Dr. Mark McGinley Receives Distinguished Faculty Award for Service to the Profession
May 4, 2023
By Holly Hinson
Dr. Mark McGinley, Endowed Chair of Infrastructure Research in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Louisville Speed School of Engineering, was honored with a Distinguished Faculty Award for Service to the Profession at the April 13th Presidential Excellence Awards. The award honors faculty who bring distinction to the university through their commitment to the areas of service, teaching and outstanding scholarship, research and creative activity.
McGinley, who also serves as the Theme Leader of Energy Efficiency at the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research and the Director of the DOE-funded UofL Industrial Advisory Center, is a structural engineer and building scientist with more than 35 years of research and forensic engineering practice in building systems. As a civil structural engineer and building scientist, McGinley’s primary teaching duties are to teach the next generation of engineers how to design structurally sound building systems, as well as how to make them more energy efficient and reduce their carbon footprint.
“I’ve always enjoyed putting things together and at the same time being creative. It is very rewarding to design the infrastructure that we use every day, to have something that you were involved in creating, which typically outlast the engineers that design them, creating a legacy that allows us to significantly impact society,” said McGinley.
Involved in the development of codes and standards since 1989, McGinley slowly moved up to leadership in a number of organizations including his current role as the President of the International Masonry Society. “You can do research and publish, but to have a real impact on a day to day basis in civil engineering, you need to get involved in the building codes and the standards,” he said. “This impacts how all engineers work throughout the country.”
As for energy efficiency, it was not top of mind for McGinley until he began practicing as an engineer and discovered that many of the problems that are associated with the functioning of building systems are not just structural and material related, they’re related to the other systems in the building, such as how well does the interior environment function, and this typically is related to energy use.
McGinley has been involved with two Solar Decathlon teams, one of which he spearheaded. The first led to the building of Phoenix House, now the Conn Center headquarters. He said energy is something near and dear to his heart. “I think the energy issue and how we provide energy – we’re either going to have to solve that fairly quickly, or the world will not be as nice a place to live in.”
As the field of civil and environmental engineering has evolved over the years, McGinley said that while they are still designing buildings, roads, water systems and sewer systems, it’s being done differently than in the past. Developing new and better ways of doing this presents what he terms “grand challenges” for the future civil engineers.
“People don’t appreciate the systems that they rely on for their everyday quality of life, and it’s becoming more and more difficult to support these systems with our growing population and the lack of resources,” said McGinley. “Our future engineers are going to have to address these problems if we’re going to keep enjoying the quality of life that we have become accustomed to in this country,” he said. “The avenue for making a significant difference in the world is open to them.”
After more than three decades in the field of civil and environmental engineering, McGinley still finds inspiration in the passing along of his knowledge to the next generation of engineers.
“One of the reasons I’m still doing what I’m doing is I like working with the young people. We give them basic tools, basic understanding, but to solve some of these really thorny problems out there, it will take a lot of thinking beyond what we give them in the school and take a lot of determination, a lot of effort, a lot of banging their heads against the wall,” he said.
To McGinley, the tools, techniques and information imparted to future engineers is just one aspect of their education. “We have a duty to society as engineers to create an environment where the majority of the people can live lives that are rewarding, too,’ he said. “Part of our code of ethics dictates we have responsibility for the greater good, and the welfare of society and people in general. Hopefully, they can learn from the roles and models we have presented to them and continue to give back, as well as earn from society.”