The names of regional civil engineering firms dotted the tables of Dewberry Hall, each sponsoring not only a table, but Mason’s Civil Engineering Institute (CEI) as a whole.
The institute’s annual Leadership Award Luncheon, held April 24, celebrated the relationships among the university, Mason engineering students, and the professionals who support the future of civil engineering.
“[The annual luncheon] is special because we recognize the accomplishments of CEI over the last year,” said Liza Durant, associate dean of the Volgenau School of Engineering. “But it’s also special because we take time to celebrate our profession of civil engineering.”
The event serves as the annual meeting for the CEI board, an award showcase, and a chance to exhibit student work for the 250 guests, many of whom are Mason alumni themselves.
James Patteson, MPA ’01, received this year’s Engineering Excellence and Leadership Award.
A career public servant and director across multiple government agencies, Patteson has helped to revitalize and reinvent older communities in Virginia, and ushered in Fairfax as a leader in environmental stewardship.
“I was truly humbled by the company [of previous awardees],” said Patteson. “These are people I looked up to my whole career. People I worked with closely. People that have had a huge impact on our community.”
“Sid Dewberry–we’re in Dewberry Hall. It’s the Sid and Reva Dewberry Department of
Civil, Environmental, and Infrastructure Engineering,” said Patteson, noting the names of previous awardees. “Tom Rust, former mayor of Herndon, former member of the House of Delegates for Virginia. Till Hazel, and everything he’s done for this university and community. Milt Peterson.”
Many of these names can be found across Mason, adorning buildings and classrooms. Their presence is not only a testament to their philanthropic impact, but also the impact civil engineering has on Mason.
“A lot of what is happening is possible precisely because of the work of the School of Engineering and its second largest department, which is civil engineering,” said President Ángel Cabrera.
Dr. Cabrera talked about the impact of the Faster Farther campaign, which succeeded thanks to many of the contributors in the audience.
“Not only do we need those contributions to provide an opportunity for more students; every gift we get is also a vote of confidence,” said Dr. Cabrera.
The increase in research expenditures and grants at the School of Engineering and the civil engineering department are important contributors to Mason’s stature as a Tier One research university, Cabrera noted.
“To the students in the room,” Patteson said, ending his remarks, “you’re studying the right major at the right time and at the right spot. I wish you success. I’m a proud GMU alumni–go Patriots!–and greatly appreciate the recognition from the institute.”
May 8, 2019 / Christopher Bobo