Civil engineering graduate stays on as assistant professor

Hunain Alkhateb

Hunain Alkhateb

Hunain Alkhateb (MS 08, PhD 11) has found a home in the Department of Civil Engineering.

Six years ago, the Jordanian American came to the University of Mississippi as a graduate research assistant in the department. While completing her master’s and doctoral degrees in engineering science, her exceptional scholarship and research abilities caused the faculty to take notice and offer her teaching opportunities. In August, she became an assistant professor of civil engineering.

Alkhateb teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in structural engineering, mechanics and materials classes. Thus far, she has taught Transportation Engineering, Concrete Design, Introduction to Civil Engineering I, Matrix Analysis of Structures and From Quantum to Micro Mechanics: Theory and Application, Experimental Mechanics.

She is the co-principal investigator of a NASA EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) grant project totaling $750,000 over a three-year period.

“The objective of this research is to exploit the ‘exotic’ properties of nanomaterials to create new, multifunctional nanocomposites for space structural applications,” Alkhateb said. “The nano engineering research groups at the University of Mississippi and Jackson State University have joined forces with a nanotechnology company, Hybrid Plastics, to form a powerful research team to create these new materials for space exploration.”

Alkhateb said she finds working at her alma mater rewarding.

“I witnessed the rapid growth in the civil engineering department, so I wanted to experience the great accomplishments and success,” she said. “The quality of the research and the friendly professors, who are professional, caring experts in their fields and devoted to the students’ thirst for knowledge, have set great models that I am following in my career.”

Alkhateb said she believes every student is unique and there are no limitations on how to deliver the knowledge.

“Some students are quantitative thinkers, some are more visual, and most prefer to apply and relate the theoretical models they learn somehow to their personal interests and lives,” Alkhateb said. “I like to embrace constructive learning, expose alternative viewpoints, acknowledge the previous efforts and create a learning environment that is serious and thoughtful, while using light humor to create a sense of community.”

She strives to incorporate applications into the classroom.

“Applications can be as simple as things we examine on daily basis, or they could be as complicated as one of our active research challenges,” she said. “I get highly excited when my students walk into my office or open a discussion in the classroom, in regards [to] an observation that they came across and relate to what I have been teaching them in class. I love it when they get excited about any topic and decide to do some extra reading to fulfill their curiosity.”

Alkhateb received the UM Dissertation Fellowship Award and Graduate Achievement Award and is a member of the National Scholars Honor Society and Gamma Beta Phi Society. She also has served as a faculty representative on the School of Engineering advisory board. Her professional memberships are in the American Concrete Institute, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Jordanian Engineers Association, Society of Women Engineers and Engineers Without Borders.

Her hobbies include reading, cooking, playing chess, painting, traveling and running.