Two Engineering Students Receive First George Tamaro ’59 Scholarships

The scholarship fund will support civil engineering students in preparation for their careers.


Left to right: Alexa Raffaniello '17, Felipe Demelo '17, George Tamaro '59, Mehdi Omidvar, Ph.D., Anirban De, Ph.D., P.E., Evangelia Ieronymaki, Ph.D.

Two members of the class of 2017 have received a newly established scholarship at the College, named in honor of George Tamaro ’59, a renowned engineer credited with helping design many of the world’s superstructures.

Alexa Raffaniello ’17 and Felipe Demelo ’17, each of whom will graduate in May with bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering, received the award from the George J. Tamaro ’59 Manhattan College Civil Engineering Scholarship Fund. The annual scholarship is funded by the Deep Foundations Institute (DFI) Educational Trust and distributes a total of $10,000 to undergraduate civil engineering students preparing for careers in the deep foundations industry via civil or geotechnical engineering.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree, Raffaniello will pursue a civil engineering master’s degree with a concentration in geotechnical engineering from Manhattan College. She is involved in the American Society of Civil Engineers and is currently leading the effort to begin a DFI Student Chapter at Manhattan College, hoping to connect students with industry professionals and allow for organized visits to geotechnical construction sites. She plans to begin her career in geotechnical engineering and pursue a P.E. license.   

A first-generation student from Brazil, Demelo has been involved in research to create self-healing concrete while taking an analysis of the restoration process, and to reduce steel corrosion in reinforced concrete by using a byproduct of mining operations. He plans to obtain a LEED AP (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional) credential in building design and construction, and to work in a field where reducing, reusing and recycling are priorities.

Tamaro has built a career in foundation design that spans 50 years. In that time, he has established himself as an expert in slurry wall construction, a key component of the original World Trade Center’s foundation design. Tamaro was at Ground Zero after the Sept. 11 attacks with a team of first responders assigned to protecting the complex infrastructure. Tamaro helped to design 7 World Trade Center and the Freedom Tower in the months and years that followed. Currently, he is a consultant at Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers (MRCE).

Tamaro has also worked on the John F. Kennedy Light Rail Project in Queens, the Times Square Tower in Manhattan and New Jersey’s Goldman Sachs Tower. Recently, he was honored with the DFI’s first ever Legends-Engineer Award.

In the future, the Tamaro scholarship will have a two-pronged effect, according to Tim Ward, Ph.D., P.E., dean of the School of Engineering and professor of civil engineering at the College. Not only will the fund assist aspiring engineers, it will also provide deserving recognition to an accomplished Manhattan alumnus who once stood in their shoes.

“The School of Engineering is extremely pleased that the Tamaro scholarship has been established to honor George and all he has contributed to the engineering profession,” Ward says. “His work on deep foundations, in general, as well as on the World Trade Center buildings, specifically, demonstrates why he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. We know this scholarship will help support students who have the passion for geotechnical engineering that George has demonstrated his entire career.”