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CE Senior Project Course Wins National Award

May 10, 2010

nceesThe UNM Civil Engineering Department won a prestigious award from the National Council of Examiners for Engineering for “engaging students in collaborative projects with professional licensed engineers”. The award honors UNM’s Capstone Course (CE 497/499), a unique integration of construction management and civil engineering skills into a design/build project format. Representatives from the New Mexico Board of Professional Engineers and Surveyors, Subhas Shah and Julie I. Petrocco-Samora (holding the plaque, above), presented a $7,500 check and a plaque to the course instructor, Andrew Schuler, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering, on April 29.

ce-facultyPhoto: CE faculty who were involved in designing and preparing the capstone class: Dr. Walter Gerstle, Dr. Jerry Hall, Dr. Kerry J. Howe, Dr. John C. Stormont, Dr. Andrew Schuler

"It is especially rewarding to be nationally recognized for something that integrates classroom teaching and professional practice,” said Arup Maji, School of Engineering Interim Dean and Professor of Civil Engineering. “This is also why we encourage all Civil Engineering faculty to have a Professional Engineering license."

The project focused on a strong collaboration between faculty, students, and practicing professional engineers, who acted as technical advisors, meeting with the students weekly and providing guidance and instruction. More than 30 local firms and agencies have participated since 1993.  “This course format provides students with a truly ‘real-world’ experience in proposing and designing a project,” said Professor Schuler. “By working closely with their consultant mentors and teammates, our students get to apply their technical skills while learning the many intangibles critical to success in the workplace.”

The submission for the capstone course highlighted a project for a new wastewater treatment pond system in Magdelena, New Mexico. Students were mentored by Allen Bolinger from Smith Engineering, Inc. “The Capstone Program gives my firm a chance to look for potential future hires. I interact with the students over a semester and get to know them better than any interview could do,” said Bolinger. “It also gives my firm the ability to help educate the engineers who will eventually take my place.”

faculty-advisorThe students drew on information from their work in structures, geotechnical engineering, water quality, hydraulics, structures, and construction management. "We learned how to solve real world engineering problems while working in a true professional team environment," said Darren Mortenson, senior in Construction Management. "The capstone class prepared me for a career in design/construction."