Parfitt named interim head of architectural engineering


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – M. Kevin Parfitt, P.E., F.AEI, professor of architectural engineering at Penn State, has been appointed interim head of the Department of Architectural Engineering, effective Aug. 1, 2016. Parfitt will succeed Chimay Anumba, who has served as head of the department since 2008 and has accepted a position as dean of the University of Florida’s College of Design, Construction and Planning. Parfitt’s appointment will last one year, during which time the College of Engineering will conduct a national search for a permanent head.

“Penn State AE has long been considered the top architectural engineering program in the country and I am proud to be appointed to this position. I feel extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such an excellent group of students, as well as a dedicated and highly motivated faculty,” Parfitt said. 

Parfitt has been an architectural engineering department faculty member since 1981. Prior to joining Penn State his professional experience included positions as a structural and project engineer with a number of national architectural engineering firms, as well as working for noted architect/forensic structural consultant Raymond A. DiPasquale and Associates.

Amr Elnashai, Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering, said, “Professor Parfitt has a deep and broad knowledge of the Department of Architectural Engineering that renders him ideally suited to lead the group at this juncture. His steady leadership will smooth the transition between Professor Anumba and an incoming head who will be selected through a national search.”

During his more than 34 years in the department, Parfitt has served as the placement coordinator and director of the AE Senior Thesis year-long capstone program including directing an educational research project that resulted in a multidisciplinary team senior capstone option for students. Under Parfitt’s direction, students in this integrated senior thesis program have gone on to compete in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI) National Student Design Competition. To date, Penn State AEI teams have won more total awards than any other architectural engineering program in the nation. 

“Watching the students present to the judges at the AEI national competition or to industry professionals at the Senior Awards Thesis are both highlights of teaching in AE," Parfitt said. "That's when the students shine and you can see the results of the student-faculty mentorship that occurs in the fifth year in AE.

Over the years, Parfitt has been recognized by the University and the Penn State Engineering Alumni Society for his teaching and advising excellence, receiving the Lawrence J. Perez Student Advocate Award, as well as the society’s Outstanding Advising, Outstanding Teaching and Premier Teaching Awards. In 2011, he was named a Penn State Teaching Fellow, a University award for distinguished teaching. To date, he is the only architectural engineering faculty member to receive the award.

In addition to his teaching duties and leadership roles, Parfitt plays an active role in the department’s research of building failures and dissemination of failures information to the profession. He has been involved in a number of national failures investigations including the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, a multiple private hangar snow collapse event at the Dulles Jet Center in Virginia and fire damage repair assessment of parts of a laboratory facility at Fort Detrick, Maryland. Parfitt indicated that this type of professional involvement is invaluable in bringing real-world practitioner-type content into his building failures and forensic course.

Parfitt’s professional affiliations include ASCE where he is actively involved in the Forensic Engineering Division, founding member of the ASCE AEI and a former editor of the ASCE Journal of Architectural Engineering.

Because of his role in the department’s undergraduate education process and career placement activities, Parfitt said his goals for the year include capitalizing on the vast knowledge and experience of the faculty to maintain and enhance the quality and multidisciplinary core architectural engineering curriculum. He hopes to expand the student-practitioner initiatives already underway in the department, including maintaining the close ties that the department has with the profession and firms which hire architectural engineering graduates.

This focus on connecting students to practitioners also assists Parfitt in leading Penn State’s largest departmental career fair which brings in more than 135 companies to hire architectural engineering students for internships and full-time positions. Additionally, the career fair fosters relationships that result in the funding of scholarships and student awards. Now in its 23rd year, the AE career fair, in conjunction with the high quality of architectural engineering students, is a driving factor in why students in the major have a near 100 percent job placement rate by graduation.

“One of my primary tasks over the next year will be staying in touch with the students to ensure we are providing them with the highest level undergraduate and graduate education possible,” he said.

Parfitt received a bachelor of architectural engineering degree from Penn State and a master of engineering in civil engineering (structures) from Cornell University.


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Samantha Chavanic

“One of my primary tasks over the next year will be staying in touch with the students to ensure we are providing them with the highest level undergraduate and graduate education possible."



Widely acknowledged as one of the top Architectural Engineering programs in the world, the Penn State AE Department is dedicated to providing outstanding academic excellence to all of our students. The AE program is focused on preparing students and conducting research in the design, engineering, and construction of building projects.

Department of Architectural Engineering

104 Engineering Unit A

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-6394