The ABC-UTC strives to educate and train both undergraduate and graduate students in bridge engineering in general with an emphasis on Accelerate Bridge Construction. Part of this mission is accomplished through involvement of students in research efforts. A list of all of the undergraduate and graduate students who are currently or have been involved in the ABC-UTC is provided for each of the partner universities.

Student Spotlight

Outstanding Student of the Year Award 2022

The ABC-UTC would like to congratulate Milana Cimesa for winning the 2022 UTC Outstanding Student of the Year Award. Cimesa is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno. She is working with ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) to study its compressive and confinement behavior for bridges and buildings columns.

Milana has tested over 230 UHPC cylinders and 13 UHPC columns, with several more columns next year. While educating others and expanding current knowledge through research have always been her passion, Milana has leveraged her skills to train several undergraduate and graduate students peers in mixing, casting, and testing UHPC, and currently polishing her skills further to prepare for an academic career.

Outstanding Student of the Year Award 2021

The ABC-UTC would like to congratulate Saman Farangdoust for winning the 2021 UTC Outstanding Student of the Year Award. Saman has two master’s degrees in Mechanical and Civil Engineering. He is currently a PhD candidate in Structural Engineering at Florida International University (FIU), where he has contributed to a number of infrastructure projects funded by the Accelerated Bridge Construction University Transportation Center (ABC-UTC) and Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).

His research spans Structural Engineering, Structural Health Monitoring, Metamaterials, Energy Harvesting, and Nondestructive Evaluation. Saman is passionate to use his interdisciplinary knowledge to advance Smart City concept and make a lasting impact on society. His research activities have led to publish more than forty journal articles and conference proceedings to date. FIU has recognized Saman as the recipient of the 2021 Outstanding Student Life Award and selected him for the Outstanding Graduate Scholar Award because of his outstanding leadership through academic achievement and research.

Outstanding Student of the Year Award 2020

The ABC-UTC would like to congratulate Trevor Looney (Ph.D. candidate) for winning the 2020 UTC Outstanding Student of the Year Award. Trevor is being awarded for his work under the 2016 UTC grant. Travis completed his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in December 2010 and Master of Science in Civil Engineering in December 2012 from Missouri University of Science and Technology. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science at the University of Oklahoma (OU).

After working for Wallace Engineers in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he enrolled at OU to pursue a PhD in structural engineering with research focused on ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC). Trevor has contributed to three interconnected research projects developing non-proprietary UHPC that are being coordinated by the Accelerated Bridge Construction University Transportation Center (ABC-UTC).

Outstanding Student of the Year Award 2019

The ABC-UTC would like to congratulate Michelle Chang (M.S. Student) for winning the 2019 UTC Outstanding Student of the Year Award. Michelle Chang is being awarded for her work under the 2016 UTC grant. Michelle Chang is a graduate student studying structural engineering at the University of Washington. She received her bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering with a joint focus on structures and architecture from Princeton University in 2016.


From 2016 to 2018, Michelle worked as a project engineer for Kiewit at the Los Angeles Rams/Chargers Stadium, where she ran on-site precast concrete operations. She is currently  working with Professors John Stanton and Marc Eberhard on the Performance Evaluation of Structural Systems for High Speed Rail in Seismic Regions project at the University of Washington.

Outstanding Student of the Year Award 2018

The ABC-UTC would like to congratulate both Mohamadtaqi Baqersad (PhD Student, P.E.,) and  Austin DeJong (M.S. Student) for winning the 2018 UTC Outstanding Student of the Year Award. Mohamadtaqi is being awarded for his work under the 2016 UTC grant and Austin is being awarded for his work under the 2013 UTC grant.

Mohamadtaqi Baqersad is a graduate research assistant at Florida International University in Miami, FL. He received his M.Sc. in Civil Engineering from Isfahan University of Technology in Iran in 2014, and his B.S. in Civil Engineering in 2011 from Yazd University in Iran. In his Master’s thesis, he worked on numerical simulation of consolidation settlement of saturated soil. He has started his PhD in structural and Pavement Engineering since August 2015. Currently, he is working on an ABC project called “Development of Guide for Selection of Substructure for ABC Projects” at Florida International University under the supervision of Professors Armin Mehrabi and Hesham Ali. This project provides guidelines for decision making by the designers and bridge owners for the selection of substructure and foundation for new bridges and replacement of existing bridges using the ABC methods, including evaluation, retrofitting, design, and construction.

Mr. Austin DeJong is a graduate student in the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering at Iowa State University working for Prof. Behrouz Shafei on integral abutment connection details. He completed a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering at the South Dakota State University in 2017. Austin DeJong is from Edgerton, MN, where he was active in a number of community service activities. He is currently a member of American Society of Civil Engineers and American Concrete Institute. He has also contributed to Chi Epsilon, the Civil Engineering Honor Society, in various capacities, including treasurer, secretary, and president.

Outstanding Student of the Year Award 2017

The ABC-UTC would like to congratulate Evan Jordan (BS, UNR) for winning the 2017 UTC Outstanding Student of the Year Award. Evan Jordan is a graduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno working towards an M.S. in structural engineering. During his undergraduate career, in early 2017 Evan has held positions at both a seismic base isolation firm as well as a heavy civil contractor working on large-scale projects. He also held an undergraduate research position and assisted with the fabrication of a 75-foot length 2-span ABC bridge. Evan has been heavily involved with the student chapter of ASCE his entire higher education career, being president of the student chapter as well as being a project manager for the concrete canoe team. Evan will graduate this summer 2018, completing his thesis on “Testing Criteria for Mechanically Reinforced Bar Splices for Use in Moderate and High Seismic Regions.” Outside of school you may find Evan backpacking in the eastern Sierra mountain range.  Evan graduated in May 2018 and is now employed at Magnusson Klemencic Associates, a structural engineering design firm in Seattle, Washington, as a structural engineer.