First-Hand:History of an ASEE Fellow - Richard O. Mines, Jr.


History of an ASEE Fellow


As of (June 2, 2018)

Birthplace: Hot Springs, VA

Birth date: July 23, 1953


I was born in Hot Springs, Virginia, the eldest of three children to Mr. and Mrs. Richard O. Mines. They have been happily married since high school (1953). My father worked in the hotel management business while my mother was a bank teller. Our family came from humble beginnings. As a child, we had no indoor plumbing and relied on a coal/wood stove for providing heat in the winter. Times were hard, but we had a loving and supportive home environment. Our ancestors have been traced back to England and Scotland. Growing up in the mountains of Virginia, I enjoyed the outdoors and was an avid fisherman. On occasion, I would go hunting for deer and turkey, but primarily, just to go outside and enjoy being in the mountains. This in part piqued an interest in the environment which has continued to this day. I am a first-generation engineer as well as a first-generation college graduate.

My wife (Beth Ellen Pehle) and I have two children, Andrew and Daniel. She is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) and elementary school counselor in Jones County, Georgia. Andrew is a classical guitarist having received his BA in Music from the University of Georgia and MA from the Manhattan School of Music. Daniel completed his BA in Sociology from Georgia State University and is working on his master’s degree.

We have been members of Martha Bowman Memorial United Methodist Church and active in the Francis Asbury Sunday School Class since 1998.


In 1971, I matriculated to the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) to begin studying civil engineering with emphasis on environmental engineering. As a Keydet, I was on the Cross-Country, Indoor Track, and Outdoor Track Teams for three years. Following my “Rat” year at VMI, I worked for HARZA engineering as a soils technician on the Bath County Pumped Storage Project (in Virginia) during the summer. It’s the largest pumped storage project in the world. In the summer of 1973, six weeks were spent in training as an Air Force ROTC cadet at Eglin Air Force Base in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. During the summer of 1974, I served as the Assistant Airport Manager at Ingals Field in Hot Springs, Virginia. I fueled airplanes, provided air traffic control, and mowed along the runways. While at VMI, I was enrolled in the Flight Instruction Program (FIP) and eventually earned my Single-engine, land, Private Pilots License. I graduated from VMI as a Distinguished Air Force ROTC Cadet and Dean’s List Student in May 1975. Dr. Donald Jamison and Dr. Cal Sawyer were my mentors while at VMI. During the summer of 1975, I worked as a soils technician for Jarfo Company on the Gathright Lake Dam Project in Bath County Virginia. After graduating from VMI, I had a pilot’s slot in the U.S. Air Force at Del Rio, Texas but decided to get an educational delay to pursue my Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering. In Fall 1975, I enrolled in the graduate program at the University of Virginia (UVA) to study environmental engineering. Dr. Clinton Parker and Dr. Roy Burke were my mentors. Fortunately, I was a graduate research assistant for Dr. H. Gordon Larew on a Fly-Ash project for the DOD. I earned by MSE from UVA in January 1977. From February through May 1977, I was a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force stationed with the Virginia Air National Guard at Byrd Field in Richmond, Virginia. After my brief service in the Air Force, Dr. Donald Jamison asked me to return to VMI as an Instructor of Civil Engineering. After teaching at VMI for two years and working as a consultant with William Matotan & Associates in Albuquerque for six months, I enrolled in the graduate civil engineering program at Virginia Tech to pursue my Ph.D. in environmental engineering. My major professor was Dr. Joseph Sherrard, and my committee members were Dr. John Novak, Dr. Bill Knocke, Dr. Robert Benoit, and Dr. J. P. Wightman. My major area of emphasis was biological wastewater treatment and I graduated in July 1983 at age 30. From March to August 2013, I completed a 6-credit hour on-line course on Biological Wastewater Treatment: Principles, Modeling, and Design offered by UNESCO-IHE, The Netherlands.


This section describes my employment history after completing my Master's degree at the University of Virginia. My job title and brief description of my duties are presented.

Second Lieutenant, U.S. Air Force, Byrd Field, Sandston, Virginia, February - May 1977. Prepared design of fuel stand modification; performed Quality Control (QC) of installation of new hangar; supervised installation of the sanitary sewer; and prepared site plans.

Quality Control Officer, Gathright Dam Lake Project-Additional Roads, Branch & Associates, Roanoke, Virginia. Performed soils analyses and staked out roads.

Instructor, Civil Engineering Department, Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, Virginia, August 1977 - May 1978. Taught Introduction to Engineering, Basic and Fortran Programming, Hydraulic Engineering, Environmental Engineering I and II, and Environmental Engineering Laboratory.

