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Dr. E. Downey Brill Jr.

Downey Brill completed his undergraduate degree at Cornell University and earned a Ph.D. in environmental engineering at Johns Hopkins. He started his academic career at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he rose to the rank of professor in 1982. He joined NC State as the civil engineering department head in 1988, serving in the role until 2005. He also served as director of the Center for Transportation and the Environment from 2005-16 and interim director of the Institute for Transportation Research and Education from 2016-18 before retiring in 2019. Brill has been a member of NC State’s operations research faculty since 2002. He has more than four decades of experience in carrying out and leading interdisciplinary work. His core research expertise is in the development of optimization models and their application to civil and environmental engineering systems. He has applied his system analysis methods to several domains including air and water-quality management, solid waste, floodplain land use planning, and water distribution systems. 

From 1985-91, Brill was a member of the U.S. Army Science Board. He has served on the editorial boards of Water Resources Research and Engineering Optimization and has received several research and teaching awards, including the ASCE Huber Prize, Croes Medal, 2011 Environmental and Water Resources Institute Best Research-Oriented Paper, the Department of Army Patriotic Civilian Service Award and the Institute of Transportation Engineers Outstanding Contribution to the Transportation Profession Award.

As department head, Brill guided the development of the department’s thriving graduate research and education programs and established an administrative structure that continues to serve the department well. The department established the first distance-education master’s degree in the College of Engineering under his leadership. He generously dedicated his time and experience to the department and was a valued mentor to many. His mentoring involved engaging faculty in impromptu hallway discussions, sometimes lasting 30 to 60 minutes, which often resulted in lasting benefits to the individuals and the department. He established a culture in the department that still influences many faculty and the department administration.

“Downey hired me in 1989, and his mentorship played a large role in my career in both research and administration,” said CCEE Head Dr. Morton Barlaz. “ I value the countless hours that we have spent talking about many important issues related to my research program, all aspects of department administration, and larger issues in academia. Downey has been my role model for how to lead a department, and I will be forever grateful for his leadership and mentorship.”

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