Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering – The Citadel Today https://today.citadel.edu Mon, 14 Dec 2020 22:26:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3 https://today.citadel.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Citadel-Favion-new-150x150.png Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering – The Citadel Today https://today.citadel.edu 32 32 144096890 The Citadel begins search for new School of Engineering dean https://today.citadel.edu/the-citadel-begins-search-for-new-school-of-engineering-dean/ Mon, 14 Dec 2020 18:19:19 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=20898 One of the top objectives for the person selected to lead The Citadel School of Engineering will be to develop programs and practices with clear over-arching goals, in collaboration with faculty, staff, cadets and students, to guide the school’s evolution under the Our Mighty Citadel 2026 plan]]>

Photo above: Engineering cadets participate in outdoor laboratory work February 10, 2020.

A search committee is being formed to oversee the recruiting and hiring of a new dean for The Citadel School of Engineering, ranked repeatedly in the top 25 programs nationally by U.S. News & World Report. The committee will be headed by Kevin Bower, Ph.D., associate provost for Academic Operations and professor of Civil Engineering for The Citadel.

“One of the top objectives for the person selected to lead The Citadel School of Engineering will be to develop student enrollments and practices with clear over-arching goals, in collaboration with faculty, staff, cadets and students, to guide the school’s evolution under the Our Mighty Citadel 2026 plan and beyond,” said Bower.

Col. Ronald Welch, US Army (Ret.), Ph.D., dean of The Citadel School of Engineering

The current dean, Col. Ronald W. Welch, U.S. Army (Ret.), Ph.D., P.E., FASCE, will complete the academic year. Following a sabbatical, he will serve as a professor in Civil Engineering in fall 2022.

“On June 30, 2021, Dr. Ron Welch will finish 10 successful years as the Dean of the School of Engineering. His deanship has been a very productive one for The Citadel, positioning the college as a leading engineering institution, both in South Carolina and nationally,” said Col. John Dorrian, USAF (Ret.) vice president of Communications and Marketing and spokesperson for The Citadel.

During Welch’s tenure as dean, the School of Engineering implemented new undergraduate programs in Mechanical Engineering, Construction Engineering and Computer Engineering, as well as three graduate programs. He has also developed an exceptionally talented and diverse faculty and staff.  Additionally, during his time as dean, The Citadel School of Engineering was ranked in the top 25 programs nationally by U.S. News & World Report for nine consecutive years.

Citadel dean of Engineering, Ron Welch (center) accepts award from ASCE officers in Denver
Citadel dean of Engineering, Ron Welch, Ph.D., PE. (center) accepts award from ASCE officers in Denver

In recent years, Welch was recognized for his career-long service to the American Society of Civil Engineers by being named Fellow and by being awarded the Edmund Friedman Professional Recognition award, among other accolades received for other industry leadership service.

Welch joined The Citadel in 2011 as dean of the School of Engineering. Prior to that, he was with the University of Texas at Tyler. Additionally, he was a professor at his alma mater, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, before retiring from the Army with the rank of colonel.

“The Citadel has benefitted enormously from Dean Welch’s leadership and we are grateful for his contributions,” Dorrian said.

More details on the search for Welch’s successor will be announced in the first few months of 2021.

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Cadets and students are “SURE” to continue their investigative studies https://today.citadel.edu/cadets-and-students-are-sure-to-continue-their-investigative-studies/ Thu, 06 Aug 2020 13:41:37 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=17319 A select number of cadets and students worked virtually throughout the summer as paid researchers in their areas of interest, guided by expert professors.]]>

An unusual summer is not stopping undergraduate research at The Citadel

Research is an integral part of learning at institutions of higher education. Usually, a select number of cadets and students would remain on campus throughout the summer to work as paid researchers in their areas of interest.

However, with the campus closed, much of the research moved online — but continued, all the same.

This summer’s projects are focused on topics such as preventing spear phishing cyber-attacks, how street trees help cool Charleston, ways to determine human-trafficking hot spots, the migration and evolution of seagrape trees and more.

The undergraduate researchers began their projects after being selected for the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE). The program provides stipends to the cadets and students, allowing them to be entirely focused on their research. Many of the projects are being extended through the fall semester, with extra time needed due to work limitations resulting from the pandemic.

Here are some of the SURE projects underway:

Tracking coastal tree migration and the genetic effects of hurricanes

Cadets Ben Scott, Logan Dix and Derek Webster — led by Biology professor Danny Gustafson, Ph.D. — are researching how a tropical plant spread throughout the Caribbean basin and what affect hurricanes may have had on the plant’s evolution.

A seagrape tree with fruit (Courtesy: Danny Gustafson, Ph.D.)

Coccoloba uvifera (the scientific name for seagrapes) can be found in southern Florida, the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago, and more. The research is based in biogeography — the study of how a species spreads over time to different locations.

The plant grows along the edge of the beach, where it often bears the brunt of hurricanes. The research also looks at how those hurricanes may have affected the genetics, by looking at samples that come from areas with different levels of historical tropical activity.

Seagrape trees growing along the coast (Courtesy: Danny Gustafson, Ph.D.)

