Dr. Joseph B. Hughes P.E., Karen and John Huff School chair and professor, was named the 2011 Engineer of the Year in Education. Hughes was honored by the Georgia Engineering Alliance on Feb. 26, at the gala celebrating Georgia Engineers Week.
Hughes has chaired the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech since 2003. He also serves as professor of environmental engineering and materials science and engineering. His support of undergraduate and graduate education has made a tremendous impact on both the School’s programs and its students, with reach far beyond the classroom, according to College of Engineering Dean Don Giddens. Dr. Giddens strongly supported Hughes’ nomination for this award stating, “Dr. Hughes’ vision for engineering education, his impact on public policy, and his (inter)national visibility are substantial. Since his tenure at Georgia Tech, Dr. Hughes has demonstrated himself to be a highly effective educator and administrator, successfully integrating the future strategic needs of educational and research components with philanthropic outreach and support, essential components in maintaining and strengthening a top-ranked civil and environmental engineering program. Under Dr. Hughes’ administration, we have continuously observed increased rankings of the School, undergraduate enrollments have swelled from 500 to more than 1,000 students, all while maintaining and even elevating the program’s quality of education.”
Dr. Hughes’ research interests include environmental biotechnology, nanomaterial fate and transport, and environmental engineering needs in developing countries. His research focuses on the treatment and remediation of hazardous wastes. He is a recognized leader in this field and has pioneered at least two areas of research that have significantly influenced engineering practice.
Hughes is an award-winning teacher and has demonstrated a commitment to education in a variety of areas. In recent years, his passion in teaching has expanded to address the needs of civil engineering students to work in nations with developing economies or where civil infrastructure is either inadequate or nonexistent. He has sponsored and provided direct oversight to student projects in Mali and in Angola (both of which focused on issues of infrastructure, water, and quality of life improvements).
In 2009, Hughes was named as the first holder of the John and Karen Huff School Chair. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the McKee Medal from the Water Environment Federation; the Walter P. Huber Research Prize from the American Society of Civil Engineers; the Charles Duncan Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement at Rice University; a member of Chi Epsilon Honorary Society; and twice recognized with the ASCE Outstanding Professor Award at Rice University. He has been active in the National Academy of Engineering's Frontiers of Engineering program as a speaker and organizer; is a Diplomate (by Eminence) of the American Academy of Environmental Engineering; and served as a member of the U.S. EPA science advisory committee on Environmental Engineering.
Hughes is an active member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), American Chemical Society (ACS), American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), Association of Environmental Engineering Science Professors (AEESP) and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He has published extensively in journals, book chapters, edited books, peer reviewed conference proceedings, and is often invited to address audiences on issues ranging from his research specialties to global issues of sustainability, energy, the environment, and urban renewal.
Hughes earned his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Iowa and a B.A. in chemistry from Cornell College.