Outstanding Civil Engineers (10 Phenomenal Careers)

Without the innovation of amazing engineers, where would society be? Civil engineers are responsible for the conception, design, and execution of infrastructure projects in both the private and public sectors. The systems they design include our streets, buildings, transportation hubs, water supply structures, and sewage treatment plans. Outstanding civil engineers are in high demand with a projected growth of up to 20 percent by 2022. As such, learning about the projects of those invested in the field will help future generations discover the immense possibilities before them.

Elattuvalapil Sreedharan — “Metro Man” of Civil Engineering

Elattuvalapil Sreedharan is an outstanding civil engineer
Elattuvalapil Sreedharan

Known as “Metro Man,” Elattuvalapil Sreedharan is a civil engineer from India. He earned his nickname in his vital position in constructing both the Konkan Railway and the Delhi Metro. His design of Konkan railway is the foundation of much of the modern infrastructure in the nation. As an outstanding engineer now in retirement, he is regarded as the founder of Indian mass transit engineering.

He earned his degree in civil engineering from the Government Engineering College, Kakinada. His first major project was in 1964 on Pamban Bridge, which was heavily damaged by a cyclone. He accomplished full restoration of the project in only 46 days. Later, as Deputy Chief Engineer of the Kolkata metro, he made his name working on the first metro built in India.

Throughout his career, he has held numerous titles with various companies and governmental agencies. Prior to working in the field, he was a lecturer at Government Polytechnic, Kozhikode. He then quickly changed focus and became an apprentice with the Bombay Port Trust. After passing a national examination for engineers, he joined the Indian Engineering Service.

Sreedharan received many awards because of his contributions. His work on government projects earned him the 2001 Padma Shri, a high government award for civilians. In 2005, France gave him The Order of Légion d’Honneur. Particularly, his work on the Delhi Metro was awarded the 2008 Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in India. He is now considered a celebrity in India and the engineering community.

Outstanding Civil Engineer: Read about Elattuvalapil Sreedharan.

Henry Petroski, Ph.D. — Failure Analysis

Henry Petroski specializes in failure analysis
Henry Petroski, Ph.D.

Dr. Henry Petroski is a professor at Duke University and a civil engineer who specializes in failure analysis. He is also a professor in the department of history given his expertise on the history of engineering and technology.  His current research focuses on understanding the relationship between success and failure in design. 

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Manhattan College. After, he completed both his master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Ubana-Champaign. Beyond these degrees, he holds three Honorary Doctor of Science degrees from McGill University (2016), Valparaiso University (1999), and Clarkson University (1990). He also has an Honorary Doctor of Engineering, an Honorary Doctor of Pedagogy, and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

In addition to teaching, he is a registered engineer in the state of Texas and a chartered engineer in Ireland. His work has earned grants from the Corps of Engineers and the National Science Foundation, among other organizations. Of note, he also served on the United States Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board from 2004 to 2012.

Petroski’s accomplishments are highlighted by his publications and awards. As the author of nearly 20 books in addition to hundreds of newspaper, magazine, trade journal, and peer-reviewed articles, he is recognized as a scholar in the world of contemporary civil engineering. He is also a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Additionally, he holds membership with the National Academy of Engineering. Petroski also holds numerous awards, including the Civil Engineering History and Heritage Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers. He is also a recipient of the John P. McGovern Award for Science from the Cosmos Club Foundation.

Outstanding Civil Engineer: Read about Henry Petroski.

Jörg Schlaich — Speichenrad Design

Jörg Schlaich built complex bridges and long-span roofs
Jörg Schlaich

Best known for his various complex buildings, Jörg Schlaich designed bridges and long-span roofs. He famously popularized the “speichenrad” principle to the field of engineering.  Furthermore, he co-founded the engineering consulting firm Schlaich Bergermann and Partners.

Schlaich earned his engineering degrees from both Stuggart University and the Technical University of Berlin. He later studied in the US. Some of his most notable work includes the Olympic Stadium in Munich, the Alster-Schwimmhalle in Hamburg, and the observation tower at Killesbergpark in Stuttgart. Also, he designed the Kilkeim Bridge and the Necktar Bridge.

With attention to his company, there is significant focus on innovative, efficient, and light designs from conception to execution.  Of note, a branch of the firm focuses on the development of renewable energy technologies.  A few of the company’s most notable projects include the Harp Bridge in Germany, the Spire for One World Trade Center in New York City, and the Tensile Roof Structure at The Milk Market. 

Some of Schlaich’s other innovative advances included using gridshells, cable net facades and roofs, membrane roofs, circular ring beams, and cast steel. Since introducing these structures into contemporary civil engineering, they have been continuously implemented. 

Outstanding Civil Engineer: Read about Jörg Schlaich.

Baabak Ashuri, Ph.D. — Project Management and Engineering

Baabak Ashuri specializes in construction engineering
Baabak Ashuri, Ph.D.

Dr. Baabak Ashuri is a civil engineering researcher and an associate professor at Georgia Tech. His work bridges the fields of construction engineering and project management to infrastructure asset management and quantitative and computational finance. The intersection of these fields provides the groundwork for sustainable and resilient structures for outstanding civil engineers.

