Posted December 11, 2008
Maher Wissa, M.S.C.E., P.E., P.L.S. is retiring after 15 years of instructing students in the Civil Engineering Technology and Geomatics Technology programs.
Wissa’s engineering and surveying career as well as public service started in 1962 after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt. He immigrated to the United States in 1968 and brought with him a wealth of knowledge that he has shared with his peers and students over the past several years.
After working for an engineering firm in Los Angeles, California and for the Kentucky Bureau of Highways in Louisville, Kentucky as a design engineer and squad leader, Maher attended the University of Louisville Speed Scientific School.
In 1972 he earned a M.S. in Civil Engineering Degree. He then moved to Greenville, South Carolina, and worked as a design supervisor for the Daniel International Corporation (presently Flour Corporation).
After two years he moved to Saudi Arabia and managed the construction of the largest airport in the world. He was assigned the job of Assistant Chief Civil Engineer, was promoted to Construction Coordinator, then Quality Assurance Manager. After the completion of the airport project and spending 11 years in Saudi Arabia, Maher returned to North Carolina and started his own consulting engineering practice.
Wissa moved to Idaho in 1988 and developed a hydroelectric power plant at Lava Hot Springs. While working on this project he saw the advertisement for an instructor of Civil Engineering Technology at the ISU College of Technology and started teaching in 1993. He states, “I felt it was time to transfer my years of experience in professional engineering design and construction and to educate and train students on understanding the need of producing quality engineering and construction projects.”
Wissa was instrumental in the creation of a bachelor degree program and developed the first curriculum for a Bachelor of Science in the Geomatics Technology program. He has worked tirelessly to expand program offerings across the state with students now participating in outreach courses at ISU Twin Falls, ISU Boise, Moscow, Blackfoot, and Salmon, ID. Throughout his tenure, over 100 students have graduated with associate degrees and 18 with bachelor degrees in Geomatics Technology. Several have also qualified as Land Surveyors in Training and/or received their Professional Land Surveyor licenses.
To assist students even further, Maher created an endowment for Geomatics Technology student scholarships. Other honors he has received include the ISU College of Technology Outstanding Achievement Award (1999-2000), ISU Outstanding Public Service Award (2004-2005), and recognition for “dedication toward the Civil Engineering technology program” by the ISU Surveying Club in 2001.
Wissa has been an active member of the University, serving on several committees and subcommittees such as the ISU Geographic Information Systems Oversight Committee, University Safety Committee, Campus Planning Council, Faculty Council, and Faculty Senate. Also, during his professional career he has written and presented many technical papers that address issues of public concerns. Most recently he presented one of his papers at the 21^st Annual North American Surveying and Mapping Educators Conference.
Wissa also works to improve the surveying profession outside of his career at ISU. He serves an advisor to the registration board on education requirements for land surveying licensing, has been instrumental in establishing Idaho’s first RTK BPS CORS station, and took the lead in forming the Idaho Geospatial Reference Center. He was the 2008 Idaho Society Professional Land Surveyors (ISPLS) committee chairperson for the conference and chair of the Eastern Section of ISPLS. Maher was recognized with the surveyor of the year award during their annual conference and awards banquet held in Pocatello. John Russell, ISPLS president stated, “Maher is an excellent teacher and his repertoire with students is commendable.”
When asked about his most memorable times at the University, Wissa states, “Seeing students passing exams and gaining their professional licensing, and seeing them achieve success in the workplace has been rewarding. I have been proud to increase the number of students enrolled in the Geomatics Technology program.” He adds, “I have had wonderful experiences at ISU – serving on committees and building relationships with colleagues.”
Wissa’s retirement plans include spending time with his wife Louise and traveling between his homes in Idaho and Florida.
A retirement reception will be held to recognize Maher Wissa for his service to the University on Friday, Dec. 12, 2008 at the College of Technology Culinary Arts area at 3 p.m.