Research Assistant, VMI Research Laboratories, Inc., Lexington, Virginia, June - August 1978. Collected data and prepared three navigability reports for the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District. Supervised two student research assistants.

Instructor, Civil Engineering Department, Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, Virginia, August 1978 - June 1979. Taught Environmental Engineering I and II, Introduction to Engineering, Surveying, Surveying Lab, and Environmental Engineering Lab.

Sanitary Engineer, William Matotan & Associates, Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 1979 - November 1979. Prepared preliminary design and report for upgrading the Albuquerque Water Reclamation Plant No. 2; collected and analyzed data for treatment plant design; and prepared cost alternative evaluations.

Graduate Teaching Assistant, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, January 1980 - August 1983. Taught Introduction to Engineering and assisted in the graduate and undergraduate environmental labs. Taught in the annual short school for water and wastewater treatment operators.

Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering and Mechanics, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, August 1983 - August 1985. Undergraduate courses taught: Statics, Fluid Mechanics, Air pollution Control, Societal Aspects of Environmental Engineering, Water Quality and Treatment, Environmental Engineering Laboratory, and Wastewater Systems Design. Graduate courses taught: Urban Wastewater Treatment Theory and Design, Urban Water Treatment Theory and Design, and Water Quality for Engineers II.

Assistant Professor, Civil Engineering Department, Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, Virginia, August 1985 - June 1986. Taught Introduction to Engineering, Basic Programming, Fortran Programming, Fluid Mechanics, and Environmental Engineering. Completed two projects for the VMI Research Laboratories.

Project Engineer, CH2M Hill, Tampa and Gainesville, Florida, July 1986 - January 1990. Prepared statement of qualifications (SOQs) and requests for proposals (RFPs) for civil/environmental projects; conducted H2S study for a major sewerage system; lead design engineer for biological wastewater treatment plant expansions; prepared water and wastewater master plans; designed water treatment plant sludge lagoons; designed force mains and pump stations; and modeled water and wastewater pipe networks. Served as an Adjunct Professor at Santa Fe Community College for the spring semester 1989.

Senior Process Engineer, Black & Veatch, Tampa, Florida, January 1990 - August 1992. Prepared process design calculations for wastewater treatment plant expansions; performed alternative wastewater treatment process evaluations; prepared sludge estimates from secondary and BNR facilities; prepared SOQs and RFPs and made presentations at interviews; developed contracts with professionals, leading to two new projects for firm; served as consultant on numerous projects for other B&V regional offices; trained and supervised junior level engineers. Served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of South Florida for the 1990-1991 academic year.

Assistant Professor, University of South Florida, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tampa, Florida, August 1992 - August 1998. Undergraduate courses taught: Statics, Fluid Mechanics, Water Quality and Treatment, Water Systems Design, Wastewater Systems Design, Unit Processes, Environmental Engineering Laboratory, Capstone Water and Wastewater Systems Design, and Foundations of Engineering, Graduate courses taught: Water Quality II for Engineers, Sludge Treatment and Disposal, and Industrial and Hazardous Waste. P.I. For Assessment of Nutrient Removal Systems in Florida.

Consulting Engineer, Hodges, Harbin, Newberry, and Tribble, Macon, Georgia, May – August 2001. Reviewed, modified, and prepared permit applications for sanitary landfills in NC and GA; developed the preliminary design of a spray field land treatment system for the Town of Gray, Georgia; and presented two seminars to the engineers: a 1.5 hour seminar on engineering ethics and 2.0 hour seminar on designing biological nutrient removal systems.

Associate Professor and Program Director of Environmental Engineering & Environmental Systems, Mercer University, Department of Biomedical & Environmental Engineering, Macon, Georgia, August 1998 – July 2005. Undergraduate courses taught: Water and Wastewater Treatment, Biological Wastewater Treatment, Engineering Hydrology, Solid Waste System Design, Senior Environmental Engineering Laboratory, Senior Seminar in Environmental Science, Introduction to Problem Solving, and Engineering Design Exhibits I and II. Advise undergraduate students in Environmental Engineering and direct the Environmental Engineering program. Served as freshman advisor during the 2000 – 01 and 2004 – 05 academic years. Evaluate credits for transfer students, prepare course and graduation audits. Chairman of faculty search committee: hired two Environmental faculty members. Faculty advisor to the Student Chapter Water Environment Federation. Mercer Engineering Research Advisory Board. Faculty representative for ASEE and Morris Udall Foundation Scholarship. Member of University Ministries Committee and Advising & Mentoring Subcommittee.

Professor and Program Director of Environmental Engineering, Mercer University, Department of Biomedical & Environmental Engineering, Macon, Georgia, July 2005 – July 2008. Provide leadership for the Environmental Engineering Program supervising three full-time environmental engineering professors. Engaged in outcome based assessment for 2007 ABET accreditation visit. Chairman of the Promotion and Tenure Committee from 2005-06 and 2006-07.

