UMKC professor adds another award for civil engineering

Every year, the Society of Women in Engineering holds an annual conference to award members’ achievements in the field. This year, UMKC Professor Deborah O’Bannon will be honored as the Distinguished Engineering Educator.

Her application for the award cited accomplishments from her career, including the restructuring of the senior capstone project for civil engineering majors.

“In civil engineering, we typically design very big civic structures,” O’Bannon said. “Big things like airports, dams, the Bond Bridge. Really big things that are not appropriate for students to design.”

According to O’Bannon, civil engineering students are typically given big projects, but take a second look at something that’s already been built. In this way, their experience is not applicable to a real project.

O’Bannon looked to change the way the program was shaped to get people in contact with engineers currently working on a project.

“We aspired to have the students design some real, smaller things that are in the size of what they could do. We’ve done that for years.”

O’Bannon and the UMKC Civil Engineering Department have since been recognized by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying in 2009. Now, O’Bannon says she’s proud to be recognized by the Society of Women in Engineering.

“Its special for me. I’m the only one getting it this year. It is my organization, where I really feel home in the division I work, and I get to give an acceptance speech.”

O’Bannon is looking forward to giving a “pep talk” to the society from Oct. 26 to Oct. 28 in Austin, Texas.

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