Design innovation lands scholarship for grad student

September 5, 2018

 Civil engineering student Christopher Bird has received a total of three scholarship awards this year. In April of this year, Bird received the Charles Cunningham Scholarship from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Recently, Bird received two awards for $2,500 apiece, from the American Institute of Steel Construction and the Southern Association of Steel Fabricators, both for the AISC/SASF scholarship and the AISC Education Foundation scholarship.

He believes that his awards are not only beneficial on a personal level, but illustrate the acumen of the collective community at the Speed School.

“It was neat to receive the scholarship, because it’s a national scholarship where people are applying from school's all across the country,” said Bird. 

Bird discovered the scholarship when he purchased the AISC design code book, a fundamental text for the steel design course required of all civil engineering students. For Bird, the book is more than just a guidebook of manuals, but an opportunity to learn more about the often invisible components of structural engineering and how those principles foster innovation and creativity in his craft.

“I like structural engineering, because I know that I’ll never design the same building twice,” said Bird. “The things that I have learned through my classes like using the AISC and building codes, are the boundary of my work. I love being able to use creativity to turn challenges for building projects into opportunities.”

He recently began his fifth year at Speed School, where he is currently working on a Master of Engineering degree. Bird developed an interest in structural engineering in high school, admiring the tangible and lasting impact of the engineering on the landscape. He was drawn to the new bridge construction or alternative transportation systems during that he encountered during his travels.

It was that drive to make his mark that led him first to civil engineering in general and ultimately to his most recent co-op working in Washington, D.C. as an intern at the U.S. Green Building Council this last summer. 

“I knew I wanted to go into something with structure and building design. I love Speed School because of the co-op requirements. I was a fan of being able to work while I was studying,” said Bird. “I’m working with a team of engineers, architects, and environmental policy experts, basically anyone who has a stake in the building design and construction industry. I’ve really loved it.”

With his academic career nearing its conclusion, Bird has already made moves towards the next phase of his life. Building on his co-op experiences at the university and with the Green Building Council, he recently passed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design AP Exam. The LEED exam is professional credential expertise in green building design. He hopes to parlay his experience and credentials again in DC, where he wishes to return to work toward receiving my professional engineering sector.

“I’ve been outspoken on sustainable design. I came in passionate about the environment and engineering techniques,” said Bird. “How can we not only mitigate the impact of this structure on the environment, benefit our community, and promote resilience? I’m very vocal for the economic benefits of sustainable design.”

He will apply his awards to help fund his master's degree.