Civil and Environmental Engineering
Department e-Newsletter

2008-09 Academic Year-in-Review, Vol. 1

Seniors Showcase Final Capstone Projects
MDEA AngleIn May, civil and environmental seniors enjoyed showcasing their final team presentations for class CEE 181A-B-C, the year-long capstone design experience for civil engineering and environmental engineering majors.  The course's overall theme focused on a planning area in the City of Irvine, selected in consultation with The Irvine Company.
In the fall quarter, 16 teams - composed of five to six students each - were assembled to address overall site planning for "Planning Area 6" in the foothills of Irvine, north of the Great Park. Each team was composed of seniors majoring in civil engineering with specializations in structures, transportation, or water resources, as well as environmental engineering. Teams created and presented a site development report incorporating a development concept and plan, site constraints, entitlement and permit aspects, basic infrastructure elements, cost estimates, and construction schedules.
During the winter and spring quarters, new teams were created with members focused on a structures, transportation, water, or environmental design project, each of which were defined by course faculty and professional engineers who served as client/consultants that both defined the project and acted as technical consultants. Client and consultants continuing from prior years included AKM Consulting Engineers, Cordoba Corporation, Iteris, Inc., Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, Kleinfelder, AECOM Design, KPFF, Inc., (four projects), Parsons Corporation, Psomas, RBF Consulting, Stantec Inc., and VA Consulting, Inc. First-time participants included Tetra Tech, Inc., Brandow & Johnson, Inc., MRH Structural Engineers, and URS Corporation.
This year's projects integrated the design of a six-story steel building, an adaptive signal control system, a water reservoir, and an NTS Water Quality Basin. Each team had a CEE faculty mentor who provided additional advice and feedback. 
The last four years, Steve Bucknam from Bucknam & Associates, Inc., has served as a course lecturer and CEE Professor Michael McNally, Ph.D., has served as a faculty mentor.
The course Web site,, documents the comprehensive three-quarter sequence, and also provides access to the presentation slides and executive summaries of all projects. For further information, please contact McNally at

Reconnecting at "Back to UCI Night"

Gateway and ArchThe Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) hosted their third annual "Back to UCI Night - CEE Alumni Gathering," at the UCI University Club in May.  There were more than fifty attendees, including CEE alumni, CEE Affiliates members, faculty, and students.

After Distinguished Professor and Dean Rafael L. Bras, Sc.D., and Department Chair and Distinguished Professor Masanobu Shinozuka, Ph.D., welcomed and addressed the group, guests visited the Structural Engineering Testing Hall, the Center for Hydrometeorology and Remote Sensing, and the Institute of Transportation Studies. This event was sponsored by the CEE Affiliates.

UC Irvine Engineering Proudly Progresses in 2010 U.S. News and World Report Best Graduate Schools Rankings

ArchThe Henry Samueli School of Engineering advanced its standing among the country's best engineering graduate schools, placing 35th on the 2010 U.S.News and World Report's annual rankings of the nation's public and private graduate programs. 

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Recap of CEE Affiliates Spring Quarterly Meeting

CEE Affiliates LogoThe CEE Affiliates held their spring quarterly meeting on April 24, 2009, themed "Advances in Smart Infrastructure - A Futuristic Look."  Three feature presentations included "Exploring the Greening of Transportation through Information Technology" given by CEE Professor Will Recker, Ph.D., "The Smart Electric Grid...Can We Define It?" presented by Nicholas Abi-Samra, senior technical executive of the Electric Power Research Institute, and "Monitoring of Large Scale Civil Infrastructure" given by CEE Distinguished Professor and Chair Masanobu Shinozuka, Ph.D., and Pai Chou, Ph.D., associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

CEE Department Welcomes Four New Faculty

Engineering TowerThe CEE Department was pleased to introduce four new faculty members in 2008-09, including Rafael L. Bras, Sc.D., distinguished professor and dean, and Assistant Professors Russell Detwiler, Ph.D., Wenlong Jin, Ph.D., and
Diego Rosso, Ph.D.


