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Congratulations to the 2020 CCEE Outstanding Seniors

Each year the CCEE department presents four Outstanding Senior Awards to students who have demonstrated continued excellence during their undergraduate studies. This year’s honors go to Danielle Curri for Scholarly Achievement, which recognizes exceptional academic performance including participation in undergraduate research; Cassie Gann for Humanities, which recognizes high achievement in CCEE with an equal commitment to a broad liberal education in social sciences, arts or humanities; Gracie Hornsby for Citizenship and Service, which recognizes significant humanitarian contributions that improve the welfare of fellow citizens and the community; and Adam Schmidt for Leadership, which recognizes demonstrated ability to provide guidance and direction within organizations and individually. Find out more about these academic superstars, including their plans for work or pursuing further education after graduation!


Danielle Curri

Danielle Curri began doing undergraduate research in her sophomore year, under the direction of Drs. Tarek Aziz and Jeremiah Johnson. Working with faculty in CCEE and the School of Design she worked on a project aimed at reducing the environmental impacts of co-located industrial facilities. The research was performed in conjunction with an industrial park located in Virginia. Danielle collected detailed information on successful networks of industrial waste exchange (termed eco-industrial parks) and offered a novel framework to consider such opportunities. When the project was completed for the industrial developer, Danielle continued her investigation and built an optimization model that selects and sizes industrial firms in a manner that maximized the material use benefits. As she wrapped up her undergraduate studies she was also completing a scholarly paper.  “I have high confidence that this paper will be published in an academic journal,” Johnson said. “Danielle will be the first author on the paper – a well-deserved honor that reflects her intellectual contribution to this research. While I have published several papers that have undergraduate co-authors, this will mark my first paper where the undergraduate researcher led and executed the study design.”

Danielle completed this research while balancing many additional activities.


“Throughout my undergraduate career, I have completed two full-time co-op rotations at Kimley-Horn, two part-time co-op rotations at Kimley-Horn, held leadership positions in student organizations, founded a student professional organization, and served as an RA. Additionally, I am graduating in four years despite taking a semester off to co-op. While doing all these activities, I have completed my research project.”                                                                                                                                Danielle Curri

Upon graduation Danielle will begin working for Kimley-Horn in their Transportation and Traffic Operations Group.

HUMANITIES:  Cassie Gann

While some people might view engineering and architecture as two opposing entities, Cassie Gann would disagree.


“ I enjoy solving engineering-related design challenges but I am also passionate about design history and how the culture we live in influences how we build our infrastructure. Studying civil engineering at NC State presented me with many challenges that have required me to be creative in order to succeed and offered me many creative opportunities, such as working with my undergraduate research group. But I also love the creative and artistic challenges that my minor in Design Studies allowed me.”                         Cassie Gann

Cassie was accepted into the highly competitive Research Internship Summer Experience (RISE) program in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at NC State. She began working closely with Dr. Ashly Cabas as part of that program completing undergraduate research in earthquake engineering. She maintained a 4.0 grade point average and was on the Dean’s List every semester. As an officer in Chi Epsilon, the National Civil Engineering Honor Society, she worked to create volunteer events and educational activities for her peers. She was part of the Women In Science & Engineering (W.I.S.E.) village that allowed her to live in an environment with other women who shared the same passion for STEM related majors.

Cassie also taught piano lessons through Musical Empowerment, a nonprofit organization that provides free music lessons for families who could not otherwise afford them.

She will be returning to NC State in the fall to begin her studies to obtain a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering and continue her geotechnical earthquake engineering research.”



Gracie Hornsby believes “equitable access to clean water and safely managed sanitation services are human rights.” Practically every one of her many outstanding experiences outside the classroom have been dedicated to this belief. Throughout her undergraduate career she actively sought out opportunities to gain first-hand experience with the challenges and nuances of international development, specifically global water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) topics which she says she has been interested in since she was in high school. In her freshman year she joined Engineers Without Borders and was part of a team that designed rainwater harvesting systems for a community in rural Guatemala. The summer after her sophomore year she began volunteering in Cameroon with the Circle of Women for Social Action and Mutual Aid (CEFASE)

“Though I was learning valuable lessons about WASH and problem solving on campus, I felt a pull to utilize those lessons to tangibly impact the people and cause I cared so deeply for. I took a leap, bought a ticket, and began work with CEFASE in Yaoundé, Cameroon after finishing my sophomore year. In my role as consulting engineer, I was solely responsible for designing, sourcing materials, and overseeing the construction of four spring boxes in three rural villages which relied on stagnant, turbid surface water for drinking.”        Gracie Hornsby

In addition to her work in Cameroon, Gracie has conducted multiple field campaigns with Dr. Angela Harris as part of her research team studying global and local issues associated with water and sanitation.  As a Goodnight Scholar she also was active in several local service projects too.

After graduation she will be moving to San Francisco to begin a PhD program in Environmental Engineering at Stanford University as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar.

LEADERSHIP:  Adam Schmidt

Adam Schmidt has been a Caldwell Fellow for three years. The program encourages scholars to ‘think big’ and facilitates the goal of maximizing the college experience by providing intensive programming and leadership training, as well as by fostering collaborative interaction with alumni, faculty and community partners.  The list of organizations that Adam Schmidt has held leadership positions in is long, but he says  the most interesting, challenging, and engaging was his time as the President of the University of North Carolina Association of Student Governments (ASG). In that role he represented the 240,000 students of the University of North Carolina (UNC) System to the UNC Board of Governors (BOG), the UNC System Office, and other state entities seeking student input from a UNC System perspective. As President of ASG, he served in a dual role including President of the Association, and also the student member of the UNC BOG.

“I believe effective leaders should balance both pushing a proactive agenda and reacting to issues of the day, and focusing on empowering others to advocate for themselves and be changemakers in their communities. As President of ASG working internally with the Association, I have been able to do that in a number of ways, including working on issues including student health insurance plan, housing issues, and tuition and fee increase processes.”         Adam Schmidt

In addition to his leadership roles, Adam worked in undergraduate research with Dr. Eleni Bardaka on a project that blends engineering, economics, and social sciences  studying the impact of transportation improvement on accessibility to transit for low income populations.  After interning at Kimley-Horn this summer, he will return to NC State in the fall and pursue a master of Science in Civil Engineering under the supervision of Bardaka. He plans to work in engineering consulting before eventually moving to government and research work related to equity in transportation policy.

The department is extremely proud of these students, and wish them well as they continue to provide solutions that create sustainable infrastructure.