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UNM’s Department of Civil Engineering transforms its identity

May 24, 2018 - By Kim Delker

The University of New Mexico’s Department of Civil Engineering now has a new name: the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering.

The name change was approved by the UNM Faculty Senate in late April.

Mahmoud Taha, department chair and professor, said the name change was made to better reflect all that the department now offers and to bring more attention to its emphases in construction engineering, construction management, as well as environmental engineering.

Other key strategic areas for the department include the structural and materials engineering, geotechnical engineering, transportation engineering and water resources.

Taha said that the revamped name will help in the recruitment of students who are interested in pursuing degrees with a strong emphasis on environmental and construction engineering, as well as the recruitment of faculty members in these key areas.

“UNM Civil Engineering is the center of excellence on environmental engineering at the state of New Mexico and we want our new name to reflect that fact,” Taha said.

In 2014, the department’s Center for Water and the Environment received a 5-year, $5 million Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) award from the National Science Foundation. The grant spearheaded an increased emphasis in research, teaching and outreach activities in the area of water and environmental engineering.

In March 2018, the School of Engineering received donations from the estate of UNM civil engineering alumnus Dana C. Wood that will benefit the department in the strategic area of construction engineering. The gift included $500,000 to upgrade a 4,600-square-foot structures and materials lab, located on the ground floor of the Centennial Engineering Center, as well as the civil engineering computer lab. The lab will be named in his honor and the funds will be used to create state-of-the-art lab spaces in 3D concrete printing and computer-aided design (CAD). The gift also included $1 million to create an endowed position within the department. The position and funds will be used for advanced construction and materials technologies, including 3D concrete printing.