Santa Clara University


A Message from the Chair

Dr. Steven Chiesa, P.E.

The 2008-2009 academic year is rapidly coming to a close and it is once again time to congratulate another class of Bronco civil engineers.  While this year's class faces the toughest job market in at least ten years, these students have held steadfast in their determination to finish their degrees and look forward towards both the promises and challenges that await them.  Throughout this newsletter you will see evidence of their accomplishments and the way that these students have served their community at all levels.

The Department itself continues to see strong undergraduate enrollments and a slow but steady increase in our new graduate course offerings.  Laboratory equipment and instrumentation resources have been expanded to help meet the demands of these higher enrollments and still provide students with a quality learning experience.  This is particularly important as continued ABET accreditation depends on making sure that our laboratories evolve to meet the expectations for well-trained entry-level engineers.

The current junior class is already exploring topics for their senior capstone design projects.  This looks to include a broad range of projects that will attempt to take on engineering challenges either locally or internationally.  With the number of students and projects reaching record levels, the Department will be increasingly reaching out to alums and friends to help provide technical support and guidance for these students.

On a sad note, I am sorry to report the passing of SCU civil engineering alum Christina Robinson.  Christina was an active member in a number of local professional engineering organizations and a long-time judge at the annual Senior Design Conference.  She was always willing to help our students with either an encouraging word or, more often, with the benefit of her technical knowledge.  It is the many supportive alumni like Christina that help make Santa Clara a special place. 

As my term as department chair comes to a close, I would like to thank my fellow faculty members, the Department staff, the civil engineering alumni, and especially our students for making these last four years so fruitful and rewarding.  The collective strength of these individuals will ensure a strong future for the Department and its alums.



Class of 2009

On June 13, 2009, we celebrate the graduation of the Class of 2009.  These graduates have worked hard, developed strong friendships and are ready to begin their careers.  As they embark on the next stage of their professional journey, we wish them the very best and encourage them to continue to pursue their dreams with the same commitment they showed during their four years at SCU.


Andrew Aberg, Stephen Archer, Daniel Bates, John Beadle, Natalie Diaz, Juan Carlos Esquivel, Anthony Galvan, Chris Haley, Peter Hoseit, Sean Irwin, Maria Jarrell, Garrett Kaprielian, Alexander Kneefel, Betsy Leaverton, Jessica Long, Jai Master, Peter Nguyen, Julianne Padgett, Timothy Quan, Brian Reeves, Daniel Ruffoni, Brand Schlesinger, Andrew Smith and Ryan Yelinek.

Student News

Jessica Long and Jai Master participated in the 2008 California Traffic Foundation Symposium, held in Santa Cruz, CA.  The symposium gave Jai and Jessica an opportunity to interact with thirty-one other students from California universities and professional transportation/traffic engineers from several companies and agencies, including URS and Caltrans.  The main event at the symposium was a contest where students were organized into groups of five or six and each group was asked to develop a solution for a proposed city project.  Several aspects for an actual project were included in the contest project: politics, policy, financing and communication.  Working long hours through the night, Jai's team came up with the winning proposal but all the students learned a lot and had a great time.

 Bricks are the traditional material for home construction in many countries around the world.  Making bricks affordable, strong and durable within a sustainable framework can be challenging.  However, development and execution of a sustainable manufacturing process, safe design provisions and a quality construction processes can simultaneously expand the life-span of a structure and locally promote "green" building.  This was the goal of the senior design project undertaken by Betsy Leaverton, Jessica Long and Julianne Padgett who traveled to and worked with the people of Bambibgo Village, Ghana.  Betsy, Jessica and Julianne develop a "mix" for compressed earth bricks that reduced the amount of cemented used by 90% and designed an arch structural framing detail to eliminated the use of headers/lintels over openings.  In reflection on their project experience, the students noted "it [the project] hit us on multiple levels—it presented an interesting engineering challenge that involves social justice and gives us a chance to help others."

 This year's solar decathlon structural design team—Sean Irwin, Daniel Ruffoni and Andrew Smith—was challenged to develop a structural system for a one-story light frame structure with near zero transverse walls, longitudinal walls with multiple openings and cantilevered floor sections.  Andrew, Dan and Sean did not disappoint!  Utilizing moment frames that met the architectural team's wall thickness and sloped-roof specifications, the structural team was able to provide an efficient final design that met and exceeded the solar decathlon's design structural and thermal envelope requirements.  In recognition of their outstanding work in both design and construction of the solar decathlon house, Andrew, Dan and Sean received the "Edmund C. Flynn Award" for best senior design project, as determined by the civil engineering faculty.

 Each year the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California (SEAONC) invites students from several northern California schools, including Santa Clara, Berkeley, Stanford, Cal Poy and San Jose State, to compete for scholarships.  To be considered for a scholarship, students must have an outstanding academic record, a demonstrated interest in pursuing structural engineering as a career and submit an essay.  This year, Jeffrey Flores and Emmanuel Mendoza, both juniors, were awarded SEAONC scholarships.

