Scott Hamel honored with 2020 Engineer of the Year award

by Catalina Myers, University Advancement, and Vicki Nechodomu, College of Engineering  |   

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In February, Anchorage Engineering Week honored Scott Hamel, associate professor in UAA's College of Engineering with the 2020 Engineer of the Year award. (Photo by James Evans / University of Alaska Anchorage)

 In February, Anchorage Engineer’s Week honored Scott Hamel, associate professor and chair of the Civil Engineering Department, with the 2020 Engineer of the Year award (EOTY). Since 1975, Anchorage Engineer’s Week has been recognizing Engineers of the Year for their contributions to the field through their work, research and community service. Hamel was nominated by the Structural Engineering Association of Alaska (SEAAK) in recognition for his contributions to the structural engineering profession, as well as his community service. 

I'm grateful that the committee believes in the importance of the College of Engineering, that they believe in the importance of training the next generation of Alaska's engineers in their own backyard.” EOTY awards are rarely given to educators, only two others have been honored in the award’s 45-year history and Hamel is the first UAA faculty to be recognized and receive an EOTY. For Hamel, it’s a huge honor and he's thrilled Anchorage Engineer’s Week is acknowledging the work of engineering professionals in education. “I think the fact that the committee bestowed this award on an educator shows the significance of engineering professionals who are dedicated to teaching and preparing the next generation of Alaska’s future engineers.”

Hamel’s decades-long career includes working in both the public and private sectors and his resume includes numerous engineering journal publications, research projects and community service. He was instrumental in helping update the state’s outdated snow loads map for the Alaska Snowloads Project, which was conducted in collaboration with a team from UAA’s College of Engineering and SEAAK. The group analyzed data from over 200 sites throughout Alaska, dating as far back as 1920, to determine sensible snow loads that structures can be designed for. The five-year study led to the publication of values for 50 new Alaska sites in the 2022 American Society of Civil Engineers national standards. 

Having worked in the industry prior to teaching, Hamel provides valuable insight to both UAA students and elementary through high school students in the community through the College of Engineering's Summer Engineering Academies. (Photo by James Evans / University of Alaska Anchorage)

 His current research activities involve Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), accreted ice at the Port of Anchorage and seismic reliability assessments of structures in Anchorage.

At UAA, Hamel’s research projects have garnered INNOVATE awards in 2012, 2013 and 2017, and he is widely recognized for his active contributions to shaping future engineers through teaching and mentorship. He provides UAA students with valuable industry experience from years of working in structural, design and bridge engineering positions in Boston and Denver.

“It is quite notable for somebody who is an academic faculty member to be a registered professional engineer,” said Gregory Latreille, 2019 Engineer of the Year, at the E-Week Award Banquet. “We all know that sometimes there is somewhat of a break between what is taught in school and what is practiced in the real world. And Scott is a glowing example of how somebody that has real-world and real design experience goes to the university and teaches our next generation of engineers.”

In addition to teaching and research, Hamel has served as the faculty advisor to the UAA student chapters of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Institute of Steel Construction Steel Bridge Competition team from 2016-2019. Under his mentorship, the Steel Bridge team placed in the top five at competition each of those years, won numerous awards and advanced to nationals in 2019.  

Hamel’s passion for inspiring future engineers is apparent in leading and growing the UAA Summer Engineering Academies, for which he served as the director from 2014 to 2019. The day camps are designed to excite students from third to 12th grade and pique their interest in engineering. Under his leadership, the camps grew from 200 enrolled students to nearly 700 each summer. The camps he instructs — Structure Destruction and Robotics — remain two of the most popular camp topics. 

“These camps allow him to have access to the next generation of engineers, get them excited about the profession, get them energized about what they’re going to do about their future and that impacts all of us,” said Latreille.


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