Published: May 23, 2024 By

Osamah Dehwah graduation 2024Osamah Dehwah has called the BOLD Center home for the past five years. His passion in helping students academically succeed is a testament to his service for the BOLD community all while working on his PhD in civil engineering.

“When I started my PhD at CU Boulder in 2018, I was looking for a place where I could teach and hone in those skills,” said Dehwah, “and was introduced to BOLD. The diversity and welcoming manner of the Center impressed me from the beginning.” 

That environment immediately drew Dehwah and felt a strong affinity to give back to aspiring engineers through their learning. 

“Osamah has been an instrumental member of the BOLD community and supported hundreds of undergraduate engineering students in academic tutoring,” said Chantal Baca, Academic Services Program Manager. 

“His joy, passionate teaching and engineering intelligence has served the student and staff community greatly,” said Baca.  

Since 2019, he has tutored numerous courses in physics, calculus, differential equations, fluid mechanics, statics, structural analysis, construction management and more. 

“Osamah is such an important example of a student leader in BOLD and the commitment to our community,” said Amy Moreno-Sherwood, director of the BOLD Center.

Moreno-Sherwood added how pivotal Dehwah has been in ensuring high-quality tutoring for a number of years and sought new opportunities for undergraduate students. 

“We’re very grateful Osamah has been willing to lead exam preparation and study sessions for the BOLD community,” said Moreno-Sherwood. 

Dehwah earned his PhD this spring coming full circle with his academic journey. Later this year, he will work at NIST and while pursuing a postdoc in civil engineering at John Hopkins University regarding durability of concrete materials.

We sat down with Dehwah to reflect on his CU Engineering experience and service with the BOLD Center. 

How did your academic journey begin?
My interest in science and knowledge was nurtured by my family. My father is a professor and I have three siblings with PhDs. I was raised in the esteemed scientific and research environment of King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia, where I completed both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I enjoyed the privilege of interacting with many world-class researchers throughout my life and this has played a major role in shaping my interests in research and academia.

How did you first get involved at the BOLD Center?
I asked my colleagues about programs or departments where I could share my experience and knowledge for STEM. So, I began my journey at the BOLD Center in January 2019, and more than five years later, I’ve been so grateful for the experience!

What aspects of the BOLD Center are meaningful to you?
Tutoring is the most important aspect for me, as I believe teaching is a noble profession. Despite the wealth of knowledge available online, the need for teachers and in-person instruction remains crucial. The experiences and outcomes of in-person teaching differ significantly from online methods and this varies across different fields. As a result of my passion for education, I served as a lead tutor for the Center and as a teaching assistant for a scholarship program. I was involved in the tutors’ hiring process, particularly in advancing interview processes to ensure high-quality tutoring. 

Moreover, the competitive scholarships provided for underrepresented students in engineering are both encouraging and greatly assist students in need. These scholarships open doors for students offering them opportunities in higher education and career advancement they might not have had otherwise.

What about civil engineering fascinates you?
Everywhere you go, you’re in the hands of civil engineers. From the houses we live in to the hospitals we rely on and the roads we travel to the bridges that connect our cities — civil engineering is an omnipresent and fascinating field. It demands critical thinking and a deep understanding of engineering principles. 

In your opinion, what is an important aspect with civil engineering? 
One of the most pressing global challenges in this field is the durability of concrete. Inadequate concrete rehabilitation can lead to severe issues like cracking and, consequently, structural failure. This significant problem sparked my interest in specializing in structures and materials with a particular focus on concrete durability. My goal is to contribute to longer-lasting structures that can withstand the test of time.

What are your research interests within civil engineering? 
My research interests lie at the intersection of science and engineering with a particular focus on concrete materials and computational mechanics. One of the primary objectives of my research is CO2 sequestration, an area where I have already made contributions through a published paper in the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Journal of Engineering Mechanics. This work examines the long-term performance of cementitious materials in the context of CO2 sequestration, where a new approach was introduced to rehabilitate concrete by injecting nanoparticles using electric currents.

I am committed to advancing the development of durable construction materials. My research delves into understanding the long-term performance of concrete and the intricate interplay between humidity, temperature and transport properties. By identifying and implementing mitigation techniques, I aim to enhance the durability of concrete structures. In addition, I have authored scholarly articles in this field — concrete durability — and its implications for sustainable infrastructure.
How do you hope your research in concrete durability can impact society? 
The impact of my research extends beyond academia to society at large. Concrete is among the most widely used materials in construction and enhancing its durability can contribute significantly to environmental sustainability. By reducing the need for frequent repair and rehabilitation, durable concrete not only conserves Earth’s resources, but also minimizes costs associated with infrastructure upkeep. My research endeavors strive to address critical challenges in construction materials and contribute to a safer, more sustainable built environment.

Who are some individuals who have supported you along the way?
My father, Professor Hamoud Dehwah, has always been my role model and source of inspiration. Following in his footsteps, I chose a career in the same field. Now, as I finished my PhD in civil engineering, I am profoundly grateful for this path. My gratitude also extends to my mother and siblings, who have always been encouraging, providing emotional support that buoyed me through challenging times. I owe thanks to my advisor, Professor Yunping Xi and the Department of Civil, Architectural & Environmental Engineering for their consistent assistance. I am also grateful to my brother, Dr. Ammar Dehwah, my companion on this journey, as we pursued our PhDs together in the same department at CU Boulder.