The cadets have traced the genetic variances in the plants’ chloroplast, based on location. They helped with DNA extraction, Polymerase chain reactions (or rapidly multiplying the DNA samples for study), and sequencing. The next step is learning how to use software that helps interpret that data.

“The data given through DNA is so massive, it’s nearly impossible for humans alone to understand,” said Scott. “That’s where computers come in. BEAST2 is open-source software for Bayesian Evolutionary Analysis. This means there is an entire community working together from around the world to develop software for phylogenetic analysis of molecular sequences, and it’s free to use.”

Scott says the software has also been used to understand the global migration of viruses, such as influenza and, now, COVID-19.

He’s been learning how to use the software, and will use the program to map how the plant spread out across the Caribbean Basin.

Gustafson has been working on this research for a few years. “My productive undergraduate research laboratory is driven by our exceptional biology students,” he said.

The research was presented at the 2019 SURF Conference and The Citadel’s Student Excellence Day; the abstract was accepted by the Association of Southeastern Biologists.

Jelly made from seagrape fruit (Courtesy: Danny Gustafson, Ph.D.)

Exploring the cooling effects of street trees in Charleston

Between the heat and the humidity, a Charleston summer can feel almost unbearable. But part of what makes the city beautiful may also make it feel a little more tolerable.

Cadet Anthony Sands, along with Civil and Environmental Engineering professor Nandan Shetty, Ph.D., are researching the possible cooling, environmental effects from the trees that line the city streets – effects on all of Charleston, beyond just the relief of standing in the shade.

They are receiving data from remote sensors they placed in trees on three different samples — on an oak tree, a crape myrtle and, as a control, a light pole.

Cadet Anthony Sands checking a sensor in Hampton Park

“The sensors that we installed measure temperature and relative humidity,” said Shetty. “Temperature and humidity can be used to calculate a heat index, the measure of how hot it actually feels.”

They hope to expand the project to include twelve sensors on the south side of Hampton Park.

For Sands, the project means more than just scientific exploration.

“I became interested in doing research primarily to get an experience of what graduate school would look like,” he said. “I am thoroughly interested in environmental engineering, and quantifying the effects of street trees is a step further in the direction of where I want to be.”

At the end of the project, Sands and Shetty plan to submit their research abstract to the American Society for Engineering Education-Southeast.

Diversity in the nursing industry

One of the SURE projects combines two of the most important issues of 2020 — the importance of healthcare workers and the national need for expanded diversity and inclusion.

Cadet Mya Dollard, along with Amy Joseph, Ph.D., head of The Swain Department of Nursing at The Citadel, are focused on both of those issues.

Cadet Mya Dollard practicing in the The Swain Department of Nursing Human Simulation Lab in early 2020, before the campus closure

“Our project looks into the different barriers that racial minorities face starting in at the middle and high school levels that may limit them from successfully pursuing careers in STEM fields, like nursing” said Dollard. “We are looking to find ways to help underrepresented minorities succeed early on. This increases diversity in these professions.”

Dollard is conducting a literary review, reading scholarly articles about ways to improve racial diversity. She works to find the best ideas in the research, and then she and Joseph meet virtually each week to go over the findings.

Cadet Mya Dollard meeting virtually with Amy Joseph, Ph.D.

“We hope to write a grant to fund a new program, designed to increase the number of minority students who enter college, seeking health-related degrees,” said Joseph. “This has been something that I have wanted to work on for years and having Mya to help me has really motivated me.”

The team recently wrote a letter for their potential grant donors, and hope to have the grant written by the end of the year.

Other SURE projects include:

Analysing the speed and position of drones
Cadet Alexander Stensland with Pat Briggs, Ph.D.

Analysis of the metathoracic glands of the leaf-footed bug, Leptoglossus zonatus
Cadet Daniel Burckhalter with David Donnell, Ph.D.

Comparison of methods of generating photon radiation in hadron ccattering
Cadet Matthew Dittrich with Scott Yost, Ph.D.

Decision-making biases in preschool children
Cadet Hayley Dettenmayer with Audrey Parrish, Ph.D.

Fecal bacteria in Charleston flood waters
Cadet Malcom Jackson with Claudia Rocha, Ph.D.

Investigation of isometric strength characteristics and jump performance
Cadet Melanie Mikoy with Christopher Sole, Ph.D., CSCS, *D

Mathematical modeling of COVID-19 using regression methods
Cadet Ernest James with Mei Chen, Ph.D.

Pluff mud stability
College Transfer Student Brianna Rice with Simon Ghanat, Ph.D.

Sex work activity analysis of truck stops and human trafficking hot spot identification across the U.S.
Veteran student Ashley Towers with Jordana Navarro, Ph.D.

The Citadel’s Universities Studying Slavery project
Cadet Taylor Diggs with Felice Knight, Ph.D.

The metabolism of Mitragyna speciose
Veteran student Bereasha Washington with Michael Dorko, Ph.D.

Using e-mail DNAs of users to detect spear phishing attacks in the cyberspace
Cadets Jared Johnson and Eric Lilling with Shankar Banik, Ph.D., and Deepti Joshi, Ph.D.

