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Civil Engineering Student Club at Liberty University

Liberty University (LU) started the residential delivery of a BS in Civil Engineering program in Fall 2019, with an enrollment of 12 students.  This is the ninth engineering program at LU. A Civil Engineering Student Club (CESC) was begun on February 6, 2020 with a slate of officers selected.  The club had a full schedule of activities planned but, the pandemic hit, LU closed on Monday, March 16, and everything was turned upside-down and put on hold.  Classes resumed in Fall 2020 with the wearing of masks and social distancing, with an enrollment of 47 students.  Moreover, the online delivery of the civil engineering program was begun, with an initial enrollment of 192 students.  The online delivery of the program mirrors the residential delivery.  The only exception is that the online students will be required to take the two civil engineering laboratory courses on campus; each being one week long.

CESC currently has about 78 members, and has filed a Statement of Intent to Establish a Student Chapter with ASCE.  To date, the club has held and participated in various activities (mostly virtual): guest speakers (including the club’s two practitioner advisors and one from Habitat for Humanity); civil engineering career night; tour of LU’s new 9-story parking garage; Career Fair preparation; FE Exam review meetings; and an Operation Christmas Child shoebox-packing social.

Anyone interested in speaking and interacting with the club is welcome to contact the club President, Lydianna Notheis (lnotheis@liberty.edu) or the faculty advisor, Dr. John Vadnal (jvadnal@liberty.edu; 434-592-4651). 

ASCE Virginia Section Student Award Winners from 2020

Despite COVID-19 canceling all of the ASCE Regional Student Conferences, the Virginia Section awarded two student awards for the Virginias Student Conference. Those two awards are the Marr Technical Paper Competition and the Thompson Award.  Prior to the cancelation of the Virginias Student Conference, the Marr Technical Paper Competition was held.  The Marr Technical Paper consists of a 4,000 word paper written on a topic of choice by an undergraduate student. Out of the 14 schools that attend the Virginias Student Conference, 12 submitted papers.  The Virginia Section awards prizes for the top three papers.  The Marr Technical Paper winner for 2020 are:

PlaceScoreAuthorSchoolTitle
First41.00Kyla D’SaGWU“A BEHAVIORAL BASED PEDESTRIAN MODELING APPROACH: FORMULATION, SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS AND CALIBRATION”
Second40.20Ben RostonVT“CRITERIA FOR EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTATION OF PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT METHODS IN CIVIL ENGINEERING PROJECTS”
Third37.60Ethan MahoneyVMI“ANALYZING THE BONNER BRIDGE: HOW TO IMPROVE THE ORIGIONAL DESIGN”

The Thompson Award is the superlative for each of the Virginia Section Schools.  This is for the most outstanding ASCE student graduate from each of the four Virginia Section schools as selected by the school, including Virginia Tech, Virginia Military Institute, Old Dominion University, and University of Virginia. Below are each of the Thompson Award winners:

Virginia Tech – Carolyn Olmsted

The 2020 Thompson Award winner from Virginia Tech (VT) is Carolyn Olmsted.  Carolyn is a deserving recipient due to her academics and her significant involvement in VT Chapter of ASCE.  Carolyn was the acting President of VT ASCE during the 2019-2020 academic year.  Prior to her presidency, she was a co-captain of the VT ASCE Concrete Canoe team for two consecutive years.  She was the 2019 VT ASCE Biscotte Family Scholarship recipient, and the 2020 ASCE Virginia Section Scholarship recipient.  Carolyn was also a 2019-2020 VT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Via Scholar.  Carolyn is one of the most decorated VT ASCE officers.  As the faculty advisor, it was always a pleasure working with Carolyn.  She has a fantastic and affable personality, and Carolyn has a unique appreciation for good civil related puns.  Carolyn is currently employed with Simpson, Gumpertz, & Heger (SGH) in Boston, MA. 

