Four siblings earn civil and infrastructure engineering degrees at Mason
May 14, 2019 / by Nanci Hellmich
“We have engineering in our DNA.”
— Nicole Nmair, BS Civil and Infrastructure Engineering ‘16, MS Civil and Infrastructure Engineering ’18
When Michael Nmair receives his bachelor’s degree in civil and infrastructure engineering on Thursday, he’ll be following in the footsteps of his older brother and sisters.
All three of his siblings—Sammy, Renee, Nicole—earned undergraduate degrees in civil and infrastructure engineering from Mason’s Volgenau School of Engineering in the past three years.
They’ve also either earned or are working on accelerated master’s degrees from the Sid and Reva Dewberry Department of Civil, Environmental, and Infrastructure Engineering (CEIE).
A love of engineering runs in the family. Their father, Nael, is an electrical engineer, and their mother, Rana, is a civil engineer. Both work for the federal government.
“We have engineering in our DNA,” says Nicole, 23, BS Civil and Infrastructure Engineering ‘16, MS Civil and Infrastructure Engineering ’18. She currently works as a bridge engineer for the Federal Highway Administration.
The tradition of attending Volgenau started with Renee, BS Civil and Infrastructure Engineering ’16, MS Civil and Infrastructure Engineering ’18. She came to Mason after her parents completed their diplomatic posting with the American Embassy in Cairo.
“I had been researching George Mason for a long time. I liked the university because it offered civil and infrastructure engineering in the same program,” says Renee, 25, a construction manager for Arlington County.
Among the other reasons she and her siblings chose CEIE:
- The accelerated master’s option.
- The engineering school has an excellent reputation.
- Civil engineering professors have real-world experience.
- Mason has an internationally diverse community.
- The university is in the Washington, D.C.-area, which has many internships and job opportunities.
Nicole, Renee, and Sammy sometimes had classes together, but they often studied independently. “If I didn’t understand something, I could ask a sibling,” Nicole says.
Sammy, 26, BS Civil and Infrastructure Engineering, is receiving his master’s degree on Thursday. He says being at the same university as his siblings makes him dream that one day, all of us will be able to open an engineering firm. He currently works as a senior project engineer with Balfour Beatty, a construction firm.
While all pursued or are pursuing the same MS program, each concentrated in different areas. Sammy specialized in construction project management, Renee, in geotechnical engineering, Nicole, in structural engineering. Michael plans to focus on transportation engineering.
Their family is a tight-knit unit, often discussing work-related engineering challenges while sitting around the dinner table. “It’s awesome to hear how each person’s day went and what issues they faced in the field,” Nicole says.
There is also a little engineering rivalry, adds Michael, 21, who’ll be working at T3 Design Corporation in Fairfax as a highway designer while earning his master’s degree in civil and infrastructure engineering at Mason.
When the family was designing a new deck for their home, “everybody had their own opinion and was trying to outdo each other with their engineering ideas,” he says.