Dai Receives Robert P. Wadell Endowed Fellowship for Civil Engineering Innovation

May 3, 2019

Congratulations to Transportation Engineering doctoral student Lu Dai, who is this year's recipient of the Robert P. Wadell Endowed Fellowship for Civil Engineering Innovation.

“Receiving this fellowship from an alumnus and a respected engineer in his field is such an honor,” says Dai. “Thanks for all the support and encouragement from Mr. Wadell and Prof. Hansen. I look forward to the research opportunities this fellowship will provide.”

ITS Berkeley and Civil and Environmental Engineering alumnus and donor Wadell was on campus May 1, 2019 to meet Dai and learn more about her research in the aviation field. 

“Lu is developing innovative methods to detect flights at high risk for anomalous events near airports, such as go-arounds and unstable approaches,” says advisor professor Mark Hansen. “She also has strong leadership ability.”

He added Dai’s internship at Leigh Fisher last summer has complimented her studies, and she is really focused on airports as her area of research.

In 2017, Wadell donated $500,000, with a match from Berkeley’s Graduate Division, to fund the fellowship to support high-achieving doctoral students in Berkeley’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. 

Wadell received his BS in 1967 and MS in 1968 from UC Berkeley, both in Civil Engineering, with emphasis on transportation studies. His graduate work focused on airport planning and design through the Institute of Transportation and Traffic Engineering (now ITS). He worked at that time with Professor Robert Horonjeff, a national leader in airport design.

“My goal is to foster innovation in both research and the practice of civil engineering,” said Wadell. “These doctoral students will be the future innovators and leaders in their fields.”

Five years after graduating, Wadell founded Wadell Engineering Corporation, a Bay Area-based airport consulting firm, where he is President and CEO. His firm specializes in site selection, master planning, environmental analysis, design, and construction management for airports and has completed 500 civil and military airport projects across the US, the Pacific islands, the Philippines, and India, including entirely new international airports and new runways and hangars for the US military.

Wadell is the former chair of the CEE Advisory Council, and he is a current member of the ITS Advisory Council at Berkeley. In 2009, he established the Robert P. Wadell, P.E., F.ASCE Endowed Scholarship to assist outstanding undergraduate students in CEE. Recognizing his professional accomplishments and his work on behalf of Berkeley, he was inducted as a member of the inaugural class of the CEE Academy of Distinguished Alumni in 2012.