Dr. Z’s Corner

Dr. Z

Ahmet Zeytinci, P.E., Ph.D., Fellow-NSPE, Fellow-ASCE is an award-winning professor, structural engineer, author and mentor living in Washington, D.C. Since joining academia, "Dr. Z", as he is known by his students and colleagues, has distinguished himself on campus and beyond. He is passionate about engineering, gifted in teaching, and is a true champion for professional licensure. Dr. Z. has extraordinarily high standards; has produced award-winning designs; is prolific in professional service; and infects others with these same values. He is the recipient of numerous local, regional and national awards, including recent national awards from the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) and American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). Since 2014, he has been regularly writing monthly articles for “Dr.Z’s Corner “ and offering hundreds of engineering problems, for free, every month for students, engineers and engineering educators worldwide. Dr. Z. also offers pro-bono Saturday classes for students and engineers; his free classes are open to all in the greater Washington metro area and cost nothing, nada, zilch! Starbucks coffee is always a must have for Dr. Z.

Engineers Week 2017: The Good News is Female Engineers are in Charge!


I am pleased to tell my readers that we’ve just celebrated one of the most memorable Engineers Weeks in recent memory. We’ve been invited to several award banquets and proclamation lunches with colleagues from ASCENCS, including the president and my good friend Jordan Pitt. We were delighted to see that all keynote speakers and many awardees were women engineers. That is why this month, I’ve decided to write about women engineers. Especially two extraordinary women engineers, Dr. Ericsson and Dr. Pehlivan. You may already know them since they are celebrities. But first, a brief background and some statistics:

Who was the first woman to receive a degree in engineering? Elizabeth Cady Stanton received her civil engineering degree from Cornell University in 1905. Over the past few decades a growing number of women have been entering the field of engineering, but many believe this good news doesn’t have a rosy ending. As recent coverage in the media, including National Public Radio, details, many female engineers are leaving their positions and some are hesitant to enter the profession at all. For the civil engineering community, the statistics demonstrate that we are doing better than most, yet we have much more work to do.

Statistics show that women represent 12.1% of the civil engineering workforce and 14% of the total workforce. And according to the Engineering Workforce Commission (EWC), over the past five years, civil engineering has consistently outpaced all other engineering disciplines in the awarding of Master’s and Doctoral degrees to women.

Aprille Joy Ericsson, PhD:

Dr. Aprille Joy Ericsson is the New Business Lead for the NASA GSFC Instrument Systems and Technology Division at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Most recently, she served as the Capture (Mission) Manager for a proposed Astrophysics Mid-sized Class Explorer of $250M, called STAR-X. Prior to that proposal development, she served as the NASA GSFC Program Manager for Small Business Innovative Research/ Small Business Technology Transfer Research. Formerly, she has served as the Deputy to the Chief Technologist for the Applied Engineering and Technology Directorate at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) with a primary focus as a Technologist for Advanced Manufacturing, Applied Nanotechnology, miniaturization of Technology for CubeSat and SmaliSat space platforms.

During her 25+ year tenure with NASA, she has held numerous positions. She was an Attitude Control Systems analyst developing practical control methods and analyzing structural dynamics for X-Ray Timing Explorer, Tropical Rain Forest Measurement Mission, Transition Region & Coronal Explorer, and Wilkerson Microwave Anisotropy Probe. As a NASA HQs Program Executive for Earth Science, and a Business Executive for Space Science, she supported the SORCE and ICESat missions. She was an Instrument Project Manager leading spaceflight instrument teams and proposal development. Also, her aerospace research at Howard University was developing control methods for orbiting large space platforms like ISS.

Dr. Ericsson has also served as an Adjunct Faculty member at several Washington DC Area Universities. She sits on several Technical Academic boards at the National Academies, MIT and previously Howard University where she also served as a member of the Board of Trustees.

Of her numerous awards and recognitions received over the years, the most prestigious was “The 2016 Washington Award” from the Western Society of Engineers. She is the first female (and the first African-American female) to receive a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Howard University, and the first African – American female to receive a PhD in Engineering at NASA GSFC. She received her BS in Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering from MIT. She grew up in Brooklyn, NY and has one daughter, Arielle Ericsson-White.

Menzer Pehlivan, PhD, PE:

Dr. Menzer Pehlivan is a well-known   PE, featured in ASCE’s “Dream Big” IMAX movie. Dream Big: Engineering Our World debuts in museums and theaters around North America during the Engineers Week.

Dr. Menzer Pehlivan is a geotechnical engineer specializing in earthquake engineering. She is currently working at CH2M in Seattle, WA. She is an expert in the analysis of seismic site response, liquefaction and other natural hazards, soil-foundation-structure interaction, probabilistic seismic hazard analysis (PSHA), and the seismic design of foundation of structures. She was inspired to build more resilient communities and reduce the risk associated with the earthquakes following the 1999 Kocaeli Earthquake that hit Turkey.

Upon completing her undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering, she pursued graduate studies specializing in geotechnical earthquake engineering. She obtained her doctorate from The University of Texas at Austin in 2013 and started working as a consulting engineer in New York City, where she had opportunity to work on seismic design of projects in the US, Mexico, and Canada. During this time she also served as an Adjunct Professor at Manhattan College where she developed and taught the seismic portion of a graduate course for practicing engineers on fundamentals of foundation design.

She has been actively involved with pioneering research projects advancing the state-of-art and state-of-practice of geotechnical earthquake engineering. She led a part of NGA-EAST research effort regarding the modelling of the uncertainty in regional soil effects of Eastern-North America. Following the 2015 Nepal Earthquake, she was one of the appointed members of the Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance (GEER) team to travel to Nepal and perform post-earthquake reconnaissance. Dr. Pehlivan published several journal and conference papers and serves as reviewer for Earthquake Spectra.

Next month we will talk about “Ten Reasons to Love Engineering.”


Until next time,

Ahmet Zeytinci, P.E.
Dr. Z. (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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