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Students Shine at the CME 5th Annual CEPAC Awards Reception

Less financial stress. More time to study instead of work. Pursuing internships and professional student organizations. For some undergraduate students in the Department of Civil and Materials Engineering, having these small luxuries can either be a key or a hurdle to their academic success. In response to the growing needs of CME’s diverse student body, CME’s Civil Engineering Professional Advisory Council (CEPAC) reached deeply into their network and gave generously—establishing many scholarships to assist CME students who demonstrated outstanding promise through their academic performances.

Opening the ceremony for the 2014 CEPAC Awards, the Council’s Chairman Kenneth E. Nelson, P.E. (who is not related to the College of Engineering’s Dean Peter Nelson), delved into about the history of CME, CEPAC and how the Department and Council have worked diligently to raise the profile of civil engineering—by raising up a diverse population of civil engineering students.

When CEPAC was established in 2000, this well-rounded group included civil engineering faculty members and professional practitioners came together with the goal to enhance undergraduate education. CEPAC Awards 2014- Ken Nelson and CEPAC Scholarship winnersAlong with providing a wealth of knowledge and external feedback on areas of curriculum improvement to better prepare students,CEPAC Members also enthusiastically stepped up as volunteers, teachers and counselors. In their tireless efforts, the Council was also identifying the needs of, and establishing new scholarships for students who demonstrated need and excellence—bolstering the students’ abilities to continue in their studies.

One example is the Sargent & Lundy Scholarship, which was also established in 2000, by a dedicated group of Engineering at Illinois alumni and friends employed at Sargent and Lundy.Sargent & Lundy Scholarship Award, CEPAC 2014 This year's award was presented by two UIC alumni and senior leaders at Sargent & Lundy—Dennis Demoss and Shiven V. Sulkar, who presented awards to Estefan A. Diaz, Brandon P. DeRosario, Nicolas Lordis, James J. Pinkl, Daniel J. Wierzbicki, Abdul Aziz Yakubu (not present) and Amari D. Griffin (not present).

In 2009, Nelson said, CEPAC decided to host an event to recognize all of the scholarship recipients as well as their donors—giving each a chance to meet each other and see the fruits of their labor.

What started off as 16 scholarships and recipients in 2009 has now grown to a robust 22 scholarships and 39 recipients in 2014—with several scholars winning multiple awards. As the program has grown, so has the attendance of UIC alumni as award presenters for their companies—returning to their roots and engaging with the next generation of civil engineers. As many presenters introduced their awards, they also added a bit of the personal history that tied them to UIC, as well as what the award meant to them.

“When I first arrived at CME, it was to interview for a position in the department,” said CME’s Interim Department Head Dr. Karl Rockne, introducing the Professor Robert H. Bryant Scholarship. “One of the most unforgettable people I interviewed with? The late Professor Robert H. Bryant.” As Dr. Rockne shared this anecdote, several audience members who had either worked with or been a student of the late professor shared smiles and nods. After the reception, they would go on to share their own UIC stories of the beloved emeritus professor.

Before she presented her scholarship, Dr. Nancy Anderson Holmes also treated the audience, particularly the undergraduates, to a bit of her incomparable historical knowledge of UIC. Dr. Holmes, a triple-degree holder from UIC, was a member of the first UIC College of Engineering class, and its only woman graduate. As a former student of Professor Edward H. Coe, (a colonel in charge of an engineering corps in World War II, a U.S. Army veteran, and a civil engineering professor,) at UIC’s original Navy Pier location, Dr. Holmes provided a small window in time about the pioneer UIC engineering experience. Transitioning seamlessly from UIC history to her personal history, Dr. Holmes talked about the inspiration behind her scholarship—her aunt—who pursued an engineering doctorate, but was denied the degree because of her gender. In honor of her aunt, Dr. Holmes established the Nancy Anderson Holmes scholarship in 2006 to benefit UIC civil engineering students.

UIC Professor of Practice Dr. Christopher B. Burke

For a complete list of awards, and award winners: Click here (Embedded list of awards and recipients with a little “about the award summary.”)

To see more highlights from the event, view the gallery:

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Topic revision: r1 - 2014-11-20 - 07:02:08 - Main.sbhat3
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