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UT Icon Burdette Honored with Dougherty Award

Edwin “Ed” Burdette spent six decades at UT, watching the university and the world change around him.

Through it all, his expertise in concrete engineering never wavered as he educated generation after generation of civil engineers.

For that dedication and service, the Tickle College of Engineering has presented Burdette with its highest honor, the Nathan W. Dougherty Award for 2017.

Read the full story here.

CEE Students, Faculty Receive Awards at Chancellor’s Honors Banquet

Several CEE faculty and students were honored tonight at the Chancellor’s Honors Banquet, the University of Tennessee’s largest award recognition event.

Dr. Jenny Retherford received a National Alumni Outstanding Teacher Award.

Dr. Jon Hathaway, together with Dr. Lisa Reyes Mason from Social Work and Dr. Kelsey Ellis from Geography were recognized for Success in Multidisciplinary Research for their work on the Knoxville Urban Observatory.

Undergraduate Students who received Chancellor Citations for Academic Achievement include Nicholo Franceschetti, Kelli Grissom, Morgan Jenkins, and Zachary Panczer.

Undergraduate Students who received Chancellor Citations for Extraordinary Professional Promise include David Christie, Sharon Counts, Lila Fisher, Katie Gipson, and Christina Sanford.

Graduate students who received Chancellor Citations for Extraordinary Professional Promise include  Ben Abban, Nirbesh Dhakal, Wei Hu, and Micah Wyssmann.

Congratulations to all the winners for outstanding academic achievement. Click here for a full list of winners.


CEE Transportation Students Win National Awards

National Lifesavers Conference on Highway Safety Priorities

University of Tennessee Knoxville graduate students Alexandra “Ali” Boggs and Kwaku Boakye were named 2017 Traffic Safety Scholars (TSS) and received an award of a $1,000 scholarship at the 35th annual National Lifesavers Conference on Highway Safety Priorities, held in Charlotte, North Carolina, from March 25-28. Boggs and Boakye, who are pursuing doctoral degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering, are two of the 38 U.S. and Canadian college students selected through a competitive essay application process. In the competition, students were to demonstrate how their field of study could be used to address the problem of deaths and injuries in motor vehicle crashes.

“Being part of the Lifesavers family is an endearing experience for me” said Boakye. “At the Lifesavers conference, you get to the opportunity to connect with professionals and experts in your field and that helps boost your confidence in the research you do.” In sharing insights from his essay, he said, “As transportation engineer, I strongly believe that Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) offer promising solutions to road crashes, which is a menace of society. Today, in-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technologies such as emergency electronic brake lights, speed and headway control, lateral driving support (e.g. blind spot/lane change warning), and collision avoidance systems, have potentially increased safety by improving driver performance.”

“From a young age, I have realized the safety impacts of motor vehicle transportation and have been driven to determine ways of reducing fatalities in hope there would soon be zero,” said Boggs. “The Lifesavers Conference expanded my knowledge in various safety transportation aspects, in particular occupant protection for children. The leading cause of death for children in the United States is motor vehicle injuries, with approximately one-third of the children who died in 2014 were unrestrained. I can only imagine that finding the best car seat and installing it correctly is not an easy job for new parents. At the conference, I was able to hear the effectiveness of reducing fatalities through community education programs to assist in protecting parents’ treasured loved ones. I want to thank the Lifesavers Traffic Safety Scholars Committee for allowing me to attend the conference and hear how ‘lifesavers’ are decreasing the number of motor vehicle’s deaths.”

CEE Transportation Student Wins TSITE and SDITE Student Paper Awards

CEE transportation graduate student Ali Boggs recently received first place in the annual TSITE Student Paper Competition. The award for her paper, entitled “Tennessee’s Truck Parking Shortage and its Influence on Fatal Interstate Crashes,” comes with a check for $500 and an invitation to the group’s summer meeting.

Boggs also received second place for the Outstanding Student Paper award in the graduate division, which is given by the Southern District of the Institute of Transportation Engineers. In addition to scholarly recognition, the award comes with a check for $150.

