DLZ Corporation invests in future civil engineers

Posted: October 21, 2022
Representatives from DLZ Corporation and the College of Engineering prepare to cut large scarlet ribbon
(from left) Graduate student Jarron Mihoci, Prof. Lisa Burris, DLZ CEO Vikram (Raj) Rajadhyaksha, DLZ EVP Ram Rajadhyaksha, Dean Ayanna Howard, CEG Chair Allison MacKay, Prof. Jieun Hur and graduate student Mazin Mahrouqi celebrate at the ribbon cutting on September 30.

A $100,000 gift from DLZ Corporation is enhancing hands-on learning and research in The Ohio State University Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering.

The generous donation established the DLZ Corporation Civil Materials Testing Laboratory in Bolz Hall, a complete renovation of the space that is home to Civil Engineering 3510: Introduction to Civil Engineering Materials, a course taken by all undergraduate civil engineering students.

“I want to give my biggest thanks to DLZ Corporation for their generous investment in our students,” said Allison MacKay, chair of the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering. “This is one of our teaching labs, which gives students the opportunity to see materials’ behavior firsthand before they’re out in the workplace and integrating that into their designs.”

Columbus-based DLZ Corporation is an architecture, engineering, surveying and construction services firm that believes in investing in the communities they serve, shared DLZ Executive Vice President Ram Rajadhyaksha. Founded by his father, DLZ Corporation Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Vikram (Raj) Rajadhyaksha, in 1978 with a handful of staff, the family- and minority-owned business has grown to over 800 employees in 27 offices.

“We love helping out The Ohio State University in any way possible,” explained civil engineering alumnus Ram Rajadhyaksha ’06. “One of the things that attracted us to help with this project is we’re growing and finding a talented workforce is challenging, especially in rapidly expanding city like Columbus.  We need a lot more students to graduate from civil engineering and come work for us so we can keep the City of Columbus, Ohio Department of Transportation, Ohio State—all those projects going.”

Civil Engineering 3510 is an essential course that teaches students how to successfully design infrastructure that is economical, efficient, durable and sustainable. It focuses on the chemical and mechanical properties of materials commonly used in civil engineering applications—including hydraulic cement and concrete, asphalt, rock, metals and wood.

“Spaces like this laboratory allow us to really engage and train the next generation of students,” said College of Engineering Dean Ayanna Howard. “As faculty, we do a lot of theory, but having the practical applications behind that theory, with real-world equipment that actually shows students what it means when they’re out in the workforce is extremely valuable.”

Students test concrete in DLZ Corporation Civil Materials Testing Laboratory
Students test concrete in the DLZ Corporation Civil Materials Testing Laboratory.

The lab also supports undergraduate, graduate and faculty research in structural and construction materials as well as work by the Concrete Canoe, American Concrete Institute (ACI) Student Competition and Steel Bridge Competition student teams.

“This new laboratory was very needed, and has greatly improved both student success in the course, and in research and project work,” said Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering Assistant Professor Lisa Burris, one of the Civil Engineering 3510 instructors. “It’s been wonderful to have a space that we can be proud of, that we can call home, and that is able to house both student activities, student competition teams, classwork and our undergrad and grad-level research.”

Students are also thankful for the new space, which houses specialized equipment needed for classwork and research, such as tension and freeze-thaw testing.

“It has been a big help for us, not only for students learning in this lab, but for graduate students learning at a higher level [about] the research capabilities of different materials and testing,” said Jarron Mihoci, a second-year civil engineering graduate student. “I’ve enjoyed my time researching and studying in a very comfortable learning environment.”

by Candi Clevenger, College of Engineering Communications, clevenger.87@osu.edu