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SDSU grad one of 10 young engineers to be honored

Luis Duque
Luis Duque

Luis Duque, a graduate of South Dakota State University, will be one of 10 people honored as the 2020 New Faces of Civil Engineering in the professional category by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The program recognizes an international field of young civil engineers for its achievements and contributions to society. All New Faces honorees will be recognized during ASCE’s annual Outstanding Projects and Leaders March 13 in Washington, D.C.

Duque, who earned his bachelor’s degree in 2016 and his master’s degree in 2018, was born and raised in Colombia. He aspired to become a structural engineer that could help communities around the globe. As a member of Engineers Without Borders, Duque has volunteered on projects in Bolivia, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and Colorado, all of which helped small communities get access to clean water. 

Duque enrolled at State because it allowed him the opportunity to play collegiate tennis and study to become a structural engineer. He played two seasons before giving up the sport to concentrate on his studies.

“Classes had started to get a lot harder,” said Duque with a laugh. “I knew I was not going to be a professional tennis player. I was not going to make a living out of tennis. It was just a smart decision to call it quits at that point and start developing my professional career,” he told ASCE News.

That focus allowed him to take international trips with Engineers Without Borders, earned high marks in his courses and enter grad school.

His graduate school research with associate professor Junwon Seo on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) as a bridge inspection tool found they provide a cheaper alternative to inspecting bridges compared to traditional methods.

Duque, of Lafayette, Colorado, works as a bridge engineer at Foothill Bridge in Boulder, Colo. He is heavily involved in ASCE’s Structural Engineering Institute, ASCE’s Denver Younger Member Group and Engineers Without Borders.

“I want to continue to be involved with all these organizations, always be on the lookout for new opportunities. Be thankful for what you’ve been given and all the opportunities that you have, and know there is so much more you can do. I will never stop working toward helping others,” he told ASCE News.