UTEP Engineering Student Wins 2019 National SPTC Student of the Year Award
UC Staff | January 21, 2020
The University of Texas at El Paso is proud to announce Benjamin Arras was announced the 2019 National Southern Plains Transportation Center (SPTC) Student of the Year. The SPTC focuses on responding to mounting climate-related challenges, bringing together transportation and climate/weather researchers to create resilient, sustainable, and climate-adaptive infrastructure.
The outstanding Student Award recipient receives a $1,000 thousand stipend, plus the cost of attendance which includes travel, lodging expenses, and registration for the 2020 99th Annual TRB meeting on January 31st, 2020 and a certificate from USDOT.
Arras’s was nominated by his professors and mentors Soheil Nazarian, Ph.D., and Imad N. Abdallah, Ph.D., and Danniel Rodriguez, Ph.D., all professors of Civil Engineering at UTEP.
“I can’t express how grateful I am to have my mentors with their continuous support and guidance throughout my studies,” said Arras. “Being recognized as the Student of the Year award is a great honor and privilege. I would like to thank the Southern Plains Transportation Centers for giving this prestigious award that I will cherish.”
Arras is a first-year Civil Engineering Ph.D. student at The University of Texas at El Paso. He is actively performing research in the discipline of pavements engineering where he is optimizing laboratory-curing conditions for hot mix asphalt to better simulate field behavior. He takes pride in the Greater El Paso community and is an active contributor to local service projects. He is highly respected amongst his peers and faculty, as he is currently serving on leadership positions on multiple student organizations at UTEP. He is the current President of the prestigious Chi Epsilon National Civil Engineering Honor Society (Chapter #86), the President of the Transportation Leadership Council, and mentor for the UTEP Steel Bridge Team. On his free time enjoys listening to music, outdoor activities, loves spending time with his family but most importantly enjoys helping other in need. His professional aspirations are to improve and contribute to innovation of our transportation infrastructure that will help bridge diversified communities.
Arras has worked at the Center for Transportation Infrastructure Systems (CTIS) for two years which he says welcomed him with open hands and gave him the skills and tools to better prepare himself as a civil engineer. As an undergraduate research assistant, he worked with the nondestructive testing team performing test on concrete structures to detect the presence of anomalies. As a graduate research assistant, he focused on observing relationship between concrete mechanical properties and setting conditions, at an early-age. Now, as a Ph.D. research assistant he is working on a funded research study for TxDOT analyzing the short-term and long-term aging on asphalt pavements and the distresses associated with them.
“I believe the work that I performed at CTIS enabled me to gain so many opportunities including this one. I've had the opportunity of having presentations (lecture and poster), attend conferences, develop my leaderships skills, perform research, further my education and most importantly network/engage with a diverse group of people,” said Arras.
The SPTC consists of eight consortium members, which include The University of Oklahoma, Noman (consortium lead), Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Langston University, Lanston, Okla. University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, The University of Texas at El Paso and Texas Tech University, Lubbock. Additionally, the SPTC collaborates internationally with the Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay in Mumbai and Shandong University in Jinan, China.
To learn more about the 2019 SPTC Student of the Year Award go to: http://www.sptc.org/awards.
For more information about Benjamin Arras and his research, contact SPTC at firstname.lastname@example.org.