New vision and new challenges

Dr. Alex Mejia added to the growing civil engineering department

By Miguel Luna
On January 29, 2016

Photo by Josh Lopez
Dr. Mejia who is new to the ASU family, stops for a photo before getting back to work.

The Civil Engineering Department, ASU’s newest program, shows growth at the start of the spring semester with the addition of a new faculty member Dr. Alex Mejia.

The department, which was inaugurated this past fall, recently hired Mejia after he ended his time at the West Virginia University as assitant professor.

The department currently consists of the Department Chair Dr. William Kitch, and members Debbie Brown and Andrea Robledo.

As a West Texas native, Mejia saw the opportunity to be closer to home and liked that ASU is a Hispanic Serving Institute (HIS) working with Latinos that come from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

“I wanted to give back and come to a community where I could have an impact as a professor,” Mejia said. “The goal of the department is to become accredited and have students graduate with a bachelor’s that will prepare them to become part of the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) workforce.”

Although the department has only introduced civil engineering Mejia hopes for mechanical and electrical engineering as well.

“I’m thrilled to have Dr. Mejia here,” Kitch said. “His Ph.D work is in engineering education and his research involves Hispanic pathways to engineering, a key part of our program.”

Kitch, who taught at the California State Polytechnic University-Pomona, could not pass up the opportunity to start a program from scratch.

“It is essential to hire the right people,” Kitch said. “I hope to have two more by the beginning of the summer and two to three more by 2017.”

The search committee in charge of helping with the selection process includes faculty members from a diverse group of departments.

“Their perspective is important because they understand Angelo State,” Kitch said. Civil engineering is very broad in regards to employment, students will have the opportunity to work from a city’s infrastructure to public agencies.

Civil engineers can be employed in structural, water resource, environmental, geotechnical, transportation, or constructional areas of engineering.

“Engineers create stuff to solve the world’s problems,” Kitch said.

Mejia believes this is what drove him to a career in engineering.

“I grew up on a farm and I was always working with my hands,” Mejia said. “I was constantly trying to solve problems in different ways.”

As well as preparing students for the workforce and providing more support for the department and university, Mejia hopes to bring underrepresented minorities into STEM.

“I’m really excited and I’m sure we’re going to do really great things,” Mejia said.

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