Chair’s Message May 2014

Onward and Upward

Your Department in 2014

As you reflect on your experiences in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, I’m sure you have memories of your classes, your professors, and some of the work they were involved in.  When I was a student in the early 1970s, there was a limited amount of research being done by a few of the professors.  How that has changed!  As faculty have retired over the years, our newer faculty have entered with tremendous research skills, aptitudes, and energies.  They provide very meaningful research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.   I’m proud to share with you in this issue a listing of all of the ‘refereed’ papers published by our faculty in 2013, and a listing of all of the current research projects that are ongoing in our

department  ‘Refereed’ means that the papers were anonymously reviewed by our peers and judged to be worthy of publication.  I hope you are as impressed as I am with the quality, depth, and breadth of work going on in the department.

And our students are continuously improving as our program has grown steadily for several years.  During this past 12 months, 77 students have earned Bachelor’s Degrees, 39 have earned Master’s degrees, and 2 have received the terminal degree of PhD - Amy McCall and Maile Rogers.  Think of when you were a student – the number of graduates, especially at the MS and PhD levels, were much, much lower. 

Lest you think that all of this research is done by sacrificing quality teaching, you should be impressed to also know that our faculty are amongst the highest rated in the college for their teaching and mentoring.  As a matter of fact, on AVERAGE, our professors are rated between very good and excellent in their teaching and mentoring.

Here are a few updates on issues that I have mentioned in the past year:

  • Nameplates for graduating seniors.  We handed out the last nameplates to April 2014 graduates.  Each has their name and “BYU Civil Engineering” inscribed.  Despite our very best efforts to find external funding to continue this 40-year old tradition, we were unsuccessful.  In the future we will make nameplates available for purchase.  New nameplates will carry the same logo instead of “Civil Engineer,” which, we were reminded by a conscientious alumnus, was not strictly in compliance with Professional Engineering standards and requirements.
  • Redistribution of monies received from Graduate School:  we now use a portion of the annual funding from the Graduate School to offer an impressive scholarship to an incoming PhD. Student.  Our PhD program is slowly growing and we believe this will increase our competitiveness in an already hyper-competitive field – the recruitment of PhD students.
  • Capstone class – we continue to strengthen this experience for our graduating seniors.  For example, we have formed a capstone committee in the Department, chaired by Jim Nelson that will seek out real-world sponsors for our student projects.  In the meantime, Brett Borup will attend (and be a judge) at an amazingly strong capstone conference at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas in order to bring back ideas for our own program.
  • Undergraduate and graduate seminars:  We have begun to separate out our seniors occasionally from the undergraduate seminar for presentations about resumes, interviewing skills, and work-related topics.  We continue to mull over how we can strengthen the writing experience for our graduate students in our graduate seminar.

The Department will continue to change and evolve as we move ahead.  But please remember that our commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ and teaching with faith and testimony remain our top priorities.

Please let me know what you think and how you can participate.  Email me at

- Rollin Hotchkiss

CE En Department Chair