RESTON, Va. – The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has announced the 2022 New Faces of Civil Engineering in the College category. ASCE’s New Faces of Civil Engineering program highlights up-and-coming civil engineering leaders from around the country and celebrates their academic achievements, as well as their commitment to serving others. All New Faces honorees will be recognized during ASCE’s annual Outstanding Projects and Leaders (OPAL) Gala in October, 2022 in Anaheim, CA. 

“I am proud to recognize the newest faces of civil engineering at the collegiate level, which represents a diverse group of accomplished student engineers,” said Dennis D. Truax, President, American Society of Civil Engineers. “As a professor, I take a keen interest in students who seek more than what is required of them and constantly pursue solutions that can solve current and future problems we face in the engineering community. These 10 students have demonstrated exceptional leadership abilities in their pursuit of improving the built and natural environments, and I believe our future is in great hands with students such as these leading the charge.”

The 2022 New Faces of Civil Engineering in the College category are: 

Salaheddine Al Wazzan

American University of Beirut, Lebanon – civil and environmental engineering

Fueled by a childhood passion for science, Salah was driven to go into engineering in part due to witnessing many infrastructure challenges in Beirut, among them the extensive damage caused by the massive explosion at the city’s port in August 2020. Al Wazzan is an active member in his chapter, helping to organize the 2019 annual gala, as well as the 2019 summer-volunteer camp, which included a school renovation project. 

Jacob Atkins

Oregon State University – civil engineering, forest engineering

Jacob Atkins is eager to fuse concepts from his double major in civil engineering and forest engineering into ways of leveraging renewable and recycled building materials. Atkins has developed leadership and management skills as the executive officer of ASCE’s Oregon State University Student Chapter, as president of the Xi Sigma Pi Forestry Honors Society chapter and of the university’s Forest Utilization Society student chapter, among others. He’s working to guide the ASCE chapter through a large-scale community service activity in the year ahead.

Alysha Curtis

California State University, Fresno – civil engineering, construction management

An advocate for greater inclusivity in the profession, Alysha Curtis has been heavily involved in Fresno State University’s Society of Women Engineers and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers student chapters, including as president of the university’s ASCE student chapter.  She is also active with ASCE’s global Student Presidential Group (representing the Construction Institute) and Student Ambassador Program, helping to elevate the voices of students in Society decision-making. Curtis’s academic focus is on environmental and water resources with a minor in construction management. 

Leah Mealey

University of California, Berkeley – civil engineering, data science

A passion for the environment, inspired by volunteering with the Texas Conservation Corps to restore trails and natural habitats, motivated Leah Mealey to major in civil engineering. Playing an active role in the ASCE student chapter at her UC Berkeley campus also has served Mealey well as she enhances her aptitude as a leader. Currently the chapter’s vice president and last year its philanthropy chair, Mealey led a committee in a successful fundraising drive for Habitat for Humanity. 

Yanqing Liang

Stevens Institute of Technology – civil engineering, water resources

Yanqing Liang looks forward to applying her civil engineering skills to uplift communities. Attending Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey as a cooperative education student, alternating between academic semesters and internship semesters, has given Liang a jump on real-world engineering experience. Liang is the current Chapter President.  After graduation this summer she will assume a full-time position in water resources with Michael Baker International where she began as an intern in the Fall of 2018.

Natalie Neptune

Penn State University Harrisburg – civil engineering

Growing up in a STEM high school along with listening to a TED Talk by Peter Calthorpe called “7 Principles for Building Better Cities” and Vishaan Chakrabarti’s book “A Country of Cities” on bus rides to school served as Natalie Neptune’s gateway into the world of civil engineering. Joining the Penn State Harrisburg ASCE student chapter further inspired Neptune, introducing her to undergraduate research involved in environmental engineering and climate change. She’s continued her association with ASCE as a student ambassador.

Tiffany Ritch

University of North Florida – civil engineering

A talent for math was the ticket to a promising career in civil engineering for Tiffany Ritch, who began her college education while still in high school studying calculus at Santa Fe College. Continuing her education at the University of North Florida, Ritch joined the school’s ASCE student chapter, where she has raised more than $2,500. She has grown in confidence and leadership through involvement in the Society of Women Engineers and the Florida Engineering Society. Examining layers of road pavement during an internship sealed a commitment to specialize in transportation engineering.

Eli Trast

University of Wisconsin-Platteville – civil engineering, mathematics

Living adjacent to several farms in rural Wisconsin, in a house with a well and septic system, exposed Eli Trast to the problems of groundwater contamination. From his start at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Trast jumped into membership in the ASCE student chapter, rising quickly to become vice president and ultimately chapter president. He was the impetus behind the university’s serving as host of the 2021 ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition, and helped it succeed as an all-virtual event during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prompted by positive experiences during internships, Trast plans to seek an advanced degree in geotechnical engineering.

Abhishek Vijayan

National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli, India – civil engineering, management

Around campus, Abhishek Vijayan’s leadership abilities are well known. Each fall, Vijayan serves as the deputy manager of south India’s most significant cultural and charitable festival at his school, attracting talent from around the world to appear at the festival to deliver motivational speeches and leading fundraising activities. Vijayan also is a leader of Builder’s Hive, NIT-T’s highly active civil engineering club. He coordinates club projects focused on civil engineering’s societal impacts, with a view toward applying science and technology to arrive at sustainable solutions. The university does not currently have an ASCE student chapter but he aims to launch one in the year ahead. 

Zoe Zhang

Georgia Institute of Technology – civil engineering, architecture

The embrace of civil engineering as a major and future career, and participation in her Georgia Tech ASCE student chapter are closely intertwined for Zoe Zhang. Currently its president, Zhang jumped into the chapter and its activities from the start of her freshman year, including work on the concrete canoe and steel bridge teams. Combining civil engineering with a minor in architecture has inspired Zhang to explore sustainable reuse of materials. An internship helped her research and apply uses for discarded wind turbine blades, including reusing blades in pedestrian bridges. Zhang is looking forward to working in a civil engineering industry that increasingly embraces diversity and sustainability.

For media availability and interviews with the 2022 New Faces of Civil Engineering, please contact Cathy Gillen at [email protected] or (202) 789-7853.

About the American Society of Civil Engineers

Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers represents more than 150,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America's oldest national engineering society. 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 improve engineering knowledge and competency. For more information, visit or and follow us on Twitter, @ASCETweets and @ASCEGovRel.