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Two graduate students in the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering (CAEE) at Illinois Tech have been awarded prestigious fellowships for the 2018-2019 academic year for their body of work to date.

Leutrim Demiri, a Ph.D. student in Civil Engineering, was awarded the 2018-2019 Ernest & Rae Selig Endowed Fellowship. Dr. Gongkang Fu is Leutrim’s advisor. This year the total award amount was $10,490, to be used to cover tuition and/or stipend. The fellowship is awarded annually to an Illinois Tech graduate in CAEE, with preference given to those students who are specializing in soil mechanics, geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, or transportation engineering. Preference is also given to students who actively participate in professional societies, attend academic conferences, and engage in professional networking activities. The Ernest & Rae Selig Endowed Fellowship was established in 2009 with a generous gift by Dr. Ernest T. Selig III (MS IIT ‘60) and Mrs. Rae Selig.

In his own words, Leutrim has provided a glimpse into his life as graduate student, working towards earning a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering.

“I am honored and grateful to have been chosen as the recipient of The Ernest & Rae Selig Endowed Fellowship. As a current Ph.D. student, this fellowship has had a tremendous impact in my research and my life. I’ve been at Illinois Tech since 2015 and couldn’t be thankful enough for all the opportunities I have had here. Beside the classes and the TA job in CAEE department, in my daily research I investigate the effect of agricultural vehicles in the live load distribution factor and impact factor in bridges commonly found in secondary road systems of US. My previous background is in structural engineering, with a Bachelor of Science Degree from my home country, Kosovo, and a Master of Engineering Degree from Illinois Tech. Also, through the student organization of SEAOI-IIT I’ve been actively involved in enriching the campus life with different activities. Giving back to the community is one of my motivations for my research and work that I do, and I’m looking forward to the time when I’ll be able to help someone accomplish their dreams just like this fellowship has helped me.”

Afshin Faramarzi, a Ph.D. student in Civil Engineering, was awarded the 2018-2019 Jende Augustine Hsu Scholarship. The Jende Augustine Hsu Scholarship was established in 2017 with a generous gift from Yen Der (Robert) Tsao, with the goal of helping to provide a graduate education in civil engineering to those for whom it might not otherwise be possible. Dr. Mohammad Heidarinejad is Afshin’s advisor. This year’s award amount is $10,000.

Here in his acceptance note, Afshin highlights his scholarly activities as a Civil Engineering major, including his involvement in a variety of professional organizations.  “I am greatly thankful for this valuable opportunity provided by Mr. Yen Der (Robert) Tsao to help CAEE graduate students to increase quality of their life and research and I am blessed to be announced as the winner of this scholarship in 2018. I received my B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering and M.Sc. in Structural Engineering from Iran University of Science and Technology. I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. degree in Civil Engineering under the supervision of Dr. Mohammad Heidarinejad at Illinois Tech. My research interest mainly centers on optimization theory and high-performance methods and their application on building energy performance, control and optimal control of HVAC systems. As professional activities, I am member of societies, including American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and Chicago Building Performance Simulation Association (CHIBPSA). Playing basketball, ping pong, swimming and reading psychology books are my favorite sports and hobbies which I always try to manage time for the weekend to enjoy these activities.”