Benavides’s legacy continues at Missouri S&T over 50 years after his graduation

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On May 18, 2023

Francisco “Frank” Benavides may have graduated from Missouri S&T in 1970, but his name is still regularly heard on the campus and associated with top-tier research in the civil, architectural and environmental engineering department.

The reason for this is because Benavides, who majored in civil engineering at S&T, funds the Francisco M. Benavides Faculty Excellence Award for the department, which honors high-achieving professors.

Frank Benavides earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Missouri S&T in 1970 and an honorary professional degree in 2015.

“I loved my time as a student at Missouri S&T, and it helped prepare me for a successful career in my field,” Benavides says. “I feel honored give back to my alma mater and to recognize faculty members who are truly working to change the world.”

Benavides has supported faculty members with this award since 2013. Every year, he donates $5,000 toward this cause, and he recently renewed this commitment for another five years.

Dr. Mohammed Elgawady, professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering and the Kaplan Faculty Scholar, was the first recipient of the Benavides Faculty Excellence Award, and his research has focused on sustainable and resilient infrastructure. One example of this is his work with 3D printing concrete that is both strong and environmentally friendly.

Dr. Hongyan Ma, associate professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering, is the current awardee and has the title of Benavides Faculty Scholar. One of his current projects, which received $2 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, focuses on removing critical minerals from silicate waste materials with a carbon-negative mineralization process. The method he is developing will include carbon capture and storage elements.

“The research going on at Missouri S&T is truly remarkable,” Benavides says. “I appreciate that I can contribute to faculty members’ efforts and still be connected to the wonderful people in Rolla, Missouri, over 50 years after finishing my undergraduate degree.”

Dr. Joel Burken, Curators’ Distinguished Professor and chair of civil, architectural and environmental engineering, says that feeling of appreciation is mutual.

“Our department’s motto is ‘Change the World,’ and Frank has certainly done that throughout his 50-plus years working around the globe as an engineer,” Burken says. “Now, he is helping support faculty members who are mentoring the next crop of engineers studying at Missouri S&T. He is continuing his legacy in a way that will benefit future generations of Miner alumni.”

Benavides, of St. Louis, founded PENTA Engineering Corporation and continues to work as the principal consultant of the PEC Consulting Group subsidiary. He is a member of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration.

In 2014, he was inducted as a member of S&T’s Academy of Civil Engineers, and he was awarded an honorary professional degree from the university in 2015.

For more information about the university’s civil, architectural and environmental engineering programs, visit To learn more about donating to support S&T faculty members’ research, visit

About Missouri S&T

Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) is a STEM-focused research university of over 7,000 students. Part of the four-campus University of Missouri System and located in Rolla, Missouri, Missouri S&T offers 101 degrees in 40 areas of study and is among the nation’s top 10 universities for return on investment, according to Business Insider. For more information about Missouri S&T, visit

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