Constantine (Costa) Samaras
Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Engineers who can think creatively keep the EST&P program exciting and innovative. The students at Carnegie Mellon University are highly motivated, creative, and dedicated to their work. In fact, Dr. Samaras’ favorite thing about being a professor at CMU is teaching and mentoring his students. When Dr. Samaras was a student himself, he learned how to study and do research effectively. As a professor, it is now his turn to serve as a role model to students at both an undergraduate and graduate level. Costa describes the process of becoming an engineer as iterative: one must learn how to approach a problem, how to make and execute a plan, and how to manage time. Since coming to CMU, he has learned more about open data and data mining.
Dr. Samaras teaches the core course Energy Demand and Utilization for EST&P Masters candidates. In this course, he offers data and energy analysis skills by explaining how to collect and apply open data in order to investigate energy challenges for different sectors. Dr. Samaras effortlessly creates an environment that is student-focused, participatory, challenging, and ultimately fun. There is an emphasis on skill building, raising awareness of current events, and tackling examples of course content in an interactive manner. In order to be successful in Costa’s classroom, students must attend class regularly, contribute to discussions, and complete technical assignments. In addition to his EST&P core course, Dr. Samaras teaches the introductory civil engineering class for undergraduates as well as a graduate course on energy and climate change adaptation.
Outside of the classroom, Dr. Samaras leads research projects related to the major transitions that are currently underway in the energy sector. He is especially interested in technical analyses that have broad public policy impacts in the transportation and electricity industries. Currently, he is working on a project to characterize the life cycle environmental and economic impacts of renewable and conventional energy sources. Costa has also collaborated with EST&P students to analyze energy security and environmental benefits in the military. Dr. Samaras truly enjoys being a professor and preparing students to be competitive for a range of careers. He would argue that students must master energy systems analysis, quantitative modeling skills, and economic assessment in order to be successful in an energy-related career.
Interviewed by: Evelyn Fairman ('15)