Civil and Environmental Engineering Fellowships

The Civil & Environmental Engineering fellowships are merit-based awards for current graduate students that enable the recipient to focus on graduate study, and do not have to be repaid. These Fellowships differ from Graduate Assistantships, which carry an obligation to teach classes, to work on a research project, or to perform administrative tasks.

These fellowships have been given to the department as gifts by generous donors for the sole purpose of awarding students. In order to be considered for the below outlined fellowships:

  1. You should meet at least the basic requirements listed. Any preference listed below is not considered a requirement.
  2. Contact your advisor and inform him/her of your interest. Students must be nominated by faculty. Faculty advisors should email nomination letters to
  3. DEADLINE FOR NOMINATIONS: Friday, September 29, 2017 at 12:00pm

Bechtel Fellowship: $2,500

  • Full-time graduate students whose research is within the areas of Project Management or Structures within the department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Selection based on academic merit and promise
  • Preference is given to those whom are from Maryland, D.C., and Virginia
2016-2017 Bechtel Fellowship Recipient: Emma Weaver 

Emma's research is in public-private-partnerships (P3), specifically evaluating current practice and trends in competing facilities contract provisions and valuing them from a public-sector perspective. She has       also worked on a case study of the Presidio Parkway Project in San Francisco, California, analyzing the Operations and Maintenance phase of this P3 project in comparison to traditional Design-Bid-Build. In           addition to this case study she has worked on a "P3-Value Toolkit for FHWA, assisting with toolkit validation, sensitivity analysis and preparation of deliverables.

After completing my MS in Civil Engineering with a concentration in Project Management at the University of Maryland, I plan to pursue a PhD in Public Policy. Ultimately, I hope to teach in public policy.

Emma is honored to be the recipient of the Bechtel Fellowship for the 2016-2017 academic year and is thankful for the support and investment by the Betchel Fellowship Fund in her education. 

Harkins Fellowship: $3,500

  • Full-time graduate students whose research is within the areas of Project Management or Structures within the department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Selection based on academic merit with consideration to financial need
2016-2017 Harkins Fellowship Recipient: Serge Alain Feuze Lekem

Serge is working on a project with an objective to determine the type of damages induced into concrete structure by Delayed ettringite formation (DEF), a product that forms into hardened concrete exposed to sulfate and humidity. It usually results in expansion of the concrete, generation of cracks in the concrete structure and potentially can lead to a reduction of the concrete strength and early deterioration of the structure. In other to achieve this goal, he is working with researcher at the NCNR of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on a nondestructive technique, the Neutron Tomography that enable the visualization of features inside a concrete sample. This technique allows him to monitor the growth of ettringite into concrete samples and the resulting cracks.

Serge's interest into this field of research arose from observation of deterioration of precast concrete structures like bridges, dams, retaining walls and traffic barriers in humid and sulfate rich environment and the voids in the scientific literature concerning this phenomenon. Understanding delayed ettringite formation and the underlying deterioration mechanism would be an important breakthrough in the field of concrete durability.

Upon completion of his PhD, Serge will seek an academic position in a university where he can contribute to the training and mentorship of the next generation of engineers and also contribute to the body of knowledge by pursuing research aimed at improving the durability of construction material and innovative construction techniques to revolutionize the industry.

Serge is honored to be the recipient of the Harkins Fellowship for this academic year and says it represents a validation of the fortuity of his pursuit and also is a source of motivation and encouragement. He is thankful to the President of Harkins Builders, Inc. for their support and investment into his future. 

Zupnik Fellowship: $2,500

  • Full-time graduate students specializing in Project Management or Structures within the department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Selection based on academic merit and promise
  • Preference is given to those whom are from Maryland, D.C., and Virginia
2016-2017 Zupnik Fellowship Recipient: Heng Liu

Heng's research focuses on monitoring and estimating structural damage conditions by using deep learning techniques associated with big data. Such techniques combine advantages of modern techniques in computer vision as well as the ones in the civil engineering to solve such complex engineering problem. The techniques can be used for estimating and predicting the damage condition of structural fuse elements under extra low period dynamic loadings such as earthquakes.

Heng's career goals focus on better serving people and improving the technique in the field of civil engineering. 

Heng is honored to receive the Zupnik Fellowship for this academic year and is appreciative of the support and encouragement of his work by Mr. Stanley R. Zupnik. 

