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In This Issue

Letter from the Chair
Alumni Feature
Student News
Research Project Highlights
Awards & Honors
Grants & Patent Announcements

Featured Alumni Project: North Pole

The influence of IIT engineering alumni stretches around the world—including all the way to North Pole, Alaska.

The town of North Pole has become an epicenter for holiday enthusiasts. The tourism-driven town is billed as the place where “it’s Christmas year-round,” and thanks to the creativity and locally minded design skills of alumna Amy Mestas (BS CE ’04, MS CE ’06), residents and visitors have a new place to gather and learn about all the area has to offer.

“I have worked on many projects since graduating from IIT, but this is the first structural analysis and design that I did on my own, from project conception to dedication ceremony,” says Mestas, a structural engineer from PDC Inc. Engineers. “This project created great opportunities for local engineers, architects, general contractors, and subcontractors when work was starting to get thin. We are very proud of how it turned out.” 

The 2,500-square-foot building features recycled barn wood wainscoting and ceilings, and locally provided features, including radiant heat flooring, cabinetry, a masonry heater, a river rock fireplace, concrete countertops, and roofing. Even the furniture is local—created from beetle-killed Alaskan spruce. The renovation and additions cost approximately $5 million, which was provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

In addition to serving as a welcome center, the building houses historical exhibits and emergency response vehicles for the 20,000-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chena Flood Control Project.

View Photos


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Student News

IIT Engineering Themes

Armour College of Engineering has launched a new distinctive education initiative that empowers students to apply their engineering skills to themes of high relevance and global impact. The four IIT Engineering Themes are water, health, energy, and security.

CAEE professors Paul Anderson and Jamshid Mohammadi are leading the themes water and security.

Highlighted events this semester:

Students Visit Chicago's First Vertical Farm “The Plant”

The IIT Engineering Themes hosted a group of 39 students, faculty and staff on a tour of The Plant, a non-profit net-zero energy vertical farm. As part of the visit, the group viewed plans and inner workings of a local eco-friendly food production facility and provided suggestions on how to enhance the plant's design.

With help from the IIT community, The Plant is transforming the retired meatpacking facility into an indoor farm on the outskirts of Chicago's old Union Stockyards. Through volunteer and IPRO support, IIT students and faculty have been vital to developing the technical processes of the system.

"The goal of this and future Engineering Themes site visits is to expose the students to real-life creative solutions to theme-related challenges and to encourage them to become more involved in today's engineering innovations," says IIT Dean of Engineering Natacha DePaola.

As its core technology, The Plant employs aquaponics—a closed-loop growing system involving tilapia, vegetables, and herbs.

The Plant Video Recap

Getting Dirty for a Good Cause

Students, faculty, and staff teamed up to clean the 31st Street Beach in Chicago as part of the IIT Engineering Theme Water. Associate Professor Paul Anderson led the team in combing the beach for litter and testing water samples for bacteria and contaminants. The Water volunteers reported the results as part of a national data collection effort with the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

Read more | View Photos

Research Project Highlights

Tropical Soil Research in Indonesia

Indonesia Soil ResearchAssociate Professor Jeff Budiman was awarded a 2011-12 Fulbright Senior Research Scholarship in Engineering to develop a new true triaxial apparatus to characterize the constitutive parameters of tropical residual soils. His award has allowed him to spend the year at Bandung Institute of Technology in Bandung, Indonesia, leading a research team of faculty and graduate students and overseeing two graduate thesis projects on the behavior of tropical soils and volcanic soils. Budiman is the first recipient of the Fulbright Program’s Senior Scholarship for Research in Engineering applied in Indonesia.

Budiman also recently began concentrating his geotechnical engineering research on its application to energy, including the design and performance of foundations for offshore wind turbines.

Creative Construction: Integrating Work-Arounds as Proactive Management

Assistant Professor Cindy Menches recently conducted a pilot study with local electrical construction workers to better understand how construction workers develop rapid work-arounds to overcome task disruptions on the jobsite. Her study revolves around the belief that construction workers experience frequent disruptions that have the potential to slow down progress. She also believes that skilled workers develop nearly instantaneous work-arounds that allow the work to continue, but that these creative work-arounds are rarely recognized as potential benefits to job progress.