Virginia Military Institute – Andrew Polson

Andrew Polson was the Concrete Canoe project manager and president of the VMI ASCE student chapter during the spring 2020 semester.  He was instrumental in the design and construction of the canoe. He has a natural way of leading by example and pushing a project forward.  Andrew also served as the point person for the ASCE student chapter this year.   He helped coordinate activities and ensure the end of the year report was done on time.   Additionally, Andrew helped implement numerous community service projects that helped introduce area middle school students to civil engineering.  Always a professional with positive energy and a smile on his face, Andrew served the VMI student chapter well.   He has since graduated and serves as a project manager with Turner Construction.

Old Dominion University – Niko Ambrose

Niko Ambrose is the Thompson Award recipient from Old Dominion University where he graduated with his BSCE degree in December 2019.  Niko came to ODU from his hometown of Richmond, Virginia where he attended and graduated from the Governor’s Academy for Engineering at L.C. Bird High School.  Prior to Richmond, Niko lived in the Caribbean for seven years.  Niko knew he wanted to be a civil engineer from a young age both because of his interests in structures and transportation, and because of his desire to help his community.  Niko was a Virginia Department of Transportation intern while at ODU and provided service to the College of Engineering and Technology by serving as an Engineering Ambassador and a peer mentor for freshman engineering students. 

Niko became a regular-attending member of the ASCE Student Chapter as a freshman and his engagement and involvement in the student chapter only expanded in the following years.  He served as student chapter publicity chair, transportation competition team member, and a key volunteer for the Virginias’ Student Conference that ODU hosted in 2017.  His efforts for the conference included assisting in setting up the steel bridge competition site the night before the regional competition working until 1:30 AM to ensure that competition was ready to go.  In 2018, he was the only ODU student chapter member to submit a technical paper for the Marr paper competition at the regional conference. 

In 2018, Niko participated in the ASCE National Workshop for Student Chapter Leaders held in Buffalo, NY which helped prepare him to lead the ODU ASCE Student Chapter as its president in 2019.  As president he provided excellent leadership to the student chapter and became one of the few ODU student chapter presidents to actively participate in ASCE Norfolk Branch meetings providing oral and written reports on activities of the student chapter.  He was also a motivating force behind the effort to rename the national ASCE Outstanding Practitioner Advisor Award the Richard H. Nettleton Outstanding Practitioner Advisor Award, an effort to rename the award in memory of ODU’s longtime practitioner advisor and a victim of the May 2019 mass shooting in Virginia Beach.  This effort to rename the award came to fruition in April 2020.   

Niko is currently employed by the Virginia Department of Transportation with the Richmond District as a Traffic Engineer in the EDGE program; working with safety studies, MUTCD safety compliance and doing interdisciplinary studies.  He is also Vice-Chair of the ASCE Younger Member Advisory Council for Region 4. 

University of Virginia – Lindsey Maxwell

Lindsey Maxwell is a 2020 University of Virginia graduate.  She earned her BS in Civil Engineering, graduating with over 166 college credit hours (UVa requires 128 credit hours).  Her cumulative GPA was 4.0….meaning she earned an A in every course she took as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia!  Lindsey was designated a Rodman Scholar, which recognizes academically distinguished students that enter the University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.  Lindsay was also very active in ASCE and was a volunteer for the Adopt-A-Grandparent program at the University’s Madison House.  Madison House is home to a host of volunteer programs focusing on getting students engaged with the greater Charlottesville community.  She spent a summer at the US Department of State as a Summer Undergraduate Scholar and spent six months at Disney World as a Civil Engineering Disney Intern. On a personal level, Lindsay is kind, humble and always available to her classmates to help in any way asked.  She is a natural leader, engaging, and inclusive.  She has made a difference to all those she has touched here at the University of Virginia and will no doubt continue to do so in her career.  

Civil Engineers plan, design, build, operate, maintain, and sustain our infrastructure. ASCE Virginia Section members play key roles in our daily lives by dedicating their professional lives to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the Public (Construction, Geotechnical, Structural, Transportation, Water Resources and Environmental).  Resilency and leadership will allow us to design for the changing enviornment for our future generations.  FUTURE WORLD VISION