Carnegie Mellon University

2021 CEE Alumni Awards

April 28, 2021

CEE Alumni Awards Shine Spotlight on Successful Grads

CEE celebrated our 2021 alumni award winners via a virtual presentation led by professor and department head Dave Dzombak.

Recent Alumni Award: Kan Shao (MS ’07 and CEE/EPP PhD ’11)

shao-cropped.pngThis award recognizes CEE alumni who have made noteworthy achievements within ten years of receiving their highest degree from the CEE Department.

Professor Kan Shao is the Director of Graduate Studies and an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupation Health at Indiana University Bloomington. His specialty is dose-response modeling for quantifying the influence of contaminants in the environment on human health. Shao was also recently awarded the prestigious “K” award from the National Institute of Health.  Upon receiving the award from Dzombak, Shao added that “all of those achievements were based on the training I received at CMU.”

Outstanding Alumni Service Award:  Mark Pleskow (BS ’81, MS ‘85)

pleskow-cropped.pngThe Outstanding Alumni Serivce award recognizes CEE alumni who have made sustained contributions to the CEE department, the university, or the engineering profession over a period of time. 

Mark Pleskow’s experience includes working as a program manager, adjunct faculty, and consultant. He joined WSP as a Project & Program Manager in 2018—and in that role serves as a mentor and advisor to CEE students interested in pursuing a career within the company.

Pleskow is also a member of the Carnegie Mellon University CEE Advisory Council and serves as a project advisor to graduate students. He stated that he gives back because he never forgets what it felt like to be a student. “CEE is a place of high expectations and high standards. I remember how much it helped me when I had my mentors, so I’m just paying it back.”

Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible Distinguished Public Service Award: Elizabeth Durika (BS ‘03)

durika-cropped.pngCommander Elizabeth Durika (BS ‘03) earned the Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible Distinguished Public Service Award, created to honor Lt. Col. Raible (BS ‘95) who was killed in action in Afghanistan. The award recognizes CEE alumni who have made outstanding public service contributions. 

Durika serves in the United States Navy as an Assistant Operations Officer at Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic in Norfolk, Virginia. She’s been a valuable resource and mentor to CEE students interested in public service careers. Durika is also a current member of the CEE Alumni Advisory Council. She mentioned that her experience at CEE was an important time in her life. “CEE is a great place; all of us can say it has a big part in our hearts.”

Distinguished Alumni Award: Adjo Apkene Amekudzi-Kennedy (MS ’97, PhD ‘99)

kennedy-cropped.pngProfessor Adjo Apkene Amekudzi-Kennedy’s (MS ’97, PhD ‘99) award concluded the program. Dzombak presented her with the Distinguished Alumni Award that recognizes CEE alumni who have one or more major achievements that have improved the work of professional engineers or have improved people’s lives.

Amekudzi-Kennedy is a professor at Georgia Tech, an author, curriculum developer, and is focused on the development and application of systems and sustainability engineering methods to promote sustainable development. She’s the founding Chair of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Committee on Sustainability and served on the Board on Infrastructure and the Constructed Environment (National Research Council) for 10 years. 

She is also on the Transportation Asset Management Committee of the Transportation Research Board, a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and a member of the National Academy of Construction. Amekudzi-Kennedy expressed gratitude at being honored by her alma mater. “[Being commended by] CEE is special because it’s a place where thinking, in general, happens at a very high level.”

Congratulations to each of the 2021 award winners.