Study Links Amazon Deforestation to Cloud Cover

Amazon DeforestationRafael L. Bras, Sc.D., distinguished professor and dean of The Henry Samueli School of Engineering, co-authored a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences to study the impact of deforestation in the Amazon basin on cloud climatology.  Researchers analyzed satellite cloud maps and performed local measurements in the Amazon region to determine shallow clouds follow deforestation, but deep clouds do not.

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Samueli School Professors Receive NIST Grant for Infrastructure Monitoring Sensors

Prof. ShinozukaCEE Distinguished Professor and Chair Masanobu Shinozuka, Ph.D., received a nearly $5.7 million grant over three years from the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Technology Innovation Program (TIP), and several local water groups, and will use the grant money to develop a monitoring and inspection system for pipes and pipe networks in water and wastewater infrastructure systems using wireless sensor nodes incorporated in an advanced Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system. 

The research team will be led by Shinozuka and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Associate Professor Pai Chou, Ph.D., at the UC Irvine, and will include:  Earth Mechanics, Inc. (Fountain Valley, Calif.); the Irvine Ranch Water District (Irvine, Calif.); the Orange County Sanitation District (Fountain Valley, Calif.); and the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority (Riverside, Calif.).


Engineering Dean Delivers Prestigious Award Lecture at MIT, Receives Additional Honors

ArchRafael L. Bras, Sc.D., distinguished professor and dean of The Henry Samueli School of Engineering, stood before a packed audience at MIT to give the 2008-2009 James R. Killian, Jr. Faculty Achievement Award lecture at the end of March.  Addressing "Planet Water: Complexity and Organization in Earth Systems," Bras talked about the intricate relationships found among oceans, land, atmosphere and plant life.
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Bras was also honored for his "outstanding contributions to hydrology," at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Honors Ceremony in San Francisco, Calif., and was given the prestigious Robert E. Horton Medal.  Finally, he was elected to the Academia de Artes y Ciencias de Puerto Rico in recognition of his outstanding accomplishments and "for lifetime contributions to the arts, sciences and literature."  
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William J. Cooper Named "Professor of the Year," and Spearheads Urban Water Research Center Community Involvement and Outreach 

Bill CooperWilliam J. Cooper, Ph.D., professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Urban Water Research Center (UWRC), was honored with a "Professor of the Year" award for his exceptional contributions to teaching, given by The Henry Samueli School of Engineering Student Council at their annual awards banquet in February, as part of the campus' 36th celebration of National Engineers Week (E-Week).

Also, last fall, the UWRC helped start a new collaboration designed to excite young people about addressing the water crisis.  Partnering with the Orange County Department of Education and numerous other sponsors, the Water Innovation Now (WIN) contest was launched, charging school children to come up with innovative ways to solve water use and availability concerns.  Also, UC Irvine co-hosted a five-day international conference last December, which brought experts together to share innovative solutions and identify water resources and management principles to help answer water scarcity challenges. Working with UC Irvine on the event were the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Maria Q. Feng Receives Distinguished Mid-Career Faculty Award for Research

Maria FengMaria Q. Feng, Ph.D., professor of civil and environmental engineering and endowed chair for The Center for Diversity in Engineering Education, has been named the 2009-10 recipient of the Distinguished Mid-Career Faculty Award for Research on behalf of UC Irvine's Academic Senate, honoring her significant contributions to scholarship through distinguished research.

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Brett Sanders Honored with Celebration of Teaching Award

Brett SandersBrett Sanders, Ph.D., professor of civil and environmental engineering, was honored for excellence in undergraduate teaching in The Henry Samueli School of Engineering at this year's UC Irvine Celebration of Teaching Awards, presented by the Division of Undergraduate Education, The Council on Student Experience and The Teaching, Learning and Technology Center.

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Soroosh Sorooshian Receives Four Prominent Honors

Soroosh SorooshianSoroosh Sorooshian, Ph.D., distinguished professor of civil and environmental engineering and Earth system science, and director of the Center for Hydrometeorology and Remote Sensing at UC Irvine, has been honored for his outstanding atmospheric research contributions, his continued dedication to engineering education, and his leadership in science and technology public policy.

