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Author: UConn Engineering Welcomes 12 New Faculty in 2022-2023

 

By: Eli Freund, Director of Communications, UConn School of Engineering

The Fall semester brings in new names and faces on the student side, but when those students settle into their classes, they’ll be greeted with 12 new faculty in four different departments in the University of Connecticut School of Engineering.

New faculty for this year come from all over the country, including Michigan State, University of California-Santa Cruz, and Penn State, and also include a CAREER Award winner.

The distribution of the new faculty includes one new faculty in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, three new faculty in Civil and Environmental Engineering, four new faculty in Computer Science and Engineering, and four new faculty in Mechanical Engineering.

The new faculty are as follows:

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Monika Crowl, Assistant Professor-in-Residence

 

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Fatemeh Fakhrmoosavi, Assistant Professor

Alexandra Hain, Assistant Professor

Vahid Moravati, Assistant Professor

 

Computer Science and Engineering

Hasan Baig, Assistant Professor-in-Residence, Stamford Campus

Yuan Hong, Associate Professor

David Strimple, Lecturer

Minmei Wang, Assistant Professor

 

Mechanical Engineering

Ruimin Chen, Assistant Professor-in-Residence

Andri Christodoulidou, Visiting Assistant Professor

Chao Hu, Associate Professor

Martin Huber, Assistant Professor-in-Residence

Author: UConn Formula SAE Takes Top Ten Spot in National Competition

The UConn Formula SAE team gathers around their car.

The UConn Formula SAE Team gathers around their car during the Formula SAE Michigan competition. (Photo Courtesy of UConn Formula SAE)

 

By: Eli Freund, Director of Communications, UConn School of Engineering

At the end of the Spring 2022 semester, the UConn Formula SAE team placed in the top ten of multiple different categories in the national Formula SAE Michigan competition held at the Michigan International Speedway.

UConn Formula SAE, a club that has existed for several decades, builds a small-scale Formula 1 style race car each year, employing a team of around 50 students, who come from different majors across the University. The car that was created this year was the 13th generation and had been upgraded with a front and rear wing, giving the driver more grip and downforce. The club is advised by Thomas Mealy, senior mechanical engineer in the Mechanical Engineering Department.

Despite having to swap out the engine at the last minute, the team placed third in the endurance race, fourth in the autocross race, and tenth overall, in a field that featured nearly 100 teams from schools all over the country. The team had never reached the top five in the autocross competition, which pits teams against each other based on timed runs.

In their competition newsletter, the team was proud of their overall result, and they attribute their success to that successful autocross finish.

“Never has there been a more focused and well-oiled group of people to achieve such a task. Everyone knew what needed to be done, and no one was ready to go home. Under the fear of almost certain failure, our team fought for the ability just to compete another day. Unknowing that our efforts to just stay alive would turn into triumphs. As it turned out, Autocross was just the beginning,” according to the team.

For more information on the UConn Formula SAE team, please click here.

Author: New UConn Program Helps Non-Computer Scientists Break Into the Computer Science Industry

(Photo Courtesy of Pixels)

 

By: Eli Freund, Director of Communications, UConn School of Engineering 

The University of Connecticut School of Engineering Professional Education Program and the Computer Science and Engineering Department announce the launch of a new program called CyberLEAP—an innovative path for non-computer scientists to break into the Computer Science industry. With computer science and data science jobs growing precipitously in a hot job market, CyberLEAP offers working professionals the opportunity to gain highly sought skills in these in-demand fields. According to recent data, holders of advanced degrees in those fields earn median salaries over $100,000 per year. 

CyberLEAP is an online, non-credit program that covers three Computer Science modules including Data Structures and Algorithms, Discrete Mathematics, and Introduction to Systems Programming. Each module is 14 weeks long and is designed to meet the main Computer Science requirements of the MEng in CSE and MEng in Data Science. The full admission requirements for the MEng programs can be found on the following websites –  MEng in CSE and MEng in Data Science. The CyberLEAP modules may also be taken independently for career enhancement and knowledge acquisition. Students can complete only the modules for which they have no prior formal coursework – there is no requirement to complete all three modules. The cost of each module is $2,000.

The first cohort for CyberLEAP is scheduled to begin in mid-August 2022. For more information and to apply to the program, please visit the CyberLEAP website,  https://soeprofed.uconn.edu/cyber-leap/.

Author: UConn Engineering Inducts 10 New Members to the Academy of Distinguished Engineers

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By: Eli Freund, Director of Communications, UConn School of Engineering

After postponing the 2021 induction ceremony for the University of Connecticut Academy of Distinguished Engineers because of the rise of COVID-19 cases, UConn Engineering celebrated the Academy Class of 2021 in a ceremony in the Student Union Ballroom on May 12.

The 10 inductees for the Academy Class of 2021 come from a variety of impressive backgrounds, including a former economic and technology policy advisor in the Obama Administration, a retired senior executive at ExxonMobil, and the COO of the San Jose Water Company.

Like previous induction ceremonies, the night was filled with stories of perseverance, great times at UConn, and family legacies.

One of those family legacies belonged to Andrew Gere ’92, COO of San Jose Water Company, who’s daughter is currently a student at UConn.

“I’m proud to say that my daughter is here tonight and is a student here at the University of Connecticut in Environmental Studies, with a focus in sustainability, and I hope one day she’ll end up with a career in water.”

Dipayan P. Ghosh ’10Co-Director of the Digital Platforms & Democracy Project at the Harvard Kennedy School, reminisced on a near-failure that turned into a great memory. 

“The one memory that stands out the most is this test we were studying for in our signals and systems class, and we were just dreading it. Four of us were up all night in my dorm room, and I literally didn’t get a wink of sleep that night. We get to the exam, and the TA that’s supposed to be proctoring doesn’t even show up. We’re sitting there for half an hour and then Professor Peter Willett comes in and said the exam was cancelled because the TA overslept. Thank you Professor Willett for cancelling that exam, I definitely would have failed it.”

The bios of all of our inductees can be found by clicking here. For more information on this year’s ceremony and the Academy in general, please click here. 

Author: UConn and Anglo Educational Services Launch London Master of Engineering Internship Program

(Photo Courtesy of Pixabay)

 

The University of Connecticut School of Engineering and Anglo Educational Services (AES) in London have partnered to offer prospective students around the world the opportunity to pursue a Master of Engineering (MEng) in Data Science or Advanced Systems Engineering, combined with an international internship experience in London.

“This is an exceptionally valued-added option for the otherwise entirely online MEng program. It provides students with an experience in a dynamic global setting. Through UConn’s long term partner Anglo Educational Services in London, and potentially other partners in the United Kingdom, we will build a portfolio of British engineering firms where our students can practice the knowledge they learned and potentially become long-term contributors to their profession. To have paid internships will certainly increase the equitable accessibility to the program by a broader range of students,” says Yuhang Rong, UConn Associate Vice President for Global Affairs.

Starting in the Fall of 2022, students will be able to enroll in the experience of a lifetime, combining an in-demand degree with an opportunity to study abroad. Both full-time masters programs run for one year and are delivered online by UConn faculty, allowing students to take classes from anywhere around the world. Students enrolled in this programs will be taught by UConn professors and students will receive their MEng degree from the University of Connecticut. During the course of the one year, students will have the chance to move to London for a six-month paid internship with a London-based company as part of the program for credit, allowing them to develop their practical and professional skills.

StudentUniverse, the world’s largest travel marketplace for students have voiced their support for the new partnership. Sam Willan, VP, Marketing, “At StudentUniverse we believe that travel teaches things that you cannot learn in the classroom, so it’s fantastic to see two great institutions coming together like this to create something that will offer a truly unique experience for tomorrow’s tech innovators and leaders. Having worked with AES interns in the past, the insight that they can offer to inform our business is invaluable and we look forward to giving our continued support” 

Steve Lowy, CEO of AES, “This has been a dream of mine and it’s wonderful that we have been able to pull this together. London has a wonderful landscape for learning and also for technology. This is an opportunity for us to work with our partners at UConn Engineering to develop something really cool to allow students to get a fully immersive learning and working experience”.

Kylene Perras, UConn Engineering Assistant Dean, “Our engineering programs are world-class, and we’re happy to be able to extend this opportunity to the rest of the world. It’s going to be a tremendous experience for students in this new program to immerse themselves in a burgeoning career field, while experiencing one of the greatest cities in the world.”

Find out more about the MEng Data Science and MEng Advanced Systems Engineering degrees here and how to apply.

—————————————————————————————————————————

About Anglo Educational Services: Established in 1973, Anglo Educational Services (AES) is a British-based organization, providing a comprehensive service for the study abroad programs of more than 125 leading colleges and universities in the United States. Our services include London-based academic programs and internships, both semester-length and for summer session, student, and faculty accommodations, as well as educational tours to all major European destinations.

About UConn Engineering: UConn School of Engineering is a powerhouse for research and engineering education in the State of Connecticut and beyond. We are the #1 public engineering school in New England, and we provide 51 percent of the State’s engineering graduates. We work with local and national industry to address pressing technological challenges and to strengthen our manufacturing base. We value entrepreneurship and innovation, and our students and faculty actively develop startups and new technologies in support of economic development. Equally important, initiatives in engineering for human rights, brownfields, cybersecurity and other current issues demonstrate our enduring commitment to addressing major challenges facing our society.

Author: 2022 Senior Design Winners Announced

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For the first time since 2019, Senior Design Demonstration Day was held in person, with more than 270 teams presenting and over 100 organizations sponsoring those teams. From an on-campus brewery to a search and rescue drone, this year was one of the most innovative yet. To view the 2022 winners from each department, please click here.

Author: UConn Formula SAE Drives into the Future with Improved Car, Diverse Team

The car sits in the entrance of the UConn FSAE headquarters on Depot Campus. (UConn Photo/Eli Freund)

 

By: Eli Freund, Director of Communications, UConn Engineering

Hanging from the walls of a small building on the University of Connecticut’s Depot Campus are shells of former race cars. The smell of gasoline, metal, and fiberglass clings heavily to the air. Sitting front and center is a 480-pound small-scale version of a Formula 1 race car, with a Yamaha motorcycle engine, built by one of the most hands-on clubs on campus—UConn Formula SAE.

UConn FSAE’s history can be traced to two distinct eras, the initial era, from the late 90s, to the current iteration of the club, which was revived in the late 2000s, with renewed funding and vigor.

The current car, which is the 13th generation, and the current president, Mechanical Engineering senior Cal Pitruzzello ‘22, are excited to put out their best version yet for their upcoming entry into the national Formula SAE Michigan competition on May 18.

“This year, our car is a little heavier because we added a front and rear wing, giving it more downforce, and better grip, allowing it to turn faster. When the car is going 50 miles per hour, you’re adding 100 more pounds to the car,” Pitruzzello said.

Last year, the team had their best finish yet, finishing in fifth place overall and second place in the endurance competition, out of 60 collegiate teams from across the country.

The secret sauce of the group, and the reason for their success, is the dedication and passion of its people to work together as one, cohesive team. While most people in the club are mechanical engineering majors, they have several other majors represented, including nursing and economics. Brandon Koehler ‘22, a senior economics major and secretary for UConn FSAE, is one of those non-engineering members.

