WTS Minnesota honors CTS Scholar Cathy French, U of M students


Cathy French

CTS Scholar Cathy French and three U of M students were honored by WTS Minnesota at the organization’s 2017 Scholarships and Recognitions Luncheon on April 27.

French, a CSE Distinguished Professor in the U’s Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering (CEGE), received the 2017 Woman of the Year Award. The annual award recognizes women who are outstanding role models in transportation.

French has been teaching courses focused on structures, concrete, and steel at the U of M since 1984. She has also taught the introductory course CSE 1001, where she has had an impact on hundreds of freshmen engineering students who are required to take the course as they consider engineering as a career. In addition, she currently serves as Director of Undergraduate Studies for the civil engineering major, advising a large number of women and men at the U.

“Our most effective and memorable teachers have a passion for the subjects that they teach and genuine care and concern for the students they encounter. Cathy is a teacher who has had that impact on thousands of students, including hundreds of women in the very male-dominated field of civil engineering,” says Ann Johnson, a principal at Professional Engineering Services and teaching specialist with CEGE, who nominated French for the award.

French is a highly respected expert in structural design and performance, steel and concrete materials, and construction methods. Throughout her career, she has been a pioneer in investigating the behavior of reinforced and prestressed concrete structural systems. She is interested in the durability and application of new materials to transportation and building infrastructure and has been active in earthquake engineering. In addition, French serves as a principal investigator at the Multi-Axial Subassemblage Testing System (MAST) Laboratory, a world-renowned seismic testing facility that opened at the U of M in 2004.

She has also been a faculty leader at CTS, conducting a wide range of research projects, participating in conference planning and awards committees, and currently serving as chair of the Transportation Infrastructure Council.

“For over 30 years, Cathy has made an outstanding contribution to both the transportation industry and the lives of her students,” Johnson says. “She is supportive, brilliant, kind, and passionate, and she has been a wonderful mentor to and supporter of young women pursuing their degree in civil engineering.”

Also at the luncheon, three outstanding U of M undergrad and graduate students received scholarships from WTS Minnesota.

Maria Wardoku, a graduate student in urban and regional planning, received the WTS Minnesota Graduate Scholarship, an award given to women pursuing graduate studies in transportation or a related field. At the Humphrey School, Wardoku has designed her own concentration focused on active living. As part of her graduate assistantship, Wardoku has interviewed suburban community leaders, public officials, and developers to uncover their barriers to building housing that promotes equity and active transportation. She has also interned in the transportation planning group at Kimley-Horn, served on the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition board, and led an interdisciplinary student consulting group.

Sophomore Ella Rasp received the Donna Allen Undergraduate Scholarship, which is awarded to women pursuing undergraduate studies in transportation or a related field. Rasp, an urban studies major, has already begun preparing for a career in transportation. She has volunteered with the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition and University Avenue for Everyone Campaign (an organization building support for a protected bikeway near the U campus) and interned in Metro Transit’s Blue Line Extension LRT Project Office.

Claire Warren, a senior majoring in industrial and systems engineering, received the Katherine Turnbull Undergraduate Leadership Scholarship. This award is presented to women pursuing undergraduate studies in transportation or a related field who demonstrate leadership skills, ability, and interest. Warren, who is passionate about energy efficiency and sustainability in transportation, is already applying her skills as a sustainability engineering intern at Metro Transit. She also traveled to Bangalore, India, in 2015 to further her education regarding sustainable development in waste, water treatment, energy, transportation, and health care.

Posted in Bridges and structures, Education, Infrastructure, Transportation research, Workforce development

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