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UHD Concrete Students Pave The Way to ‘Outstanding University’ Award

American Concrete Institute’s UHD Chapter Earns Top Designation from Organization


By Mark Kramer

Neff Early Learning Center completed project

The students in the University of Houston-Downtown chapter of the American Concrete Institute (ACI) are literally “outstanding” in their field.

And they have the award to prove it.

Recently, the UHD Chapter was honored as an ACI Outstanding University at the organization’s Virtual Concrete Convention. The UHD Gator team was among 66 other universities nationwide and internationally earning elite status for their research and participation in concrete- and engineering-related projects.

“It always makes me proud to see our students succeed,” said Dr. Arash Rahmatian, UHD Associate Professor & Program Coordinator of Engineering Technology. “Many of our alumni in our program have taken what they’ve learned and are a successful as part of the growing workforce in the engineering industry.”

Since 2017, UHD’s team of students have been ranked among the top 10 universities nationally and have earned ACI’s “Excellent University” award.

“This most recent award was very exciting,” said Nathalie Sapon, UHD ACI Chapter Vice President. “It has definitely been a journey this past year with the pandemic, but it did not stop us from adjusting to the circumstances and prospering.”

In achieving their outstanding rating, UHD students were extremely active participants in meetings, webinars, volunteer work, and participating in the fall and spring virtual ACI conventions.

One highlight of the past year was a community service project where the students were able to help create an American Disabilities Act (ADA) certified sidewalk project at Null Elementary School in the Houston Independent School District. The students dug trenches for the sidewalk, placed the form work and mixed and poured the concrete for the walkway.

“Our main focus has definitely been staying continuously active,” said Marvin Mendez, President of the UHD ACI Chapter. “We’ve been constantly networking with others and have participated in several webinars where we were able to interact with students from around the world and working professionals in the field of concrete.”

As for what’s next for these students, many of them are earning their ACI certifications before graduating with their degrees in Engineering Technology and other majors, while also serving on ACI local and national committees and actively promoting UHD’s program.

“This year, we've been participating in social media events with engineering and non-engineering organizations in order to increase interest in our programs,” Mendez said. “We also want incoming students to know what organizations are available for them in the engineering field.”

After being an active part of the program, Rahmatian’s former students have landed careers as project engineers and managers, bridge designers, cost estimators and structural integrity engineers.

“Our students can get certified and involved with internships and permanent jobs quickly in this rich industry,” he emphasized. “With the extensive interest in the construction of concrete structures, it makes this high-demand industry strong and resilient in any fluctuating economic market."


About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.