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ASU engineering students shine at construction industry conference

ASU doctoral student Maureen Cassin poses with her research poster
May 29, 2014

Arizona State University engineering doctoral students Maureen Cassin and Tober Francom earned honors at a recent international construction and engineering conference.

Cassin took first-place awards in two student competition categories at the 2014 No-Dig Show in Orlando, Florida, presented by the North American Society for Trenchless Technology. Francom was awarded two of the organization’s top scholarships.

Trenchless technology involves both the methods and tools for an innovative approach to underground infrastructure design and construction that requires minimal excavation and disruption to surface ground.

It’s an emerging “green alternative” engineering method for construction of public utility systems such as water, sanitation, energy, electrical, fiber optic cable and transportation systems, as well as for oil and natural gas pipelines.

From among members of 14 student chapters of the society, Cassin won the top awards in competitions for the best presentation by a student chapter and the best poster describing and illustrating a student research project. Her research focuses on sustainable trenchless technology methods for pipeline construction in China.

Francom was awarded a $5,000 Michael E. Argent Memorial Scholarship and a $1,500 Charles P. Lake-Rain for Rent Scholarship. Francom’s research focuses on the impacts of alternative project delivery methods for trenchless construction projects.

The Argent Scholarship is awarded based on a student’s academic performance and an essay by the student on his or her interest in trenchless technology. The Lake Scholarship is awarded to help promising students pursue careers in agriculture, irrigation technology, pumps or fluid dynamics.

Cassin won both the Argent and Lake scholarships in previous years.

Cassin and Francom are pursuing degrees through the civil, environmental and sustainable engineering program in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Both are concentrating their studies on construction engineering.

Fellow engineering doctoral student Jong Hoon Kim and undergraduate civil engineering major Amanda Kerr also attended the No-Dig Show. Kim is researching ground condition monitoring for buried natural gas lines. Kerr, a student in ASU’s Barrett, the Honors College, is exploring trenchless technologies for her honors thesis project.

The ASU student contingent was led by professor Samuel Ariaratnam, the chair of the construction engineering program in the Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Ariaratnam was president of the International Society for Trenchless Technology from 2010-2013. He was named Trenchless Technology Person of the Year by Trenchless Technology Magazine in 2012.

Students interested in participating in future No-Dig events should contact Maureen Cassin at

Written by Mayank Prasad and Joe Kullman