“I joined this club because I’m a huge car guy,” Koehler said. “Obviously some of the concepts are a little bit far into engineering for my knowledge, but I’ve learned so much about cars that I never knew before. It’s pretty amazing that anybody can come into this club, and you don’t have to be an engineering major.”

Koehler runs the business team, which plays a crucial role at competition by giving marketing and economics presentations,. The business team runs the social media, the website, and makes several presentations over the course of their time at competition. Teams are picked apart by judges from industry, requiring a strong knowledge of the car and the design elements.

“They’re brutal,” Pitruzzello said. “You’ll walk away sweating bullets, but you learn so much from that experience.”

The design and build itself are another experience, as the team has to start from the ground-up each year, only allowing some elements to remain. The process starts on the computer, in SolidWorks, a CAD and CAE software, allowing the team to visualize each section of the car. Then, different divisions of the team get to work on their piece of the car, which is divided into the frame, powertrain, suspension, data, controls and ergonomics, electrical, composites and aerodynamics. Each team has a student lead, and the entire build is overseen by Chief Engineer and senior Mechanical Engineering student Elliot Bushman ’22.

“The biggest rule is that you can’t run the same chassis, so we decide to design and build a new car every single year,” Bushman said. “By building a new car every year, it’s a better experience for the students, it enhances knowledge transfer, and it gives more opportunities for students that are only here for four years.”

Bushman said that even though they race a new car every year, they stay ahead of the pack by starting the process a year and a half in advance on the new design. In the spring, they start designing and have outreach to sponsors, and around Thanksgiving break, they start actually building the new design.

“Each of the leads take on their individual systems and distributes the work to their team members, helping them grow their engineering skills and capabilities,” Bushman said. “As the year goes on, we smoothly integrate each system of the car together until we have a finished product to race.”

“The real challenge of the team is leading a group of 50 people, with different levels of experience, to successfully build a whole car and improve it year to year. This team has given me, and others, incredible leadership experience,” Pitruzzello said.

The team will be working over the next several weeks to fine tune their car and will be competing at the annual Formula SAE Michigan competition on May 18. For more information on the UConn FSAE team, please click here.

Author: Senior Design Journey 2022: Saving Lives with an App, Part 2

The team discusses their project during a meeting. (Eli Freund/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Director of Communications, UConn School of Engineering 

This article is part of a multi-part series on engineering students, and their journey through Senior Design. Click here to read part 1 of this article series.

Safety is paramount on every college campus across the country, and with smartphones becoming the most important tool for students, five University of Connecticut Computer Science and Engineering students have been working with security company ADT to apply their current technology to the higher education market.

The five seniors involved in the project are Tristen Lawrence, Brendan Henriques, Alex Le, Zhongqi Luo, and Anas Rajeh. While the students aren’t instituting the whole system, they are working on the front-facing interface that students, faculty, and staff would see when they’re submitting an incident.

The final product is a front-end solution for any university that allows a student to indicate an incident in progress, allowing for a dispatcher to send the necessary details to first responders. The proposed technology integrates with ADT’s emergency button app called ‘SoSecure by ADT,” which is a discrete app allowing someone to report a crime happening through chat, a slider, or a video chat.

According to the SoSecure by ADT website, the app is a solution for people that need to contact authorities, but in situations that require discretion. The app uses tracking technology, and contacts family and close contacts in case of emergency or allows you to send alerts hands-free using a secret phrase or voice command.

During the early part of the school year, the team had also intended to integrate a drone feature that would be programmed to fly to the geolocation, but that had to be cut as their deadline kept creeping closer.

“Some drone stuff was cut out for this project, because there were a good amount of things we had to figure out to get a drone on campus,” Henriques said. “A large hurdle we had to overcome is just getting ADT’s systems working on our machines. We had to get it working on both Windows and Mac. That easily took away about three months of productivity time.”

The other largest portion of their project they had hurdles with was full-stack development, both front-end and back-end, which is not part of the traditional curriculum.

“Once we got an understanding of the languages we would need to program this, everything got a lot easier,” Rajeh said. “The backend wasn’t intuitive in the beginning. I had to learn everything. As I worked my way through it, I started to slowly understand Java and Spring Boot.”

Now that they are nearly done with the project, the team reflected back to the beginning of the year and thought about what could have been with this project if everything went without a hitch.

“The largest takeaway is that everything we present on Senior Design Day is a product that we finished despite adversity,” Henriques said. “There was a point about two months ago that we hit a low point and weren’t sure how this was going to turn out. The fact that we have something to show is a huge thing for us.”

Senior Design Demonstration Day will be held in Gampel Pavillion on April 29, from 1-4 p.m. For more information on the Senior Design program, please click here.

Author: Senior Design Journey 2022: Holding Back the Flood Waters in Bridgeport, Part 2

(Diagram courtesy of WSP)

 

By: Eli Freund, Director of Communications, UConn School of Engineering

This article is part of a multi-part series on engineering students, and their journey through Senior Design. Click here to read part 1 of this article series.

In the quest to hold back the devastating flood waters in southern Bridgeport, four University of Connecticut Civil and Environmental Engineering students are rounding the corner on creating a flood wall design that could save residents and businesses that have been battered by strong storms in the past.

The flood wall, part of a larger project of flood mitigation called Resilient Bridgeport, is being managed by professional services firm WSP, in conjunction with CEE students Zachary Sedor, Caitlin Jenkins, Andrew Mora, and Kelvin Chung. The creation of a flood wall would not only protect the people in the area but would also alleviate property owners of high flood insurance costs they’re required to pay.

The students have been working on an alternative design for WSP, which, over the course of the last seven months has caused some spurts and fits as they figure out the right structure, materials and calculations for the environment.

“One of the biggest things we struggled with is the area the wall has to cover,” said Chung. “This is a massive flood wall that spans multiple blocks. There’s a lot of different materials we have to account for and we have to calculate all the possible forces that nature will bring to it.”

Jenkins was the one that was focused on the materials and how it overlaps with the structural aspects of the wall. She said that a lot of the calculations she needed hadn’t been taught in the classroom and she had to access an unfamiliar place for some students—the library.

“I’ve taken several design classes during my four years here, but nothing prepared me for the specific calculations I had to do,” Jenkins said. “I actually had to go to the library, take out a foundations textbook, and find the calculations. Luckily I found them, which was a huge breakthrough for my part of the project.”

On another piece of the project, Mora was responsible for was the drainage of the water back into the ocean, which had several road blocks due to the aging infrastructure in that end of Bridgeport.

“Bridgeport’s sewer system is actually combined with its storm system, which causes a ton of problems during a large rain event,” Mora said. “It’s an old way of doing things that doesn’t work with the severity of storms we have now, so I had to suggest separating the two systems.”

Another unexpected piece of the project came from the way that force calculations had to be done, which are regulated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to Sedor.

“In addition to calculating for large waves and other environmental factors, we had to calculate the impact that a barge crashing into the wall would make,” Sedor said. “We had to study the manual on retaining and flood walls that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers put out.”

With Senior Design Demonstration Day around the corner, the team has a mixture of excitement and nervous energy as they reach the end of their journey.

“It’s going to be kind of strange, because we haven’t had a lot of in-person events, but it’s going to be a great change of pace,” Chung said. “It’s going to be challenging for me because I haven’t presented a ton during my time here.”

Sedor has a slightly different view, as he still has another semester left, but he’s grateful of the experience he had.

“It’s not going to be my last semester at UConn, and I still have a little bit more school to look forward to. It’s going to be nice to get it done though. I enjoyed working with WSP, I learned a lot from them.”

Senior Design Demonstration Day will be held in Gampel Pavillion on April 29, from 1-4 p.m. For more information on the Senior Design program, please click here.

Author: Female Volunteers Wanted for Mammography Research Study

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

 

Do you dread your annual mammogram? Are you tempted to avoid the whole uncomfortable ordeal? Do you wonder whether there will ever be “a better way”?

Enroll in our study and help identify new opportunities to make mammograms a more comfortable procedure.

This research aims to quantitatively and qualitatively analyze the stresses experienced by women during a mammogram procedure. The information gained will be used to identify strategies to help reduce mammogram discomfort. Participants will make a single visit to the GP Musculoskeletal System Modeling Lab on the UConn Storrs campus. The visit will take approximately 90 minutes.

Confidential participation in the study involves:

  • Undergoing a simulation of the compression portion of the mammogram procedure (No X-Ray!)
  • Data collection with electromyography (EMG), electrocardiogram (ECG), Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), Balance Control, and Grip Strength testing
  • Providing user-system feedback
  • Answering questionnaires

To participate in this study, you must be:

  • A woman between the ages of 20 and 70
  • Covid negative
  • Evidence of COVID vaccination history (at least 2 weeks from a second vacination)

Compensation

$100 after completing the protocol

UConn IRB Protocol H20-0146

Principal Investigator: Krystyna Gielo-Perczak, Ph.D.,

Biomedical Engineering Department,

The GP Musculoskeletal System Modeling Lab, Room 215 and Room 213 C, 

Bronwell Bldg., 260 Glenbrook Rd., Storrs, CT

Email: Krystyna.Gielo-Perczak@uconn.edu

For more information, and to determine your eligibility for the study, please email  raghavi.shanmuganathan@uconn.edu

Author: SAGE Announces 2022 Poster Competition Winners

A student presents at the 8th Annual SAGE Poster Competition (Christopher LaRosa/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Director of Communications and Marketing, UConn School of Engineering 

On March 8, which was also International Women’s Day, 46 graduate University of Connecticut School of Engineering students took part in the 8th Annual Student Association of Graduate Engineers Poster Competition.

In total, students had the opportunity to win over $2,000 in prize money, with first place receiving $1,000. The top three prizes represented Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science & Engineering and Electrical & Computer Engineering.

The prizes for second place was $500, third place was $250, departmental winners were $50 and the People’s Choice winner was $50.

Winners from that day are as follows:

 

Winners 

First Name

Last Name

Department

ME + First place

Meysam

Chorsi

Mechanical Engineering

CSE + Second place

Songyang

Han

Computer Science & Engineering

ECE + Third place

Md Tashfiq Bin

Kashem

Electrical & Computer Engineering

BME

Ian

Sands

Biomedical Engineering

ENVE

Ishrat

Rashid

Civil & Environmental Engineering

CBE

Sanyukta

Patil

Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

MSE

Wen

Zhao

Materials Science & Engineering

People’s Choice award

Majid

Kheybari

Mechanical Engineering

Author: Inaugural Cohort of Pratt & Whitney Scholars Announced

2021-2022 Pratt & Whitney Scholars (Left to Right): Ahmed Zeinalabdin (far left), Suaily Tirado (top left), Brian Tapia-Bernal (top right), Alyson Neves (bottom left), Jadon Gomez-Stafford (bottom right).

 

By: Eli Freund, Director of Communications and Marketing, UConn School of Engineering 

After an historic investment of $1.25 million from Pratt & Whitney to establish the Pratt & Whitney Scholars program at the University of Connecticut School of Engineering, five undergraduates were chosen from an applicant pool of 75.

