UTEP Civil Engineering Professor Named El Paso’s Engineer of the Year
Last Updated on February 13, 2019 at 12:00 AM
Originally published February 13, 2019
By UC Staff
Ivonne Santiago, Ph.D., clinical professor of civil engineering at The University of Texas at El Paso, has been named the 2019 El Paso Engineer of the Year by the Texas Society of Professional Engineers (TSPE) El Paso Chapter.
Santiago, who has worked for more than two decades in the areas of water quality, water treatment and wastewater treatment in Puerto Rico, New Mexico and Texas, will be recognized by the organization Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, during a banquet at the DoubleTree hotel in Downtown El Paso marking the beginning of Engineers Week (E-Week). Santiago is the first UTEP professor to be named Engineer of the Year since 1973.
The TSPE Engineer of the Year Award is the highest honor given to an individual professional engineer and TSPE member who have sustained and contributed to the improvement of the public welfare and the advancement of his or her profession.
“I was humbled,” Santiago said. “It’s a big honor because I do a lot of service to the profession that I’m not doing for money. So, it’s good to know that the work that I do has not gone unnoticed. My hope is that I can inspire female students to do more than what I do.”
For Santiago, being an engineer means serving the public 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 her work goes beyond academia.
“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 of the El Paso Water Utilities’ Public Service Board,” said Carlos Ferregut, Ph.D., chair of the Civil Engineering Department. “She’s a very active member of the faculty, a very smart, very qualified engineer, so I think that’s one of the reasons she was chosen.”
Santiago has been involved in many local and national organizations including the Environmental Protection Agency National Advisory Committee (NAC) and the Good Neighbor Environmental Board (GNEB), which advises the President and Congress on good practices along the U.S.-Mexico border.
She is 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. Santiago has also spearheaded initiatives through the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation. She strongly promotes diversity and inclusion initiatives throughout campus.
In 2018, Santiago received the Service to the People Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The award recognizes civil engineers who have distinguished themselves with special service to the people. Santiago described the award as the preamble for being named Engineer of the Year. She has also won various local and state teaching awards that emphasize the work she does to help students academically and with their professional practices.