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Citadel Engineering faculty; alumnus leaders making news with top awards https://today.citadel.edu/citadel-engineering-faculty-leaders-making-news-with-top-awards/ Tue, 28 Jul 2020 23:00:54 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=17391 Faculty and an alumnus from The Citadel School of Engineering are the proud recipients of awards from the 2020 American Society of Civil Engineers.]]>

Photo above: Award-winning Volvo interchange engineering project led by Citadel School of Engineering alumnus

The Citadel School of Engineering, consistently ranked as one of the top engineering schools in the country, could not achieve that status time and again without prominent industry faculty leading the way. The results of the 2020 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) awards for the state of South Carolina underscore that point. 

Announced in July, the awardees include two faculty leaders, an alumnus, and a project that alumnus helped lead. 

Le Tellier Cup winner for outstanding lifetime achievement

Col. Ron Welch, USA (Ret.), Ph.D., PE, dean for The Citadel School of Engineering 

Dean of The Citadel School of Engineering, Dr. Ron Welch, accepting Edmund Friedman Professional Recognition Award in 2018

“Dr. Welch has accumulated a highly regarded national reputation for academic excellence continues to play an instrumental role in direction of ASCE’s Project ExCEEd (Excellence in Civil Engineering Education), and is a recognized leader in ASEE (American Society of Engineering Education) Civil Engineering Division.  He has served in academic appointments in higher education over 29 years including faculty and leadership positions at U.S. Military Academy, University of Texas at Tyler, and The Citadel.  His career includes 25 years of service as an Officer in U.S. Army rising to the rank of Colonel, prior to his retirement from the Corps of Engineers in 2007.   

His career includes 25 years of service as an Officer in U.S. Army rising to the rank of Colonel, prior to his retirement from the Corps of Engineers in 2007.  Since his arrival at The Citadel in 2011, Dean Welch has served as a forward-thinking leader of higher education in our state. As a testament to his vision, two new undergraduate degrees were added to The Citadel School of Engineering including Mechanical Engineering and Construction Engineering.  Additionally, he led creation of Master of Science degree programs in Civil, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering.  Through Dean Welch’s strategic leadership, The Citadel’s School of Engineering enrollment has risen to 700 students, comprising approximately one-third of the college’s degree seeking students.”

William J. Davis, Ph.D., P.E., Dept. Head and D. Graham Copeland Professor of Civil Engineering, The Citadel 

In addition to leading the The Citadel School of Engineering, and continuing to teach Civil Engineering cadets and students, Welch has worked as a servant leader in numerous voluntary leadership positions throughout his career. Examples include serving a board member for Engineers Without Boarders and serving ASCE in leadership roles for more than 20 years, including as a program developer and mentor.  

Some of Welch’s other awards include: 

  • ASCE Edmund Friedman Professional Recognition Award, 2018 
  • Bliss Medal, Society of American Military Engineers (SAME), 2018 
  • Pillar of the College, College of Engineering, University of Texas at Tyler, 2017 
  • American Society of Civil Engineers, ASCE Fellow, 2016 
  • Engineer of The Year, Charleston Engineer’s Joint Council, 2015 
  • Society of American Military Engineers, SAME Fellow, 2015 
  • American Society of Engineering Education, ASEE Fellow, 2015 

Educator of the Year

Kweku Brown, Ph.D.

Dr. Kweku Brown teaching cadets out in the field during a Civil Engineering course in 2019

“Dr. Kweku Brown is an Assistant Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at The Citadel. His well-founded educational approaches and effective teaching methods are benefiting students, contributing to the quality of our Department’s learning environment, and embodying the highest ideals of The Citadel’s mission, as a teaching institution.  

His ability to create and support productive student-learning environments is phenomenal. Through his great work ethic and collaboration, he exemplifies how engineers can work together to strive for the highest standards of excellence. He passed his PE exam in 2020 and is in the process of submitting his application.” 

William J. Davis, Ph.D., P.E., Dept. Head and D. Graham Copeland Professor of Civil Engineering, The Citadel 

In 2019, Brown taught 12 sections of 8 Civil Engineering Courses, was selected as a national delegate for the Minority Faculty Development Workshop at Harvard University, and participated in 27 Citadel events and initiatives including Leadership Day and Student Excellence Day. In addition, Brown currently serves as a faculty Advisory for the student chapters of ASCE, the National Society of Black Engineers, and the Institute of Transportation Engineers.  

Brown’s most recent research appointments and recognition include: 

  • Member, Geographic Information Science and Applications, Standing Committee, Transportation Research Board, National Academies of Sciences, 2014-present
  • Member, Statewide Transportation Data and Information Systems, Standing Committee, Transportation Research Board, National Academies of Sciences, 2014-present
  • National Committee Member: American Association for State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Geographic Information systems for Transportation (GIS-T), Vice Chair of Student Paper Award Committee 

Brown received his Civil Engineering Bachelor’s degree from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana. His Master’s degree and Doctoral degree were obtained from the University of Connecticut and Clemson University, respectively. Brown is a member of both the National and South Carolina Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE). 

