Seniors, award winners feted at CEE awards ceremony

May 26, 2009

By Denise Brehm
Civil & Environmental Engineering

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering held its annual senior dinner and awards ceremony on the terrace of MIT’s Endicott House in Dedham on a pleasantly warm spring evening, May 15.

After dinner, the 31 members of the Class of 2009 posed for a group photo, then each received a diploma frame signed by the department head, Professor Patrick Jaillet, and the associate department head for education, Professor Ole Madsen.

This year, two seniors majoring in 1C won the Steinberg Prize for outstanding academic achievement and demonstrable interest in construction management: Mahalia Miller, from Stevens Point, Wis.; and Lauren Biscombe, from Norristown, Penn. Both are planning to attend graduate school at Stanford University next fall.

Junior Naomi Stein of Troy, N.Y., won the Leo (Class of 1924) and Mary Grossman Award for her outstanding academic achievement and strong interest in transportation.

The Tucker-Voss Award went to Ph.D. student Asbjorg Kristinsdottir from Reykjavik, Iceland, for her promise in the field of building construction. The working title of Kristinsdottir’s thesis is “Risk Management for New Power Plant Development.”

Ph.D. candidate Jose Alberto Ortega of Cuenca, Ecuador, received the Trond Kaalstad (Class of 1957) Award, which recognizes an outstanding graduate student who has displayed leadership and/or contributed significantly to the well being of the CEE community. After accepting the award, Ortega—who plays guitar and sings in an MIT-student band called, La Cupula (The Dome, in Spanish)—responded to the crowd’s demand for a song by performing “La Bamba” a cappella.

In nominating Ortega, one faculty member wrote: “I do not know of anybody else whose tireless activity for the department has had a greater impact. He has contributed to this department beyond the call of duty in many regards, be it as a teaching assistant, his leadership to get a CEE-graduate soccer team off the ground, or with his music band playing at several departmental activities, including a holiday party [and] graduation celebration.”

The Maseeh Award for Excellence as a T