The Scholars Program, designed for underrepresented minorities, will provide four cohorts of five students with $10,000 per year for four years; a summer internship opportunity at Pratt & Whitney after their sophomore year; a senior design project sponsored by Pratt & Whitney during their senior year; and professional development and mentorship opportunities.

This new program builds upon more than 30 years of support that Pratt & Whitney and parent company Raytheon Technologies have invested in diversity programs at UConn, including the decades-long BRIDGE program, a five-week summer residential program designed to help women and underrepresented minorities entering their freshman year at UConn Engineering.

The five students, all first-year mechanical engineering majors, come from across the state of Connecticut, with the exception of one student from Florida. Below is a glimpse into their backgrounds and some insights into their experience as an engineer and Scholar. 

 

Name: Jadon Gomez-Stafford
Hometown: New Haven, CT
Major/Class Year: Mechanical Engineering/2025 

 
What does it mean personally to be named a PW Scholar?

To be a Pratt & Whitney scholar means the world to me.  It means that a world renowned company located in my home State of Connecticut believes in me and my dream of working in the aviation field.  For as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated with the idea of air travel and how planes work.  I was raised in the Annex area of New Haven, CT – literally 2 blocks up from Tweed International Airport and my greatest memories would be riding my bike down the street, watching these large objects rise into the air and trying to chase them while on my bike.  I would imagine what the view from above would be like, how excited the people in the planes must be – going to or coming from a new adventure.  I remember seeing Air Force One coming in and how quiet it was compared to the older planes and wondering ‘how cool it would be to learn how to build one of these beautiful machines and make it even better, quieter, sleeker, faster’.  This desire evolved into my passion for mechanical engineering once I realized my curiosity of planes could be a very real career choice.  Once being accepted to the UConn School of Engineering  and Honor program I joined the UConn Air Force ROTC program in the hopes of learning more about working on these planes in the military. Being named a Pratt and Whitney Scholar is an extremely humbling experience that I am so very fortunate and thankful for.  I take this level of faith in my academic potential very seriously to be the best representative of this prestigious, highly respected Aviation Corporation that I can be.

How do the scholarship funds and the other benefits help alleviate your stress levels about your future?

The financial burden to my mother is alleviated tremendously with this generous gift to my education.   As a single mother of four, my mother has taught me to appreciate a positive work ethic and to treat every opportunity as something earned and not an expectation.  I joined as many programs as possible to help me push myself academically while trying to save money. I am so glad that all of my hard work and dedication to my academics are paying off now and I can focus my attention on my studies and not how much my mother has to work to help me achieve my goals.  This generous Pratt & Whitney scholarship gives me the affirmation that I am on the right path and can finally divert my time fully to my education and my future without fear of an extravagant financial burden in the future.

Why did you decide to go to school for engineering? Have your always wanted to be an engineer?

Engineering to me is an art form –  the art of curiosity, learning how things work, evolve and improve is fascinating . This art includes scientific theories from designing, testing, and producing physical structures to create a better product, a better world. My favorite part of engineering has to be the prototyping portion of the process, because you see your project undergo numerous tests; every trial is a step that gets you closer and closer to a better structure and product. Satisfaction comes from solving the puzzle, trial and error, and ultimately seeing the final product succeed. When I was little, looking at planes and rockets in movies, I was unable to imagine how it was possible to get such large objects into the air –  let alone space.  To then see the magnificence of Air Force One coming to my small neighborhood airport in all its glory – discreet, stealth, and fast – I was mesmerized. The idea of having these types of planes being as commonplace to the average person as cars are to us now, was initially thought of as impossible or science fiction 10-20 years ago, however we can totally imagine it now as a very real reality.  I want to be that person who makes these impossible mechanical advancements – possible.

 

Name: Alyson Neves

Hometown: Ocala, Florida

Major/Class Year: Mechanical Engineering 2025

 

What does it mean personally to be named a PW Scholar?

Being named a PW Scholar is honestly such an exciting opportunity. I have always been interested in the work that Pratt and Whitney does and to be associated with the company through this scholar program is truly so amazing.

How do the scholarship funds and the other benefits help alleviate your stress levels about your future?

I think one of the biggest issues regarding students going to college is the financial end of it. This was definitely one of my biggest concerns as I started and now continue through college. These funds help alleviate some stress that I have and it makes me so grateful for the opportunity. Internships and connections are so hard to obtain as a college student, there are so many of us engineers who are willing to work and put in the effort to network with companies. Being able to have the opportunity to work with Pratt and Whitney through this program. It relieves stress knowing that there are options for me in the industry and to learn because of this program.

Why did you decide to go to school for engineering? Have you always wanted to be an engineer?

As a kid, I always had a love for planes and anything aerospace related. Before even applying to UConn, I had no idea that engineering existed and that it could be something that I wanted to do. I always knew I was going to go into STEM but I just never had an idea of what exactly I wanted to do in STEM. I did AFJROTC in high school and fell in love with planes that the Air Force made and used everyday. An instructor explained opportunities of being an engineer to design the jet engines and how they worked and I was sold. I immediately knew what I wanted to go to school for.

 

Name: Brian Tapia-Bernal

Hometown: Torrington, Connecticut 

Major/Class Year: Mechanical Engineering/2025 

 

What does it mean personally to be named a PW Scholar?

It feels amazing, especially knowing that an opportunity like this can relieve adversity with financials and future goals. It means that I’ve been given a sense of security and encouragement that I can become an engineer. 

How do the scholarship funds and the other benefits help alleviate your stress levels about your future?

The Pratt and Whitney scholarship really alleviates the burden of removing the financial barrier that can ultimately deteriorate a students morals and goals. Thus allowing me to empower my academic and career goals. It alleviates my parents by not having them put in those extra hours at work. 

Why did you decide to go to school for engineering? Have you always wanted to be an engineer?

Ultimately I never really considered even attending university because of my household income. But I took a risk and it worked out perfectly. I’ve never really considered being an engineer but ever since I got into construction with my dad and modifying my first car in high school, it took a turn for the best. I can honestly say that the UConn School of Engineering has been one of the best experiences in my life so far!

 

Name: Suaily Tirado

Hometown: Hartford, CT

Major/Class Year: Mechanical Engineering / 2025

 

What does it mean personally to be named a PW Scholar?

To me it means that I have finally succeeded at something and I have a chance to stop worrying. I’ve been worrying my whole life about money, what I wanted to do with my life in the future, and so much more. 

How do the scholarship funds and the other benefits help alleviate your stress levels about your future?

Honestly it feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. With the scholarship funds, I do not have to worry about student loans anymore. Money is now one of the last things I need to think about, I now have the chance to focus on my education and building a better future for myself and my family. I can finally breathe. 

Why did you decide to go to school for engineering? Have you always wanted to be an engineer?

My first exposure to engineering was from my 3rd grade teacher who brought her husband (an engineer) to talk to us about his job. I remember him mentioning all of the work he did on airplanes and how much fun it was for him. After that, I had other plans like trying to become a lawyer for a few years before realizing that I wanted to go into a field with math and science as the primary subject. I took multiple buzzfeed and other random “what is your dream career” or “your perfect major” quizzes my junior and senior year and always got the same answer, engineering. I was still hesitant about the idea, but I really did want to make a difference in the future and have a hands-on job where I could work with a team to build something extraordinary. I am happy that I decided to stick with the major and am very lucky to have been given this opportunity.

 

Name: Ahmed Zeinalabdin

Hometown: Windsor CT

Major/Class Year: Mechanical Engineering/Freshman

 

What does it mean personally to be named a PW Scholar?

Being named a PW Scholar has confirmed to me that I’m on the right path and has removed any doubt I’ve had about being capable in the engineering field. Having the support of Pratt and Whitney has given me a clearer view of the future I want and has made it seem within my grasp.

How do the scholarship funds and the other benefits help alleviate your stress levels about your future?

It’s no secret that majoring in engineering is not a walk in the park. The major-relevant classes are many and require great dedication both mentally and physically. In addition to these classes are the gen ed requirement classes which more often than not have no relation to the engineering classes and in that sense can be distracting. The costs and logistics of attending a university full time only adds to the stress of being a student in the School of Engineering. The scholarship funds and mentorship will help alleviate some of that stress.

Why did you decide to go to school for engineering? Have you always wanted to be an engineer?

For as long as I could remember I’ve always been fascinated with how things work and why they work. My fascination began with door locks and from there evolved into everything from watches to cars. During middle school I’ve met many engineers, some of which worked at Pratt and Whitney, through career day and my extended community. And ever since I’ve been inspired to pursue engineering as a way to utilize my curiosity. 

Author: Optimizing Energy Recovery From Wastewater Using Machine Learning

A wastewater treatment plant from above (Photo Courtesy of Pixels).

 

By: Ryley McGinnis, Communications Specialist, UConn School of Engineering 

Properly disposing of biosolids in our water is essential in creating a sustainable water treatment system. Unfortunately, in the United States, and especially in New England, this process is prone to failures, leaving usable energy on the table.

A team of researchers led by Jeffrey McCutcheon from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in the University of Connecticut’s School of Engineering has received $2.4 million from the Department of Energy to improve the process using better control strategies aided by a machine-learning algorithm to optimize the process. 

Wastewater plants currently use anaerobic digestion, a process that can turn biosolids into energy and other valuable products, but it relies on biology, which makes it unpredictable and susceptible to failures.

The team’s goal is to create a reliable and resilient system for the anaerobic digestion of biosolids using co-digestion, which combines the processing of wastewater biosolids and food waste. The combination of food wastes and biosolids is a valuable method to create energy through biogas generation. 

McCutcheon and CBE Professors Ranjan Srivastava, George Bollas, Matt Stuber, Mayur Ostwal, and environmental engineering Professor Baikun Li are partnering with the Northeast Biosolids and Residuals Association (NEBRA) and the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District (GLSD) for this project.

“Combining the high strength organic content of food wastes with the consistency of composition and availability of wastewater biosolids means better recovery of energy from these waste streams,” said McCutcheon.

Currently, temperature changes, toxic substances, and more can throw off the anaerobic digestion process, which leads to costly failures. In addition, the variability of food waste composition and unforeseen contaminants in wastewater biosolids also complicate matters. “Biology can be notoriously fickle,” said McCutcheon. “But if we find better ways to control anaerobic co-digestion to handle variable raw materials and to increase recovery value from the organic wastes, we can make strides in reducing the energy consumption and carbon emissions of the wastewater treatment.”

The team’s approach is to develop high fidelity sensor networks in a working digester to better understand the digester function. By installing these sensors on a full-scale digester at GLSD, the team will capture data that the team will use to train a machine-learning algorithm while simultaneously validating a process model that will serve as a “digital twin” of a working digester. As a result, the process model and the control system would predict failure before it happens and make adjustments in operations before the system crashes. Such crashes can impact up to a third of digesters in the U.S. each year.

The team also hopes to demonstrate that energy captured from these biosolids could generate enough energy to offset energy use for wastewater treatment. Such a benefit could reduce wastewater treatment costs by up to 30 percent.

“We will also be assessing the impact on greenhouse gas emissions and believe such energy recovery could go a long way toward decarbonizing the water and wastewater treatment infrastructure,” McCutcheon adds.