Engineer of the Year

Jim O’Connor, The Citadel Class of 1989, JMT engineering, Charleston

Project of the Year 

I-26/Volvo Car Interchange, Jim O’Connor, chief engineer 

Jim O’Connor

Charleston area JMT executive, and a JMT project, have been honored by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) South Carolina Section. Jim O’Connor, PE, CEng MIEI was named Civil Engineer of the Year, and JMT’s I-26/Volvo interchange design-build project was selected as Project of the Year. 

Jim O’Connor is a 1989 Citadel graduate and Vice President in JMT’s Charleston office who is both responsible for the firm’s South Carolina operations and actively participates in complex projects. He also holds an MS from Rutgers University and is a professional engineer in several states, including being a Chartered Engineer in the Republic of Ireland. As an active ASCE member, he serves as a Practitioner Adviser at The Citadel and is a member of the Civil Engineering Department’s Advisory Board. 

As an accomplished structural engineer, O’Connor contributed to the success of several key projects that are helping reshape the infrastructure in South Carolina’s Lowcountry including the award-winning I-26/Volvo interchange, the Port Access Road/I-26 interchange, the historic Low Battery reconstruction, and the Nexans Marine Terminal in the Goose Creek Bushy Park complex. 

Delivered to the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) in 2019, the new I-26/Volvo Interchange provides critical access from a regional Charleston interstate highway to Camp Hall Commerce Park and the Volvo manufacturing facility. As the lead design firm on this project, JMT provided overall project management along with bridge and roadway design, and environmental services in support of the contractor, Conti Enterprises, Inc. The successful delivery of this project has added substantial value to the greater Charleston coastal community and the state of South Carolina. (Provided by JMT) 

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Citadel engineers in high demand around SC and the nation https://today.citadel.edu/citadel-engineers-in-high-demand-around-sc-and-the-nation/ Mon, 18 May 2020 20:56:53 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=16465 There are distinct advantages for those graduating from one of the five oldest engineering programs in America, and one that is consistently ranked in the top 25 nationally. By graduation]]>

There are distinct advantages for those graduating from one of the five oldest engineering programs in America, and one that is consistently ranked in the top 25 nationally. By graduation each May, 85% of The Citadel School of Engineering students are employed, with 99 percent employed within two months of graduation.

“The combination of a highly relevant engineering curriculum combined with four years of required leadership training makes a Citadel educated engineer a highly desired addition to many teams,” said Col. Ron Welch, USA (Ret), Ph.D., PE. and dean for The Citadel School of Engineering. “The Class of 2020 is no exception and finished with outstanding results.”

The breakout of 2020 graduates from the five Bachelor of Science degree programs and the four Master of Science programs is as follows:

South Carolina Corp of Cadets Bachelor of Science

  • Mechanical Engineering: 66
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering: 31
  • Electrical Engineering: 15
  • Construction Engineering: 9

Degree Transfer Undergraduate Programs (non-cadet)

  • Mechanical Engineering: 11
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering: 11
  • Electrical Engineering: 9

Master of Science Programs

  • Project Management: 20
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering: 2
  • Electrical Engineering: 2

Where are they working?

Here is a look at what some members of The Citadel School of Engineering Class of 2020 shared about their next steps and about their Citadel experience.

Christian Brackett

Degree: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Campobello, South Carolina
Destination: Lockheed Martin, Greenville, South Carolina

“The Citadel makes you become the kind of person everyone wants to be. You become reliable and honorable.”

John Croft

Degree: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Destination: HITT Contracting for HITT Future’s Program as a project engineer based out of Falls Church, Virginia.

“The Citadel will mold you into the man or woman that you will want to become and set you up for your future. The value of the ring goes beyond that of any other college.”

Second Lt. Preston Dawes, USA

Degree: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Milton, Georgia
Destination: W.M. Jordan Company in Wilmington, North Carolina

“I got a 4-year Army ROTC scholarship my senior year of high school which solidified my choice to go to The Citadel to make myself the best leader possible.”

Second Lt. William Durnan

Degree: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Cheyenne, Wyoming
Destination: U.S. Army

“The Citadel provides a realistic experience of life. You learn to deal with difficult people and situations, the kind that you cannot back out of. It teaches you to remain humble always and understand the power of being a leader. For those that choose to pursue a leadership position in the Corps, you’ll know the challenge of juggling school, the duties of your position, physical exercise, extracurricular activities, and a social life. Ultimately you learn sacrifice, you can’t do everything or be everywhere and applying yourself in one place means you won’t be giving all your effort somewhere else. The Citadel will force you to prioritize and for many it will be a gut check but will likely make you a more mature person upon graduation.”

Ensign Ethan Eich

Degree: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Simpsonville, South Carolina
Destination: United States Navy

“The Citadel challenges every many and woman to be something more than just an individual.”

Second Lt. Jon-Scot Gilstrap, USAF

Degree: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: York, South Carolina
Destination: Working as an engineer in the U.S. Air Force, Join Base Charleston

“The Citadel’s attention to detail really develops you and teaches you how to prioritize time. Going forward, I hope to make a lasting impact on those around me, to do my job to the best of my ability and to make myself available to anyone who needs help. Also, I hope to keep the friendships which I made here at The Citadel for life.”

