As a new WSU faculty member, Idil Akin attended Faculty Crimson Club on a September evening back in 2017 seeking to connect with colleagues and strike up friendships. She got more than she bargained for in meeting John McCloy.

Just a few minutes after meeting each other, the two Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture professors were discussing a potential research collaboration. Two years and more than $200,000 in grant funding later, Akin is glad she walked across campus to take part in the monthly event that gathers faculty from across colleges and campuses for casual conversations.

“John (McCloy) is in mechanical engineering and I am in civil engineering, so we didn’t have a reason to meet outside of Crimson Club,” said Akin, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Colf Distinguished Professor in Geotechnical Engineering. “We just started talking and he mentioned that he had a project that I might be able to work with him on. I didn’t have any other projects going at the time.”

Akin specializes in geo‑environmental and geotechnical engineering, and her collaboration with McCloy involves studying clay surface properties. The second phase of the research project, funded by a company in Dubai, is set to wrap up in February.

McCloy, a professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, is spending the fall collaborating with researchers at the University of Sheffield on a Fulbright award-funded project on issues surrounding radioactive waste management and nuclear waste disposal.

Crimson Club is designed to facilitate discussion among faculty from different realms. Akin says she never expected to find a research collaborator at the event, but she hasn’t missed a Crimson Club since.

“I attend Crimson Club whenever I can and I’ve met a lot of friends there, but I’ve only had one research collaboration so far,” Akin said.

McCloy is also eager to interact with colleagues in different fields. He’s been a regular at Crimson Club when he’s in town.

“I really think it can be enriching for faculty to meet each other and learn about what we do,” McCloy said. “I have met not only potential colleagues like Idil, but interesting people outside my field that work at WSU, for instance, music and art professors. I think that’s a big part of being a scholar.”

Crimson Club takes place once per month, beginning Sept. 25, throughout the academic year in the Martin Stadium Premium Seating and Press Box Building. The event runs from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Please RSVP two days prior to the respective event to Kristina Peterson‑Wilson ( or 509‑335‑5581).