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Message from the chair

June 29, 2020

Laura Lowes

Laura Lowes, Chair & William M. and Marilyn M. Conner Professor

I start my message this spring the same way that I am starting many messages these days, with my sincerest hope that you, your family and your loved ones are doing well during this challenging time. In March, CEE faculty, staff and students made the transition to remote operations due to COVID-19.

Employing various software and technologies, we moved to online lectures, quiz sections, office hours, exams, advising, research activities and more. Faculty have adopted a range of approaches to online teaching, a few of which are highlighted in this edition of The Bridge, including lecturer Julian Yamaura’s creative approach to transitioning the hands-on junior-level construction materials course online.

All but a few critical research activities have also moved online, requiring some researchers to shift their focus from field work to computer modeling and data analysis. This newsletter highlights several research projects that aim to make notable advances in the field, such as developing the first landslide risk map for the city of Seattle and advancing the post-earthquake assessment of reinforced concrete buildings through the application of new technologies, such as lidar.

While our department enjoys participating in various events throughout the year, such as Engineering Discovery Days, and was planning to host the ASCE Regional Competition on campus, these events have been postponed until next year. Our students, who have been involved in planning the ASCE competition, have done an admirable job in not only adapting to the changing circumstances, but in figuring out how to apply their hard work to next year’s events.

We will also be unable to gather together to celebrate a longtime faculty member’s retirement. After spring quarter, professor Steve Kramer, who was elected to the National Academy of Engineering this winter, will be retiring. An article in this newsletter highlights not only his many accomplishments, but his commitment to building a geotechnical engineering graduate degree program that has a strong national reputation.

Through all the changes these past few months, I have been profoundly impressed with the CEE community’s willingness to embrace challenges and support one other to achieve a successful transition to this new operational mode. I have no doubt that we will emerge with new knowledge and skills that will enable us to better achieve our mission moving forward.

Laura Lowes
Chair & William M. and Marilyn M. Conner Professor