Professor Peña-Mora Named NYC DDC Commissioner

—Photo by Eileen Barroso

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today that he is appointing Columbia Engineering Professor Feniosky Peña-Mora as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC). Peña-Mora is a leading engineer with vast experience managing infrastructure and construction projects in New York, the United States, and across the globe. He is currently the Edwin Howard Armstrong Professor of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, professor of earth and environmental engineering, and professor of computer science at Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), where he has taught since 2009. Peña-Mora is also the founding partner of Peña-Alcántara Consultants, Inc., a firm specializing in the use of information technology and construction management techniques in infrastructure projects.

“I am looking forward to the work ahead and very excited to collaborate with all my fellow citizens who make this city the incredible place it is,” said Peña-Mora, who was also dean of Columbia Engineering from 2009 to 2012. “We will strengthen resiliency, efficiency, and safety in every project we oversee. We hope to build a new generation of streets, public works, and buildings that weave our diverse communities closer together and enrich the great fabric of our extraordinary city—the greatest city in the world!”

“We are delighted that Professor Peña-Mora has been tapped by New York City for this important and influential post,” said Mary C. Boyce, dean of Columbia Engineering. “Our School’s faculty has been an integral part of the growth and development of New York City for the past 150 years and we are proud that Professor Peña-Mora is continuing in that tradition. He is sure to bring his many talents to the benefit of this great city.”

Prior to joining the Columbia Engineering faculty, Peña-Mora was associate provost and the Edward William and Jane Marr Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Peña-Mora moved to Washington Heights from the Dominican Republic in 1988, joining his mother who had emigrated 10 years earlier and was working on a factory line. He received a Doctor of Science and Master of Science in civil engineering from MIT and a BS in civil engineering, magna cum laude, from the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Peña-Mora’s research focuses include developing information technology support for collaboration in preparedness, response, and recovery during disasters such as the 9-11 terrorist attack and Hurricane Katrina. He is also a leader in change management, conflict resolution, sustainable construction, and processes integration during the design and development of large-scale civil engineering systems.

He is the author or co-author of more than 200 scholarly publications and holds five patents, one pending patent, and one provisional patent. He has received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (known as PECASE), National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the James R. Croes Medal from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the ASCE Computing in Civil Engineering and the Construction Management Awards, FIATECH Engineering & Technology Innovation Award, the American Society Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering and the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management best paper awards.

—by Holly Evarts

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