Graduate Blog

To submit an item for the graduate blog, email Joan Christian.

May 10, 2018

Good afternoon, Illinois CEE graduate students – on behalf of CEE Associate Head Professor Jim LaFave, I am writing to you about an opportunity for some of you to get involved in an important upcoming activity here in the department.

At the end of this month, we will be hosting the AISC / ASCE National Student Steel Bridge Competition (  The NSSBC will be held over part of Memorial Day weekend – on May 25th & May 26th, in particular.  This competition will welcome 40+ student teams from across the country, with more than 500 attendees in total, and so it is a fairly big deal for us to be able to host this event!

On the other hand, an event of this scale requires a substantial number of judges, bridge marshals, and other volunteers in order to ensure that it will run smoothly.  Our event’s organizing committee & ASCE student chapter have both been aggressively recruiting volunteers to help out with various aspects of the competition.  While quite a few engineering professionals have graciously agreed to donate their time to help us out, we haven’t gotten as many student volunteers as we had hoped for, in part because the competition is occurring a couple weeks after final exams are over with, which is a time when many of our CEE undergraduates have already left town for their summer internships & the like.

So, with that in mind, perhaps a few of you might be good candidates to help out in some way with this, as a number of you may still be here in town even after the spring semester is over with.  Therefore, if any of you are interested then please make that known ASAP by registering to help via the link provided here below:


The organizers will then get in touch with you about next steps.  No prior experience is necessary, and all volunteers will be well-trained about exactly what it is that they’ll need to do to help, and they’ll also get a T-shirt and some meals in exchange for their efforts, plus the chance to interact with some of the visiting engineering practitioners who are serving as judges for the competition.  I realize that this is a very busy time of the year, but we’d really appreciate it if you would consider helping out.  Thanks so much for your consideration – take care, and have a great last day of final exam week!


May 8, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

Please join us for the GraMS Seminar on May 9th, 2018. We will have the honor to hear from one of our esteemed Nobel Prize winners on campus, Sir Anthony Leggett. He will talk about his career path and life lessons. The speaker information is in the flyer attached.

Seminar Details:

Date: Wednesday 5/9/2018

Time: 1 - 2pm

Location: 190 Engineering Science Building

Guest Speaker: Sir Anthony J. Leggett, 2003 Nobel Prize Winner - Professor of Physics, UIUC


Graduate Mechanical Student Organization (GraMS)


May 7, 2018


The Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program at Illinois (URAP@Illinois) offers the opportunity for advanced graduate students to gain valuable dissertation research assistance and a hands-on mentoring experience guiding and directing an undergraduate apprentice. The Graduate College and the Office of Undergraduate Research are now accepting applications from prospective graduate student mentors.

A growing body of literature emphasizes the benefits to graduate research mentors of undergraduates. These benefits include academic socialization, increased confidence, and preparation and marketability for academic and non-academic careers. Through an individualized research experience with their undergraduate student mentee, URAP@Illinois mentors will have the opportunity to communicate what it means to do research, to create knowledge, and to present work publicly.

Graduate mentors begin the program in fall 2018

This fall, graduate mentors will be trained via a comprehensive, student-centered mentoring series that covers topics such as “negotiating the mentor/mentee dynamic,” and “addressing equity and inclusion in mentoring relationships.” In spring 2019, mentors will direct the research of up to two undergraduate researchers for approximately 6 hours per week, for a total of 80 hours per mentee.

Mentors will also enroll in a 0-credit “Graduate Mentoring Practicum” which meets regularly to provide mentors with support, to offer further training, and to give an opportunity for mentors to communicate concerns to URAP@Illinois staff. Graduate students will also receive a Mentoring Certificate, issued by the Graduate College, at the successful completion of the program.

Graduate mentors should have completed all coursework requirements and be in the dissertation research stage by the beginning of the spring 2019 apprenticeship.

Graduate mentor applications should include:

A current CV An unofficial transcript A letter of support from the prospective graduate mentor’s dissertation advisor A cover letter describing the graduate mentor’s dissertation project, how an undergraduate apprentice might be incorporated into the project, and the importance of participating in this apprenticeship program

An online application is available at the following link: URAP @ UI - Graduate Mentor Application. Graduate students with significant and proven experience working with individuals from U.S. minority populations underrepresented at Illinois are encouraged to apply.

For full consideration, applications should be submitted by Friday, May 25, 2018.

URAP@Illinois Info Sessions

The Graduate College and the Office of Undergraduate Research will host two information sessions about URAP that will cover the intent and logistics of the program. 

May 11th from 12:00-1:30 pm, in Coble Hall (The Graduate College) 304 and 308.

May 15th from 12:00-1:30 pm, in Coble Hall (The Graduate College) 304 and 308.

May 4, 2018

PhD Final Defense – Yi (Victor) Wang
Predicting Earthquake Casualty Rates Accounting for Community Vulnerability
Advisor: Professor Paolo Gardoni
Co-advisor: Professor Colleen Murphy
Date: Thursday May 24th, 1:30 pm
Location: Room 2311, Newmark Civil Engineering Building


May 4, 2018

PhD Final Defense – Roberto Guidotti

Regional Risk and Resilience Analysis of Interdependent Critical Infrastructure

Advisor: Professor Paolo Gardoni

Date: Friday May 18th, 9:00 am

Location: Newmark – Quade Conference Room