UD's Christopher Meehan has been named the 2012 Young Engineer of the Year by the Delaware section of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

ASCE award

American Society of Civil Engineers names Meehan 2012 Young Engineer of Year

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9:07 a.m., Jan. 7, 2013--The Delaware section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently selected Christopher Meehan, Bentley Systems Incorporated Chair of Civil Engineering at the University of Delaware, as the 2012 Young Engineer of the Year.

The award honors civil engineers under age 36 who are improving the industry through community service, field advancements and the professional development of young civil engineers.

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“Chris has been on a trajectory of high achievement and success that I have rarely seen in my 18 years at UD,” emphasized Harry (Tripp) Shenton, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who nominated Meehan.

In 2006, Meehan joined the UD faculty as an assistant professor after earning his doctoral degree in civil engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. His geotechnical engineering research program, which involves problems with soil and rock, quickly became nationally recognized, as did Meehan, who earned a 2009 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award to study slickensided surfaces.

In 2010 he was appointed to the board of directors for the United States Universities Council on Geotechnical Education and Research, where he worked closely with top geotechnical faculty from other universities to enhance the quality of research and education in geotechnical engineering in the U.S., with a particular focus on promoting knowledge transfer between industry and academia.

Though Meehan does not work directly in the private sector, his research remains practice-oriented. For example, his recent research on intelligent compaction and rapid construction bridge technology has brought new technologies to the Delaware Department of Transportation.

Additionally, he is currently developing tools for improved analysis and design of levee systems, such as those that were damaged in Hurricane Katrina, and is investigating emerging geothermal energy technologies. It is work that Shenton notes “has improved the state of practice of geotechnical engineering, particularly in Delaware.”

At UD, Meehan remains an avid and well-respected teacher, advising approximately 50 undergraduate students and up to 10 graduate students per semester. In 2012, ASCE recognized his engaging classroom presence with the ExCEEd New Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award. 

Other professional achievements include his promotion to associate professor; his selection as the Bentley Systems Incorporated Chair of Civil Engineering; and his licensure as a professional engineer (PE), which suggests a strong commitment to engineering practice when earned by a junior faculty member. 

Currently, Meehan is investigating ways to integrate geothermal heat pump technology into civil engineering structures as a 2012-2013 Fulbright Scholar at Tampere University of Technology in Finland. 

“Chris’ work and conduct across the three pillars of civil engineering faculty life — teaching, research and service — have been exemplary,” Shenton said.

Article by Sarah E. Meadows

Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson

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