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Scholarship sends undergrad down civil engineering path

Nate Dummerth leans on a railing.

Last year, Nate Dummerth was on the ASCE concrete canoe team and this year he participated on MU ASCE’s concrete bowling ball team, which took third place at the regional competition.

After completing two years at St. Louis Community College, Nate Dummerth transferred to MU as a civil engineering student. He got some welcome help with tuition as the recipient of the Academy of Distinguished Alumni MU Civil Engineering Transfer Scholarship. The award is renewable for a second year provided recipients keep a 3.0 GPA, not a problem for Dummerth.

The transfer student said he hadn’t been certain about what program to choose in the MU College of Engineering, but the scholarship tipped his decision in favor of the civil and environmental engineering program.

“When I started taking the classes, I knew I made the right decision,” he said.

In his junior year, Dummerth started doing undergraduate research in transportation but switched to geotechnical engineering because of a geotech class he took from Associate Professor Brent Rosenblad. Working in the MU Geotechnical engineering labs under the direction of William A. Davidson Professor John Bowders, he has been conducting soil tests methods for engineering properties.

“I met Nathan in spring 2014 when he was in my probability and statistics class,” Bowders said. “He did a great job on his design-build-test project and exhibited excellent skills in analysis and laboratory experiments. It was a no-brainer when he came back a year later asking to work on geotechnical research.”

Dummerth said that his interest in the earth, the outdoors and geology contributed to his draw to the geotechnical focus. He has enjoyed working in the field so much that he has decided to stay for his master’s degree working with Bowders.

This summer, he will be doing an internship with Subsurface Constructors in St. Louis. The company is a full-service geotechnical contractor and Dummerth is their first intern.

“They do foundations and remediation — improving the ground,” Dummerth said. “I’m excited that I’m actually going to be able to see it all. I’m going to be doing a little bit of everything including some design work. They want to get me out into the field.”

Dummerth has been active in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), serving as the vice-president of community service, working with the Department’s “Civil Engineer Day for Kids” and Habitat for Humanity. Last year he was on the ASCE concrete canoe team and this year he participated on MU ASCE’s concrete bowling ball team, which took third place at the regional competition.

“I realize that to get the kind of job I want, I need to do the things I’m doing and get a master’s degree,” Dummerth said. “I eventually want to get into design on something like levees.”