Manuel Diaz is a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Please tell us about yourself.
I am originally from Lima, Peru. After finishing my undergraduate and master’s degrees in civil engineering, I came to the United States to pursue my Ph.D. at The University of Texas at Austin. After receiving my Ph.D. in 1984, I worked for a consulting firm on roadway and bridge design, and pavement and bridge management. I cam to UTSA in the summer of 1998 as an Adjunct Professor and was hired as a Tenure Track Assistant Professor in Fall 2000. I was promoted to Professor in 2015 and I have served as the Interim Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering from Summer 2017 to Summer 2019.
What is your job title and what do you do?
I am a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Besides my role as a professor, I am also the faculty advisor for the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Society for Hispanic Engineers, and the American Concrete Institute student chapters. As their faculty advisor, I help them organize and participate in community oriented activities and regional and national engineering competitions.
What brought you to UTSA?
The commitment of the upper management to teaching. As seen through the years, UTSA has helped several first-generation students become excellent engineers.
What projects are you working on now?
Currently, I am assisting Dr. Ghannoum on a TxDOT project on “Evaluating Bridge Behavior Using Ultra High-Resolution Next Generation Digital Image Correlation: Applications in Bridge Inspection and Damage Assessment.”
When did you start becoming interested in engineering?
I first became interested in engineering when I was in high school. Peru is in a high seismic area and understanding the response of buildings and other structures to earthquakes was intriguing.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Finding ways to explain engineering concepts in the simplest possible way.
What book are you currently reading (or read last)?
“A Mind at a Time” by Mel Levine. It helped me understand some of the roadblocks faced by students.
Is there anything else about your life that you’d like to share?
I enjoy body surfing (no boogie boards). It is something I learned on the beaches in Lima where I grew up. I can spend hours if there are some good waves.