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CEE Newsletter

Newsletter Welcome

2014 has been a busy year for our Department.  We hired some outstanding faculty members in the structural engineering area and were able to hire a Full-Time Director for our growing Construction Engineering Management program.  

We have started a new graduate Masters International program in cooperation with the Peace Corps, where graduate students will use their Peace Corps experience as part of the research project after spending one year on campus to prepare for their assignment.  We are one of four Civil & Environmental Engineering Departments in the U.S. who offers this graduate program and are looking forward to educating future Peace Corps volunteers in that area.

Lastly, the Department worked hard to prepare for the ABET accreditation visit last September.  We all felt the review of our two undergraduate programs went well.  In response to the reviewer’s comments we will be changing our program educational objectives to more clearly communicate the skillsets of a successful graduate of our programs.

This calendar year is poised to bring new and exciting changes for the Department (stay tuned for the next newsletter).  I wish you all the best for the New Year!

Stefan Grimberg

Two new Associate Professors appointed:

stevewojtkiewiczSteven Wojtkiewicz has been appointed Associate Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Clarkson University

naru_nakataNarutoshi Nakata Appointed Associate Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Clarkson University

Erik Backus is appointed Director of Construction Engineering Management
The Civil and Environmental Engineering Department is pleased to welcome Erik Backus to our faculty.  In addition to teaching, Erik has also assumed the role of Director of Construction Engineering Management.  Erik received his BS in Civil Engineering in 1997 from Clarkson University and his MS in Civil Engineering in 2004 from the University of Missouri-Rolla.  He comes to us from George Mason University, where he was the Engineering Planner.  Erik and his wife Jackie, ’96, who has also joined Clarkson as a member of the research team of Tom Holsen, reside in Potsdam.  Erik can be contacted at

Peace Corps Announces New Master's International Partnership with Clarkson University

The Peace Corps announced the launch of a new Master’s International partnership with Clarkson University's Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering and Institute for a Sustainable Environment.

The partnership will offer students the opportunity to integrate Peace Corps service with a choice of master's degrees in civil engineering, and environmental science and engineering.  (Read more here.)

New York STEAM Girls Collaborative Kick-Off Conference Features Women from Clarkson University

Representatives from Clarkson University kicked off the New York STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Girls Collaborative with other women in STEM fields from across the state.
Lauren Hall '15, a civil and environmental engineering student joined a panel discussion about what girls enjoy and recommend about STEM.  (See the complete story.)

Clarkson Construction SPEED Team Competes
From November 13th until late on November 15th, it was bid time for the Clarkson Construction SPEED Team.  Fifteen students from the Clarkson Construction Engineering Management program travelled down to historic Morristown, NJ to compete in a regional test of how well they could build a construction bid or design-build proposal.  Clarkson’s teams are always there to complete and this year was no exception thanks to the strong advisement of Jared Heinl with help from Spencer Thew and Erik Backus.  Arriving Thursday night, the three, five person teams prepared to develop a full scope and bid/proposal package in a 24 and 48 hour marathon that would begin Friday morning.  For the first time, Clarkson competed in all three divisions:  Civil/Heavy/Highway, Commercial Construction, and Design-Build.  The Associated Schools of Construction (the sponsoring organization) brought 3 distinct firms in to be judges of the students’ efforts.  Sequestered in their team rooms, the students had to produce a written proposal and cost estimate for a scope of work/set of construction documents given to them at 8 a.m. that Friday morning.  Throughout the day, the sponsoring firms threw ASI’s bulletins, sub-contractor bids, and responses to student RFIs into the mix as the students crunched to get in their sealed bids/proposals by 11 pm that night.  The work wasn’t over at that late hour as the students had to prepare to do an oral interview covering their best value bid or design-build proposal at a random time the next day.  By late afternoon on Saturday, with all interviews done, all the students could do was wait.  That night at the banquet, the “bid opening” happened.  And while Clarkson’s teams didn’t place in the top three, two of them were within grasp.  Much was learned in this experience by the students; one that mimics in nearly every detail what it is like to do the real thing.  Congratulations to all and best of luck in future regionals, and hopefully national competitions.

stevewojtkiewiczProfessor Steven Wojtkiewicz was appointed Associate Editor of ASCE Journal of Aerospace Engineering for a three year term effective November 1, 2014,  The Journal of Aerospace Engineering is the flagship semi-monthly publication of the Aerospace Division of the ASCE.  Professor Wojtkiewicz joined the CEE department in June, 2014.

In response to comments of the ABET evaluators the CEE faculty has approved the change of its program educational objectives.  The changes have been approved by the departmental engineering advisory committee and can be reviewed here.  We are looking for your comments to the change (e-mail the department chair,

See What Our Alumni are Doing

Clarkson Alum Managing Largest Project in UK Water Industry
The Lee Tunnel project is the largest single contract ever awarded in the UK water industry since privatization in 1989. It will stop 4.2 billion gallons of combined sewage overflows (CSOs) from being discharged into the River Thames each year.

Project managing this £710m job on behalf of client Thames Water, is one of Clarkson’s own, Bill Van Wagenen. billvanwagenen2Bill graduated from Clarkson’s civil engineering department in 1978 and went on to study law at Georgetown Law School.  He started off working on construction claims for some of the largest projects in the world, including the Channel Tunnel. Bill then moved on to construction management and now works in program management on large, complex infrastructure projects around the world.  

Lee Tunnel is a much needed addition to the Victorian sewers designed and built by Sir Joseph Bazalgette in the 1860s at a time when the population of London was two million. With London’s growth now close to eight million and with the reduction of green space and natural drainage, the sewers are struggling to cope.   When it rains enough, untreated sewage and rain must be diverted directly into tributaries of the River Thames. This is now happening up to 60 times per year.   Lee Tunnel will stop virtually all of these discharges.tunnelproject

Lee Tunnel is a five year program running from 2010 until 2015 being delivered under a unique partnership model, between the client, Thames Water; the design-build contractor, MVB (joint venture between Morgan Sindall, Vinci Construction Grands Projets and Bachy Soletanche) and the project management team, CH2M Hill.

It is a 7.2m diameter sewage tunnel (width of 3 London buses), 75metres below ground in east London.  Once complete, the 6.9km long tunnel will store the excess combined flows for up to 2 days before pumping it 75 meters vertically into the Beckton sewage works for treatment.

The Lee Tunnel is the first of two tunnels designed to combat the tens of millions of tons of sewage that spill into the River Thames every year. The second is the Thames Tideway Tunnel, a £4.2 billion tunnelling project due to start construction in 2017.
Lawrence Gosden, asset investment director at Thames Water, said:
“We’re incredibly proud of the Lee Tunnel project. As well as being on time and on budget, the project showcases top-class UK engineering.
“The same three founding principles that helped this project achieve success – sustainability, innovation, collaboration - will underpin our approach in continuing to deliver more capital investment in the future.”

Clarkson alum Nat Oppenheimer, '88, Principal at Robert Silman Associates, is working on several projects for his company, one being the expansion of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.


For a look at other projects Nat is involved in, click here!

This e-Newsletter is published by the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

Stefan Grimberg
Stefan Grimberg
Professor & Chair, Civil & Environmental Engineering
Phone: 315/268-6490

8 Clarkson Avenue | Potsdam, NY 13699