Santa Clara University


A Message from the Chair

Dr. Steven Chiesa, P.E.

Dr. Steven Chiesa, P.E.

Another academic year is rapidly coming to a close and there is good reason to look back fondly on this year’s accomplishments while looking ahead to an even brighter future. Undergraduate enrollment in the program continues to increase with next September’s entering freshman class potentially being the largest in the last 10 years. This year the program will graduate 24 civil engineers (with employment opportunities for these students continuing to be very strong. All graduates will don the traditional orange hardhats on June 17th when they walk across the stage in Buck Shaw Stadium as part of the University’s 155th commencement exercises. This year’s graduating class includes recipients of the School of Engineering’s Raymond Galantine M. Award for community service (Catherine Cote) and the Research Excellence Award for undergraduate students (Gregory Vering).

The ASCE student chapter has had a banner year in getting our undergraduate students involved and interacting with their professional counterparts. Chapter members participated in both the concrete canoe and steel bridge competitions at the recent ASCE Mid-Pacific Regional Conference and, with student interest running high, will hopefully compete in both events again next year when Santa Clara co-hosts the conference with San Jose State University. Chapter members also had outstanding success in the 2006 ASCE San Jose Branch Essay Scholarship Competition. Competing against other local engineering schools, chapter members took fourteen of the nineteen scholarships, including all the top scholarships.

The annual Senior Engineering Design Conference was held this past May 4 with students once again presenting their capstone design projects to panels of alumni judges. Two civil engineering sessions plus a new session on Sustainable/Interdisciplinary Engineering were included in the program. Judges evaluated projects using criteria covering technical content and presentation skills. Best of Session awards were presented to the team of Ryan Benevedes, Tania Gharechedaghy, and Deanna Perdiguerra for “Design of Dual Entry Taxiway ‘F’ for the San Francisco International Airport” and the team of Jackson Dovey and Henry Qi for “AISC Student Steel Bridge Design & Fabrication.” The Sustainable/Interdisciplinary Engineering session included projects focusing on cob design for residential structures and improved seismic resistance design for mixto structures in Central America.

Alumni Bring Practical Experience into the Classroom

This past year, the department was fortunate to have two former graduates, Ziad Dweiri (class of 1998) and Nick Pera (class of 1995), return to teach courses in AutoCad Design and Construction Engineering, respectively. We would like to thank Ziad and Nick for sharing their enthusiasm and practical experience with our students, and wish them continued success in their careers.

Research Highlights

Landfill Design in Seismically Active Areas

Dr. Sukhmander Singh, Ph.D., P.E., G.E.

Rapid industrialization has resulted in significant increases in the amount of waste requiring disposal.  For more than a decade, Dr. Sukhmander (Sukhi) Singh has been actively pursuing research at Santa Clara University on landfill design in high risk seismic areas.  To accommodate an increase in the amount of waste generated and simultaneously address issues of land use as economies become more urban, landfills are now being designed to greater heights. At these new design heights, safe long term containment for waste materials (hazardous and non-hazardous) must be adequately addressed to avoid potential large scale environmental disasters. Dr. Singh's research is focused on the stability analysis and characterization of waste materials. Difficulties in the theoretical analyses of multi barrier materials including the heterogeneity of the waste materials led to a modeling approach.  Results from Dr. Singh's research have already been incorporated in EPA's guidelines for the design of Solid Waste Landfills and has also resulted in collaborations with researchers at Cambridge University, England. The thrust of the research with his Cambridge University colleagues is centrifuge modeling studies.  The Cambridge studies have provided encouraging results in favor of a modeling approach.  The next phase of research is being planned in collaboration with four universities: University of Dundee, Cambridge University, Santa Clara Unviersity and University of Scotland. 

Seismic Design of Cold-Formed Steel Structures

Dr. Reyuaud Serrette

In 1994, the Light Gauge Steel Engineers Association (LGSEA), in its inaugural newsletter, published the results from a cold-form steel (CFS) shear wall research program that was under taken by the Center for Light Frame Structural Research (CLFSR).  The design data summarized in the LGSEA newsletter was immediately adopted by designers across the US and propelled the CLFSR to the forefront of seismic resistant design of CFS structures.  Since 1994, research at the CLFSR has had a significant impact on the seismic design of CFS structures in the national building codes and several other design documents/ standards.
Over the past twelve years, CLFSR has worked on several projects involving alternative sheathing materials, member configurations, fasteners and adhesives, hold-downs and panelized constructions. The CLFSR has also developed close working relationships with several national manufacturers, the Evaluation Services of the International Code Council, the California Department of State Architecture to aid in the development of design criteria and recommendations for alternative materials and methods of construction. The Center has also been actively involved in seminars with structural engineering associations in the western US building departments, the Light Gauge steel Engineers Association and the Steel Framing Alliance on seismic resistant design of CFS structures.
Currently, there are four ongoing projects in the Center: (1) Moment frame design using CFS members, (2) Development of performance criteria for narrow lateral load resisting elements, (3) Out-of-plane P-Δeffects for low-rise, low-bearing CFS walls and (4) Deep leg L-Headers.
The many achievements of the CLFSR over the past twelves years would not be possible with out the dedication and hard work of many students including Brian Lampe, Mark Hood, Kehinde Ogunfunmi, Larry Sanchez, Georgi Hall, Hoang Nguyen, Alexander Willams, Jose Encalada, Mark Chase, Abe Maennle, Khanh Chau, Mark Sorhouet, Raymond Lam, Steffany Castro, Carla Villarreal Montes, Patrick Grogan, Kenki Okhawa, Ioi Lam, Melissa Juadines, Kelly Morgan, Amy Swoboda, Michael Wackerman, Edward Reyes, Matthew Gernandt, Matheu Oscamou, Michael Paye, Brian Murphy, Vincent Luchessi, Stephen Spence, Victor Lopez, Christopher Pitt, and Henry Qi.