Their work would also lead to other benefits, such as the production of fatty acids that could create sustainable chemical production and the production of digested biosolids that can serve as a fertilizer, further limiting the life-cycle impacts of the wastewater treatment process.  

“New England continues to struggle to find environmentally friendly ways to dispose of biosolids. Connecticut, for instance, incinerates most of its solids and loses most of its value in the process. Connecticut is one of the few states that does not permit the use of anaerobic digestion for processing biosolids,” said McCutcheon. “It is my sincere hope that our work helps change that policy while improving the management of wastewater biosolids nationwide.” 

Author: How a Movement from a UConn Engineering Professor Shaped a Generation of Difference Makers

Katsouleas (far left) and his colleagues present at the White House in 2015 (Photo from Duke University School of Engineering).

 

By: Eli Freund, Director of Communications and Marketing, UConn School of Engineering 

When Tom Katsouleas joined Duke University as dean of the Pratt School of Engineering in 2008, he saw an opportunity to not only change the world of engineering and its direction but put it into the hands of the next generation.

Katsouleas, currently a University of Connecticut faculty member in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics, picked up the phone during his first week as dean in 2008 and brought together engineering deans Yannis Yortsos at University of Southern California and Richard Miller at Olin College, and asked them a simple question: “Is our older educational pedagogy preparing our students to tackle the grand challenges of this next century?”

The grand challenges that Katsouleas was referring to were the list of “Grand Challenges” from the National Academy of Engineering in 2008 that outlined 14 areas of focus that engineers needed to tackle and advance. Some of the challenges included making solar energy economical, enhancing virtual reality, restoring and improving urban infrastructure, and to secure cyberspace.

“From that conversation, we conceptualized the first Grand Challenges Summit and the Grand Challenges Scholars Program, which was endorsed by the president of the NAE at the time,” Katsouleas said.

The Grand Challenges Summit, which has been organized regionally, nationally, and globally, has significantly shifted the conversation on how to tackle the Grand Challenges. At the first summit, Katsouleas said people were very excited about the Grand Challenges Scholars Program.

“We announced the program at that first summit, and immediately we had 12 schools interested off the bat,” Katsouleas said. “Over time, more and more people started showing interest, including the White House.”

In that call from the White House, they challenged Katsouleas and his collaborators to put together 50 interested schools, which they ultimately did and more, presenting on it to the Obama Administration—putting a major spotlight on the program. In March 2015, President Obama was sent a letter of commitment signed by 122 member schools pledging to educate and enroll 20,000 students in the program by 2025.

The Grand Challenges Scholars Program, well on its way towards that goal, is a curricular and extra-curricular program designed to immerse the student scholars in five core competencies: research/creative project experience, multidisciplinary solutions to the Grand Challenges, knowledge of business/entrepreneurship models that will help advance the Grand Challenges, multicultural issues and how they relate to the Grand Challenges, and social consciousness through service-learning experiences.

When Katsouleas became president at UConn in 2019, he shaped some of his vision for the future of the University from many of those core competencies.

“I saw the effect those competencies had when we applied them to the learning experience of the engineering students at Duke. Multiple studies have been done that show that life transformative experiences, service learning, and an entrepreneurial vision lead to successful students. When I came to UConn, I took a lot of those experiences and learnings with me and applied it more broadly to the entire campus,” Katsouleas said.

In January of this year, the NAE recognized Katsouleas and his collaborators for the impact that the Grand Challenge Scholars Program has made on society through the Bernard M. Gordon Prize, which recognizes trailblazers in engineering education.

When reflecting on the past decade of growth, Katsouleas can’t help but glow thinking about all the students that have benefited.

“When I was an undergraduate, I was interested in physics, but the courses didn’t satisfy me when it came to my desire to make a difference in the world. At the time I didn’t know I was missing something,” Katsouleas said. “So many of the students that have gone through this program got to have that experience and are making a sizable difference in this world.”

For more information on the NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program, please click here.

Author: Connecticut Brownfields Initiative Evolves to Technical Assistance for Brownfields Program

Assistant Research Professor Nefeli Bompoti and her students visit a brownfields site in New Haven, CT. (Photo by Evan Olson)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

After the successful awarding of the University of Connecticut as a regional Technical Assistance to Brownfields provider by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, UConn will now be offering its expertise and services to communities and organizations around New England, expanding the scope of the Connecticut Brownfields Initiative.

The Connecticut Brownfields Initiative, launched in 2017, was a program run specifically to assist communities in Connecticut with multiple brownfield sites that have negative impacts on the environment, public health and economic development. Throughout its four years of existence, the program combined hands-on education and outreach skills for students in the program, with pro-bono assistance to local communities.

The new UConn TAB program is expanding on efforts originated in CBI and replicating that model for any municipality, regional planning organization or non-profit located in EPA Region 1, which includes Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.

Because of the increased reach of the TAB program, and the overlap of activities, UConn TAB Director and Civil and Environmental Engineering Department Head Marisa Chrysochoou commented that this is the perfect time to merge CBI and its activities into the TAB program.

“When we launched CBI in 2017 to serve Connecticut communities, our goal all along was to acquire additional resources and serve more communities” Chrysochoou said. “As the regional TAB provider, we’re integrating CBI, and becoming one, cohesive organization that serves all of our partners in the region. Our collaboration with the Center for Land Use Education and Research, the School of Social Work, and the Center for Population Health at UConn allows us to tap into additional expertise needed to serve communities.”

The UConn TAB program is offering a variety of services to communities, including research support for grant proposals, direct technical assistance for brownfield projects, community engagement support, continuing education and networking opportunities. The service learning program Brownfield Corps will continue to be an integral part of TAB, offering experiential learning that is a cornerstone of Life-Transformative Education.

“We are excited to offer our student opportunities to work with a wider range of communities beyond Connecticut”, said Assistant Research Professor and TAB Program Manager Nefeli Bompoti. “Many of our students come from neighboring states and will have the opportunity to forge professional connections closer to home, and learn about a wider range of issues that New England communities face”.

For more information on all the services offered by UConn’s TAB program, or to contact the program as a potential partner, please visit https://tab.program.uconn.edu.

Author: UConn Engineering Named #1 Public Online Graduate Program in New England in 2022 Rankings

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

In newly released rankings from U.S. News and World Report, the University of Connecticut School of Engineering’s online graduate programs rose 15 spots, resulting in an overall ranking of #47—positioning the school as the #1 public online graduate engineering program in New England.

UConn Engineering’s 20-plus online masters, professional development, and certificate programs, housed under the School’s Professional Education department, range from certificates in contaminated site remediation to Master’s of Engineering in Data Science. The programs are designed to be flexible to the schedules of working professionals, while also helping to advance their careers.

To be considered an online graduate program provider, the school had to have the vast majority of learning modalities be online. Currently, 100 percent of courses in Professional Education’s degree offerings give students the option to remote learn.

According to U.S. News and World Report, the publication uses five criteria to determine the overall rating score, which are broken down into: Engagement of students (25%), faculty credentials and training (25%), expert opinions from high-ranking officials in engineering (25%), services and technologies used in the learning environment (12.5%), and student excellence (12.5%).

Because of the work of the faculty, and the investment of UConn and the School, students are having a more seamless and engaging experience, which has helping improve the overall reputation of UConn Engineering online graduate programs tremendously, according to Professional Education Program Manager Jon Bartolotta.

“Online learning is becoming one of the most sought-after modalities in education. The recent pandemic has made this more evident. One thing that stands out about our programs is the fact that we were doing online education before the pandemic started so we were a step ahead of many schools and programs. Our faculty have the expertise and experience in this area to provide the best possible education to the students in our degree and certificate programs. We have created highly rigorous classes for our students with the help of faculty and UConn’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. We look forward to providing top tier education in the online space for years to come.”

For more information on the full slate of offerings from UConn Engineering Professional Education, please click here.

Author: Nominations Open for 2022 Academy of Distinguished Engineers

(UConn Photo/Christopher LaRosa)

 

The University of Connecticut Distinguished Engineering Awards are presented to outstanding alumni for exceptional professional achievement and to non-alumni for notable engagement and/or contributions to the School of Engineering. All honorees are inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Engineers at a celebration in the Fall of 2022.

 

Distinguished Professional Achievement Award (alumni)

The Distinguished Professional Achievement Award and induction into the Academy of Distinguished Engineers honors individuals whose careers are characterized by their sustained and meritorious contributions to engineering and engineering management in the highest tradition of the School.

 

Eligibility Criteria

  • Each candidate shall hold a bachelors, masters or doctoral degree in engineering from the University of Connecticut, granted at least ten (10) years prior to election.
  • Membership is reserved for graduates who have made sustained and meritorious engineering, managerial or policy contributions throughout their careers.
  • Nominees may be active or retired from their full-time employment.
  • Nominees will generally have at least 15 years of sustained professional service.
  • Nominees shall not be active faculty or staff at the University of Connecticut.

 

Distinguished Engagement Award (non-alumni)

The Distinguished Engagement Award and induction into the Academy of Distinguished Engineers is awarded to non-graduates of the University of Connecticut School of Engineering, based on contributions to the School of Engineering and excellence in their profession. 

 

Eligibility Criteria

  • Nominees will be individuals who are actively involved in engineering, management or service – or who have played a crucial legislative or policy making role at the State or federal level at the time of the nomination.
  • Nominees will have a distinguished record of engagement with the School of Engineering.
  • Nominees shall not be active faculty or staff at the University of Connecticut.

 

A committee of alumni and faculty will select the recipients of each award. Recipients of the awards will be formally honored by the Dean and University administration at an awards ceremony to be held in the Fall of 2022.  In addition, each recipient will be profiled briefly in the School of Engineering e-newsletter.

 

Please communicate your intent to nominate by Monday, February 28th, 2022 by sending a brief e-mail to engr-academy@uconn.eduFull nomination packages must be sent to engr-academy@uconn.edu by Monday, March 28th, 2022. Click this link to download the nomination form that must be sent by March 28th.  

Author: Senior Design Journey 2022: Saving Lives with an App, Part 1

Tristen Lawrence works on the front-end design of the college-centered app. (Eli Freund/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

Personal safety is top of mind for most college students and currently, nearly 100 percent of college campuses have emergency blue light systems, but they are often spread far apart across campus and have declined in usage over time. Additionally, many incidents require discretion and can’t be reported using a blue light kiosk or through a phone call in the moment. And for emergency responders, every detail and every minute counts.

In response to the growing need for added safety on campus, five computer science and engineering students are working with ADT, the most trusted name in security, on their Senior Design project. Together, they are working on a new approach that could help provide a new safety response system on campus saving precious time.

The five seniors involved in the project are Tristen Lawrence, Brendan Henriques, Alex Le, Zhongqi Luo, and Anas Rajeh. While the students aren’t instituting the whole system, they are working on the front-facing interface that students, faculty, and staff would see when they’re submitting an incident.

Lawrence said that this product will be crucial for any college campus that has on-campus security or police that need information quickly.

“We’re delivering a front-end solution for UConn, or any university when an incident occurs so that there’s a clear communication platform with all the information needed for a dispatcher to send the necessary first responders. This is truly an innovative solution to 21st-century problems,” Lawrence said.

