Purdue University) titled ‘Underground Opening Damage from Earthquakes’ has been selected as one of 30 papers (out of 3,400) for ‘its outstanding contribution’ to the field of engineering geology. The paper was included in a “Virtual Special Issue” celebrating the 50th anniversary ofEngineering Geology, an international journal that is published by Elsevier. The paper examined the behavior of underground openings during earthquakes and developed correlations among peak ground acceleration at the surface, overburden depth and damage.


Professor Michael Kyte’s colleagues and friends gathered during the 2016Transportation Research Board (TRB) meeting in Washington, D.C. in early January to celebrate his many contributions to the transportation engineering profession. Professor Ahmed Abdel-Rahim presented Kyte with a plaque that read: “In sincere gratitude and recognition for the compassion, guidance and outstanding leadership you’ve provided to all of us at NIATT over the last 22 years.”

Professor Kyte made such substantial contributions to the profession that a student award has been named for him. The Michael Kyte Outstanding Student Award seeks to recognize students in University Transportation Center Federal Region 10 with accomplishments in three areas: technical merit and research, academic performance, professionalism and leadership. Each year, students are nominated by their faculty advisors and pass through a series of competitions, first within their institution and then within the region. This year’s recipient is Anthony Mullin, a Ph.D. student at the University of Alaska – Fairbanks (pictured above to the right with Professor Kyte). The Department of Civil Engineering plans an annual lecture in Professor Kyte’s name; the inaugural event is planned for fall 2016.


I am a junior studying civil engineering and am originally from Parker, Colorado. I chose to pursue engineering because I love being challenged and solving problems, and I never wanted to be bored. When it came to selecting an engineering discipline, I chose civil engineering because it involves creating the infrastructure of society, which is quite possibly the biggest machine in the whole world and therefore has some of the largest problems to tackle. I love the way we analyze problems and systems most people do not even think twice about to ensure that everything is cohesive and working correctly. My decision to come to the University of Idaho was first prompted by being the child of two alumni, but was finalized when I realized that U of I is an amazing institution. I felt like my best interests and successes were going to be supported here; every single portion of that feeling has come true! I have been provided with so many incredible foundational elements and opportunities for my education that I do not think I would have received elsewhere; U of I Civil & Environmental Engineering is providing me with a spectacular footing to build a career upon.

One of the great organizations I have been able to be a part of is the Society of Women Engineers. As an officer, I have been able to play a role in several professional development and academic events for our collegiate members while also assisting in outreach programs to encourage high school girls to pursue an engineering degree. I just recently returned from the Regional Conference in Seattle where I was able to meet so many phenomenal women working in the engineering field. These experiences helped solidify my belief in the importance of women’s role in engineering while also reminding me of the amazing potential an engineering career provides.

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Buchanan Engineering Building Rm. 102

Mailing Address:

Civil & Environmental Engineering
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 1022
Moscow, ID 83844-1022

Phone: 208-885-6782