Penn State senior named one of 10 'New Faces of Civil Engineering'

March 21, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State civil engineering senior Nicole Dato has been named one of the 10 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2019 New Faces of Civil Engineering in the College category. 

The ASCE’s New Faces of Civil Engineering program highlights up-and-coming civil-engineering leaders from around the country and celebrates their academic achievements, as well as their commitment to serving others. Dato and the other honorees were recognized during ASCE’s annual Outstanding Projects and Leaders Gala on March 14 in Arlington, Virginia.

Nicole Dato headshot

Nicole Dato, a senior in civil engineering at Penn State, was recently selected as an American Society of Civil Engineers 2019 New Face of Civil Engineering by the organization.

IMAGE: Penn State

“ASCE is thrilled to recognize each of the 2019 New Faces of Civil Engineering for their inspiring achievements,” said ASCE president Robin A. Kemper in a release. “These are the next generation of civil engineers, role models and leaders. They show dedication to the profession in their education and extracurricular activities, and I am excited to see where they go next.”

Dato’s interest in engineering began at a young age. Her father, who was a mechanic, inspired her as well as her early love of building and constructing things using Legos and puzzles. 

At Penn State, it was when she joined the ASCE Student Chapter and the Society’s Concrete Canoe Competition team that she realized civil engineering was her niche. 

“The ASCE was the first club I joined that allowed me to talk to upperclassmen and truly learn about civil engineering,” Dato said. “Through this club, I have attended many conferences where I have networked with professionals and formed great relationships that have helped mold me into the engineer I am today.”

Furthermore, her internship with Whiting-Turner helped her gain experience as a project and field engineer. She learned how to interact with subcontractors and experienced work on a job site.

“My favorite part of civil engineering is seeing the process of construction,” Dato said. “I love having the ability to build something from just designs on paper into the final structure that will service people on a daily basis.” 

Dato is currently president of Penn State’s ASCE Student Chapter, is involved with the Penn State ASCE Concrete Canoe Competition and serves as president of Penn State’s American Concrete Institute Student Chapter.

After she graduates in May, Dato will be traveling to Kenya with Penn State's Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship program, where she is developing a venture in Kenya called GreenBriq for locals who are suffering from fuel scarcity due to de-forestation. The mission of the company is to transform water hyacinth, an invasive plant species, into a biofuel for local people to cook with. 

“This venture is really important to me because it is not only benefiting the Kenyan people but also the environment, which has provided so much for us,” Dato said.

She is also actively interviewing with civil engineering companies to begin her career.

Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers represents more than 150,000 civil engineers worldwide and is the oldest national engineering society in the United States. ASCE works to raise awareness of the need to maintain and modernize the nation’s infrastructure using sustainable and resilient practices, advocates for increasing and optimizing investment in infrastructure, and works to improve engineering knowledge and competency. For more information, visit

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Last Updated March 21, 2019