Jesus M. de la Garza, the Vecellio Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech, will be honored with a Distinguished Professor award by the Construction Industry Institute (CII).

de la Garza is one of five construction-related educators from across the nation who will receive the award, based upon their efforts to incorporate research findings into college courses. The award will be presented July 30 at the CII’s annual conference in Reno, Nev.

The CII also will honor Virginia Tech’s Vecellio Construction Engineering and Management Program itself. It is one of two U.S. construction academic programs to win the CII’s 2009 Curriculum Partners Award, honoring program efforts to incorporate research findings into the classroom.

de la Garza helps spearhead a course that brings industry professionals from such companies as Bechtel, Fluor, duPont, Procter & Gamble, and KBR to Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus to educate students on the best practices being incorporated into the construction field.

The CII’s board of directors started the course following the April 16, 2007 tragedy in order to help the Virginia Tech campus recover. The first year involved Virginia Tech only, but the course opened to other universities across the nation in 2008, with lecturers using TV distance-learning technology based in Blacksburg. Soon to start its third year, the course now will rotate among several universities, starting with the University of Texas.

de la Garza specializes in construction engineering and highway infrastructure management and is a member of the Virginia Tech’s Myers-Lawson School of Construction. As director of CHAMPS (Center for Highway Asset Management ProgramS) he has led efforts to identify innovative ways to measure the effectiveness of the performance-based road maintenance contracts that the Virginia Department of Transportation awards. The evaluation for effectiveness focuses primarily on the physical level of service of the interstate.

He serves as member of the National Research Council’s Board on Infrastructure and the Constructed Environment. He has also served as program director of the Information Technology and Infrastructure Systems program for the National Science Foundation’s Civil and Mechanical Systems Division, and as co-chairman of the academic committee of the CII. He earned his bachelor’s of science in civil engineering from Tecnologico de Monterrey in 1978, and his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in civil engineering from University of Illinois in 1984 and 1988, respectively.

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