Published: May 7, 2024 By

Gabi Dunn giving a speech at the 2024 Kiewit banquet.
 Gabi Dunn gives a speech at the 2024 Kiewit Scholars celebration.

Gabi Dunn and another student putting final touches on the 2023 concrete canoe
Gabi Dunn and another student put final touches on the 2023 concrete canoe.

Civil engineering major Gabrielle Dunn’s dedication to academic, personal and professional development, as well as to support her peers, has earned her the 2024 Outstanding Undergraduate of the College award.

“Gabi juggles a packed schedule and still manages to exceed the accomplishments of most of her peers,” said Associate Teaching Professor Chris Senseney, who nominated her for the award.

Throughout her undergraduate career, Dunn has maintained a part-time job as a course assistant, where she conducted office hours, graded assignments and taught lessons. She also held leadership roles, most notably as the president of CU Boulder’s American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) student chapter. Dunn is also a peer mentor with the BOLD Center and the Kiewit Design-Build Scholars Program

Despite her extensive commitments and taking four graduate-level classes, Dunn, a civil engineering major at CU Boulder, maintained an impressive 3.92 grade-point average.

Dunn will graduate this spring with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a minor in engineering management. Additionally, she’s on track to complete an MS in water resources engineering next spring through the Bachelor’s-Accelerated Master’s program. 

She is actively involved in the Society of Women Engineers; the Design-Build Institute of America student competition team; the Colorado Contractors Association student competition team; and serves as secretary and treasurer of CU Boulder Chi Epsilon, an honor society for civil engineering students.    

As a junior, she was selected by her peers as the Outstanding Kiewit Scholar, an honor typically awarded to a senior. 

Lindsey Pratte, the Kiewit program administrator, said that Dunn’s proactive approach to learning led to her being invited to serve as a peer mentor.

“She has a spark of curiosity and intrinsic motivation to engage with the many opportunities that the College of Engineering has to offer,” Pratte said. 

The past two summers, Dunn served as an engineering intern for Manhard Consulting in Greenwood Village, where she worked on hydraulic modeling for a 100-acre commercial site.

“In my 20-plus years of experience, rarely have I had the opportunity to work with an intern who is able to grasp new concepts and execute assigned tasks in a timely manner the way Gabi did,” said Julie Rentz, who supervised Dunn for two summers. “Her positive attitude and attention to detail led us to extend her internship into the fall.”

All-around mentor

Dunn served as vice president of the ASCE student chapter in her sophomore year and as president during her junior and senior years. As president, she organized the Concrete Canoe Pour Day, with a record 22 student participants in 2024 and ensured that the chapter met deadlines for the annual ASCE Student Symposium. Additionally she arranged weekly visits by engineering professionals and raised more than $6,000 in donations for the chapter. 

“She single-handedly turned a chapter from a floundering group during COVID to a thriving student organization with passionate members,” said Senseney, who is the faculty advisor for the ASCE chapter.

Emma Andreason and Gabi Dunn at the 2024 Kiewit banquet.
Emma Andreasen, left, and Gabi Dunn at the 2024 Kiewit Scholars celebration. Both women are Kiewit Scholars who majored in civil engineering and received the Outstanding Undergraduate of the College Award; Andreason in 2023 and Dunn in 2024.

Dunn also served as a Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering ambassador, where she engaged with prospective students and their families and gave tours of the department’s lab spaces.                 

At the movie premiere, “Cities of the Future,” hosted by the ASCE Denver chapter at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Dunn spoke to K-12 students and community members about civil engineering and the concrete canoe that the ASCE student chapter was building. She also planned and executed kinetic sand and shake table demonstrations to simulate liquefaction.

“The students were amazed by the demonstration and talked to Gabi about careers in civil engineering,” Senseney said. 

Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility (JEDIA)

While working in the BOLD Center, Dunn supported a diverse group of students and helped organize events that support diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).     

She served as a student assistant at the SpectrumX Center, which brings in students to conduct research for a broadband mapping project. In this role, she developed a DEI curriculum to encourage universities to recruit students from diverse backgrounds and organized workshops to ensure students entering the program felt included and welcome.  

And since the fall, she has worked in CU Boulder’s Research and Innovation Office to organize workshops supporting faculty and staff in addressing JEDIA aspects within federal grant applications.     

Through the WRTG 3035 Technical Communication and Design course, Dunn organized a mural painting “competition” amongst the students in the College of Engineering and Applied Science; the topic was supporting DEI in STEM.

“The Kiewit Scholars leadership team could not be more proud,” Pratte said, noting that the last two winners of the Outstanding Graduate of the College were Kiewit Scholars. "The only question is which Kiewit Scholar will be the next recipient."