Professor Melissa Sternhagen, Teacher and Mentor

December 7, 2020

Professor Melissa Sternhagen has been an essential part of the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering since she arrived in 2008. She began teaching the core sophomore level classes, Statics, Dynamics, and more recently Structural Mechanics, courses recognized as the foundation of civil engineering. Even though teaching Statics and Dynamics may not be the most exciting courses to teach, she is committed to prepare students for the junior and senior technical courses by engaging students in the classroom with experiments and relative examples, and outside the classroom by hosting study sessions and office hours for individual help. Students state she is hard in the classroom, but they know they are well prepared to continue to the junior and senior curriculum. Because of her diligence in the classroom, Professor Sternhagen was chosen as the teacher of the year in 2019, an award highly esteemed among faculty and is voted on by the student body.

In the spring of 2019, Professor Sternhagen was appointed as the advisor for the Clemson Civil Engineering Honor Society, Chi Epsilon (XE). The chapter had been inactive for a couple of years due to faculty attrition, but with her leadership and the assistance of active new officers and members, Chi Epsilon has seen growth in membership and activities. Since the spring of 2019, 58 undergraduate students, one graduate student, a faculty member, and a Chapter Honor member, Gerald Glenn, (learn more) have been initiated into the chapter. The group offers a social event and 1-2 professional development events each semester. In-person meetings always provide food and the social event  included bowling, a cookout at Y-beach, and a game night at Professor Sternhagen’s house. During the pandemic, the group held a trivia night via Zoom. Also, a new tradition in the CE Department is Chi Epsilon’s discounted engineering paper sale at the beginning of each semester, which raises money for chapter events and benefits Clemson’s engineering students. During the past two fall semesters, the chapter hosted Graduate Alumni Meet & Greet events with the purpose of providing CE students with the opportunity to interact with graduate alumni and learn how their graduate degrees benefit them professionally. Other professional development events included Professor Sternhagen giving a talk on a book called The People Code and the chapter organizing financial planning informational sessions. Next spring, they also look forward to hosting their recently initiated Chapter Honor member, Mr. Gerald Glenn, the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering’s namesake, as he gives a presentation about his successful engineering career.