While pursuing her undergraduate degree at the University of Notre Dame majoring in Architecture and minoring in Poverty Studies, Elle Dietz traveled to the U.S./Mexico border in January 2020 as part of a sociology class. The gravity of the situation she witnessed inspired her to align her long-term career goals with a strong mission: to serve society and make a positive impact on the world.
Fast forward to 2022, Dietz is now a University of Michigan CEE Pelham Scholar and Tishman Fellowship Master’s recipient, focusing on Construction Engineering and Management. She views her passions of art and math as interconnected foundations in her education. Dietz brings a commitment to addressing environmental sustainability and climate change to her CEE graduate studies.
CEE’s Pelham Scholars are socially-conscious engineers seeking to expand their education to solve society’s most pressing problems–Students who share the department’s commitment to diversity, in people and ideas. Pelham Scholars in the Master’s program receive two semesters of free tuition plus one-on-one mentorship with industry professionals, leading to an education that prepares students for successful and rewarding careers as industry leaders. Pelham Scholars join a close-knit campus community of faculty, staff, students and industry leaders who are invested in their success.
“One of my central career goals is to advance the field of sustainability in line with architectural projects,” Dietz said. “Through project delivery approaches such as Integrated Project Delivery, I believe the fields of Architecture and Construction Engineering will become more interconnected…. To shape a career that satisfies both of my passions—which is the career I will find most fulfilling—is my motivation and why I am grateful to be learning what I am now at the University of Michigan.”
Dietz is grateful for the opportunity to be a Pelham Scholar and for the mentorship contacts the program offers. “[The Pelham Scholars Program] has connected me with a group of trailblazers in their chosen specialties (both students and faculty) and with opportunities to explore state-of-the-art research facilities on campus,” Dietz said.
Dietz added that the chance to gain input and ideas from alumni who are leaders in Architecture and Construction provides greater insight into challenges and opportunities for change the industry faces today.
“As a Pelham Scholar, I was paired with a community mentor who is an environmental scientist,” Dietz said. “From our conversations, I am shaping an understanding of how built environments can incorporate environmental protection measures to preserve water quality, healthy people, and wildlife… Having a mentor encourages me to ask questions so I am prepared to communicate effectively with environmental engineers and scientists.”
Dietz cites her University of Michigan advisors in the Tishman Construction Management Program with giving her the foundation to explore new educational perspectives. “My academic advisors, Carol Menassa and Vineet Kamat, helped me to develop a background in Construction Engineering and Management fundamentals to prepare me for success in the Master of Engineering program,” Dietz said. “Instructors at the University of Michigan reinforce a sense of community within Civil and Environmental Engineering by referring to one another’s classes and research projects.”
“Elle came here to the Tishman Construction Management Program as a joint Pelham Scholar and Tishman Master’s Fellow,” said Kamat. “She understands the design process from her architectural background and understands the building lifecycle of design, construction, operation, and end-of-life demolition. This unique background helps her capitalize on our curriculum, and she, in turn, has enriched our program by bringing her design and engineering education to broaden the perspective of others in the classroom,” he said.
“I am very happy that Elle accepted our offer and came to U-M to be a Pelham Scholar and Tishman Fellow,” Menassa added. “In addition to her unique background of design, she stands out by bringing a different perspective to the questions she asks and the way she addresses challenges in her coursework and projects. She has chosen a unique pathway [by studying Architecture and Construction Engineering and Management].”
“Elle’s desire to advance her career built upon her diverse backgrounds brings an interesting and insightful perspective to our program, which benefits everybody’s learning. Construction is a representative example of where diverse skills meet for a common objective so she is an excellent contributor to students’ learning”, added Tishman Construction Management Program faculty member SangHyun Lee.
Dietz has used her time at the University of Michigan to inform her short- and long-term goals. For her short-term projects, Dietz is exploring current and future applications of artificial intelligence in construction project planning and scheduling. She also is studying construction safety and ergonomics, as well as requirements and design processes for stormwater management, specifically in Ann Arbor.
Dietz’s long-term vision is to continue advancing her knowledge of energy efficiency and technological innovations in construction. “One industry trend I am watching is modular construction, which is gaining traction because of its potential to improve productivity on job sites by eliminating concerns for adverse weather days and unknown site conditions,” Dietz said. “If off-site construction is the way of the future, then architects are challenged to adapt and design buildings that are beautiful AND modular.”