Nicholas Harington

Degree: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Hometown: Conway, South Carolina
Destination: Mead and Hunt working as an aviation civil engineer planning and designing airports

“I really liked the small size of The Citadel and the class sizes.”

Second Lt. Dennis McCann

Degree: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Long Island, New York
Destination: Civil engineer at Naval Information Warfare Center; U.S. Army Reserves

“The best reasons to attend The Citadel are the sense of community, the friendships and the connections.”

Thomas Murray

Degree: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Hometown: Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Destination: Working as a civil designer for Dennis Corporation in Columbia, South Carolina

“At The Citadel you will make friends that will last a lifetime. Also, you will learn what it takes to develop yourself into a professional in your chosen occupation.”

Zacarias Neu

Degree: Construction Engineering
Hometown: Smyrna, Georgia
Destination: Project engineer with Whiting-Turner Contracting Company in the Charleston operation

“I will be working my way up to become a project manager on constructions sites. To me, the best reason to attend The Citadel is the lifelong family you gain.”

Gabriel Ramos

Degree: Electrical Engineering
Hometown: Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico
Destination: SAIC, Charleston

“The small class sizes give students access to a highly professional and knowledgeable staff. The professors’ backgrounds — which includes career military officers, industry executives, researchers, and academics — provided insight into my many options after graduation. As a bonus, The Citadel is in Charleston and you can’t beat that.”

Samuel Santiago

Degree: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Powell Butte, Oregon
Destination: United States Coast Guard

Dawn Wells, The Citadel Graduate College

Degree: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Hometown: Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Destination: Mead and Hunt working as a transportation engineer with a focus on drainages design.

“I love The Citadel’s small class sizes, great professors, and the excellent, well-rounded curriculum.”

Master of Science in Project Management Graduates

Professional project managers work in almost every industry and work as leaders who plan and execute projects and are key contributors to the success of that venture. The Citadel’s Project Management Program, operated by the School of Engineering, is accredited by the world’s leading specialized accrediting body for project management programs, Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs.

Working professionals from many job sectors study project management.

“I will continue my work for the Naval Information Warfare Center as a security specialist, working my way up the ranks of leadership,” said Michael Popovich, The Citadel Graduate College Class of 2020. “My duties include deployment of a physical enclave into a cloud environment and maintaining management, operational, and technical security controls to protect critical medical health information for US service members.”

Popovich has a son who is a member of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets, which is one of the reasons he considered The Citadel for his master’s degree.

“My hope is to build a meaningful family legacy rich in tradition. My younger brother graduated from the Corps of Cadets in 2008 and my oldest son is currently part of the 2022 class. I have two other boys and I intend for them to both attend The Citadel in the future. My dream is for the family table to be full of Citadel rings during future holidays.”

The full list of the college’s new Master of Science in Project Management 2020 graduates is as follows:

  • Christina Soyden Arnold
  • John Zachary Burchfield
  • Jay Baxter Caldwell III
  • Daniel Alexander Curlee
  • Stephen Pablo Fernandez de Bobadilla
  • Martin James Fosberry III
  • Kara Marie Klein
  • Mary Frances Mace
  • Jeremy Stephen Mackey
  • Patrick Dennis Magnum, Jr.
  • Sara Moeller Massey
  • Scott Owens
  • Matthew Kellard Paiva
  • Brian Benjamin Parker
  • Benjamin Franklin Parmenter II
  • Michael Jacob Popovich
  • Gabriel Omar Ramos
  • Thomas Adam Schaefer
  • John Lucas Semsar
  • Devon Lambert Wall

To learn more about The Citadel School of Engineering, please visit this website.

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Why is pluff mud smelly and can it be stabilized? Civil engineering undergrad researchers look for answers https://today.citadel.edu/why-is-pluff-mud-smelly-and-can-it-be-stabilized-civil-engineering-undergrad-researchers-look-for-answers/ Fri, 23 Aug 2019 14:33:58 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=10161 It's the "why" behind the scent of pluff mud, and the thought of making use of this vast natural resource, that's behind an on-going undergraduate research project in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at The Citadel.]]>

Photo above: pluff mud specimens after compacting. Photo credit: Marc Dolder, Citadel veteran student.

To some, it has a rich, earthy, salty smell that fondly reminds them they are home. To others, the percolating, popping mud that is ubiquitous with the sweeping tidal marshes and rivers of the South Carolina Lowcountry is just…stinky.

It’s the “why” behind the scent of pluff mud, and the thought of making use of this vast natural resource, that’s behind an on-going undergraduate research project in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at The Citadel.

The region’s pluff mud is well known for its pungent smell in southern coastal areas,” said Simon Ghanat, Ph.D., a Citadel professor recently named South Carolina Civil Engineer of the Year, “however, very little is known about the composition of the soil and its potential for practical uses in engineering.”

Pluff mud lining the coastal marshlands of the Lowcountry

According to Ghanat, the dark, soft soil is the product of decay, including sporobolus (formerly called spartina) grasses, oysters, crabs, shrimp and other marine life. “The rotten egg smells comes from anaerobic bacteria working on the pluff mud by releasing hydrogen sulfide,” he said. It is the detailed composition of the deeper layers of the soil that interests Ghanat and his students.