“In a high-level basic sense, it will be a dashboard, and we want all of the information to be easily readable and legible. The proposed technology could integrate with ADT’s emergency button app called ‘SoSecure by ADT,” which is a discrete app allowing someone to report a crime happening through chat, a slider, or a video chat,” said Henriques.

According to the SoSecure by ADT website, the app is a solution for people that need to contact authorities, but in situations that require discretion. The app uses tracking technology, and contacts family and close contacts in case of emergency or allows you to send alerts hands-free using a secret phrase or voice command.

With any Senior Design project, teams have highs and lows throughout the process, and one hurdle was learning the different programming languages they would need to build the new user experience.

“This happens with so many projects, but for us, we really struggled with the hurdle of what we didn’t know,” said Henriques. “Most of us here have never worked with a few of the technologies being used in this application, so we had to learn Angular, Agile, and a lot of HTML and CSS that you don’t get in a traditional computer science curriculum.”

As for the breakthroughs, a lot of the members of the group had never worked in a project setting like this, so the students agreed that getting on the same schedule, constantly communicating, and assigning specific roles allowed them to get on track and solidify a direction for the group.

“This is my first real project, so unlike Tristen and Brendan who have some experience, I didn’t have a grip on all the complexities that surround a project, so it took me a little while to get into the groove, but now I’m much better,” Rajeh said.

As for the next steps, the group will be continuing work into the winter and spring semesters, to have a working demo they can test out earlier in the Spring, working towards a completed project for Senior Design Demonstration Day on April 29.

 

This article is part of a multi-part series on engineering students, and their journey through senior design. Part two of this team’s journey will come out in April 2022.

Author: Senior Design Journey 2022: Holding Back the Flood Waters in Bridgeport, Part 1

(Image courtesy Waggonner & Ball, a partner on Resilient Bridgeport)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

Living near an ocean or large body of water has consequences. Over the past 20 years, climate related disasters have jumped 83 percent and major floods have more than doubled, according to the United Nations. The south-end of Bridgeport is no stranger to these statistics, as they have seen financial and human implications to these storms first-hand. But, through a University of Connecticut Civil and Environmental Engineering Senior Design Project, four students are working to change that narrative through their work on a new flood wall.

After large weather events like Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and others, the City of Bridgeport had been hit hard on its southern end, according to team member Zachary Sedor:

“After Hurricane Sandy and others, Bridgeport had been hurt pretty bad by the flooding that resulted from major storms,” Sedor said. “Because of that, our main goal is to design a flood wall, as well as the route it would need to take to protect the most amount of people and the most important infrastructure, while costing the least amount, effecting the least number of sightlines and lowering residents’ insurance by a significant amount.”

The flood wall, part of a larger project of flood mitigation called Resilient Bridgeport, is being managed by professional services firm WSP, in conjunction with CEE students Sedor, Caitlin Jenkins, Andrew Mora, and Kelvin Chung. The creation of a flood wall would not only protect the people in the area but would also alleviate property owners of high flood insurance costs they’re required to pay.

While Hurricane Sandy was nearly ten years ago, and funding for design work was procured by WSP, on behalf of the state of Connecticut soon after that from the Community Development Block Grant Program – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR), Jenkins said that there are a lot of factors that must be juggled before shovels can finally be put in the ground.

“For creating the flood wall, it’s a process that requires a lot of approvals and permits, because of the historical landmarks that blanket the path of the wall,” Jenkins said. “You have Seaside Park, which was designed by the landscape architect that built Central Park in New York City, you also have the Freeman Houses, which are on the National Register of Historic Places, and there are a lot of approvals needed if you’re building near those properties.”

Jenkins also said that WSP spent a lot of time soliciting feedback from the residents and business owners who would be around the flood wall. She said a lot of them had concerns, which needed to be integrated into the design of the wall.

“There were folks that had concerns about the effect a wall would have on seeing the waterline and the park, and where the wall would need to cut through,” Jenkins said.

In addition to all that feedback, the wall would still need to adhere to very strict FEMA codes and Army Corp of Engineers guidelines that couldn’t be ignored.

Because of all these complexities, the group said that there were plenty of hurdles that have gotten in the way of their progress.

“While WSP has a design in place for the flood wall, what we’re doing is going through their design, seeing if there are any improvements that could be made, and updating elements that need to be incorporated, which is a large job,” Chung said. “There are electrical lines, sub stations, gas pipes, terrain, and more.”

The substation particularly, is a crucial part of the flood zone, requiring special attention, according to Mora.

“There’s a critical piece of infrastructure called the Pequonnock Substation in that flood zone that, if it lost power, would effect customers all across the New England area,” Mora said. “There’s also a natural gas plant over there as well, so there’s a lot of critical infrastructure that needed to be integrated into this plan.”

Over the next several months, the group will be working on their suggestions for WSP, as well  as working on force calculations, gathering data for WSP, and other crucial tasks.

Despite all the challenges the group has faced, the most satisfying element of this project is helping a city in need.

“This project, even more so than most, emphasizes the importance of details,” Sedor said. “You’re effecting people’s lives in a positive and negative way, depending on where you choose to have the wall or what type of wall you choose, so you need to cover your bases, or else you could negatively affect a large group of people. But, if you do it correctly, you’re not only protecting lives and property, but also taking a huge financial burden off the people directly in that flood zone.”

This article is part of a multi-part series on engineering students, and their journey through senior design. Part two of this team’s journey will come out in April 2022.

 

Author: Hackett Recognized for Unique Virtual Web Series With 2021 Meritorious Service Award

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

In October, Regina Hackett, communications coordinator for the UConn Training and Technical Assistance Center (T2), was honored by the New England chapter of the American Public Works Association with the 2021 Meritorious Service Award.

The Meritorious Service Award acknowledges private enterprise or academic institutions for the important role they play in in providing public works services. This year the New England Chapter recognized Hackett for her efforts in bringing virtual education to the entire New England public works community, through her production of the successful monthly New England Connects webinar series.

The APWA, according to their website, serves professionals in all aspects of public works—a fact that sets it apart from other organizations and makes it an effective voice of public works throughout North America. With a worldwide membership more than 30,000 strong, APWA includes not only personnel from local, county, state/province, and federal agencies, but also private sector personnel who supply products and services to those professionals.

To see all the videos produced in the New England Connects web series, please click here.

Author: Katsouleas Named 2022 Optica Fellow

Thomas Katsouleas, meets with student leaders at the president’s conference room at Gulley Hall on March 12, 2019. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

After a distinguished career of leadership and scholarship, Optica, an international society aimed at advancing optics and photonics worldwide, has named Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Thomas C. Katsouleas a 2022 Fellow.

Optica, formerly known as OSA, has inducted over 2,800 members as Fellows since its inception in 1959. According to their website, Optica Fellows are researchers that have served with distinction in the advancement of optics and photonics through distinguished contributions to education, research, engineering, business and society.

Katsouleas, a recent addition to the ECE teaching and research faculty, was previously President of the University of Connecticut from 2019-2021. In that role, he led over 5,000 faculty and staff, and oversaw the education and experiences of over 32,000 students in 14 schools and colleges. Prior to that, Katsouleas was the Provost and Executive Vice President at the University of Virginia, where he led six undergraduate and six professional schools with enrollments of more than 16,000 undergraduates and more than 6,700 graduate students.

Katsouleas earned his bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in 1979 from The University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA), and stayed at UCLA to pursue and receive his Ph.D. degree in physics in 1984. He was a researcher and faculty member at UCLA for seven years after receiving his Ph.D., before joining the University of Southern California faculty as an associate professor of Electrical Engineering in 1991, becoming full professor in 1997. He also was an Associate Dean of University of Southern California’s Engineering School and Vice Provost of Information Technology Services. Katsouleas has deep roots in academe, having served a term as President of the Faculty and Academic Senate at University of Southern California during his time in its engineering school.

He is a leading scholar in the field of laser plasma science and has authored or co- authored more than 250 publications in the field. He has been named outstanding faculty member, received outstanding teaching award, and has supervised dozens of post docs, graduate students, and undergraduate students. For his scholarly contributions and educational leadership, Katsouleas has been named a fellow of the American Physical Society, and fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). There are strong optics and photonics programs in all of the universities that Katsouleas has held leadership positions as Associate Dean, Dean, Provost, and President, and he has been a strong advocate of research, education, outreach, and entrepreneurship in optics and photonics, making a substantial impact in these fields on a global scale.

While at Duke, he co-created the Grand Challenge Scholars Program of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), a program now emulated at nearly 100 universities across the U.S. and in several countries around the world. His other professional activities include Co-Chair, National Academy of Engineering’s Advisory Committee on Engineering Grand Challenges for the 21st Century; Co-Chair, 2011 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Global Engineering Education Colloquium, Co-founder of the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenge Scholars Program and K-12 Partners Program; Co-PI and Co-Director of multi-institutional collaboration on Advanced Accelerator and Beam Physics Research at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center; and Chair of The National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council Panel on Scientific Assessment of Free Electron Laser Technology for Naval Applications (2007-2008).

Author: $3 Million Award Will Help Continue Successful Navy STEM Program at UConn and URI

(Image Courtesy of Navy STEM Website)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

Building on the success of the University of Connecticut and the University of Rhode Island’s joint Naval Science and Technology Program (Navy STEM), the Department of Defense has awarded a $3 million grant that will continue and build on the program for the next three years.

The award, which is part of a $47 million grant from the National Defense Education Program (NDEP) in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), Biotechnology, and Enhanced Civics Education, is funded through the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. On the UConn side, the program will be overseen by Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Research Professor Alexandra Hain, Richard Christenson, and Daniel Burkey and on the URI side will be Associate Professor of Mechanical, Industrial and Systems Engineering Valerie Maier-Speredelozzi, David Taggart, Arun Shukla, James Miller, and Carl Ernst Rousseau. Previously, the program was funded by an award from the Office of Naval Research.

According to their research, it is estimated that 50 percent of our nation’s Navy STEM professionals are currently eligible for retirement and that submarine construction, which is a big industry in Connecticut and Rhode Island, will require almost half of the Navy’s budget over the next 30 years—creating a crucial need for a new crop of trained professionals.

Over the next three years, Hain, Maier-Speredelozzi, and the other co-PI’s will work with K-12 students through Navy STEM outreach programs, develop crucial coursework for UConn and URI students in the program, build out a Navy STEM Ambassadors group, bring in professionals from the Naval industry, and much more.

For more information on the Navy STEM program, please click here.  

Author: Mary McCarthy Named “Woman of the Year” by CT Chapter of WTS

McCarthy giving her speech via Zoom at the WTS conference (Submitted by T2 Center).

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

In October, Mary McCarthy, Director of Training at the Training and Technical Assistance Center (T2 Center) at UConn, was named a “Woman of the Year” awardee by the Connecticut chapter of WTS, an international organization that is helping to advance women in all fields of the transportation industry by providing mentorship, professional development, networking, education, recognition, leadership and much more. 

McCarthy, who has been with UConn for 20 years, has focused her time working with public works and transportation professionals on training and professional development at the T2 Center—counting nearly 3,000 professionals each year as students.

