August 17, 2020
A familiar name will become the permanent chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), effective September 1 – current interim chair Praveen Edara.
“Nothing prepares you like when you are already in those shoes, so that’s helped me quite a bit,” Edara said, “Knowing all the different responsibilities going into the position helps as well.”
Edara identified several current strengths of the department that he wants to utilize and build upon for continued department growth.
“We have excellent teachers in the department including Kemper Award honorees, so students learn the subject from the best,” Edara said, “We also have very active student organizations that engage with activities in different emphasis areas within CEE.
“There is a lot of cutting-edge research produced by our department faculty who are working with College of Education colleagues and other faculty across campus in coming up with new learning methods for undergraduate and graduate education.”
Edara also identified the department’s diverse faculty and their respective backgrounds as a strength.
“Our department is diverse not just compared to most other campus units, but to civil engineering departments across the country. This helps us promote an inclusive and family-like environment for students and faculty,” Edara said, “We have several full professors and accomplished faculty in all our emphasis areas. There’s a lot of brain power there and I can stand back, help when necessary and let them flourish.”
Opportunities for the department include expanding the role of the department’s research centers.
“The department houses the UM System-wide Missouri Center for Transportation Innovation (MCTI), which is funded in part by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT),” Edara said, “This relationship with MoDOT will also help us secure federal funding in transportation-related topics.”
Edara identified the Missouri Water Research Center as a vehicle for research growth for environmental and water resources faculty and is looking to grow research and funding in other areas, such as smart cities and resilience.
“We have pockets of expertise in materials resilience, geotechnical and geophysics, disaster response and recovery. We could pool resources in the department to apply for large research grants that cover critical infrastructure areas,” Edara said.
Interdisciplinary research opportunities are possible as well.
“Our department has partnered with several units across campus on both research and educational initiatives – Architecture Studies Communication, CAFNR, the Trulaske College of Business, and the School of Medicine. There’s a lot of collaboration potential across campus that we would like to continue exploring,” Edara said.
Edara stated many civil and environmental engineering departments across the country are experiencing the same challenges as his department.
Civil and environmental engineering department chairs have been meeting regularly to discuss best practices about moving classes online, how to create virtual labs, etc.,” Edara said, “As a discipline, we are so used to doing hands-on work and testing, so we discuss alternative approaches to emulate the lab experience.”
Edara served as director of graduate studies for the department for approximately three years and chaired various department committees. He has also been the James C. Dowell Professor of Engineering and a College Faculty Fellow for Research, Industrial Engagement, and Entrepreneurship with the College of Engineering. Edara began working at Mizzou in 2007.
Edara earned his bachelor’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, India. He earned his master’s degree and doctorate from Virginia Tech. He is a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) in Missouri and a Certified Professional Traffic Operations Engineer (PTOE™)