Civil engineering majors, Marc Dolder and Calvin Pitts, worked with Ghanat for several months, sampling, testing and analyzing the properties of pluff mud. Dolder is a veteran day student and Pitts is in the evening undergraduate studies program.

Citadel engineering undergraduate researchers Marc Dolden, left, and Calvin Pitts.

“My goal is to eventually find a way to stabilize pluff mud so builders don’t have to keep hauling it away. This would save money and be better for the environment,” Dolder said. 

The process involved compacting specimens of pluff mud into cylindrical molds.

“Specimens were compacted at numerous water content stages to establish a compaction curve. After compaction, each specimen was extruded from the mold and weighed to determine its total mass,” Dolder said.

The undergraduate researchers determined the natural water content, particle size distribution, liquid limit and lastic limit.

“The average water content of each specimen was determined by oven drying of samples,” Dolder continues. “Once the compaction tests were completed, the measured values of dry unit weight were plotted as a function of moisture content for each compaction test. Through this process we identified the optimum moisture content and the maximum dry unit weight of the pluff mud. “

In the end, the researchers determined that pluff mud can be stabilized. “With more research, we believe pluff mud could be could be made usable,” Dolder concluded.

The students work revealed important characteristics for future research, such as the fact that samples from different locations, even only a few miles apart, behaved very differently. They also investigated the effects of adding hydrated lime to the pluff mud samples. “The lime influenced the properties of the mud by increasing its optimum moisture content making it more stable,” Ghanat explained.

Dolder and Pitts were paid during the months of they conducted their research through The Citadel Summer Undergraduate Research Experience.

“There are countless benefits from undergraduate research like this, not only for the students, but for the industries improved through this work.” Ghanat said. “Our plan is to continue the pluff mud work with additional undergraduate researchers next summer, to develop more data to assist Lowcountry engineers.”

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Citadel Prof. Simon Ghanat named South Carolina Civil Engineer of the Year https://today.citadel.edu/citadel-prof-simon-ghanat-named-south-carolina-civil-engineer-of-the-year/ https://today.citadel.edu/citadel-prof-simon-ghanat-named-south-carolina-civil-engineer-of-the-year/#comments Thu, 27 Jun 2019 14:01:23 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=9208 Citadel civil engineering professor Dr. Simon Ghanat teaching in labCitadel civil engineering professor Dr. Simon Ghanat teaching in labThe state's Civil Engineer of the Year, as named by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) South Carolina Section, is Simon T. Ghanat, Ph.D., P.E., a professor in The Citadel School of Engineering.]]> Citadel civil engineering professor Dr. Simon Ghanat teaching in labCitadel civil engineering professor Dr. Simon Ghanat teaching in lab

(Photo above: Prof. Simon Ghanat teaching in civil and environmental engineering lab at The Citadel)

The state’s Civil Engineer of the Year, as named by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) South Carolina Section, is Simon T. Ghanat, Ph.D., P.E., a professor in The Citadel School of Engineering.

The award was formally announced at the South Carolina ASCE conference this month. The award letter states:

“As current President of the South Carolina Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers, I would like to extend my congratulations to you on behalf of the Section Board for being awarded the 2019 SC Civil Engineer of the Year for demonstrating outstanding contribution to the profession in South Carolina.” Shane Smith, P.E.

Ghanat received his Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Arizona State University. His research interests are in engineering education, seismic site response studies, engineering characteristics of strong ground motions, and probabilistic seismic hazard analyses. Among his research awards is a $765,887 grant he earned in conjunction with Citadel civil engineering colleague and co-principal investigator, Jeff Davis, Ph.D., P.E., to study coastal flood resiliency.

“My first passion lies with teaching and service to my students,” Ghanat said. “It was a special surprise and honor to receive this award and to be recognized by my fellow Civil Engineers in the state of South Carolina.”

The mission of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at The Citadel is to provide a nationally recognized student-centered learning environment for the development of principled leaders.

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Citadel professor weighs in after Ben Sawyer bridge closes due to heat https://today.citadel.edu/citadel-professor-john-ryan-ben-sawyer-bridge-closes-due-to-heat/ Thu, 30 May 2019 12:05:45 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=8489 John Ryan interviewJohn Ryan interviewCitadel professor John Ryan speaks with Channel 2's Sofia Arazoza about how extreme heat caused the Ben Sawyer Bridge to become stuck open.]]> John Ryan interviewJohn Ryan interview

As seen on WCBD – NBC Channel 2, by Sofia Arazoza

If you spent any time outdoors over the holiday weekend, you know it was hot. And the heat isn’t over.

But on Memorial day, the record-breaking temperatures caused major trouble for drivers coming in and out of Sullivan’s Island when the Ben Sawyer swing bride was shut down for hours, and officials say the temperature was to blame.

It was stand still traffic for hours, one driver describing it as a parking lot.

Sullivan’s island officials first confirmed the bridge was inoperable shortly before 3:30pm on Monday.

Engineers with the South Carolina Department of Transportation say the extreme heat caused materials to expand, impacting the opening and closing of the bridge.

