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College of Engineering | October 17, 2023

UTEP Faculty Member Earns Two of Region’s Highest Awards for Service and Impact


Ivonne Santiago, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, has been selected as a recipient of two of the highest awards in the Paso del Norte region for professional achievement and service to the community.

The longtime educator is part of this year’s cohort of McDonald's Hispanos Triunfadores and a recipient of El Paso Inc.’s 2023 Women of Impact award.

“I’m honored to be among these groups of people with such a history of service,” Santiago said. “I see the engineering profession as a call to service, and I hope that whatever successes I’ve achieved bring lasting improvements to people’s lives and inspiration to others, especially our students – and our female Latina students.”

Santiago is a professional engineer licensed in both Texas and New Mexico. She is also chair of the Public Service Board, which oversees El Paso Water. She has dedicated her career to increasing access to safe drinking water in communities across the Paso del Norte region and in areas such as Haiti, Puerto Rico and Colombia, which have been stricken by poverty, drought, access to clean transportation, natural disasters and other issues. She is also Co-Director of the National Science Foundation’s ASPIRE (Advancing Sustainability through Powered Infrastructure for Roadway Electrification) Engineering Research Center.

Kenith Meissner, Ph.D. dean of the College of Engineering, said Santiago embodies UTEP’s spirit and mission. “As a member of our faculty, Dr. Santiago exemplifies excellence in both achievements and community service,” Meissner said. “Her contributions to the field of engineering, her role as chair of the Public Service Board and her commitment to providing drinking water in remote areas have made an impact. We gratefully acknowledge the contributions she has made to our college and the community.”

Teaching is Santiago’s other passion. For more than 30 years she has taught at the elementary, high school, community college and university levels, at UTEP and at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez.

“I have always had a love and passion for learning,” she said. “Teaching allows me to be a student by learning new things and new ways of teaching, and then take that knowledge and share it with my students and apply it to benefit communities. This is Engineering at its best!”

Even after all these years in the classroom, Santiago says she still finds herself coming back to a rather simple yet powerful message whenever a student reaches out to her for advice.

“Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way; never think you are not good enough to apply to an internship, scholarship or job,” she said. “You are now the captain of your own ship, so take the rudder!”

College of Engineering Communications

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