Director of MSE/MS Programs and Professor of Environmental Engineering, Mercer University, School of Engineering, Macon, Georgia, July 2008 to August 2017. Provide leadership, develop policy, and promote the Graduate Engineering Programs for the School of Engineering. These include the 5th year, dual-degree Master’s programs and the traditional graduate programs. Graduate programs offered include the Master of Science in Engineering in Biomedical, Computer, Electrical, Engineering Management, Environmental, Mechanical, and Software Engineering in addition to the Master of Science degree offered in Environmental Systems, Software Systems, and Technical Management. Supervise Graduate Coordinator Administrative Assistant. Recruit students, respond to inquiries, review applications, and admit graduate students into the various Master’s Programs. Engage in the assessment of the graduate programs for SACS accreditation and undergraduate programs for ABET accreditation. Teach two engineering courses each semester, typically one undergraduate and graduate course. Developed two graduate courses on Modeling and Simulation of Biological Wastewater Treatment Plants which incorporates the use of the BioWin Software Model widely used by the environmental engineering community. Involved in scholarly activities with most of my time focused on writing an undergraduate text for John Wiley & Sons.

Civil Engineering Startup Coordinator, Professor of Environmental and Civil Engineering, , Environmental and Civil Engineering Department, Mercer University, August 1, 2017, to present. Plan and direct the development of civil engineering specialization within the School of Engineering at Mercer University. Initiated a national search for two new civil engineering faculty; hired one professor for geotechnical engineering and another one for structural engineering. Served as freshmen advisor during the 2017-18 academic year.

Research and Scholarship

My research interests include both technical and educational. For the majority of my career, I primarily focused on applied and basic research on the activated sludge process and biological nutrient removal (BNR) processes. My first sponsored research project was from the Engineering Foundation and involved evaluating the use of Oxygen Uptake Rate as an activated sludge process control parameter. Other major funded projects involved evaluation of the Micronair Process and Oxygen Transfer & Aerator Testing Project. I have conducted numerous sponsored and non-sponsored research projects related to the design, operation, and modeling of wastewater treatment facilities. Most of my research has been published in peer reviewed journals and conference proceedings.

Educational research has been very important to me too; and throughout my career, I have continued to investigate and try differing strategies for enhancing learning in the classroom and to become a more effective teacher. My educational research has primarily focused on incorporating multi-assignments into each class to appeal to various learning types and using the “flipped learning” approach in some of my classes. My research has been published in the Proceedings of ASEE National and Proceedings of ASEE Southeastern Section Annual Meetings.

Over the last decade, I have had more of an administrative role; however, I was able to co-author two books. The first one was published in 2009 by Prentice Hall. It is freshman,/sophomore level text entitled Introduction to Environmental Engineering. The second book is an upper level to first-year graduate text published in 2014 by Wiley/Blackwell entitled Environmental Engineering: Principles and Practices.

Philosophy of Engineering Education

At the heart of my Teaching Philosophy is the belief that students should have a strong foundation in basic engineering principles and practical exposure to the type of problems they will face in the working world. In preparing them for an engineering career, I know that consulting firms and private industry prefer good oral and verbal communicators and individuals who can make sound, on-the-spot decisions. I also believe I have the responsibility to motivate students to learn, question, discover and problem-solve.

In the classroom, I try to model these skills. My strength is the ability to take complicated concepts or problems and explain them in a manageable, straight-forward way. Through lecture, homework, and projects, students learn how to structure ideas and solutions based on an understanding of basic fundamentals. They gain practice in presenting their ideas to their peers through special assignments or full-scale design projects where they become part of a team. They are encouraged to become involved in professional societies and are introduced to professional literature as a way to keep abreast of the constant changes in the field.

I use a variety of multi-media options in the classroom in combination with traditional lectures with a lot of practical applications to engage and maintain interest in the classroom. A variety of assignments are used throughout the semester to appeal to the various types of learners: homework problems, technical papers and reports, design projects, field trip reports, and laboratory experiences.

My job as an educator is to facilitate student learning and to help students to develop professionally as an engineer. It is my task to them accountable for learning the material and performing their duties in an ethical and professional manner. I want them to be successful! My expectations are for them to come to class prepared, on-time, and ready to contribute. Learning is not a spectator sport. My responsibility is to teach them to be active thinkers, not simply to find answers in a book or on the Internet. Feedback from successful students confirms that they learn information and skills in my class that they find useful in their career.