Ashuri received his B.S. from Sharif University of Technology. In the US, he earned two M.S. degrees and his Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology. While he began generally in civil engineering, he invested in building construction, integrated facility management, and industrial and systems engineering in his graduate work.

Digging into his publications, he has a book and book chapter focused on these areas of research. Additionally, he is the author of numerous journal articles, research reports and presentations, and conference proceedings. He also served as the principal investigator for 14 research projects outside of his own lab. These projects alone were sponsored by nearly $2 million in grants.

In addition to his physical track record, Ashuri is an awardee several times over. He was named a Rising Star in Civil Engineering as a civil and structural engineer as recently as 2016. Furthermore, he is the recipient of a Design-Build Institute of America’s Distinguished Leadership Award, a Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems Fellow, and a High-Value Research “Sweet Sixteen” Award. In 2014, he made the “Top 20 Under 40” in Engineering News-Record

His commitments outside of his research include vice-chair of the ASCE Construction Research Congress and vice-chair of the Committee on Sustainability and Environment. He is also an advisor to various high school science teachers and students. In this capacity, Ashuri hosts high school research boot camps. 

Outstanding Civil Engineer: Read about Baabak Ashuri.

John Ochsendorf, Ph.D. — Historical and Structural Engineering

John Ochsendorf is an outstanding structural engineer
John Ochsendorf, Ph.D.

Dr. John Ochsendorf is a structural engineer who is active in architectural history research. He is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in both the architecture and civil and environmental engineering departments. Of note, he is also a co-director of the university’s Structural Design Lab. His multi-disciplinary research provides the groundwork for more sustainable structures.

Ochsendorf is an Ivy Leaguers who received his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and his master’s from Princeton University. Later, he moved to England to complete his Ph.D. at Cambridge University. Most of his training is in structural mechanics.

His research focuses on understanding the mechanics and behavior of historical structures. Of particular interest is his work on the safety of cracked masonry vaults and domes. From this historical perspective, he develops more sustainable infrastructures.

As the author of Guastavino Vaulting: The Art of Structural Tile, he pays homage to the Spanish immigrant family. The Guastavinos’ work serves as an inspiration for him. Moreover, the book showcases his work in uniting past architectural and engineering success with the potential of more tenable designs in contemporary civil engineering. 

For his work, he has earned several awards. He is the recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and was an American Academy in Rome Fellow in Historic Preservation and Conservation. Additionally, he was a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council. 

Outstanding Civil Engineer: Read about John Ochsendorf.

Sarah Buck, D.Eng. — Sustainability and Civil Engineering

Sarah Buck is an outstanding civil engineer
Sarah Buck, D.Eng.

Dr. Sarah Buck is an engineer and businesswoman.  She co-founded BSW Consulting, where she is now a senior consultant. Throughout her career, she has overseen a wide variety of civil and structural engineering projects. Notably, Buck was the first woman council member of The Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE). Since her initiation, she has also served as chairman of the Devon and Cornwall branch.

Some of her more recent projects include the Children’s Hospice near Bristol and the refurbishment of various buildings and extensions to schools. As a consultant, she worked on everything from apartments and offices to hotels and banks to airports. 

She is also affiliated with the University of Exeter in England. Her titles with the university include Pro-Chancellor, Independent Lead for Estates and Environmental Sustainability, and Chair of the Joint Committee for Consultation and Negotiation. Additionally, she serves as a member of the Council Nominations Committee, the Remuneration Committee, and the Health and Safety Committee. Of note, she received an honorary degree in 2008 from the university.

Her primary interests are in the area of historic structures and sustainable construction. As a part of the Joint Board of Moderators, she participates in making recommendations for the accreditation of degrees for professional civil, structural, and highway engineers.

Buck is also a recipient of the IStructE Lewis Kent Award and a Civil Engineer Outstanding Achiever Award from the Atkins Inspire Awards. In 2015, she was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire for her contribution to the fields of engineering and education.

Outstanding Civil Engineer: Read about Sarah Buck.

Ali Mostafavi, Ph.D. — Infrastructure Resilience

Ali Mostafavi overcomes challenges in civil engineering
Ali Mostafavi, Ph.D.

Dr. Ali Mostafavi is an assistant professor in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University. He is also the principal investigator of the Urban Resilience, Networks, and Informatics Lab, too. The goal of the lab is to develop solutions for addressing some of the biggest challenges in the field of civil engineering.

His educational background is in civil engineering. In the field, he holds a B.S. from K.N. Toosi University of Technology, an M.S. from the University of Tehran, and his Ph.D. from Purdue University. He also earned an M.B.A. from Purdue University in industrial administration. Some of his research interests include the resilience of interdependent infrastructure, disaster resilience and climate change adaptation, and decision-making under deep uncertainty. 

Mostafavi’s research has been funded by a variety of groups such as the National Science Foundation, the Construction Industry Institute, and the Miami-Dade Expressway. Additionally, he is a member of several professional groups. These include the Infrastructure Resilience Division of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Academic Leadership Committee of the Construction Industry Institute. 

