UTEP Civil Engineering Professor Named El Paso’s Engineer of the Year
FABIOLA TERRAZAS DUARTE | February 13, 2019 | UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS
Ivonne Santiago, Ph.D., clinical professor of civil engineering at The University of Texas at El Paso, was named the 2019 El Paso Engineer of the Year. Santiago received the news on Jan. 18, and she is going to be recognized at the Engineers Week Banquet on Feb. 15.
Dr. Santiago, a licensed engineer in Puerto Rico, New Mexico and Texas, has over 20 years of experience in the areas of water quality, water treatment, and wastewater treatment.
According to the Texas Society of Professional Engineers, the Engineer of the Year Award is given to professional engineers who have sustained and contributed to the improvement of the public welfare and the advancement of his or her profession.
The Chair of the Department of Civil Engineering at UTEP, Carlos Ferregut, Ph.D., said it has been a long time since a UTEP engineering professor was named Engineer of the Year.
“I was humbled. I and my students do a lot of service for the profession that is in addition to my job and their studies and it's good to know that our work has not gone unnoticed. My hope is that I can inspire and empower students, especially female students, to do even more than that,” said Santiago.
For Santiago, being an engineer means serving people, not only by influencing students, but also by working for the community. She says that her responsibility is to connect education and professional practice inside and outside the classroom, making it clear that being an engineer goes beyond academia.
She has been involved in many organizations locally and nationally. Organizations like the El Paso Water Public Service Board and the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Advisory Committee (NAC).
Santiago is also passionate about providing experiential learning opportunities to both undergraduate and graduate students with a focus on Hispanic and female students through the Civil Engineering Capstone design course, and initiatives through the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation and promotes diversity and inclusion initiatives across campus.
“She is an excellent engineer, she is an excellent professor. She is involved in many service activities with the students and the community. She is one of the representatives in the Public Service Board in the Water Utilities,” said Ferregut. “She is a very active member of the faculty, a very smart, very qualified engineer, so I think that’s why she was chosen.”
“It’s rewarding to be validated by the profession themselves, because the work we do at the university sometimes seems too academic. It really helped me put everything I do in perspective. Looking back to what has been done and reflecting on how much impact there has been,” said Santiago. “I started to count the number of students that have been touched with the projects I’ve had and there’s over a hundred students.”
The Engineer of the Year is not the only award Santiago has won. In 2018 she won the Service to the People Award from the Texas Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. This award honors civil engineers who have distinguished themselves with special service to the people and bring credit to their profession through community activities that are visible to the general public. Santiago describes this award as the preamble for being named Engineer of the Year.
She has also won local and state level teaching awards that emphasize the work she does to help students academically and with their professional practices.