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Cieply stays active by earning master’s degree at 74

Release Date: August 14, 2008

Southfield, Mich. - Oleh Cieply of Warren has been officially retired for nine years, but he's still working and learning.

Cieply, 74, is a registered professional engineer who works part-time for Environmental Engineers of Southfield, where he reviews plans for new developments in Livingston County. On July 29 he successfully defended his graduate project dissertation to complete a master's degree in civil engineering at Lawrence Technological University.

It marked the conclusion of a personal quest that began in 2000 shortly after his retirement from Wade Trim in Taylor.

"It gives me great satisfaction to complete this personal goal after eight years," Cieply said. "I'm glad there isn't any age discrimination at Lawrence Tech."

Cieply is believed to be the oldest master's degree recipient in the history of the College of Engineering at Lawrence Tech.

"Mr. Cieply's remarkable achievement shows that it's never too late to gain new knowledge," said Assistant Professor Elin Jensen, the director of civil engineering graduate programs at Lawrence Tech. "It was inspiring to see how much enthusiasm and energy he brought to his studies."

It's another milestone on a remarkable journey that began in Ukraine where Cieply was born shortly before the start of World War II. He lived in Poland and started high school in Germany before coming to the United States in 1949 to join relatives in Toledo. He was salutatorian of his high school class and graduated from the University of Toledo with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1958.

Cieply was an ROTC cadet and was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army even before he could pick up his college diploma.  He served in the reserves for 28 years, ending up as a lieutenant colonel in the Army Corps of Engineers. He graduated from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., and for six years taught U.S. Army Command and General Staff College courses at various posts throughout the country.

He also taught surveying and hydrology for many years as an adjunct professor at Lawrence Tech and Wayne State University.

He returned to Lawrence Tech when he decided it was finally time to earn a master's degree in civil engineering. His studies focused on hydrology and hydraulics. His dissertation on storm water detention drew upon his recent experience reviewing projects in Livingston County.

Part of his satisfaction in graduating from Lawrence Tech comes from joining the other members of his immediate family in having an advanced university degree. His wife Alberta has a master's degree in education and works for the Michigan Department of Human Services. His daughter, Christine Pope of Warren, has a master's degree in counseling and works in human services at St. John Macomb-Oakland Hospital. His son Stefan of Oak Park has a Ph.D. in English and teaches at Wayne State University.

Lawrence Technological University, ltu.edu, offers over 80 undergraduate, master's and doctoral degree programs in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management. Founded in 1932, the 4,500-student, private university pioneered evening classes 75 years ago, and today has a growing number of weekend and online programs. Lawrence Tech's 102-acre campus is in Southfield, with education centers in Lansing, Livonia, Clinton Township, Traverse City and Petoskey. Lawrence Tech also offers programs with partner universities in Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.