Through his work in the field, he has earned several recognitions. His recent awards include the 2015 CII Distinguished Professor Award and the 2015 Best Paper Award of the ASCE Computing in Civil Engineering Conference. He is also an Early-Career Research Fellow with the National Academies’ Gulf Research Program. Lastly, he made the Engineering News Record’s Top 20 Under 40 in the Southeast Region.

Outstanding Civil Engineer: Read about Ali Mostafavi.

Ece Erdogmus, Ph.D., P.E. — Architectural Engineering

Ece Erdogmus is an architectural engineer
Ece Erdogmus, Ph.D., P.E.

Dr. Ece Erdogmus works out of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Within the Durham School of Architectural Engineering & Construction, she is a professor and associate director for the department of architectural engineering. As an instructor, she teaches about global experiences in the field. Additionally, she provides international internship opportunities for UNL students.

She earned her B.S. from the Middle East Technical University in Turkey. Erdogmus then moved to the US for her graduate education. Both her M.S. and Ph.D. in architectural engineering are from Pennsylvania State University. Her primary areas of research include the assessment of existing/historical structures and behavior and design of buried concrete pipes. She primarily focuses on the assessment and rehabilitation of historic masonry. 

One of her major contributions to the field of civil engineering was her establishment of a portable nondestructive testing laboratory.  Beyond this, she is part of several international collaborations that aim to build within her area of research. Moreover, she is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Architectural Engineering Institute, The Masonry Society, the Society of Women Engineers, and the Structural Engineers Association of Nebraska. 

She is also the recipient of several awards. These include the Architectural Engineering Teaching Award and the Henry Y. Kleinkauf Family Distinguished New Faculty Teaching Award. Furthermore, her work has received grants from organizations such as the National Science Foundation, the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, and the Nebraska Department of Roads.

Outstanding Civil Engineer: Read about Ece Erdogmus.

Burcin Becerik-Gerber, Ph.D. — Technology and Society

Burcin Becerik-Gerber works in machine intelligence and systems thinking
Burcin Becerik-Gerber, Ph.D.

Dr. Burcin Becerik-Gerber is a Stephen Schrank Early Career Chair in Civil and Environmental Engineering and an associate professor at the University of Southern California.  She also founded the Innovation in Integrated Informatics Lab at USC along with the Center for Intelligent Environments, Technology, and Society.

Becerik-Gerber earned bother her Bachelor of Architecture and her M.S. in the field from Istanbul Technical University. After, she came to the US and obtained a second M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. She then completed her Doctor of Design in the field of Project Management and Information Systems at Harvard University. 

Her research aims to understand the crossing of built environment with machine intelligence and systems thinking. In particular, she considers the procurement, modeling, and investigation into data necessary for user-based environments. She authored more than 100 peer-reviewed articles, for which she has received support totaling over $6 million.  Additionally, Becerik-Gerber has earned a variety of recognition, including MIT Technology Review’s TR35 Recognition, the NSF Career Award, the Mellon Mentoring Award, and the Visiting Fellowship at the Alan Turing Institute. 

In addition to her work at USC, she is an editor for the ASCE’s Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering.  Her research is setting a strong foundation for more effective and efficient engineering methods.  With strong skills in both construction management and the theoretical practice, she is able to contribute greatly to the field of contemporary civil engineering.

Outstanding Civil Engineer: Read about Burcin Becerik-Gerber.

Admir Masic, Ph.D. — Conservation and Civil Engineering

Admir Masic is enhancing the world through engineering
Admir Masic, Ph.D.

Dr. Admir Masic is an outstanding civil engineer who has faced adversity. Having escaped from war hostilities in Bosnia as a refugee, he quickly turned his attention to making the world a better place through engineering. His work as a conservation scientist includes restoring historical artifacts, including Dead Sea Scrolls, the Bernini Columns of St. Peters Basilica, and the Royal Palace in Monza.

He obtained his formal education in the sciences in Italy and Germany. Masic holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Turin, Italy. Additionally, he completed his graduate studies in physical chemistry at the same institution. Lastly, he had two postdoctoral fellowships in material science, one of which was at Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Potsdam, Germany.

His studies led to several appointments, including his current tenure at MIT. Also, he is an Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Career Development Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Moreover, Masic heads his own lab (Masic Lab) at the university. This lab is responsible for research on cement hydration monitoring, bioinspired construction materials, ancient construction materials, and multi-scale damage assessment of ancient structures.

In addition to his achievements in conservation architecture, he is the recipient of several awards. Some of his achievements include the WITec Paper Award, the Young Investigator Award, the EXIST Business Start-up Grant, the EDISU Turin Scholarship, and the PROVIN Technology Transfer Regional Grant. Furthermore, Masic’s research includes collaboration with a variety of scientists studying biological materials, regenerative medicine, bone disease diagnostics, and archaeology and art restoration. His research, ultimately, works to conserve elements of the past for the future to study.

Outstanding Civil Engineer: Read about Admir Masic.