James Kaklamanos knows how important his role as a civil engineering educator is because it wasn’t so long ago that he was a civil engineering student.
“Absolutely, if it weren’t for some of the professors whom I had the privilege of learning from, I don’t think I would’ve pursued engineering in the first place,” said Kaklamanos, who is in his fifth year as an assistant professor of civil engineering at Merrimack College in North Andover, MA, and has been selected by ASCE as one of the 2017 New Faces of Civil Engineering – Professional.
Kaklamanos, Ph.D., EIT, A.M.ASCE, began his college years at Tufts University’s College of Liberal Arts, plotting a potential law career. A couple of key engineering courses and inspirational engineering professors captured his imagination, though, as Kaklamanos developed a particular interest in natural disasters and civil engineers’ roles in mitigating their damage.
“The experience I had as a student really changed my trajectory,” Kaklamanos said. “Now that I’m on the other side of the table I realize the unique situation professors are in to help students discover their passions. As a student, my life was changed by the faculty I had. They helped me realize what I was truly passionate about, and I try to do the same for my students.”
Kaklamanos breaks his job down into three roles: teaching, research, and service. “Each one is rewarding in its own way, and in my view, they’re all interrelated,” he said.
He has served as the faculty advisor for Merrimack’s ASCE Student Chapter for five years. He’s also active in the ASCE Geo-Institute, the Seismological Society of America, and the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute.
“In the long term, I want to continue working toward the goal of both sharing knowledge and generating knowledge in engineering,” Kaklamanos said. “In terms of research, I study models for predicting earthquake-induced ground motions. My interests started from a small undergraduate research project my senior year, and it’s built into something much greater. So, I want to continue working toward that goal, improving how infrastructure is designed.”
All the while, he will continue to educate and inspire the next generation of civil engineers.
“Undergraduate teaching is the top priority at Merrimack,” Kaklamanos said. “One of the most rewarding things is observing how students evolve as engineers throughout their education, and then seeing where they go in their careers. Knowing that I had a role in that evolution is very rewarding.”
ASCE will honor Kaklamanos and all 10 New Faces of Civil Engineering at the 2017 OPAL Gala, March 16, in Arlington, VA. Tickets are available now.
See a complete list of ASCE’s 2017 New Faces of Civil Engineering – Professional, and read about the 2017 New Faces of Civil Engineering – College.