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Chair's message


May 23, 2022

Laura Lowes

Laura Lowes, Chair & Professor

Welcome to the Spring 2022 edition of The Bridge. With COVID restrictions lifting this spring on campus, it has been wonderful to see crowds enjoying the blossoming cherry trees in the UW quad, prospective students and their families touring campus, and members of the UW community filling campus paths, cafes, hallways, classrooms and, of course, More Hall. We were thrilled to be able to invite faculty, students, alumni and the Puget Sound engineering community to hear Professor Emeritus Steve Kramer present the Burges Endowed Lecture in-person in late May, as well as to enjoy lectures by two Visiting Burges Endowed Professors. I am particularly excited to celebrate three years’ worth of graduations this June, as we invite students from the graduating classes of 2020-2022 and their families to attend a graduation ceremony at Hec Edmundson Arena.

From natural hazard events to climate change concerns, this edition of The Bridge highlights the work of CEE faculty, students and alumni to respond to critical challenges of the 21st century. In the coming years, our UW CEE graduates will be increasingly called on to design civil infrastructure that can meet the needs of urban environments and foster sustainable communities. To prepare the next generation of engineers, Assistant Professor David Shean is teaching students to use new drone surveying technology to track glacier change at Mount Baker. Several of our alumni are also working to mitigate the impacts of climate change through a new organization called CarbonPlan, which presents the best available science and data in unique ways to public and private stakeholders. To enable engineers to design more resilient infrastructure, the department also launched a new certificate program in earthquake engineering this spring. The work taking place across our CEE community gives me hope for the future.

In closing, I will take this opportunity to say farewell as department chair as my five-year term concludes at the end of the summer. I will return to being a regular faculty member and focus my efforts more directly on educating the next generation of engineers and advancing structural engineering research and practice. During my time as chair, I have been incredibly proud of the advances the department has made to integrate justice, equity, diversity and inclusion into our curriculum, research, department operations and infrastructure as well as our ability to come together as a community to overcome challenges, such as COVID. We have emerged with new knowledge, skills and practices that make us an even stronger department.

Laura Lowes
Chair & Professor