Debra Larson, PhD, PE

Debra   Larson
  • BS Civil Engineering 1978
  • MS Civil Engineering 1981

Debra graduated from Michigan Tech with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering in 1978 and followed it up with a master’s degree in civil engineering in 1981. She hails from Ishpeming and is fond of her Yooper roots.

Her professional career includes stints with private engineering and manufacturing companies in Arizona, Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Wisconsin from 1981 until 1989.  Then in 1994 she received her Civil Engineering PhD from Arizona State University and began Phase Two of her professional career – this one in academia. The majority of her academic career was spent at Northern Arizona University where she held positions as Associate Professor, Professor, Department Chair, Associate Dean, and Associate Vice Provost. While on sabbatical from NAU, she served as visiting professor at Helsinki University of Technology in Espoo, Finland that is now known as Alato University.  Debra was named Dean of Engineering at California Polytechnic State University in 2011.

As a student, she was a member of the Society for Women Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, Chi Epsilon Honor Fraternity, Blue Key and the Graduate Student Council.  She was also involved in Husky athletics as a member of the Ski and Volleyball teams.

Debra has received numerous awards and recognitions throughout her career including but not limited to: The Distinguished Achievement Award from the Arizona State University Faculty Women’s Association, 1994; the Boeing Outstanding Educator Award for Design4Practice: Engineering Design through the Curriculum at NAU, 1999; Outstanding Teacher Award, Pacific Southwest Section of American Society of Engineering Educators, 1999; Dean’s Award, Northern Arizona University College of Engineering & Technology, 1999; the Arizona Society of Civil Engineers, Distinguished Service Award (2008) and Presidents Award (2006).

She serves on the Board of Governors for the Order of the Engineer, on the Executive Board for the American Society for Engineering Educator’s Dean’s Council, and on the Academic Advisory Council for ABET.  In addition, she is a Professional Civil Engineer registered in the states of Oregon and Arizona and in  September of 2011, she was inducted into Michigan Tech’s Civil & Environmental Academy.

Debra makes her home in San Luis Obispo, CA, and has two grown children; a daughter, Holland and a son, Shay.

In 2014, in recognition of her significant achievements, Debra was inducted into the Presidential Council of Alumnae. This profile appeared in the induction program, September 19, 2014.