Home > News > CEEES Graduate Student Mirela Tumbeva Awarded Helene M. Overly Memorial Scholarship

CEEES Graduate Student Mirela Tumbeva Awarded Helene M. Overly Memorial Scholarship

Allison Preston • DATE: January 25, 2018

Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences (CEEES) Graduate Student Mirela Tumbeva has been named the recipient of the WTS Chicago Chapter Helene M. Overly Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded to young women pursuing graduate degrees in transportation or a related field.

“It is very exciting to be the recipient of this scholarship and that it empowers women,” says Tumbeva.

Tumbeva works in the Kinetic Structures Laboratory under Professor Ashley Thrall. Her research on accelerated bridge construction and deployable structures is funded through Professor Thrall’s National Science Foundation Faculty Career Development (CAREER) award focusing on rapidly erectable bridges. The two are collaborating with Ted Zoli, the National Bridge Chief Engineer of HNTB Corporation, on this research.

“Currently in the U.S. most of our bridges are either structurally deficient or at the end of their lifespan,” says Tumbeva. “Accelerated bridge construction uses innovative techniques in designing, planning, and materials that can be used in rehabilitation or replacement.”

Tumbeva says this kind of construction also provides a safer environment for workers and a shorter period of construction and renovation.

“When you replace or rehabilitate a bridge it impacts an entire community and costs millions of dollars,” she says.

The goal is to safely build a sustainable structure with a long lifespan in a shorter amount of time.
Tumbeva says the most rewarding aspect of the research is that they will be able to help people across the globe.

“I love what we are doing in our lab and I like the idea of our structures being able to help other people during natural disasters or a war.”

Tumbeva hopes to complete her Ph.D. in spring 2019. Following her studies she is interested in industry work with a focus on bridge engineering. After gaining experience in the field she says she would eventually like to bring that knowledge to the classroom and teach.