The 2009 Walter Orr Roberts Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Sciences from the American Meteorological Society (AMS), the Orange County Engineering Council 2009 Distinguished Engineering Educator, as well as the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Orange County Chapter 2009 Distinguished Engineering Educator, were bestowed to Sorooshian for his outstanding accomplishments. 

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Peter the Anteater (Left)
STUDENT HONORS               

Azadeh Alipour, a CEE Ph.D. student, and Hanoz Santoke, an environmental engineering Ph.D. student, were named 2009-10 Pedagogical Fellows from UC Irvine's Teaching, Learning and Technology Center. Pedagogical Fellows are selected to serve as teaching mentors for incoming teaching assistants.  Alipour is advised by CEE Distinguished Professor and Chair Masanobu Shinozuka, Ph.D.

Santoke also received a prestigious 2008-09 ARCS Foundation Fellowship from the Orange County chapter of the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation, Inc., in recognition of his outstanding research in pharmaceutical compounds in water supplies.  Santoke's academic advisor is William J. Cooper, Ph.D., professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Urban Water Research Center.

Pitiporn Asvapathanagul, an environmental engineering graduate student, received two prestigious awards to support her doctoral study.  She was among five students in California to receive a Kirt Brooks Memorial Water Environment Scholarship from the California Water Environment Association for 2009-10 for her research on molecular quantification of bulking and foaming bacteria in activated sludge.  She also received the UC Irvine Mentor Fellowship for 2009-10; Betty H. Olsen, Ph.D., professor of civil and environmental engineering, will serve as her mentor.

Swagata Banerjee, a postdoctoral scholar working under CEE Distinguished Professor and Chair Masanobu Shinozuka, Ph.D., has been appointed assistant professor of civil and engineering at Pennsylvania State University, effective Aug. 15, 2009. Banerjee received her Ph.D. degree from UC Irvine in 2007, under the guidance of Shinozuka.

Ali Behrangi, a CEE Ph.D. student, was awarded NASA's Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF), which aims to ensure the continued training of a highly qualified workforce in disciplines required to achieve NASA's scientific goals. Behrangi was selected from a highly competitive pool of students in the area of Earth Science research to receive a two-year award - with the option to extend the fellowship to a third year - and will receive $30,000 annually to continue his research in precipitation estimation using remotely sensed satellite images.  Behrangi is advised by CEE Distinguished Professor Soroosh Sorooshian, Ph.D.

Cheng-Yao Tsai
, an environmental engineering Ph.D. student, received a UC Irvine Faculty Mentor Program Fellowship (FMP) for 2008-09.  The fellowship aids promising graduate students in their studies who have financial need and desire to become a university professor. His research focuses on bio-hydrogen production in wastewater treatment.  His work was also presented at the California Environment Water Association and American Society for Microbiology annual meetings in spring 2009.  Tsai's academic advisors are Professor Betty H. Olson, Ph.D., and CEE Assistant Professor Diego Rosso, Ph.D.
Andy Verdin
, a CEE undergraduate student, was recognized with an "Engineer of the Year" award," given by The Henry Samueli School of Engineering Student Council at their annual awards banquet in February, as part of the campus' 36th celebration of National Engineers Week (E-Week).

Kia Mortazavi, M.S., '83, is the executive director of development for the Orange County Transportation Authority, planning and developing high-profile county transportation projects.  For example, anyone who commutesa on the 91 Express Lanes benefit from his work. Mortazavi's group analyses, recommendations and implementation of new programs and improvements - including a westbound lane project on the 91 in 2004 - have led to faster and more reliable commutes for thousands of drivers.

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Eric Shen, M.S., '95, is the director of transportation planning for the Port of Long Beach, who oversees the planning, design and development of transportation strategies for one of the world's busiest seaports. He is also part of a team of scientists working to implement Green Port Policy programs that could reduce congestion and air pollution from goods movement, benefiting the environment as well as local residents.

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University of California, Irvine
The Henry Samueli School of Engineering
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
E4130 Engineering Gateway
Irvine, CA 92697-2175

(949) 824-5333

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