“I am so honored to be one of the recipients of the TSITE and SDITE paper competition,” said Boggs. “I sincerely express my gratitude to Dr. Cherry and Dr. Nambisan for entrusting me to work on a Tennessee Department of Transportation and Southeastern Transportation Center project on truck parking in the State of Tennessee. I was able to utilize the information from this project for my paper competition. Without the support and guidance of the University of Tennessee Faculty, I would have not been able to succeed.”

Report from the President of UT’s Institute of Transportation Engineers Student Chapter

The 2016-2017 academic year has been a great era for the Student Chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) at University of Tennessee (UT). It was a great honor to serve as the president and also to be part of the many accomplishments of the Chapter. In an age where new technologies are rapidly emerging to meet transportation challenges, we cannot help but to be kept abreast with the pace of such technological advancements. The ITE student chapter at UT was committed to serving its members by organizing transportation seminars, sponsoring members to attend professional development meetings and creating avenues for students to connect and give back to the community with the goal of promoting safer environment for the movement of people and goods in an efficient manner. I am pleased to share with you some of our notable accomplishments in the past year.

Welcoming six new members, the chapter had an engaging and exciting year full of activities. Since February 15, 2016, we have organized 14 chapter meetings. Coordinating with the faculty of Transportation Engineering and Science Program (TESP) at UT, several professionals in the industry and academia were invited to speaker at our transportation seminar series. These meetings and seminars were great resources for our members to learn of the latest development in transportation research, policies, and practices in this country and abroad. For the first time, our student chapter hosted a successful joint meeting with the Student Chapter of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) at UT.

Within the past year, the chapter has provided varied opportunities to its members through professional, social, educational and community-service activities. An important element of our efforts was our outreach to pre-college students and teachers so as to alert, engage and motivate them to consider educational and career opportunities in transportation. Other key activities included participation in section and district ITE annual meetings and other professional conferences. One notable community-service that our group participated in was Open Streets Knoxville, an event which brings together community groups and local businesses, giving people of all ages and abilities, the opportunity to walk, ride bikes, hula hoop, and much more — all in a setting that is fun and safe!

During the 2016-2017 academic year, several of our members received awards through competition, scholarship and publications. Our student group was awarded the best ITE student chapter at the Tennessee Section and Southern District levels. Our traffic bowl team did us an honor by winning the TSITE traffic bowl competition and advanced to the district competition. We congratulate our representatives for making us proud.

We are very grateful to our faculty, the department staff, the Center for Transportation Research, the Southeastern Transportation Center and our liaisons with the TSITE chapter for their assistance, guidance, and collaborative efforts in creating and sustaining our vibrant student organization.

–ITE Student Chapter President Kwaku Boakye

ASCE Student Conference Highlights

The UT American Society of Civil Engineers Student Chapter recently competed in a three-day competition with more than 1,000 students from 25 universities across the Southeast. The ASCE Student Conference is the most anticipated event for ASCE students all year because of the intense planning, especially in two categories, the steel bridge and concrete canoe construction. There are a total of 35 different categories of competition, as well as an overall ranking by school. This year, the team at UT placed 4th overall. Click here for more results from the competition.

The captains of the steel bridge and concrete canoe teams offer a few highlights from the event.

Concrete Canoe Team

Morgan Jenkins – “One such event involves designing, building, and racing a concrete canoe. This competition focuses on materials and mixture design which we tested to find a suitable concrete mix throughout the fall semester. Early in the spring semester, we ran structural calculations and cast the canoe. At the conference the most exciting day for the canoe team was racing day where we got to compete with universities from throughout the South. We were extremely proud to showcase our canoe in this year’s conference in Boca Raton, Florida!”

Sydney Reeder – “Concrete canoe was an exciting, challenging experience that allowed for a unique application of skills from classroom and professional engineering practices.  I found it to be a valuable experience because it allowed me to gain experience in properly managing a project while working alongside my peers to produce a successful project.  This opportunity helped me feel a sense of community in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department as well as with companies and other entities within the greater Knoxville community.  I have also gained valuable memories and experiences that I can learn from and pass on to others.  Overall, this experience was a great way to represent the Tickle College of Engineering, the Civil Department, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.”

