Student Spotlight: Siamak Riyazi

Siamak Riyazi

Siamak Riyazi is a current Ph.D. student in Engineering and Geosciences. He chose UMKC for its surrounding city and atmosphere.

“I am born and raised in Tehran which is the capital of Iran. Living in a big city changes your perspective and expectations from life which pushed me to choose applying for a university that is in a metropolitan like Kansas City, rather than smaller college towns,” he said. “It is so diverse and everyone here is kind and helpful towards international students. Also lab equipment at UMKC tempted me to choose here over other places. We have a well-equipped concrete lab with a few students using it which results in not waiting for equipment to do your research.”

Recently, Siamak has been conducting research, supported by SGS Research Grant funds, investigating the potential for using super absorbent polymers (SAPs) as a mechanism for physical air entrainment in concrete.

“Air voids in concrete containing chemical air-entraining agents are frequently not sufficiently stable to tolerate transportation and compacting.  A promising method to have stable air voids in concrete is physical air entrainment using materials that produces desirable voids in cement paste,” he said. “The results of our research showed that the SAP was able to produce an adequate air void system with satisfactory size and distribution similar to the control mixture containing standard air entrainment admixture. Also, it was found that at a specific SAP dosage, SAP enhanced samples produced higher compressive strength than the air-entrained control sample which is a good factor for concrete.”

The results of the study have been accepted for publication by Construction and Building Materials, an international journal.

“We are sure that this is going to be a great step in introducing the industry with use of SAP as air entrainer as a highly efficient substitute for traditional air entrainment agents,” Siamak said.

Before starting his Ph.D. in 2015, Siamak earned a college diploma in mathematics from the National Organization for Development of Exceptional Talents in 2006, a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Guilan in 2011, and a Master of Science in Structural Engineering from the University of Tehran in 2014.

“I have enjoyed how diverse UMKC is. People from different places in the world with different cultures gathered here to continue their education and trying to achieve their goals in their life,” he said. “Also the staff at UMKC is really helpful. They try to guide you as best they can. I personally enjoy UMKC’s authorities’ willingness to provide whatever tools necessary to make everything easy for high-level research in the school. Also, I have a great advisor, Dr. John Kevern, whom I love working with.”

Siamak intends to graduate in 2018 and hopes his doctoral degree will help him land his dream job.

“It will help me be a professional in my field of study which is concrete and materials and enhance my skills set in order to be a good candidate for both academic and industrial jobs,” he said. “There is a good job market for concrete specialist in pavement industries as well as in precast concrete companies and cement factory Research and Development (R&D) sections.”

Siamak is currently a member of the Construction Engineering Disciplinary Organization, the American Concrete Institute, and the Iranian Concrete Institute. He says graduate students should always follow their passions.

“There is always a way for you to get higher level of education regardless of different walks of life. Graduate study is not as hard as what you might think if you really know what you want to do,” he said. “If you are doing your graduate study, remember to ask, ask, ask! Think outside the box when you’re confronted with a problem during your studies or research, and if you can’t come up with a solution, ASK anyone in your department or even outside for advice and suggestions. I have gotten very far just by asking if someone could help me or show me or give me something that I needed.”

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