ASEE Activities

ASEE became a part of my life in April 1995 when I attended my first ASEE Southeastern Section Meeting held in Biloxi, Mississippi. It was perhaps the best conference that I had attended up to that time. At this meeting, I met J.P. Mohsen, Ken Brannan, Tom Dion, and Beth Todd, all who have been actively engaged in ASEE throughout their careers. The collegiality and camaraderie shared by this special group have helped to shape my involvement and inspiration for being the best educator that I can be. I became the Secretary of the Civil Engineering Division at that meeting and have served in the following capacities in the ASEE Southeastern Section: Vice-Chair of Civil Engineering Division, Chairman of Civil Engineering Division, Vice-Chair of Instructional Division, Vice-President of Instructional Unit, Secretary of Administrative Unit, Vice-President of the Administrative Unit, President-Elect, President, Past-President, Secretary Administrative Division, Chair Administrative Division, Miriam-Wiley Award Committee, Chair Awards and Recognition. I have attended 14 Southeastern Section Meetings, four National Meetings (Anaheim, Albuquerque, Salt Lake City, and Montreal), and a Zone II Meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I was fortunate to attend the National Effective Teaching Institute (NETI) workshop with Dr. Richard Felder, Dr. James Stice, and Dr. Rebecca Brent held in Albuquerque, New Mexico during the 2001 Annual ASEE Conference. This had a tremendous impact on my approach to teaching; especially how tests and exams were prepared.

As mentioned earlier, over the years, I served in several different capacities, one of my favorites being the Campus Representative at Mercer University. I was fortunate to win the ASEE SE Campus Rep Award in 2001-02, 2002-03, and 2003-04 and the Zone II Campus Rep Award in 2002-03 and 2003-04. During 2002-03, I served as the President of the Southeastern Section and Mercer University hosted the Annual Sectional Meeting for the first time in March 2003. Under my Presidency, the ASEE SE Section established the Mid-Career Outstanding Teaching Award and began to provide funds for the ASEE National Outstanding Teaching Award. In 2011, I received the Tony Tilmans Section Service Award in the Southeastern Section. I was made a Fellow of ASEE in June 2015.

Other Professional Activities

In addition to my membership in ASEE, throughout my career, I have held or currently hold memberships in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Water Environment Federation (WEF), American Water Works Association (AWWA), and Environmental and Water Resources Institute (EWRI). I have been an active member of ASCE since 1975 and was made a Fellow in 2007 and achieved Life Member status in 2018. For ASCE, I served on the Blue-Ribbon Panel (2016-17) for review of Manual of Practice #8. As a member of WEF, I was a contributing author of the Activated Sludge Literature Review (June 1983 to June 1992) and Wastewater Collection Systems Literature Review (June 1992 to January 1998) and was the primary author of Chapter 7 of the WEF’s “Biological and Chemical Systems for Nutrient Removal” published in 1998. While I was an Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida, I was actively engaged in the Florida Water Environment Association (FWEA) from June 1992 through July 1998. During this time frame, I was a member of the Phelps Committee, Student Activities Forum Chair (December 1993 to August 1994), and Chairman of the Research Committee (January 1995 to October 1997). I served on EWRI’s Residuals Committee from June 1999 to May 2010. During this time frame, I served as the Secretary of the Residuals Committee from October 2004 to October 2006 and then as Vice-Chair of the Committee from October 2006 to October 2010. From August 2005 to August 2006, I was a member of the Georgia Association of Water Professionals, Wastewater Treatment Committee. In July 2013, I became a Fellow in EWRI. I am or have been registered as a Professional Engineer in New Mexico (7329) Active, Florida (33580) Retired, and Virginia (12130) Inactive.

Other Activities

I have been a life-long athlete. While at Valley and Bath County High School in Virginia, I lettered in football (four years), basketball (three years) and baseball (two years) and was an all-district safety in football my senior year. At VMI, I was a three-year letterman in cross- country and track. During my senior year, I served as the captain of the cross-country team, co-captain of the indoor track team, and tri-captain of the outdoor track team. In 1974, I held the VMI six-mile outdoor track record of 31 minutes, 57 seconds. While at UVA, I began to race competitively with the Bath County and Valley Road Runner clubs. I have completed 56 marathons in 25 states and ran over 80,000 miles to date (2018). My fastest marathon time was 2:48:25 in Jacksonville, FL (1984). Some of the major marathons in which I have participated include: Boston Marathon (5 times), NYC, Los Angeles, Chicago, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Charlotte, Richmond, Jacksonville, Birmingham, Columbus, Fort Worth, Albuquerque, Salt Lake City, Anchorage, and Marine Corps marathons. He has completed over 360 races. In January 2007, I was inducted into the Bath County Athletic Hall of Fame.