Every year, the Connecticut chapter awards the Women of the Year designation to a female leader in transportation who has made an outstanding contribution to the industry. The awardee must have directly contributed to the advancement of women and minorities through programs or opportunities in the transportation field, according to the organization.

According to her award application, “Mary, through her passion and care for this group of underserved professionals has helped the T2 Center become the trusted transportation training resource in Connecticut.  Mary is an exceptional leader of a team of all women and, each day, inspires them to rise to new heights and to best utilize their skills and knowledge to support our stakeholders. Once an employee joins Mary’s team, they thrive and grow under her mentorship.  Last year, 2020, provided many challenges and hurdles in our ability to provide training and technical assistance but, even during COVID-19, Mary and team delivered 75 critical trainings and guided a leadership program cohort to the completion of their two-year program.”

In her speech, McCarthy gave thanks to her colleagues at the T2 Center, and the work the center does for the state.

“I’m so proud to work at the T2 Center and get so much joy from being a part of this fabulous team of professionals. We’re a very small group that is incredibly productive, and we’re so dedicated to serving the public works departments around the state—always willing to go above and beyond for our towns.”

For more information on McCarthy and the T2 Center, please click here.

Author: Laurencin Named 2020 Henry Brown Awardee

(Submitted by Dr. Laurencin)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

The University of Connecticut School of Engineering is proud to announce that Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, a University Professor, UConn Engineering Professor, and Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, has received the 2020 Henry Brown Award from the Minority Affairs 30th Anniversary Committee of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

The award, named after one of the three Minority Affairs Committee founders, celebrates extraordinary dedication to chemical engineering and STEM professions from members of traditionally underrepresented cultural groups. According to the AIChE website, “Henry T. Brown was one of the original advocates for minority engineers in AIChE, beginning in 1968. He co-created AIChE’s first outreach initiatives for underrepresented engineers, and held the position of AIChE’s Minority Affairs Coordinator from 1983 through 2001.  Until his passing, Henry was a guide and mentor to the committee’s leaders and active participants.”

Internationally renowned for his work in biomaterials, stem cell science, nanotechnology, drug delivery systems, and for pioneering a new field, regenerative engineering, Laurencin serves as the Chief Executive Officer of The Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering. He is the founder of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ Regenerative Engineering Society.

Laurencin is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Medicine. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is the first individual to receive both the oldest/highest award of the National Academy of Engineering (the Simon Ramo Founder’s Award) and one of the oldest/highest awards of the National Academy of Medicine (the Walsh McDermott Medal).

Internationally, he is an elected Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences, the India National Academy of Sciences, the Indian National Academy of Engineering, and the World Academy of Sciences. Laurencin also is an Academician and the 45th Foreign Member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

Laurencin earned his B.S.E. in chemical engineering from Princeton University; his M.D., Magna Cum Laude, from the Harvard Medical School; and his Ph.D. in biochemical engineering/ biotechnology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In 2016, Laurencin received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Barack Obama in ceremonies at the White House. It is the highest honor bestowed in America for technological achievement. In 2021, he was awarded the Spingarn Medal, the highest honor awarded by the NAACP, for his work in Regenerative Engineering.

Author: JLLA Inducts 11 New Members

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

On Wednesday night, in the shadow of the Innovation Partnership Building, 11 students joined the ranks of the most selective graduate society at the University of Connecticut School of Engineering—the John Lof Leadership Academy.

The 11 new JLLA inductees hail from Civil and Environmental Engineering, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Materials Science and Engineering. The inductees were chosen via a rigorous application process that examined them not only for their impressive academic standing and achievements, but also their past experiences and commitment towards engaging with different communities.  

The new inductees are as follows:

Name

Department

Alanna Gado

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Hossein Hamidi Shishavan

Biomedical Engineering

Francesco Rouhana

Civil & Environmental Engineering

Adaeze Maduako

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Mayowa Oladele

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

M Nabil Bhuyian

Material Science & Engineering

Bijaya Rai

Civil & Environmental Engineering

Suman Kumari

Material Science & Engineering

Israt Jahan

Civil & Environmental Engineering

Tasnim Zaman

Civil & Environmental Engineering

Wei Ruan

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

 

For more information on JLLA, please visit their website at https://jlla.engr.uconn.edu.

Author: UConn Engineering Records Largest Female Freshman Class at Storrs in History

(UConn Photo/Christopher LaRosa)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

For the first time in the University of Connecticut School of Engineering’s history, over 30 percent of the freshman class at the main Storrs campus will be female—a crucial milestone on the road towards complete gender equity.

The official number, 31 percent, represents decades of work by the School to change the narrative of engineering as a male-dominated academic discipline through crucial capacity-building programs like BRIDGE, Multiply Your Options, SPARK, and many others.

Compared to schools of engineering across the country, UConn stacks up near the top, as evidenced by a Washington Post survey that named UConn as the top public institution in the U.S. for growth in female undergraduates from 2010 to 2015 and recognition by Women Engineer magazine in 2019 as a “Top 20 University” for fostering diversity and inclusion among its student and faculty population.

Comparing that 30 percent female number nationally, the National Society of Women Engineers counts only 9.5 percent of female freshman who had intentions to major in engineering, math, statistics, or computer science.

In the workforce, the current percentage of females who are professional engineers is better, but still dismal. According to the U.S. Census, “Women working in engineering occupations increased from 3% in 1970 to 15% in 2019. And while the percentage of women in computer occupations is higher than in 1970, it actually decreased between 1990 and 2019.”

For more information on the programs and initiatives that increase and foster diversity at the School of Engineering, please visit https://inclusion.engr.uconn.edu/.

Author: UConn Engineering Welcomes 13 New Faculty

First row (left to right): Shiri Dori-Hacohen, Monika Filipovska, Kyungjin Kim, Hugo Posada-Quintero; Second row (left to right): Jacek Ossowski, Zongjie Wang, Leila Daneshmandi, Shan ”Susan” Zuo, Brittany Nkounkou; Bottom row (left to right): Burcu Beykal, Wei Zhang, Fayekah Assanah, Lina Kloub.

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

Following an exponential increase in student enrollment, an investment in entrepreneurship-backed faculty, and an overall investment in new subject areas, the University of Connecticut School of Engineering is proud to announce that 13 new faculty have started in Fall 2021.

These 13 new faculty break down into five new faculty in the Computer Science and Engineering Department, three new faculty in the Biomedical Engineering Department, two new faculty in the Mechanical Engineering Department, two new faculty in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, and one new faculty in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.

All come with impressive backgrounds and hail from as close as UConn, Cornell, and Georgia Tech for their graduate studies, to as far away as Beihang University in China. With an investment in entrepreneurial backgrounds by the University, others also have experience in start-ups, with some new faculty creating companies in areas like cancer treatment and battling disinformation across the internet.

The thirteen new faculty members are as follows:

Name: Fayekah Assanah

Department: Biomedical Engineering

Title: Assistant Professor in Residence

PhD Institution: University of Connecticut

Research Areas:  Synthesis of hydrogels to mimic the mechanical behavior of the brain matter and investigate cellular response to traumatic brain injury.

 

Name: Burcu Beykal

Department: Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Title: Assistant Professor

PhD Institution: Texas A&M University

Research Areas: Process Systems Engineering, Hybrid Modeling, Machine Learning

 

Name: Leila Daneshmandi

Department: Biomedical Engineering

Title: Assistant Professor in Residence of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

PhD Institution: UConn

Research Areas: Innovation, Entrepreneurship

 

Name: Shiri Dori-Hacohen 

Department: Computer Science & Engineering

Title: Assistant Professor

PhD Institution: University of Massachusetts Amherst

Research Areas: Reducing threats to the information ecosystem online and to improving public discourse from an information retrieval lens, informed by insights from the social sciences.

 

Name: Monika Filipovska

Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering

Title: Assistant Professor

PhD Institution: Northwestern University

Research Areas: Transportation Network Modeling and Optimization, Traffic Flow Modeling, Simulation and Prediction, Predictive Analytics for Real-Time Intelligent Transportation Systems Operations, Applications of Emerging Technologies, Big Data, and Data Analytics in Transportation

 

Name: Kyungjin Kim

Department: Mechanical Engineering

Title: Assistant Professor

PhD Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology (PhD in ME, 2018)

Research Areas: Thin films mechanics and encapsulation. Reliability engineering for flexible and implantable electronics.

 

Name: Lina Kloub

Department: Computer Science and Engineering

Title: Assistant Professor in Residence

PhD Institution: University of Connecticut, 2021

Research Areas: My research interests are in computational biology, bioinformatics, and on developing new computational frameworks to help answer fundamental biological questions.

 

Name: Brittany Nkounkou

Department: Computer Science and Engineering

Title: Assistant Professor

PhD Institution: Cornell University

Research Areas: Programming Languages, Certified Software

 

Name: Jacek Ossowski

Department: Computer Science and Engineering

Title: Assistant Professor in Residence

PhD Institution: New York University

Research Areas: Machine Learning, Neural Networks, Reinforcement Learning

 

Name: Hugo Posada-Quintero 

Department: Biomedical Engineering

Title: Assistant Professor

PhD Institution: University of Connecticut

Research Areas: Biomedical signal processing, wearable instrumentation, biomarkers of human emotions, biosensors, biomedical instrumentation

 

Name: Zongjie Wang

Department: Electrical and Computer Engineering

Title: Assistant Professor

Ph.D. Institution: Cornell University (joint Ph.D. program), Harbin Institute of Technology

Research Areas: Power systems, non-linear optimization and simulation, power market, coordinated transmission, and distribution frameworks.

 

Name: Wei Zhang

Department: Computer Science and Engineering

Title: Assistant Professor

PhD Institution: George Washington University (in US), Beihang University (in China)

Research Areas: Cloud Computing, Operating System, Distributed System, Network and Storage System, Edge Computing, Machine Learning System, Resource Disaggregation

 

Name: Shan ”Susan” Zuo 

Department: Electrical and Computer Engineering

Title: Assistant Professor

PhD Institution: University of Texas at Arlington

Research Areas: Distributed cooperative control, cyber-physical systems, reinforcement learning, attack-resilient control, microgrids, renewable energy systems

Author: NSF Renews NELSAMP Alliance for Five Additional Years

(Photo courtesy of UConn NELSAMP)

 

By: Ryley McGinnis

The Northeast Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participants (NELSAMP) has more than tripled STEM students from underrepresented backgrounds across six major northeastern universities. To continue diversifying STEM, the National Science Foundation renewed the alliance for the next five years with the University of Connecticut at the helm.

The Northeast alliance aims to recruit, retain, and support underrepresented students in STEM across UConn, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Northeastern University, University of Rhode Island, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Tufts University.

“At UConn, this grant spans across all STEM disciplines, including engineering,” said Daniel Burkey, UConn Engineering’s associate dean for undergraduate education and diversity. “It brings students into STEM and helps them get their bachelor of science degrees through mentorship and access to opportunities.”

NELSAMP was formed in 2001, and UConn became the lead institution of the northeast region in 2016, requiring UConn to take charge in renewing the alliance, tracking and reporting its success, and managing the executive board with UConn Provost Carl Lejuez as the principal investigator.  In the first five years, efforts have focused on giving students opportunities in international research, but the new installation will pivot towards career building and professional development initiatives. Programming will focus on three main themes: opportunity, identity, and partnership.

