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Featured Student: Maria Trejo

University of North Carolina at Charlotte



The work of the PCI Foundation Design Studios has overlapped with the well-respected PCI Daniel P. Jenny Fellowship which is supporting the work of University of North Carolina at Charlotte graduate student in civil engineering, Maria Trejo. 


Trejo was first introduced to the precast concrete industry when she took part in the integrated precast design studio taught by professors Brett Tempest of the engineering school and Thomas Gentry of the school of architecture. “As an undergraduate student, I found the opportunity to work with architecture students interesting and was excited to learn about the course functions of the Architecture Department at UNC Charlotte,” says Trejo. “Overall, the course opportunity provided an eye-opening experience and was a lot of fun. The Solar Decathlon experience also helped as a good backdrop for the course I took later.”


Her proposal “Characterization and Case Study of Geopolymer Cement Concrete in Precast Structural Applications” was one of five $20,000 fellowships awarded for the 2013-2014 school year by the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute. “My Jenny Fellowship focuses on the development of geopolymer cement concrete. Through the fellowship I will highlight the UNC Charlotte Solar Decathlon house entry as a case study,” says Trejo. “My research is a sensitivity analysis of the affects of the water:cement ratio, curing temperature, and curing time on the mechanical properties of geopolymer cement concrete. The end goal is to determine parameters for the production procedures as well as the limitations. Also, I will also be doing a study on the freeze thaw capability and the chloride permeability of the concrete.”

Trejo has attended two PCI Convention as a guest of the PCI Foundation, and has taken part in the poster session during the conference. 

Support for her research is provided by Metromont in Greenville, SC. 


Once she has graduated, Trejo plans to pursue a career in engineering, possibly in the precast industry. “Currently, the plan for after graduation is to work on my engineering career and actively setting up a path for licensure and career progress. I am hoping to explore and learn as much as I can about the different structural paths in the industry. I am also planning to do some traveling and also explore the opportunities and potential in development work and engineering.” 

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