Nora Harris, a senior in the Department of Industrial Engineering, has been selected to receive a fellowship from the 2016 Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP), sponsored by National Science Foundation (NSF).
The GRFP received close to 17,000 applications this year, and Harris’ was among 2,000 individuals who were selected to receive the award. “The Graduate Research Fellowship Program is a vital part of our efforts to foster and promote excellence in U.S. science, technology, engineering and mathematics by recognizing talent broadly from across the Nation,” said Joan Ferrini-Mundy, NSF assistant director for Education and Human Resources. “These awards are provided to individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant research achievements, and they are investments that will help propel this country’s future innovations and economic growth.”
Harris, from Rock Hill, SC, finds herself drawn to an interest in encouraging increased sustainability throughout the processes associated with design and construction projects. It is a unique niche that she discovered after having the opportunity to work as an intern for Clemson’s Parking and Transportation Services on a parking lot project with multiple stakeholders to apply the Envision™ Sustainable Infrastructure Rating System. Her training as an industrial engineer was very applicable on the project for evaluating processes, and the experience also helped Harris gain exposure to civil engineering considerations related to building and construction that are common on projects like this one.
This experience was also instrumental in connecting Harris with the Department of Civil Engineering where she has had the chance to work closely with Dr. Leidy Klotz as undergraduate research assistant. Harris has been researching the importance of systems thinking in infrastructure and the incorporation of sustainability and green technologies into infrastructure projects. Dr. Klotz encouraged Harris to apply for the GRFP based on her research work for the department and based on her specialized interests.
Harris will be graduating in May and is planning to continue learning about construction engineering management. She will begin work on her master’s degree in civil engineering at Virginia Tech in the fall.