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Graduate Student Spotlight: Ariadne Palma Parra

Ariadne Palma Parra

Ariadne Palma Parra is a fourth-year Ph.D. student with a concentration in earthquake structural engineering. She grew up in Barranquilla, Colombia, and has lived in North Carolina since the end of 2013. She is advised by Professor Mervyn Kowalsky. She has been involved with the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute Student Chapter at NC State since 2015 and currently serves as an outreach coordinator. She is also part of Corazón Pacífico. She recently joined the ESCALA community founded by Assistant Professor Ashly Cabas.


What problem(s) are you trying to solve?

PARRA (P): I am studying the behavior of bridges under multidirectional seismic loading to provide design and analysis recommendations. This research is funded by the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities. I am also a member of the Seismic Design and Performance of Bridges committee of the Transportation Research Board, where I have learned a lot about the current research needs in the field of seismic bridge design.


What influenced you to go into engineering? Where did your passion for this particular focus come from?

P: I have always enjoyed and excelled in mathematics and physics. I was drawn to structural engineering because
of the potential to improve the resilience of structures, especially to resist natural hazards, and its direct impact for people in these areas.


Why was NC State / CCEE a good fit for you?

P: I moved to North Carolina when I was halfway through my civil engineering studies in Bogota, Colombia. I believe it was serendipitous that NC State was only an hour away from where I lived with my mom. The CCEE department advisors were really helpful with this transition. I was excited that I could continue my undergraduate studies. I met many different people, made lasting friendships and overcame many obstacles and difficult situations that made me grow and learn about myself. I have continued my graduate studies here at NC State and am very grateful for all the opportunities and experiences.


Where do you see yourself in five years?

P: I would like to be working in the industry as a structural engineer and continue building my professional experience — perhaps as a bridge engineer. I plan to remain involved in supporting Corazón Pacífico using my field of expertise and explore how we as structural engineers can contribute to a more sustainable environment.