CEE celebrates graduates with afternoon parties
By Denise Brehm
Civil & Environmental Engineering
CEE graduates gathered with families, friends and CEE faculty, staff and alumni for a luncheon in Building 1 after the Hooding ceremony June 3, and again on the lawn near Kresge for an afternoon celebration following MIT’s 144th Commencement exercises June 4.
While a jazz trio played and people ate and mingled, the Class of 2010 prepared to give lab instructor Stephen Rudolph a surprise. The group of 14 students asked to pose with him for a photo, and much to the surprise of Rudolph and onlookers, opened their shirts or Commencement robes to reveal “Steve-shirts” — T-shirts bearing his likeness inside a bright orange and yellow starburst.
“The look on Steve’s face was priceless,” said Kris Kipp, CEE academic programs administrator.
“It was moving and at the same time awkward,” said Rudolph, in his characteristically humble manner. “Here I was meeting their parents for the first time, and my face is plastered on all these t-shirts.”
The seniors then unwrapped their handmade gift to Rudolph, a large piece of plywood with a message of appreciation written in words and objects. When deciphered the message, with words in italics substituted for the objects, said:
“Before we bolt we just wanted to say: Leaving you is wrenching our hearts out. Steeled against anything, you were level-headed even when we were wired. You helped us generate ideas. You propelled our projects to a hole other dimension. Hammering out designs bit by bit. We wood have been screwed without you. You’ve been a staple in our lives. Thanks to you, we never buckled. This connection can never be broken. Thanks for so many great moments. No one will ever measure up to you. — Love, CEE Class of 2010.”
Among the many ways Rudolph supports the students are the many hours he spends working with them in the CEE undergraduate laboratory on their engineering design projects. He also works very closely with the MIT Steel Bridge Team on that project, even accompanying the students to the regional and national competitions.
This academic year, the department awarded 134 degrees: 18 doctorates (including one student in the joint program with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution); 28 Master of Science in Transportation degrees; 23 Master of Science degrees; 33 Master of Engineering degrees; two Engineers degrees; and 30 Bachelor of Science degrees (14 in civil engineering, nine in environmental engineering science, and seven undesignated).
Other awards received by students
In addition to the awards presented to students and faculty at the annual department awards dinner, CEE students received many awards and commendations from MIT and external sources. These awards include those listed below.
Senior Naomi Stein was one of two MIT students to receive the 2010 AMITA (Association of MIT Alumnae) Senior Academic Award at the MIT Awards Convocation May 4. Also at the convocation, senior Polina Bakhteiarov received an Albert G. Hill Prize. One of three Laya and Jerome B. Wiesner Awards went to senior Sriniwasan Balaji Mani for his musical talent. Junior Aissata Nutzel was awarded the Ronald E. McNair Scholarship Award. Senior Danny Perez received the Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts for his work in theater arts.
Three CEE seniors are among the 80 MIT students elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Society: Kelcie Abraham, Nicholas Murlo and Naomi Stein.
Thirteen students were welcomed into the civil and environmental engineering honor society, Chi Epsilon: seniors Sam Fox, Brooke Jarrett, Shammi Quddus, Julia Roberts and Adam Talsma, and juniors Carolyn Crull, Edna Ezzell, Fatima Hussain, Alex Jordan, Emily Moberg, Khalea Robinson, R.N. Tharu and Kate Turner.
CEE doctoral student Rouzbeh Shasavari and MIT Sloan School of Management M.B.A. candidate Natanel Barookhian won the MIT $100K Business Plan competition with their startup plan for C-Crete Technologies.
After walking away from the regional competition with first place in five categories, the regionally top-ranked MIT Steel Bridge Team placed sixth at the national competition at Purdue University May 29. MIT ranked first among private universities.
Juniors Connie Liu and Khalea Robinson were MIT Burchard Scholars. Three CEE graduate students — Zenzile Brooks, Kari Hernandez and Jessica Molly Patrick — were named Graduate Women of Excellence by the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education. Sophomore Tiffany Cheng won the Writing and Humanistic Studies Prize for Engineering Writing.
CEE graduate Travis Dunn, who just completed his Ph.D. in transportation, received a Fulbright scholarship to live in Mexico next year to study advanced transportation technologies for mobility, the environment and economic development. Sevara Melibaeva, an M.S.T. student from Uzbekistan, has been awarded a position in the World Bank’s prestigious Young Professionals Program. Graduate students Mike Szulczewski and Birendra Jha received Outstanding Student Paper Awards for the work they presented at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union.
A team including two CEE seniors — Sara Barnowski and Samantha Fox — won a prize in the MIT IDEAS Competition for a project to improve the livelihood of collectors of waste vegetable oil in Brazil. CEE junior Aaron Thom, co-president of Sustainability@MIT, represented MIT at a workshop convened as a side event for the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.
CEE students received grants and fellowships from various funders to carry out projects around the world. During summer 2009, sophomore Rebecca Heywood went to Uganda to work on an Engineers Without Borders project. Senior Samantha Fox was in La Vaquita, Mexico, during January working as a member of a Poverty Action Project team. Seniors Adam Talsma and Brooke Jarrett went to Peru in summer 2009 to host a workshop and make a documentary video about communication between post-earthquake communities and the NGOs working on reconstruction. The two will go back to Peru this summer to continue that work and spend a month in Ecuador designing ecotourism possibilities. Talsma also has a grant to spend at least one year working on poverty alleviation in the urban slums of India.