A growing reputation

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Xianming Shi

Greetings from Pullman and the season of harvest awaits! Please enjoy this edition of our civil and environmental engineering e-newsletter. We’re pleased to share some of the outstanding work going on in our program. From working to lessen the carbon impacts of new buildings to preparing for shifting water availability in the future, we’re tackling some of our nation’s biggest research challenges. Our program has grown in reputation as evidenced by a significant jump in our most recent ranking.

Our faculty and students have been continually recognized. For instance, Danielle Hurley took a top prize in WSU’s business plan competition, and Professor Ji Yun Lee received an award from Google for her work to improve fire risk assessments.  I am so proud of the hard work of our faculty, staff, and students — both in conducting innovative research or in the classroom.

On the teaching side, we continue to focus on improving the student experience. Professor Karl Olsen is leading the multidisciplinary efforts of developing an integrated curriculum that brings our emphasis areas together and provides a more cohesive learning journey for our students. We look forward to sharing more about that with you soon. Meanwhile, our graduate students have recently formed a student association that provides social gatherings and networking opportunities, strengthening a sense of community that is more important than ever to their success.

I’m excited to announce that we have hired two new faculty, Pouria Bahmani and Jia Li. Dr. Bahmani’s research focuses on performance-based engineering, innovative hybrid structural systems and technologies, traditional and innovative mass timber structures, assessment and retrofit of existing structures, sustainable and resilient infrastructure systems, and large-scale dynamic testing. He will be teaching our structural engineering courses. Dr. Li has research interests in mixed autonomy transportation systems, machine learning applications in traffic operations and safety, and data science in the built environment. We are so excited to see the energy and expertise they are bringing to the department. We are in the process of recruiting three new faculty in the areas of geotechnical engineering, air quality modeling, and water quality/emerging contaminants. With these new talents, we look forward to continuing to build our program and to grow this vibrant and thriving department.

I want to thank the many of you who have expressed your appreciation to our former department chair, Dr. Muhunthan, with a gift in his memory. As you know, he was dedicated to supporting our students and strongly believed in the power of education to transform lives. He made such a difference in many of our lives, and we continue to welcome support in his honor. My special thank-you, also, to Dan Campbell, president of GeoEngineers Inc., for his great efforts in leading the initiative for the Geotechnical Engineering faculty startup fund and to all those who have contributed!

Please feel free to send me a note or visit if you’re on campus. And, as always, Go Cougs!

Xianming Shi