A new initiative to increase opportunities for NELSAMP participants called the STEM-ulate Post Graduate Outcomes Initiative creates new pathways for students to explore careers and graduate school in STEM. Through mentoring, workshops, and various lecture series, students will be well-equipped to join the STEM workforce or pursue their master’s and Ph.D.’s.

To strengthen the NELSAMP community and the identity of its scholars, the renewal will also expand First Year Experience programming to help integrate and prepare new students for success. And to increase partnerships and outreach, UConn and partner institutions will expand their engagement with community colleges and target those with high percentages of underrepresented minorities.

UConn’s LSAMP chapter is housed in the Institute for Student Success and managed by campus program coordinator Michael Petro. “Other NELSAMP institutions implement their programs differently, but at UConn, we are in the position where we get to make change across various schools and colleges since we are housed at the university level,” said Petro.

But all universities share the same goal: help orient underrepresented STEM students to get the knowledge and support they need to succeed in earning their Bachelor of Science degrees.

“Getting a bachelor of science in STEM is hard, the workload is significant at UConn, and we help them stay on course,” said Petro. “LSAMP does this by first providing each student with a faculty mentor. We’ve created a community of scholars who can help our students learn about the opportunities in their field.”

NELSAMP also provides access and funding to support student research opportunities to inspire students to pursue graduate school and give them the experience they need to do well. “We are developing well-rounded scholars in research and leadership, and these students stay connected after graduation, giving them a network of fellow alumni,” said Petro.

The five-year renewal shows a recommitment to this development and to diversify STEM. “Some of these students don’t see professors or role models like them, and with LSAMP, we are creating a new cycle of bringing different backgrounds into the field. Representation really matters,” said Burkey.

And for the next five years, UConn and the five other universities will continue building that representation. For more information on the NELSAMP program at UConn, please visit https://nelsamp.uconn.edu.

Author: Laurencin Honored with Top American Engineering Prize

(Submitted by Dr. Laurencin)

 

By: Combined Reports, UConn Engineering and UConn Health

The University of Connecticut School of Engineering is proud to announce that Dr.  Cato T. Laurencin, a University Professor, UConn Engineering Professor, and Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, has received the 2021 Hoover Medal, a prize jointly given by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers; American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers; American Society of Civil Engineers, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, which administers it.

The Hoover Medal is an American Engineering Prize that was first awarded in 1930.  It celebrates the civic and humanitarian achievements of an engineer whose professional and personal endeavors have advanced the well-being of humankind and recognizes Laurencin as an extraordinary engineer who outside his role as an engineer and physician has dedicated his life to the promotion of racial and ethnic social justice and equity. He has been a mentor to generations of individuals who continue to pass on his lessons.

Previous winners of the medal include former presidents Herbert Hoover, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter; innovators like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and many other impactful figures.

Laurencin, a fellow and director of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, will receive the Hoover Medal honor and deliver a related lecture during the 2021 AIChE Annual Meeting, to be held Nov. 7–11 in Boston, and online Nov. 15–19.

Established in 1929, the Hoover Medal is administered by a board representing five engineering organizations: AIChE, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers (AIME), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Laurencin is internationally renowned for his work in biomaterials, stem cell science, nanotechnology, drug delivery systems, and for pioneering a new field, regenerative engineering. He is professor of chemical engineering, professor of materials science and engineering, and professor of biomedical engineering at UConn. He also serves as the chief executive officer of the Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering and as director of UConn’s Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical, Biological, Physical and Engineering Sciences. Laurencin is also the founder of AIChE’s Regenerative Engineering Society.

Pertinent to the Hoover Medal recognition, Laurencin is being lauded for mentoring a generation of underrepresented engineers. The American Association for the Advancement of Science awarded him the AAAS Mentor Award for his pivotal role in developing underrepresented engineers in the United States. Laurencin is the first person to receive all three of the principal national honors for mentoring: the AAAS Mentor Award, the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Math and Engineering Mentoring, and the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award for Mentoring. The Society for Biomaterials created the Cato T. Laurencin Travelling Fellow Award, which supports underrepresented students pursuing biomaterials science and engineering.

Laurencin has also worked at the policy level to foster justice, equity, fairness and diversity. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, the leading journal on the subject. He founded and chaired the National Academies Roundtable on Black Men and Black Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine, aimed at addressing issues at a system level.

His work has been recognized across engineering communities. Laurencin received AIChE’s William Grimes Award, and the Biomedical Engineering Society’s Diversity Award. The National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) awarded him its highest honor, the Percy Julian Medal.

Laurencin is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering, an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, and an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is the first individual to receive both the oldest and highest award of the National Academy of Engineering (the Simon Ramo Founder’s Award) and one of the oldest and highest awards of the National Academy of Medicine (the Walsh McDermott Medal).

Internationally, he is an elected fellow of the African Academy of Sciences, the India National Academy of Sciences, the Indian National Academy of Engineering, and the World Academy of Sciences. Laurencin is also an Academician and the 45th foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. An international fellow in biomaterials science and engineering, he received the Founders Award from the Society for Biomaterials, and the Acta Biomaterialia Gold Medal.

Laurencin earned his BSE in chemical engineering from Princeton University; his M.D., Magna Cum Laude, from the Harvard Medical School; and his Ph.D. in biochemical engineering and biotechnology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In 2016, Laurencin received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Barack Obama in ceremonies at the White House. It is the highest honor bestowed in America for technological achievement. In 2021, Dr. Laurencin was awarded the Spingarn Medal, the highest honor of the NAACP for his work in Regenerative Engineering.

More information on the Hoover Medal can be found by visiting https://www.asme.org/about-asme/honors-awards/joint-awards/hoover-awards.

Author: Governor Visits, Signs Cybersecurity Bill at UConn Tech Park

Governor Ned Lamont and Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz talk with Associate Dean and Executive Director of the UConn Tech Park Pamir Alpay in the Pratt and Whitney Additive Manufacturing Center. (UConn Photo/Eli Freund)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

On July 15, Governor Ned Lamont visited the University of Connecticut and the UConn Tech Park, in order to meet with several UConn Engineering faculty and sign strong legislation to combat cybersecurity threats across the state.

The visit, which encompassed several centers across the Tech Park, included a tour of the Connecticut Manufacturing Simulation Center, the Pratt and Whitney Additive Manufacturing Center, and the state-of-the-art electron microscope.

Lamont was on a mission to also learn more about cybersecurity and the research UConn Engineering is embarking on in that field. On his tour, in order to gain more knowledge, he was joined by Associate Dean and UConn Tech Park Executive Director Pamir Alpay, Synchrony Financial Chair for Cybersecurity Laurent Michel, and Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor Krishna Pattipati.

The bill that Lamont was signing at the UConn Tech Park was Public Act 21-119An Act Incentivizing the Adoption of Cybersecurity Standards for Businesses, which protects businesses from punitive damages if personal or restricted information is improperly accessed, maintained, communicated, or processed, so long as such businesses have adopted and adhered to appropriate cybersecurity measures. 

According to Lamont, this new legislation will be a boon for the most vulnerable organizations, allowing them to keep their key systems safe.

“Let’s start with what we can do, and let’s start keeping our businesses safe. Our municipalities are the ones that most likely get hit, and sometimes it’s our businesses that are the most likely to get hit. So, one of the things we wanted to do with this legislation is not punish people but give them the incentives and guidance they need to keep their IT systems safe,” Lamont said.

Michel agreed with Lamont, and put into context the problems facing the world, and the solutions that need to be put in place.

“I’d like to start with a number—$6 trillion. That’s the cost of cyber-attacks to businesses worldwide and is projected to grow to $10.5 trillion by 2025. Personally identifiable information that gets lost creates problems for all of us. That included your social security number, other forms of identification, bank records, health records. We need to get better at this, we need to have better accountability, we need to have better disclosures, but more importantly we need to have, in place, proactive measures that help organizations protect themselves,” Michel said.

To learn more about the UConn Tech Park, please visit https://techpark.uconn.edu.

Author: UConn Engineering Adds New Robotics Major

Ashwin Dani, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, sits next to a life size robot called Baxter in his lab. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

The University of Connecticut Board of Trustees has approved a new undergraduate major in Robotics Engineering open  to prospective and existing students starting in Fall 2022.  UConn will be one of only two U.S. research-active universities to offer a major in Robotics Engineering.  The major is focused on the design, construction, and operation of robots. 

While popular fiction brings to mind talking and walking machines, a broader definition of a robot is a machine that is capable of autonomously carrying out complex actions.  Robotics is a growing field that has applications in a number of commercial areas including healthcare, logistics, manufacturing, maintenance, surveillance, amongst others.

The robotics engineering major will have an interdisciplinary curriculum that integrates the disciplines of electrical engineering, computer engineering, mechanical engineering, and computer science.  Students will get hands-on experiences in building small-scale robots and learning techniques to control and automate these robots in a variety of settings.  The skill set developed as a robotics engineer opens up a wide variety of career opportunities in various fields including electric machines, autonomous control, embedded systems, and artificial intelligence which are all relevant in a number of industries.  Robotics is anticipated to see significant growth in employment over the next decade.  Data  from the Bureau of Labor Statistics pegs robotics engineering as seeing  a nine percent growth in jobs from 2016 to 2026, and PayScale.com projects an average salary for robotics engineers of about $80,000 a year.

UConn Engineering has established itself as a leader in robotics research with participation from several faculty in the ECE, ME, and CSE departments.  Highlights include research in autonomous drones, path planning, human robot collaboration, cyborg insects, and others.  UConn is also an active member of the Advanced Robotics in Manufacturing Institute.

For more information on the program, please contact ECE Department Head John Chandy at john.chandy@uconn.edu.

Author: Laurencin Named Fellow of The American Ceramic Society

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

The University of Connecticut School of Engineering is proud to announce that Professor Cato T. Laurencin, a faculty member in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering departments has been named a fellow of The American Ceramic Society.

The awarding of the grade of fellow by the American Ceramic Society is by reason of outstanding contributions to ceramic arts or sciences; through broad and productive scholarship in ceramic science and technology, and by conspicuous achievement in the ceramic industry or by outstanding service to the Society.

Laurencin is known as a world leader in biomaterials, polymeric materials science, nanotechnology, bioceramics, stem cell science, drug delivery systems, and a field he has pioneered, regenerative engineering. His breakthrough achievements in science, engineering and medicine have resulted in transformative advances in improving human life.  Laurencin’s papers and patents have had broad impact on human health, including pioneering the use of nanotechnology in musculoskeletal regeneration and ushering in a new era in orthopaedic therapies. For this work, Dr. Laurencin received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest honor bestowed in America for technological achievement, from President Barack Obama.

In ceramics, Dr. Laurencin is a life member of the American Ceramic Society and has lectured on Bioceramics as the prestigious Edward Orton, Jr. Memorial Lecturer of The American Ceramic Society and as the Rustum Roy Lecturer of The American Ceramic Society. A Fellow of the American Chemical Society and a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AICHE), he was named one of the 100 Engineers of the Modern Era by the AICHE at its Centennial Celebration specifically for his work pioneering polymer-ceramic composite systems for musculoskeletal regeneration.

