Hightower places third in national competition for engineering students

Heather Hightower

A University of Arkansas at Little Rock student has won a national award for an ethics paper exploring whether engineering faculty should teach if they have not obtained a professional license.

Heather Hightower, a graduate student in construction management and operations management, received third place in the Daniel W. Mead Prize for Students from the American Society of Civil Engineers. Daniel Mead, a former president of the society, endowed the Mead Prize for Students in 1939. 

“I am very honored and surprised to receive third place in the National Daniel Mead Contest,” Hightower said. “This national recognition was completely unexpected. I feel very grateful to my ASCE chapter members and the department’s faculty for all their support.”

Hightower won the award for writing a paper answering the question: “Is it ethical for university engineering faculty to teach technical subject matter to engineering students without obtaining professional licensure?”

“I took the position that as long as an instructor or professor demonstrated sufficient knowledge in an area, he or she should be able to teach the subject with or without a professional licensure,” she said.

In April, Hightower, who is president of the UA Little Rock chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, also won first place and a $200 prize for the best professional paper and oral presentation at the American Society of Civil Engineers Deep South Student Conference for her paper.

Michael Tramel, chair of the Department of Construction Management and Civil and Construction Engineering, was not surprised to learn Hightower had won the award, describing her as an excellent writer and one of the most intelligent and dependable students in the department.

“Heather is a natural leader and earns the respect of her peers with her work ethic, integrity, maturity, and courtesy,” Tramel said. “She has demonstrated excellent organization skills and has been instrumental in the success of several student activities.”

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