Alumni In Focus

Wulmot J. "Bill" Nicholson, a California native, was born in San Jose and raised on his family's ranch in Alviso, California. Bill attended Bellarmine College Preparatory before enrolling in the civil engineering program at Santa Clara University (SCU). He earned his bachelors degree from SCU in 1963 and completed post-graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley and at SCU.  After graduation from SCU, Bill worked as a Junior Civil Engineer for the Santa Clara County before taking on engineering positions with the Army Corps of Engineering and the US Navy. In 1944, Bill joined the Gred J. Early Company (General Contractors), San Francisco, as a project manager and general superintendent where he continued to work on both Navy and Army projects. In 1948 Bill founded his own general contraction company, W. J. Nicholson Company which has become responsible for many large industrial, private and public projects in Central and Northern California. After incorporation of his company in 1965 (Nicholson-Brown Inc.), Bill continued to operate the company until 1979. From 1979 to 1986, Bill served as an operations, management and business consultant to the Ray Wilson Company and ABV, Sweden. In addition to his contracting and management business, Bill is also involved in agriculture in California, Nevada, Texas and Idaho since 1931.
From 1969 to 1988, in addition to his private business, Bill served as a Construction, General Contracting, and Engineering Management instructor in SCU's School of Engineering. In 1988, he served as the Chairman of the Civil Engineering Department. Today, he continues to be an active member of the department's Advisory Board and a benevolent supporter of the civil engineering program. Bill has been and continues to be involved in planning and development projects at SCU , and he has served on SCU's board of Regents. Recently, acting on recommendations by ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology), Bill, working with Gary Waltz (rudolph and Sletten), civil engineering faculty and Dan Pitt (Dean of Engineering), initiated discussion adn preliminary plans for teh development and construction of a new starte-of-the-art structural engineering facility. This discussion led to the on-going, University-funded, Master Planning exercise (Fall 2005 Newsletter) for the entire School of Engineering.
Bill has held several community leadership positions including president of the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce, member of City of Santa Clara Planning Commissions and City Council, Mayor of the City of Santa Clara, Chairman of the Board of Lakeside School District. In addition, Bill has made extensive public service contributions through his association of Goodwill Industries, the Crippled Children's Society, the Institute for Medical Research, and Boy Scouts of Santa Clara County. He has served and serves on the Board of Directors for several local, state, and national companies and he is affiliated with several Peninsula organizations. 

Georgi Hall and Hoang Nguyen, two individuals from diverse backgrounds, started their civil engineering careers at SCU in Fall 1992. Their journey from freshmen to their current positions at the largest manufacturer of cold-formed steel framing members, metal lathe and accessories in the Western United States, is a testament to what can be achieved with a solid education and a desire to succeed. 

Georgi, a native of Richmond, California, entered SCU with a football scholarship and declared civil engineering as his major. Two years into his program of studies, SCU decided to cut its football program. Georgi decided to follow his passion- Civil Engineering. Beginning in the Fall of his junior year (1994), Georgi worked as an undergraduate student research assistant in the Center for Light Frame Structural Research. Following his graduation in 1996, Georgi decided to return to SCU to complete his master's degree and continue working for the CLFSR. Along with fellow undergraduate and graduate research assistants, Georgi was involved in teh investigation of several unique and innovative light frame structural systems and components that have since been incorporated in structures both nationally and internationally. He was also involved in the development of the initial design provisions for the cold-formed steel frame shear walls in current building codes. Georgi completed his master's degree in 1998.
Within the last year of his masters program (1997), Georgi went to work for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space as a Structural Engineering Intern. He continued working for Lockheed Martin after he earned his masters degree as a member of the New Products Development Team where he was responsible for assessing the performance of satellite bus structural components under launch and orbit loads. In 1999. Georgi left Lockheed Martin and went to work for Compaq Computer Corporation as the Manufacturing Global Program manager. He continued at Compaq until 2001 when he joined California Expanded Metal Company as the Director of Engineering. Since joining CEMCO, he has been involved with the development and marketing several new products for which CEMCO holds two U.S. patents.

Hoang, a native of San Jose, entered SCU as a declared civil engineering major. Early in his program, he expressed an interest in structural research and in the Fall of his junior year, he was hired as an undergraduate research assistant in the Center for Light Frame Structural Research. Hoang, together with Georgi(and other research assistants), was also involved in many of the early major contributions of the CLFSR to the building industry (contributions that identified SCU as a center for cold-formed steel research, particularly in the area of seismic design). At the completion of his undergraduate education, Hoang decided to continue his master degree in structural engineering at SCU.

While pursuing his graduate study in 1997, Hoang joined Chien Lee & Associates in San Jose where he took part in a variety of timber building designs, reviews and inspections/observations. To gain broader experience and further develop him career, in 1999, he moved to Biggs Cardosa & Associates (BCA), where he worked in the San Jose office and occasionally in the San Francisco office. In addition to structural design of new building systems, he participated in new bridge designs, and seismic evaluation/retrofit of existing bridge and building structures at BCA. In mid-2003, Hoang went to work for CEMCO as a structural designer/R&D engineer where has been jointly responsible for the development of several new products as well as providing engineering services for the cold-formed steel (CFS) framing industry.

Following their careers paths, Georgi and Hoang have demonstrated their commitment to excellence in engineering and we are proud to have them as alums. We wish them continued success in the future.