A unique aspect of the study was the method used to collect data. Workers were given a personal digital assistant device that emitted an audible alarm to prompt the workers to fill out a self-assessment form about their activities, disruptions, and their response.

The pilot study, and the upcoming three-year full study, aim to:

  • Better understand how workers’ decisions made in response to disruptive events can lead them to flexibly restructure tasks and adapt to a disruption as it unfolds
  • Establish the conditions that facilitate or hinder the effectiveness of work-arounds on construction jobsites

The project, funded by the National Science Foundation, will conclude in 2014. Ultimately, the group’s findings may result in changing the way skilled workers and managers plan for, accommodate, and manage disruptions on the jobsite.

Awards & Honors

Professor Krishna Pagilla received the Eddy Wastewater Principles/Processes Medal from the Water Environment Federation (WEF). The medal is awarded for research that makes a vital contribution to the existing knowledge of the fundamental principles or process of wastewater treatment. Pagilla was recognized for his work on nitrogen control published in “Fate of Organic Nitrogen in Four Biological Nutrient Removal Wastewater Treatment Plants.” As part of the award, he was honored at WEFTEC 2011, the largest annual water quality conference and exhibition in the world.

During the 30th anniversary of the International Society of Exposure Analysis, Professor Demetrios Moschandreas was honored as one of the society founders and as the 2002 recipient of The Jerome J. Wesolowski Award, the society’s highest honor, “in recognition of outstanding contributions to the knowledge and practice of human exposure assessment.”

Professor Zongzhi Li received the 2011 Arthur M. Wellington Prize from the American Society of Civil Engineers for his paper, “Highway Project Level Life-Cycle Benefit/Cost Analysis Under Certainty, Risk, and Uncertainty: Methodology with Case Study,” which was published in the August 2009 Journal of Transportation Engineering. The Arthur M. Wellington Prize recognizes a paper on transportation on land, on the water, in the air, or on foundations, and closely related subjects. Li also received the 2011 IIT Sigma Xi Award for Excellence in Research.

Professor David Arditi delivered the keynote lecture at the 2011 National Symposium on Work Safety and Health in Canakkale, Turkey on October 21.Arditi was also recently selected as an Outstanding Reviewer by the ASCE Journal of Construction Engineering and Management in recognition of his dedicated service to the journal.

Grant, Patent & Book Announcements


Development and Application of the TRANSIMS Toolbox for Transportation Operations Management in and around Chicago Central Area
Zongzhi Li (PI), sponsored by Federal Highway Administration, $932,729, Phase I: $290,000.

Transportation Modeling of the Regional Effects of Evacuations in the Chicago Metropolitan Area
Zongzhi Li (PI), sponsored by Argonne National Laboratory’s Transportation Research and Computing Center, $100,000

Expansion of the IIT PRETRANS Program
Zongzhi Li (PI), sponsored by the U.S. DOT Region V University Transportation Center- Purdue-based NEXTRANS Center, $25,000

Multicommodity Flows and Algorithmic Graph Theory in Sustainable Transportation Decision-Making
Zongzhi Li (PI), sponsored by IIT Educational and Research Initiative Fund, $25,000


Two Left-Turn Ramp Roadway Intersection System for Continuous Traffic Flow
Narathip Sutchiewcham, Zongzhi Li, Jeff Budiman, Jiehua Jay Shen


Technical Drawing and Engineering Graphics, Fourteenth Edition
Frederick E. Giesecke,  Ivan L. Hill, Henry C. Spencer,  Alva E. Mitchell,  John Thomas Dygdon, James E. Novak,  Shawna Lockhart,  Marla Goodman
Book Info | ISBN-10: 0135090490 | Prentice Hall (2011)

Systems Engineering, with Economics, Probability and Statistics, Second Edition
C. Jotin Khisty, Jamshid Mohammadi and Adjo A. Amedkudzi
Book Info | ISBN: 978-1-60427-055-6 | Ross Publishing Company (2011)

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Illinois Institute of Technology | Armour College of Engineering
Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering
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