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75th anniversary

Building a Legacy


The Department of Civil Engineering at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) is celebrating a legacy built over 75 years since the Texas Board of Regents approved the Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering to be offered in the El Paso del Norte Region. Join us on a journey through time and celebrate with us this significant event. We invite you to learn about our alumni’s great achievements told directly by them through captivating oral histories and fascinating mini-interviews. Go back in time and peruse through our photo gallery as well as a detailed timeline where you will learn about the history of the department and the amazing things that have been happening since 1947 in what was formerly known as the Texas College of Mines and Metallurgy. Don’t miss the many exciting events happening in the department, such as our much-anticipated legacy exhibit opening at UTEP’s Centennial Museum titled Building the Borderlands: The Legacy of UTEP’s Civil Engineering, where carefully curated memorabilia will be on display to promote our alumni’s many accomplishments and influence on the Borderland’s skyline and the communities across our nation and the world.

Would you like to be part of this amazing project? Tell us your story by contacting us and let us share it with the world!

Join us in celebrating the legacy of UTEP’s Civil Engineering.

Go, Miners!

In the Spotlight


Debra Little

Debra Little, UTEP BSCE, 1982.

“My students said to me, ‘You keep pushing us to become engineers, why don't you do that?’ That (UTEP) program, along with my students, was the main reason I went into what I considered an application of math, which I've always loved.”

CE: Why did you become a civil engineer?
DL: I became an engineer because of my high school students as well as UTEP’s engineering department. When I was teaching math in high school, I found out about a program being offered at UTEP on how to interest students in non-traditional careers. My students said, “You keep pushing us to become engineers, why don't you do that?” So that program, along with my students, was the main reason I went into what I considered an application of math, which I've always loved.

CE: How did UTEP prepare you for your career?
DL: I got a wonderful foundation in going through the engineering degree at UTEP. I was proud that UTEP encouraged me and provided an avenue for me to become a professor of practice in engineering, which is a professor whose field experience goes towards their credit for teaching. UTEP recognized that not only my experience, but my degree was valuable for teaching up-and-coming engineers. I was very pleased that UTEP recognized the value in experience and honored me with that privilege.

CE: What projects in the El Paso area have you worked on?
DL: With the US Army Corps of Engineers, I worked at the Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss where my experience was with military construction. Then, I worked for the United States Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) for almost 16 years. I worked on cooperating with the city of El Paso and other water entities in developing a comprehensive plan on water usage in the El Paso area. As part of the USIBWC, I also worked on two major wastewater treatment plants, the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant in the San Diego area, and one in Nogales, Arizona. Both were certainly fascinating engineering projects.

CE: How has your work affected the lives of everyday El Pasoans?
DL: In 1997 I was selected as Principal Engineer (PE) of Engineering in the USIBWC, I was the first female to fulfill the role as PE. One of the first projects under my direction was that of the Environmental Assessment for the El Paso - Las Cruces Regional Sustainable Water Project. The purpose of the project was to secure future drinking water supplies from surface sources for the El Paso-Las Cruces region. I am proud that the USIBWC took on this project to help address future water supplies, plan for a sustainable water supply, and identify many environmental commitments for implementation for the region.

Thank you, Debra, for all your contributions to creating a better quality of life in the Borderlands as a proud UTEP Civil Engineer.