When Gayan Herath joined OSU Institute of Technology as a civil engineering technology instructor in 2010, he noticed a void in the program for students.
So he went about starting a student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers at the OSUIT campus, now the third student chapter in the state. OSU Stillwater and the University of Oklahoma in Norman both have ASCE chapters.
In just the three years the OSUIT chapter has been operating, it has garnered national recognition, along with its founder and faculty advisor.
This is the second consecutive year Herath has been named ASCE Outstanding Faculty Advisor for Region 6, which includes chapters in Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.
“The first time, is was surprising to me. Texas and New Mexico have some really good engineering programs,” he said. “Our chapter is really fresh, this is our third year. To get national recognition is amazing. It’s good to see OSUIT get this recognition.”
In addition to Herath’s award, the OSUIT chapter was also given a Letter of Honorable Mention from ASCE for its outstanding activities, an honor only given to the top third of all student organizations.
The club not only participates in state, regional and national civil engineering competitions, but also undertakes a number of community service projects.
“It’s really amazing. The quality of activities we do is bringing in the recognition. But it’s not only the chapter and me, it’s all the support we get,” he said. “It’s not an individual achievement for sure.”
Herath gives credit to his fellow ETD instructors, the Engineering Technologies Division, the OSUIT administration, and the Office of Student Life for all the assistance and guidance they give the club.
“There’s always this support for us,” he said. “It’s the kind of freedom we have, we don’t have restrictions when it comes to outreach. Without them, I don’t think we could do it.”
But without the students and their contributions to the club, there would be no accolades.
“They are tremendous. They’re not always traditional college students. They have other responsibilities on their shoulders, but they give 100 percent,” Herath said. “If they’re not functioning, we’re not recognized.”
Right now, there are about 25 students in the OSUIT chapter, he said, so the positive attention means a lot to the club, the program and the university.
“It’s a win-win situation. Our name is getting out there; our program is getting out there. Our students are getting a lot of hands-on learning, working with a lot of technology. Word gets out,” Herath said. “I’m just trying to do my best. If we can continue to perform this well in the future, it’s a really good impression for the school and the program.”