Traffic teams re-routed drivers to the Isle of Palms connecter for five hours as SCDOT crews along with the Awendaw/Mclellenville fire department worked to cool down the bridge.

At 9:20pm, the bridge reopened to drivers, but it is still not open for boaters.

Since the cause was first reported, News 2 has gotten several questions about how heat can cause a bridge to malfunction and why it hasn’t happened before, since heat is no stranger to the Lowcountry.

We took those questions to a Civil Engineer professor at the Citadel. He explained heat can cause both steel and concrete to expand, which in this case, caused the materials to interfere, also known as fouling.

We do see hot temperatures often, but this time around we’ve seen continual highs, giving the bridge little time to cool off. Storm Team 2 has reported a record-breaking 100 degrees three days in a row.

SCDOT says maritime traffic will open Wednesday.

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The Next Generation of Humanitarians https://today.citadel.edu/the-next-generation-of-humanitarians/ Mon, 13 May 2019 15:03:00 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=8203 Citadel Humanitarian Club Jeff PlumbleeCitadel Humanitarian Club Jeff PlumbleeCitadel Humanitarian Club challenges cadets to create innovative solutions under unique constraints As seen in The President’s Report 2018 Imagine being in rural Haiti on a mountainside dirt road at the]]> Citadel Humanitarian Club Jeff PlumbleeCitadel Humanitarian Club Jeff Plumblee

Citadel Humanitarian Club challenges cadets to create innovative solutions under unique constraints

As seen in The President’s Report 2018

Imagine being in rural Haiti on a mountainside dirt road at the end of the wet season when everything is green and lush, and the jeep you’re in gets irretrievably stuck in a mud pit. Imagine that there is no cell phone service, and you have three students in your care who have traveled with you to collect data for water treatment systems and other infrastructure-related projects.

Capt. Jeff Plumblee works in the Humanitarian Development lab
Capt. Jeff Plumblee, Ph.D., serves as the faculty advisor of the Humanitarian Development Club, which formed last fall.

It’s all in a day’s work for Capt. Jeff Plumblee, Ph.D., who teaches project management in the School of Engineering and serves as the faculty advisor of the Humanitarian Development (HD) Club, which formed last fall. The Haiti trip was part of a partnership with the Clemson Engineers for Developing Countries—a group Plumblee founded as a graduate student to develop sustainable solutions to improve living conditions in rural Haitian communities.

For HD Club president Cadet Kayla Funes, the trip was an eye-opening adventure.

“My family is from Honduras, so I thought I knew what to expect, but Haiti is another animal,” said Funes. “The people have been through so much with earthquakes, hurricanes, political conflict and poor living conditions.”

To prepare club members for the humanitarian service, Plumblee created a lab in a shipping container on campus.

“There’s nothing fancy,” said Plumblee. “If something breaks when you’re in Haiti or another developing country, you need to be able to fix it. The lab is outfitted with only the most basic power tools and equipment that you will find available in these countries.”

Capt. Jeff Plumblee, Ph.D., and members of The Citadel Humanitarian Development club during a trip to Haiti in the Fall of 2018.
Capt. Jeff Plumblee, Ph.D., and members of The Citadel Humanitarian Development club during a trip to Haiti in the Fall of 2018.

The Haiti trip is just one of many opportunities available to cadets in the growing academic environment of service and experiential learning.

“Working in resource-constrained environments in the developing world is great for our students,” said Plumblee. “This form of experiential learning provides our cadets the opportunity to practically apply what they’re learning in the classroom, forces them to create innovative solutions under unique constraints, and drives personal growth and understanding of different cultures and perspectives.”

Citadel Humanitarian Development Lab Jeff Plumblee
Capt. Jeff Plumblee, Ph.D. and Kayla Funes, ’19, work together in the Humanitarian Development lab on The Citadel’s campus.

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Top jobs for School of Engineering graduates; what they say about The Citadel https://today.citadel.edu/top-jobs-for-school-of-engineering-graduates-what-they-say-about-the-citadel/ Fri, 10 May 2019 10:00:27 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=8145 Candace works at the Google Data Center in Monks Corner, South Carolina. "I decided to attend The Citadel Graduate College, because they're seen as the best in the Lowcountry for Project Management."]]>

The Citadel School of Engineering is one of the oldest programs in America and is consistently ranked among the top 25 programs in the nation. The School of Engineering offers four bachelor of science, four master of science, and 13 graduate certificate programs.

The majority of the cadets and students studying the fields of civil, construction, electrical and mechanical engineering, as well as project management, are employed before they graduate, with nearly 100 percent are employed within two months of graduation. Approximately 80 percent of those graduates stay in South Carolina for their careers.

Meet some of The Citadel Class of 2019 School of Engineering graduates:

Robert Alexander Perry, Bachelor of Science, Electrical Engineering

Robert Alexander Perry, The Citadel Class of 2019, Evening Undergraduate Program

Robert, who is originally from North Augusta, South Carolina, attended The Citadel through the Evening Undergraduate Program. He works for Santee Cooper as an electrical engineer.

