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April 2023 Statler Circuit: Department Digest and Awards

Statler College Circuit - Department Digest and Awards

Student Competitions 

Alex Phares

Alex Phares, a senior civil engineering student, was awarded the 2023 Stafford E. Thornton Outstanding Senior Award at the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Virginias regional Conference. The conference was hosted at Marshall University in Huntington on April 13-15. Phares currently serves as the WVU ASCE conference coordinator and the co-caption of the WVU concrete canoe team. During the conference the WVU team competed against five schools in the concrete canoe competition.  

Although they did not win the overall competition, the team, comprised of 16 students from WVU, performed well in the racing portion of the event. They finished second in the male sprint and four-person co-ed sprint, and third in the female sprint competitions. Additionally, Matthew Weatherholt, a junior civil engineering student on the WVU concrete canoe team, took home first place in the concrete frisbee competition.  

“We were passionate about having the team attend the conference this year with their very own canoe,” said Sam Rotsch, co-captain of the WVU concrete canoe team and a civil engineering major. “I’m really proud of the team and the canoe we built this year. Though we didn’t win the competition, we turned the heads of the judges and other schools with the unique and creative canoe we produced this past year.” 

WVU's Design Build Fly team

WVU’s Design, Build and Fly club participated in the 27th annual Design/Build/Fly competition hosted by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Members of WVU DBF traveled to Tucson, Arizona on April 13-16, where they participated in a series of tests that included building and testing an aircraft that can carry out flight missions such as surveillance and jamming. The WVU DBF team, which is comprised of more than 40 students from various majors, finished in 22nd place out of 99 teams at the competition.  

Student Organizations 

WVU's Society of Women Engineers received the Outstanding Student Organization Award from Student Engagement and Leadership during its annual Student Organization Excellence Awards Banquet. This award recognizes a student organization that demonstrated consistent flexibility, initiative, creativity and perseverance, while making a meaningful contribution to students, WVU and/or the surrounding community.

Industrial and Management Systems Engineering 

Thorsten Wuest, associate professor of industrial and management systems engineering, was named one of the top 50 influencers in Industry 4.0 according to Onalytica, coming in at 29th on the list. Industry 4.0 refers to the “smart” and connected production systems that are designed to sense, predict, and interact with the physical world, to make decisions that support production in real-time. In manufacturing, it can increase productivity, energy efficiency and sustainability. This list highlights the Top 50 thought leaders and influencers who drove the most engagement on the topic of Industry 4.0 over a six-month period across LinkedIn & Twitter. According to Onalytica, those recognized on the list are helping to define, elucidate, advance, and educate the industry around making Industry 4.0 a reality. 

Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering 

Anurag Srivastava, chairperson and professor in Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, won the 2022 Institution of Engineering Technology Best Paper Premium Award. Premium awards are given by IET to recognize the best papers published within the last two years. Srivastava paper “Resilience of the electric distribution systems: concepts, classification, assessment, challenges, and research needs” provides a detailed overview of distribution system resilience, the classification, assessment, metrics for measuring resilience, possible methods for enabling resilience and the associated challenges. Distribution system resilience is an emerging topic of interest given an increasing number of extreme events and adverse impacts on the power grid. 

Mining and Industrial Extension 

Front row: Director of mining and industrial extension Josh Brady, mining and industrial extension agent and mine rescue trainer John Helmick, students Grace Hansen, Dawson Apple, Josh Riffle and Mike Delauder from Leer Mining. Back row: Students Ricky Fe

The WVU Mine Rescue Blue Team finished first in the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration’s Eastern Collegiate Mine Rescue Competition, beating out teams from two other universities. The team placed first in both the BG-4 Bench and the Bio240 R Bench, which are skills competitions where a breathing apparatus is intentionally broken, and the teams have 30 minutes to find a solution. Students on the WVU Mine Rescue Blue Team include mining and civil engineering majors Joshua Riffle, mining engineering majors Dawson Apple, Ricky Ferenchak, Dylan Shilling, Owen Smith and Justin Waybright, and mechanical engineering major Grace Hansen. The competition took place on April 1, 2023, at the Leer Mining Complex in Grafton. 

Wadsworth Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering 

Trey Blain

Civil engineering student Trey Blain received this year’s top scholarship from the Contractors Association of West Virginia. Blain, who received $7,500 from the scholarship fund, is currently a junior and a member of the WVU ASCE Student Chapter. Additionally, civil engineering student Avery Costilow and industrial engineering student Malia Richardson received scholarships in the amount of $1,000 each. The scholarships were awarded during the West Virginia Construction and Design EXPO in Charleston on March 22, 2023.   

David Martinelli

Professor David Martinelli received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Maryland’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The award is given to notable alumni to recognize their contributions to the civil engineering profession. Martinelli was honored at an award ceremony at UMD on April 14.  

“While I have spent my career working at West Virginia University, my time at the University of Maryland was invaluable in shaping my career and providing me with a strong foundation in Civil Engineering,” said Martinelli. “This award is a testament to the critical role of higher education in creating transformative experiences that inspire people to make a difference.” 



Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit

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Phone: 304-293-4135