CEGE Advisory Board

The CEGE vision: Inspired and innovative engineering for society. Our culture is one of excellence, using rigorous fundamentals for wide-ranging applications. Our teaching and research covers a broad spectrum, is interdisciplinary, and has an emphasis on science and fundamentals.

Making CEGE Stronger

Civil engineering, which now has a home in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering (CEGE), was established as one of the first engineering programs within the University of Minnesota. CEGE graduates are responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of our society. CEGE’s vision is inspired and innovative engineering for society. Our duties and our challenges in that vision are significant; it requires broad perspectives and wide collaboration.

Leadership of the department is provided by Joseph Labuz, MSES/Miles Kersten Professor and Department Head. He has been Department Head since 2012. Under his leadership, the CEGE Advisory Board has become actively involved in discerning priorities and establishing strategy for the department. Labuz has enlisted a strong panel of 14 alumni engineer-advisors that regularly discusses the needs of and initiatives for the department. The Advisory Board helps ensure the relevance of CEGE graduates in industry practice and keeps the department thinking in inspired and innovative ways.

Over the past few years, the Board has advised department leadership and helped to update the strategic plan, conduct an external review, and hire ten new faculty.

Most recently, the Board has been working to address future challenges on issues ranging from hiring needs, student preparedness, workforce development, and ways industry and CEGE can work together. In recognition of the importance of collaboration in their work, the Board reached out to industry representatives and invited feedback from across industry sectors through a survey and a roundtable discussion. Dozens of local companies responded to the survey and 26 people from a variety of engineering specialties participated in the roundtable session.

After the survey and roundtable, the Board formulated two initiatives in response to the two areas of concern that emerged, recruiting more students and increasing and promoting experiential learning opportunities for students.

First, CEGE introduced substantial scholarships for first- and second-year UMN students not yet admitted to the major who are planning to pursue a career in one of the three majors offered by CEGE. In addition to receiving a scholarship, these scholarship recipients will participate in mentoring activities aimed to support and cement their interests in civil engineering, environmental engineering, or geoengineering as a career.

The first recipients of the scholarships are now enrolled in CEGE: Dominic DiVita, Jared Voight, Grace Keller, Evan Epple, and Renee Sailor. Ten first-year students were awarded scholarships for the 2019-2020 school year.

The second initiative created a new position to foster greater connectedness with industry. Michelle Anderson has been hired as the CEGE Industry Liaison and Pre-Major Coordinator. Anderson brings a wealth of experience. Her previous positions included working directly with students as a career counselor and financial aid advisor at UMN and in college-access programs such as College Possible. She most recently earned her Master’s at UMN in Education Psychology with an emphasis in Higher Education.

Her work will strengthen ties with industry partners in order to expand opportunities for CEGE undergraduates. In addition, Anderson will develop programs designed to engage students in experiential opportunities (internships and participation in engineering student groups) and foster connections between first- and second-year students and CEGE (students select a major in their third year). Michelle Anderson will also be helping to recruit mentors for the CEGE Capstone Design course.

If you have ideas about how your company could connect with CEGE undergraduates, please reach out. Michelle Anderson, Industry & Pre-Major Coordinator, and04707@umn.edu, 612-625-1807.

Related article: Ali Ling, member of CEGE's Professional Advisory Board