The Citadel makes you a disciplined learner and provides you with an opportunity to learn from accomplished professionals in the various engineering fields. Robert Alexander

Caleb Carter, Bachelor of Science, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Caleb Carter, The Citadel Class of 2019
Caleb Carter, The Citadel Class of 2019

Caleb has a new job with Infrastructure Consulting and Engineering, PLLC. He’ll be involved in the execution of construction engineering and inspection duties on projects for the South Carolina Department of Transportation and for Charleston County government. As a cadet at The Citadel, he served as president of the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The Citadel is the greatest institution in the country to me. Here, we train individuals to be leaders. The same thing cannot be said about other schools. This journey helped me become the man I want to be by challenging me mentally, academically, and physically. Cadets are leaps and bounds more prepared to enter the real world after graduation than those from other schools, because of the training at The Citadel. Persevering when faced with obstacles becomes second nature. Caleb Carter

2nd Lt. Abigail Murn, U.S. Army, Bachelor of Science, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Abigail Murn, The Citadel Class of 2019

Abigail is a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, accepting a commission just prior to graduating from The Citadel in May of 2019. While a cadet, Abigail served as captain of The Bulldogs’ volleyball team, and as president of The Citadel chapter of the Society of Women in Engineers, in addition to being active in the American Society of Civil Engineering. Just before graduation, Abigail was selected for The Citadel’s Community Ambassador Award for her service as “an outstanding mentor to female students at The Citadel majoring in engineering, helping host a Society of Women Engineers conference at The Citadel with 225 participants from across the state, and leading fellow engineering cadets and students in hosting two Introduce a Girl Scout to Engineering events.

Candace Pringle, Master of Science, Technical Project Management

Candace Pringle, The Citadel Graduate College Class of 2019, Project Management

Candace works at the Google Data Center in Monks Corner, South Carolina. “While in The Citadel’s project management program, I received a promotion from an entry level technician, to an entry level associate program manager (APM). Now, based on my performance as an APM, I’ve been encouraged by leadership to go apply for a promotion to the next level as well,” Pringle said. “I will not only apply my project management skill set to my full-time job, I will use what I’ve learned in all areas of my life and outside of employment expenditures.”

The Citadel Graduate College is a well respected school. I attended Clemson University as an undergraduate for Industrial Engineering, because they were the best in the state for that program. I decided to attend The Citadel Graduate College, because they’re seen as the best in the Lowcountry for Project Management. In addition, they have the graduate center in North Charleston which saved me from having to travel downtown; and they offer evening courses. I’ve learned so much from this program and I’m willing to share my experience with anyone who asks. Candace Pringle

Ensign Joseph Scerbo, U.S. Navy, Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering

Joseph Scerbo, The Citadel Class of 2019

Joseph’s hometown is Flemington, New Jersey. After graduating from The Citadel, his first assignment with the Navy is Nuclear Power School for submarine duty. Scerbo’s goal is to lead a division of sailors, and become qualified to operate and pilot submarines.

The best reason to attend The Citadel is to learn true life lessons at a place where you can mold yourself into a leader. Joseph Scerbo

Citadel ROTC Commissioning Ceremony, Joseph Scerbo third row from left on end

 

 

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Celebrating success: The South Carolina Corps of Cadets Class of 2019 https://today.citadel.edu/south-carolina-corps-of-cadets-class-of-2019/ https://today.citadel.edu/south-carolina-corps-of-cadets-class-of-2019/#comments Tue, 30 Apr 2019 19:55:43 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=7700 Approximately 500 members of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets (SCCC) are being awarded diplomas on May 4, and are progressing to their next step in life whether it be a career as a military officer; a job as a working professional; attending graduate, medical or law school, or serving in internships.]]>

The Citadel Class of 2019 has much to celebrate. Approximately 500 members of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets (SCCC) are being awarded diplomas on May 4, and are progressing to their next step in life whether it be a career as a military officer; a job as a working professional; attending graduate, medical or law school, or serving in internships.

Additionally, the very first cadet to graduate from The Citadel with a Bachelor of Nursing degree, Cadet Abigail Koger, is part of this class.

Watch the commencement ceremony live on YouTube

The cadets will be joined in McAlister Field House by family and friends, but those who cannot attend in person can view the SCCC commencement live on YouTube. The ceremony follows three days of commencement activities that include military commissioning ceremonies, awards events and the Long Gray Line military review parade. All Corps’ commencement events and instructions can be found here.

Class of 2019 by the numbers

Cadet Graduates 512 (Legacy cadets 58)
Veteran Day Student Graduates 14
Active Military Duty Graduates 12

Military Commissions

U.S. Army 104
U.S. Air Force 34
U.S. Marine Corps 28
U.S. Navy 19
U.S. Coast Guard 1

Honors Program Graduates

19

Gender and Ethnicity

Women 52
Men 500

Caucasian 421
Black, Non-Hispanic 64
Hispanic 34
Asian or Pacific Islander 25
American Indian 2
Unknown 6

Top Home States

South Carolina 341
North Carolina 31
Georgia 27
Florida 21
Virginia 18
Maryland 11
Texas 11

Top Programs

Business Administration 145
Criminal Justice 61
Mechanical Engineering 49
Civil Engineering 48
Political Science 47
Exercise Science 33

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