An astounding array of cutting edge research was on display at the Eleventh Annual Graduate Student Research Symposium held on March 23. Participation in this event is highly selective. Winning is even more selective. The Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering (CCEE) brought home two of the three awards given in the category of engineering
“Each graduate program on campus is given four slots and students must be nominated by faculty advisors to be considered for participation in the event,” Dr. Ranji Ranjithan, Director of Graduate Programs within CCEE explains. Poster presentations were divided into eight broad academic categories and judged by a faculty panel. First, second and third place was awarded in each of the categories.
Resulali Orgut is in his fourth year of study with a focus on Construction Engineering. He’s a PhD candidate and this was the first time he had presented his research to a general audience. “I am really happy about winning an award. But more than that I’m grateful for how this process taught me to clarify and condense my research findings,” Orgut says. “A few weeks before the event we had an opportunity to do a practice session with the Graduate Programs Committee in our department. They helped me target my message better. They reminded me that answering the ‘so what?’ question is essential. “
Catalina Lopez-Velandia is a second year MS student within the Environmental, Water Resources and Coastal Engineering Group. She’s no stranger to presenting her research, having participated in large industry conferences twice in 2015, and more recently at two other research symposiums on campus in 2016. Lopez-Velandia has received accolades and honors at several of these presentations, including first place at The Third Annual Latin American Student Association Research Symposium, and first place at the Environmental, Water Resources, and Coastal Engineering Research Symposium. She says that the practice session with the Graduate Programs Committee gave her input on how to present her research in a more ‘friendly and understandable’ way for a broader audience. Lopez-Velandia says she likes to present her research in story telling form, and knows that understanding your audience is critical.
Orgut says that after graduation he plans to return to the construction industry. “I realize that being able to communicate your ideas clearly is essential. I could go on and on talking about details, but unless I can convey my ideas in an understandable way to others in my industry, the knowledge is almost useless. You have to communicate in a way that information stays with your audience.” Advised by Dr. Ed Jaselkis, Orgut is developing interactive project management software for the construction industry aimed at keeping costs and schedules on track.
Lopez-Valendia is advised by Dr. Detlef Knappe, and their research attempts to identify the occurrence and sources of human carcinogens in drinking water within the Cape Fear River Watershed. Currently she is focused on assessing the effectiveness of point-of-use treatment devices to remove 1.4 dioxane from tap water.