 Of the eight bridges entered in the 2009 ASCE Mid-Pac Conference, Anthony Galvan and Brian Reeves' steel bridge design took fifth place and set the stage for Santa Clara's 2010 bridge design.  Traditionally, the SCU team has adopted the philosophy that the scale model bridge design should incorporate standard engineering methods of design and detailing.  Next year's design team is considering more unconventional details in an effort to continue the advancements made by Anthony and Brian. 

Annually, several awards are presented to students with high academic standing, and who reflect and embody the ideals of the engineering profession and the university.  This year awards went the following civil engineering students:

Department Awards: 

  • Outstanding Civil Engineering Senior Award:  Betsy Leaverton and Daniel Ruffoni          
  •  Edmund C. Flynn Award:  Kevin Mueller, Katherine Soult, Sean Irwin, Andrew Smith and Daniel Ruffoni 
  •  Harold M. Tapay Award:  Emmanuel Mendoza 
  •  Regan Memorial Award:  Molly Dunphy, Jeffrey Flores and Katherine Soult 

School of Engineering Awards:

  • Best Civil Engineering Senior Design Presentation: Anthony Galvan, Brian Reeves, Sean Irwin, Daniel Ruffoni and Andrew Smith 
  • Raymond M. Galantine Award: Betsy Leaverton, Jessica Long and Julianne Padgett
  •  School of Engineering Humanities Award: Sean Irwin


  • The SCU ASCE/AGC student chapter has a new slate of officers and faculty advisors.  The new officers are:
  • President: Timothy (TJ) Watterson
  • Vice Presidents: Nick de Cesare & Marco Cassilas
  • Secretary: Lauren Reinnoldt
  • Treasurer: Amanda Zelnik
  • Activities Coordinators: Gabriela Mercado & Danielle Locklar                                               
  • Web Master: Emmanuel Mendoza
  • Publicity: Johnette Besseling
  • Junior Class Rep.: Eleanna Elserougi
  • AGC Rep.: Jack Corrigan
  • The faculty advisors are Drs. Rachael He and Reynaud Serrette. 

For information about ASCE and AGC events, please contact TJ at



· PE examination application postmark deadline: July 17, 2009

· FE/EIT examination application postmark deadline: August 21, 2009

· 2009 fall quarter begins:  September 21, 2009

· PE and FE/EIT examinations: October 23-24 and 24, 2009 (

· ASCE/AGC Career Fair:  Mid-November 2009 (Contact: TJ Watterson at


Faculty News

Dr. Edwin Maurer, P.E., received tenure and was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor.  In recognizing Dr. Maurer, Dean Mungal noted that "Ed exemplifies our commitment to academic excellence. His teaching and curricular developments are outstanding, and he is committed to involving his students in research.  Ed has also worked on student projects which serve those less fortunate, such as his work in El Salvador and Nicaragua.  Through his research and accomplishments in the field of water resource management and impacts of climate change, Ed has been a focus of attention of Governor Schwarznegger and the local news media, and has brought local and national recognition to the University and to the School of Engineering."

Dr. Mark Aschheim, P.E., was appointed to the position of chair of the civil engineering department.  Dr. Aschheim will officially take his position in fall 2010 following a one-year sabbatical.  During his sabbatical, Dr. Sukhmander Singh, P.E., will be the department's interim chair.

During Dr. Sukhmander Singh's leave this spring, the department had the privilege of welcoming Gary Carpenter, P.E., G.E., to teach our geothechnical engineering design course.  Mr. Carpenter, a former classmate of Dr. Singh, and a practicing geotechnical engineer with several years of design experience shared with our students some of the practical aspects for geotechnical design and the impact of construction methods on design.  The students also had the unique opportunity to follow an ongoing design project.

Ziad Dweiri, a long time adjunct faculty in the department continued to share his extensive Autocad project experience with our students.  During the spring quarter, Mr. Dweiri worked with our senior design students on the development professional design drawings as part of their senior project submittal.

Not new to lecturing at SCU, Michael Loomis, S.E., a practicing structural engineer ,taught our undergraduate earthquake engineering course this spring.  Though his course focused on seismic design requirements for the United States, Mr. Loomis challenged the students to take a global perspective of seismic risk and provided students with rich mix of analytical and practical design tools to compliment our increasing more complex design codes.

Gary Walz, LEED AP, Executive Vice President, and Nick Pera, Preconstruction Executive, of Rudolph and Sletten, Inc. taught the department's popular construction engineering course series this past year.  Mr. Pera, who has lectured several times before at SCU, taught the first course in the series and Mr. Walz taught the second.  Mr. Walz expanded both the breath and depth of second course, covering important current topics for the building industry, including "green design" and building information modeling.

Tom Yates, P.E., our "structural design engineer in residence," was an immense and indispensible help to our students who pursued structural design senior projects.  In addition to assisting students in navigating the building code, Mr. Yates challenged our students to go beyond a mere application of the multiple minimum provisions in the building code.  Under his guidance students gained a better perspective of the intent of the code provisions, the expected performance of their designs and standard engineering practice.