Steel Bridge Team

Matt Lyons – “After months of hard work it was an amazing feeling to be able to compete. Although it was a nerve-racking couple hours of constructing and then load testing, it made it all worth it when we saw the results and how well we placed. I am extremely proud of my team and hope we can compete once more at nationals.”

Will King – “The Steel Bridge Completion consists of students designing and fabricating a 20’ bridge. The teams are judged weight and stiffness of the bridge. The students also have to construct the bridge on site at the competition.  The entire event is based off of a score composed of a monetary cost assigned to your stiffness, weight, and construction speed results.  Our design was built to optimize the construction speed and stiffness portions, while our weight was a little high. After competing against 22 other top southeastern schools we placed 4th. We are very proud of our performance and cannot wait to show out again next year!”

ASCE Student Chapter Wins 4th Overall in SE Student Conference

On March 16-18, the UT ASCE Student Chapter traveled to Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton to compete in the ASCE SE Student Conference. In a three-day competition with more than 1,000 students from 25 universities across the Southeast, UT placed 4th overall. This conference was the largest of 14 national ASCE student conferences.

“I could not be more proud of our chapter and all of their accomplishments this year,” said ASCE Student Chapter President Katie Gipson.  “We had a great time in Boca Raton and represented the University very well!”

UT placed in the top three in the following individual competitions:

1 st Place             

  • Steel Bridge Display
  • Professional Paper

3rd Place              

  • Plan Reading

Co-Captains of the Concrete Canoe project, Morgan Jenkins and Sydney Reeder, were excited to finally reach the racing day after months of designing and building, while considering materials and structural calculations.

“Concrete canoe was an exciting, challenging experience that allowed for a unique application of skills from classroom and professional engineering practices,” said Reeder. “I found it to be a valuable experience because it allowed me to gain experience in properly managing a project while working alongside my peers to produce a successful project.”

The Steel Bridge project co-captains, Matt Lyons and Will King, were proud of their team’s 4th place overall finish and 1st place award in the display category. After months of teamwork to fabricate a 20-foot bridge that could support a 2,500-pound load.

“Our design was built to optimize the construction speed and stiffness portions,” said King.” We are very proud of our performance and cannot wait to show out again next year!”

“Although it was a nerve-wracking couple hours of constructing and then load testing, it made it all worth it when we saw the results and how well we placed,” said Lyons.” I am extremely proud of my team and hope we can compete once more at nationals.”

“The ASCE Knoxville Branch and Department of CEE are very supportive of our ASCE student chapter, which enables us to be competitive every year in the largest national conference,” said Faculty Advisor Professor John Ma. “This year’s conference was held during our spring-break week, which limited the number of our students to participate. With Katie and Lauren’s leadership, UT still placed 4th overall. I am very proud of their accomplishments.”

UT’s results in other categories are as follows. For a full listing of awards received by all schools, click here.

1st Place

  • Professional Paper — Stina Sanford
  • Steel Bridge Display — Matthew Lyons, Will King, Salvador Morales, Scott Wilson, Meet Patel, Nicolo Franceschetti


3rd Place

  • Plan Reading — Lauren Barnette, Scott Henderson, Kelli Grissom

4th Place

  • Environmental — Kelli Grissom, Sharon Counts
  • T-Shirt — Liliana Porras
  • Balsa Bridge Competition — Ethan Riddle, Jose Luna, Anthony Carvagno

5th Place

  • Steel Bridge Overall — Matthew Lyons, Will King, Salvador Morales, Scott Wilson, Meet Patel, Nicolo Franceschetti
  • Conference Theme Display — Leah Stephens, Jaideep Thota

8th Place

  • Ladder Golf — Sharon Counts, Kelli Grissom, Sydney Adcock, Mac Carson

9th Place

  • Survey — Max Carter, Scott Wilson, Salvador Morales

10th Place

  • Traffic Engineering — Sharon Counts, Katie Gipson, Liliana Porras
  • Concrete Cornhole — Sharon Counts, Kelli Grissom, Sydney Adcock