Khosa Fellowship: $3,500

  • Full-time M.S. students specializing in Structures within the department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Selection based on financial need and merit
  • Preference given to those whom are graduates of the University of Jammu, State of Jammu & Kashmir, India
2016-2017 Khosa Fellowship Recipient: Ruiyang Zhang

Currently Ruiyang is working on his Ph.D. dissertation "Structural performance evaluation and optimization through substructure real-time hybrid simulation". His research provides systematic studies on development and validation of the substructure RTHS approach using shake tables and actuators, novel techniques in increasing RTHS stability by introducing artificial damping to the physical specimen, and optimal design of the structure or supplemental control devices for seismic protection through substructure RTHS. In RTHS, stability and accuracy is related to the ability of the actuator system to track the desired interface trajectory. Time delays and time lags can introduce negative damping which can supersede the inherent structural damping and lead to instability. In addition, the RTHS stability is sensitive to higher modes especially for those high-rise building models. Therefore, there are strong needs to mitigate RTHS stability issues by introducing damping to higher modes. In this way, the stability of RTHS can be greatly increased without changing the structural responses which are dominated by lower modes. Driven by this need, Ruiyang developed a novel technique to introduce artificial damping to physical specimens. The shake table or actuator is controlled so that the specimen would behave as the target structure with extra damping. Through the proposed technique, extra artificial damping can be introduced not only to all modes of the specimen, but also to specific modes, a feature that cannot be realized by using external damping devices. This technique can increase RTHS stability by stabilizing higher modes with extra damping without changing the dominant modal responses.

After graduation, Ruiyang is interested in seeking a position in the research institute or universities. He is really interested in doing research and enjoys the process that find and solve the problem. He also enjoys to realize an idea, and in the future, he hopes to start his own company. 

Ruiyang is honored to be awarded the Khosa Fellowship and is thankful to receive the scholarship which will contribute significantly toward his tuition and fees, giving him time to focus on his studies and research. 

Morris Fellowship: $2,000

  • Full-time graduate students within the department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Selection based on merit, interest in pursuing a career in civil engineering, service in the military or having a family member who has served in the military
2016-2017 Lieutenant General John W. Morris II Graduate Scholarship: Travis Ostrom

Travis's research focuses on improving nutrient removal in stormwater control measures (SCMs) to reduce surface water pollution from urban runoff. The goal of his project is to develop an enhanced treatment media for use in permeable pavement applications. His interest in civil and environmental engineering stems from a desire to work toward a built environment that improves both quality of life and the natural environment.

Travis's career goal is to become a university faculty member and continue researching problems in civil and environmental engineering related to the sustainable built environment. 

Travis is honored to receive the Lieutenant General John W. Morris II Graduate Scholarship for this academic year and his thankful to the Mr. John Morris III and Ms. Susan Nelson for their generous support.

Witczak Fellowship: $2,000

  • Full-time graduate students incoming/admitted within the calendar year 2017 specializing in Geotechnical & Pavements within the department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Initial award is for one (1) year. Award can be renewed for an additional two (2) years for M.S. degree or three (3) years for PhD, IF student is maintaining a high academic merit
  • Only one student can be awarded in a given year, regardless if it is a brand new awardee, or a renewal award for an outstanding student
2016-2017 Dr. Matthew W. Witczak Graduate Award: Zahra "Niosha" Afsharikia 

Niosha's research included a pooled fund study: "Standardizing Non-Nuclear Method of Compaction Quality Control Using Light Weight Deflectometer (LWD)": Moving away from nuclear methods of road base compaction quality control toward Mechanistic-Empirical design methods requires implementing a new practical and rapid testing technique to determine the target values. Her research includes developing and validating this method. - MIPS/Pavement Corporation Project: "MIPS/Pavement Corporation Project." Her research also includes developing a predicting tool to recommend essential maintenance based on current pavement condition and estimate the remaining life before and after repairs.

Niosha's main career goal is to focus on the practicality of developed methods in Geotech and Pavement Engineering to fill in the gaps between research and field implementation. As a woman in engineering, she is dedicated to staying committed to increasing awareness and knowledge related to diversity and inclusion in all fields of engineering.

Niosha is honored to be the recipient of the Dr. Matthew W. Witczak Graduate Award for the second year and is grateful to the generosity of Dr. Bell and Dr. Wainger. She hopes her hard work and dedication will make them proud.