Cockrell School Dean Sharon L. Wood has received the 2018 Outstanding Projects and Leaders (OPAL) Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

Wood, who is one of four recipients of the award this year, was recognized in the education category for her exceptional contributions to education in the civil engineering field. The award will be formally presented on March 15, 2018, during ASCE’s annual OPAL Gala in Arlington, Va.

Founded in 1852, ASCE represents more than 150,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America's oldest national engineering society. Through its initiatives, ASCE works to raise awareness of the need to maintain and modernize the nation’s infrastructure using sustainable and resilient practices, advocates for increasing and optimizing investment in infrastructure, and seeks to enhance engineering knowledge and competency.

“Sharon is a leader in civil engineering and education. Her involvement in the industry and passion for educating young women and students about the opportunities available to them through civil engineering is evidence of her dedication to the field,” said Kristina Swallow, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Wood began her career in academia as an assistant professor and later, associate professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Following her time in Illinois, she spent one year as a visiting associate professor at the University of Washington before joining the faculty at The University of Texas at Austin as an associate professor. Over the course of her distinguished career, Wood rose to become chair of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering before assuming her current role as dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering.

As dean, Wood has championed a new hands-on, project-based learning model. She has launched online master’s degree programs in mechanical engineering and electrical engineering and new bachelor’s degree programs in computational engineering and environmental engineering, opened a 430,000-square-foot multidisciplinary engineering building on the UT campus and helped bring tens of thousands of K-12 students to campus for outreach events like the Cockrell School’s Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day.

Wood, who holds the Cockrell Family Chair in Engineering #14 and the Jack and Beverly Randall Dean’s Chair for Excellence in Engineering at UT, is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and past president of the American Concrete Institute. She has been nationally recognized for her research on the earthquake response of reinforced structures and has served on federal advisory committees for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Wood received her undergraduate degree in civil engineering, from University of Virginia, Charlottesville. She also holds an M.S.C.E. and Ph.D. in civil engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

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cover of Texas Engineering magazine with group of students
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