11th Place

  • Wood Dam — Stina Sanford
  • Mystery — Anthony Carvagno

12th Place

  • Concrete Frisbee — Sharon Counts, Kelli Grissom, Sydney Adcock, Matthew Lyons, Sydney Reeder
  • Overall Canoe — Morgan Jenkins, Will King, Sydney Reeder, Matt Davis, Lauren Barnette, Katie Gipson, Kelli Grissom, Liliana Porras, Scott Henderson, Matthew Lyons, Will King, Justin Condon

15th Place

Geotechnical Engineering — Scott Henderson, Noah Clabo

CEE Doctoral Student Bridges Space Exploration with Civil Engineering

Dr. Achilles Tsakiris and PhD student Christian Mooneyham stand beside the test column.

CEE doctoral student Christian Mooneyham won the prestigious NASA Space Grant Institute scholarship to study crater formation on Mars. How does civil engineering fit into the space research? Christian will be using his knowledge from methane expulsion in lake sediments and reservoirs to scale-up what is happening on Earth back to the planet Mars. His military background and math skills allow him to do this scaling while using experimental evidence and sensors in his model at HSL. Christian got his BS at Westpoint and MS at Virginia Tech. He joined UTK and the Tickle College of Engineering in January 2017.

“Christian is meticulous and curious enough to succeed in his research endeavors,” said CEE Professor Thanos Papanicolaou. “He is excited to explain life on Mars using knowledge gained on planet Earth.”

ASCE VOLstarter

The American Society of Civil Engineers Student Chapter from the Tickle College of Engineering is launching a VOLstarter in March 2017 to help offset our annual conference cost. Every spring our chapter attends a regional conference to compete in several competitions including designing and building a steel bridge and racing a canoe made from concrete. The conference, and the work leading up to it, provides our students with invaluable experience in the engineering process including design, project management, construction, and professional presentations. Last year, our chapter finished second overall among 26 other schools in the SEC, and this year we hope to again earn high distinction.

Our fundraising goal through VOLstarter is set at $2,000. We hope to exceed this goal by the end of our campaign. We are fortunate enough to have a supportive community that shows their support through volunteering their time, money, and expertise. We appreciate any support from our community. Donations to the ASCE can be made through the VOLstarter project page using a credit card.


Grant Ladd
ASCE UTK Student Chapter Fundraising Chair

ASCE Student Chapter

Hey there! My name is Katie Gipson and I am the current chapter president of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) here at UT. I have been involved with ASCE since 2014. Since then, I have gained a great appreciation of ASCE’s purpose and our goal as a student chapter, which is to foster a sense of community and provide leadership opportunities for students in Civil engineering. While ASCE here at UT is a great way to be involved, it is much bigger than a college group. ASCE is a national organization that sets standards, provides professional development, and encourages innovation within Civil Engineering.

Throughout this year, our chapter has participated in several volunteer projects, held many professional development opportunities, and worked very hard on the annual conference projects. The volunteer projects have ranged from stream cleanups in Second Creek Our to CANstruction to helping with a Habitat for Humanity Build. In our General Body Meetings, we have leaders from the Civil Engineering industry and academia speak to students about the future for Civil and Environmental Engineers and the various projects their companies and research service. Outside of service and meetings, our ASCE chapter participates in the Southeast Region Student Conference where we showcase our progress as a group through competitions like Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge.

This year is beginning to wrap up with our annual conference March 16-18. Each team is given a strict set of rules to create the best product possible. This year we will be traveling to sun-shiny Florida to visit Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fl. While this is a very desirable location, it increases the overall cost to the chapter. To help mitigate our costs, we have utilized many methods for fundraising, one of which is hosting a VOLstarter Campaign. (Read more about this campaign here.)

As a chapter, our purpose is to represent the American Society of Civil Engineers and the University of Tennessee well. Each year we are able to showcase our determination and dedication to the profession while promoting the Volunteer Spirit.

I hope to leave this chapter with an excitement for innovation and a drive to better the organization of ASCE and the profession of Civil Engineering.

Check back in late March or early April to see our standings from conference

Katie Gipson

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