School of Engineering Annual Awards

Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering

photo of Carmen Velasco

Carmen A. Velasco
Outstanding Graduate Student
Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering

Carmen A. Velasco is originally from Quito, Ecuador. She said she decided on engineering because she always liked chemistry and math and wanted to choose a career that will allow her to impact people's lives and will give her a sense of purpose. “I thought engineering was the perfect field to make a positive difference,” she said.

While a student, she has been president of the student chapter of the American Water Works Association (AWWA), 2019-20, and the chair of the student chapter of the Southwest American Vacuum Society (AVS), 2018 -19.

She said she is grateful for the opportunity to join UNM and Dr. Jose Cerrato's group. “He has been a resourceful and patient mentor who introduced me to so many smart and kind professors and students who now I can call friends.”

Carmen said she had a lot of favorite memories of her time at UNM, including the luminaria night on campus last year with a big group of friends, professors and collaborators. “We will remember that night for several years with a big smile and laughter as it was a warm and unforgettable event, to say the least.” She also fondly remembers having her family visit from Ecuador and touring UNM, as well as the simple times of going for coffee with colleagues in the afternoon, journal club meetings, or the sporadic happy hours on Friday. “It will be difficult to forget my time at UNM!”

Her hobbies include hiking, yoga, cooking, drawing and watercolor, and her future plans are to work as a consultant in environmental engineering.

photo of Ernesto Perea

Ernesto J. Perea
Outstanding Senior
Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering

Ernesto Perea is a non-traditional student from New Mexico who was inspired to come to UNM by former State Representative Larry Larrañaga.

Ernesto was the treasurer for Chi Epsilon, the civil engineering honor society, as well as an event coordinator and treasurer for Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society. He is also student member of ASCE and helped create the concrete canoe for recent competitions. He has been working with professors Jose Cerrato and John Stormont on research involving energy production and the environment.

In his free time, Ernesto enjoys spending time with his wife, Jessica, playing video games. In fall 2019, he began graduate courses as part of the shared-credit program in Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering. This summer, he hopes to work in the lab with Dr. Cerrato and Dr. Stormont on research for the Center for Water and the Environment at UNM.

Ernesto intends to start a master’s degree in civil engineering with an environmental emphasis. He would like to stay in Albuquerque after graduation to better the environment for future generations in his community.

photo of Alexandra Lee Brown

Alexandra Lee Brown
Outstanding Junior
Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering

Alexandra Brown born at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, but she has lived in Albuquerque since she was 2, so she considers Albuquerque to be her hometown.

Although both of her parents are engineers, she didn’t automatically choose that path. She tried a few different majors, and even took a break for a while. Thinking about the advice her parents gave her to pursue something she would enjoy, she realized she always wanted to drive heavy machinery on a construction site. She found construction management at UNM “and it just clicked.”

Her path was not an easy one. She first came to UNM in 2014 for the first time and struggled, due to some events in her personal life. But she tried again.

“This second time around that I came to UNM, it's been a total 180. I've connected with professors, I'm in a degree that I legitimately enjoy, and I've gained back my confidence. The School of Engineering is such a wonderful resource with a lot of caring people, and I feel like I matter. I don't just feel like a number, and that's so important to me,” she said.

One of her favorite memories of her time at UNM was when she was taking CE160L with Michael Gonzalez and the support she received. “His support has helped me build confidence in myself. It is one thing to be capable, but it is another to realize that capability. I think having a good support network is paramount to that.”

For the last year, she has been working at Sandia National Laboratories. Alexandra works part time, attends school full time and is a single mom to a 5-year-old, so she doesn’t have much spare time for hobbies, but she does enjoy knitting and spending quality time with her son and fiancé.

Her plans are to begin master’s studies in construction engineering and transition to a full-time position within Sandia.

photo of Alan Barney

Alan Barney
Outstanding Sophomore
Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering

Alan Barney became interested in studying engineering because he felt like it gave him “the best opportunity to make a positive impact in the fields of environmental and resource sustainability.” The Albuquerque native currently works for the Albuquerque Water Authority in the compliance division as a pollution prevention specialist. Alan said his favorite UNM memory was graduating with his biology degree, and he’s looking forwarding to earning his second degree, this time in Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering. When he’s not working or studying, he enjoys playing sports and being outdoors with his son, playing video games with him and taking him fun places to eat or explore. He is also a martial artist. Eventually, Alan wants to work as an engineer for the water authority on projects that further sustainable water use and protect our water supplies. “Wastewater treatment is important to me, and I hope to contribute to the development of those processes and technologies,” he said.