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Message from the chair

May 29, 2024

Bart Nijssen headshot

Bart Nijssen, Chair & Professor

Welcome to the spring 2024 edition of The Bridge. As I am writing this, it truly does feel like spring on campus. The cherry trees on the Quad just passed peak bloom, students are preparing for finals and graduation, the Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge teams are gearing up for their annual competitions, and the department is getting ready for commencement activities. For the first time since 2019, Engineering Discovery Days took place on campus. During this two-day event in early May, elementary and middle school students visited the UW to engage in hands-on activities that introduced them to engineering disciplines.

We continue implementing our strategic plan and are working hard to increase enrollment in our programs to meet the demand for our graduates. This takes many different forms, from better outreach to students who have been accepted to the UW but have not yet committed, to informational sessions for pre-major engineering students, to streamlined prerequisites for our majors and curriculum. Another pillar of our strategic plan focuses on visibility and engagement, and in this issue of The Bridge, Associate Chair Anne Goodchild discusses the activities of our new External Engagement Committee to strengthen ties with the broader CEE community.

This edition’s feature story showcases research by Assistant Professor Jessica Ray and her team to improve stormwater quality in urban watersheds by using a black charcoal-like substance rich in carbon called biochar. Other research highlights include work by Associate Professor Brett Maurer and Ph.D. student Morgan Sanger to use AI for earthquake predictions, a NASA project by Professor Faisal Hossain to track surface water from satellites, and research by CEE Assistant Professor Bethany Gordon that emphasizes a partnership with communities during design rather than a top-down imposition of solutions. The breadth of research topics in our department reinforces the reach of our community in shaping the world around us and continues to inspire me.

Bart Nijssen
Chair & Professor