Laurencin has also pioneered work in the development of systems for soft tissue regeneration. He invented the Laurencin-Cooper ligament (LC ligament) for ACL regeneration, and engineered grafts for shoulder rotator cuff tendon repair and regeneration. National Geographic Magazine featured the LC Ligament as part of its “100 Scientific Discoveries that Changed the World” edition. Dr. Laurencin received the Philip Hauge Abelson Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) “for signal contributions to the advancement of science in the United States.”  He is the first person in history to receive both the oldest/highest award of the National Academy of Medicine (the Walsh McDermott Medal) and the oldest/highest award of the National Academy of Engineering (the Simon Ramo Founders Award).

A role model in science and champion of social justice, Laurencin has three awards named in his honor. The Society for Biomaterials established The Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D. Travel Fellowship given at its opening ceremonies. In addition, The W. Montague Cobb/NMA Health Institute and the National Medical Association (NMA) established the Cato T. Laurencin Lifetime Research Achievement Award, given during the opening ceremonies of the NMA Meeting. The UConn Foundation established the Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D. Scholars Award given to outstanding senior graduates of UConn’s Scholars House, a Black male learning community. He received the 2020 Herbert W. Nickens Award from the AAMC for work in promoting justice, equity and fairness.

Dr. Laurencin is the Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Chief Executive Officer of the Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering. He is a University Professor at UConn, the school’s highest academic rank.  He is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and an elected member of the American Surgical Association. He has been named to the list of America’s Top Doctors for over 15 years.

Dr. Laurencin received his B.S.E. in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University, his M.D., Magna Cum Laude, from the Harvard Medical School, and his Ph.D. in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he was named a Hugh Hampton Young Fellow.

For more information, please visit https://ceramics.org/awards/society-fellows.

Author: Dori-Hacohen joining UConn School of Engineering, transitions to CSO and Chair of Board of Startup

Dr. Shiri Dori-Hacohen (Courtesy of Dori-Hacohen)

 

Dr. Shiri Dori-Hacohen will be joining the University of Connecticut School of Engineering in the Computer Science and Engineering Department starting August 2021 as a tenure-track assistant professor. She is currently the founder and CEO of Automated Controversy Detection, Inc. (AuCoDe), an AI-based startup that detects controversies and misinformation online and turns them into actionable intelligence. Dori-Hacohen founded AuCoDe in 2016, and the company has received over $1 million in funding from the National Science Foundation.

Dori-Hacohen is part of a new hiring initiative by UConn called “cluster hires.” Over the next several years, UConn has committed to hiring faculty with strong backgrounds in various fields, with entrepreneurship being the first. Dori-Hacohen, in addition to excellence in her field of expertise, also demonstrated a successful track record as a startup founder and technology innovator. 

“I’m thrilled to join UConn as part of the entrepreneurship cluster hire. This new position allows me to have the best of both worlds: impacting the next generation of startup founders and expanding on my cutting edge research on controversies and disinformation at UConn, while continuing to bring that work into practice at AuCoDe,” said Dori-Hacohen.

She will be succeeded as AuCoDe’s CEO by her longtime co-founder and collaborator, Julian Lustig-Gonzalez, about whom she shared: “Julian is my trusted partner and an extremely experienced serial entrepreneur, who I’m certain will lead the company to soaring new heights, and I can’t wait to be a part of that success.”

Leadership of the technological development at AuCoDe will be spearheaded at the day-to-day level by Dr. Keen Sung, AuCoDe’s co-founder and VP of Research & Development, who has 12 years of interdisciplinary research experience in both computer science and cognitive neuroscience. Dori-Hacohen will assume the position of Chief Scientific Officer and Chair of the Board at AuCoDe, where she will continue to develop innovative solutions within the company, in parallel to her new UConn role. 

“We are ecstatic about the new collaborations and opportunities of having Shiri in such a prestigious role at UConn, and we eagerly anticipate the world-changing research on controversy and misinformation that will be developed in her lab,” said Lustig-Gonzalez, “AuCoDe has always had its roots in innovative academic research as a spin-off out of UMass. This transition will strengthen AuCoDe’s position at the forefront of translational computer science research in the disinformation space and we look forward to being a UConn faculty-affiliated company.”

For more information on the UConn Department of Computer Science and Engineering, please visit: https://www.cse.uconn.edu. For more information on AuCoDe, please visit: https://www.aucode.io/.

 

Author: CEE Department Scores Two New Grants to Expand on Neurodiversity Programs

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

Two new grants from the National Science Foundation, totaling just shy of $1M, have been awarded to Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty Alexandra Hain and Arash Zaghi for work they will carry out in undergraduate research opportunities and new programs for graduate students, who both fall in the neurodiversity spectrum. The grants focus on the talents of students with ADHD and dyslexia in STEM fields.

The first grant, funded by the NSF Innovations in Graduate Education program, encourages the participation of neurodiverse students in STEM graduate programs to significantly benefit the creativity of our professional workforce, which in turn will help to identify groundbreaking solutions to the large-scale and complex scientific and technological challenges facing the nation. It will provide several resources, workshops, and tools to neurodiverse graduate students to improve their success in graduate programs and give them skills that prepare them for careers in academia and business. Through the help of Zaghi, Hain, Civil Engineering Professor Richard Christenson, Educational Psychology Professor Joseph Madaus, English Professor Tom Deans, and Literacy Education Professor Rachael Gabriel, the team will be developing a strength profiler tool, creating a peer mentoring program, piloting a technical writing program, and holding stakeholder workshops. This project enjoys the strong support of the Dean of the Graduate School, Vice Provost Kent Holsinger, to ensure that its impact goes beyond STEM programs.  

The second grant, which is aimed at undergraduate research for students who are neurodiverse, will re-launch and expand on a previous NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) that UConn ran for neurodiverse students from 2015-2018. The new 10-week summer program will build on the learnings from the previous program and will recruit juniors and seniors from across the country, to participate in specially designed research projects in the fields of artificial intelligence for storm damage prediction, machine learning for damage assessment of bridges, and several other topics.

The students will present on their projects at the end of the summer and will participate in special seminars, brainstorming sessions, mentorship opportunities, and workshops designed to address the needs and challenges of the neurodiverse participants. Other faculty participating in that program include CEE faculty members Tim Vadas, Jin Zhu, Shinae Jang, Christine Kirchhoff, Emmanouil Anagnostou, and Diego Cerrai.

To learn more about the neurodiversity efforts of the CEE Department, please click here.

Author: And The Winners of Senior Design 2021 Are…….

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

Continuing for a second year in a virtual environment, the 2021 Senior Design Demonstration Day showcased a record-breaking 220-plus projects, 800-plus students, and over 120 industry partners.

Working on projects like a COVID-19 diagnostic platform, a plan for increased pie production at Lyman Orchards, and a prosthetic leg that works for dancers highlights the ingenuity and real-world impact all of the projects had on society and for their sponsors.

The winners from each department are as follows.

 

Biomedical Engineering

First Place: Team 2: Margaret Daniel, Samuel Dailey, Jessica Tang,  

Title of project: Prosthetic Leg for Dancers

Advisor: Prof.  P. Kumavor; Sponsor: Paige Holden (UCHC) 

 

Second Place: Team 8: Nathan Brockbank, Mariam Mohsin, 

Title of project: EEG-based Sleep Apnea Detection

 Advisor: Prof. S. Santaniello 

 

Third Place: Team 22: Amit Eshed, Ngoc Luu, 

Title of project: Skin Regeneration on Piezoelectric PLA Scaffold

Advisor: Prof. T. Nguyen 

 

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

First Place: Team 24: Arielle Behar, Dennis Timmons, Megan Walsh, Allyson Barrett

Title of project: Renewable Hydrogen

 Advisor: Ioulia Valla

 Sponsor: None

 

Second Place: Team 8: Jon-Marc McGregor, Brandon Figueroa, Patrick Paul, Rachel Marchini

Title of project: Development of New Skin Care Products by Exploring Different Aeration Techniques

Advisor: Anson Ma

Sponsor: Unilever

 

Third Place: Team 3: Talha Bhatti, Danielle Gan, Jonathan Mustis, Alex Zukowski

Title of project: Optimal Design of Agricultural Systems

Advisor: Matthew Stuber

Sponsor: None

 

Honorable Mention: Team 6: Justyn Welsh, Thomas Pauly, Christopher Tang, Ronald Cabello

Title of project: Pfizer Water Consumption Analysis and Reduction

Advisor: Jeffery McCutcheon

Sponsor: Pfizer

 

Civil Engineering

First Place: CE 9: Matthew Boyer, Olin Green, Roderick Joslin, Thomas Kropp, Makayla Roshkowski 

Title of project: Old Main Gate Demolition and Site Restoration at the CT Air National Guard

Advisor: Nick Lownes

Sponsor: National Guard

 

Second Place: CE 20: Brian Lassy, Christian Mack, Enrique Cubillas, Ethan Hoffman 

Title of project: Superstructure Redesign for Jordan Cove River Bridge 

Advisor: Alexandra Hain

Sponsor: CHA

 

Third Place: CE 2: Kerone Walters, Jason Rich, Josue Flores, Luis Vega 

Title of project: Traffic Safety and Operational Analysis

Advisor: John Ivan

Sponsor: Jacobs Engineering

 

Computer Science and Engineering

First Place: Team 36: Nathan Choi, Jason Kim, Timothy O’Reilly

Title of project: Path Planning with Deep Learning Nets

Advisor: Fei Miao

Sponsor: Mitsubishi Electric Research Lab

 

Second Place: Team 39: Matthew Kirschbaum, Zachary Zambuto

Title of project: Remote Firearm Detection System

Advisor: Seung-Yun Hong 

Sponsor: Presco Engineering

 

Third Place: Team 14: Saamiya Bhura, Erik Kriz, Paige Sheridan, Jordan Tsao

Title of project: Mental Health and Wellness Application

Advisor: Jake Scoggin

Sponsor: Student-sponsored

 

Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Place: Team 2108: Bryan Ziobron, Marjol Mukallari, Jamie Moschella, Angelina Fagundes

Title of project: Wearable Fall Prevention Device

Advisor: Abhishek Dutta

Sponsor: Presco Engineering

 

 Second Place: Team 2127: Elizabeth Chamiec-Case, Paul Roach, Aaron Spaulding

Title of project: Passive Acoustic Array Design for Environmental Monitoring

Advisor: Lei Wang

Sponsor: NUWC

 

Third Place: Team 2113 (Joint with ME): Andrew White, Nicholas Law, Sadman Sakib

Title of project: Smart Box for Transportation of Critical Articles

Advisor: Shalabh Gupta

Sponsor: Aquiline Drones

 

Environmental Engineering

First Place: ENVE 5: Alex Robotham, Ryan Morais, Brian Dinh, Austin Frank

Title of project: Centredale Manor

Advisor: Tim Vadas

Sponsor: Loureiro Engineering Associates

 

Second Place: ENVE 2: Abby Klimowicz, Florence Opoku, Lais Da Silva, Taryn Murasso

Title of project: Canadian Radium

Advisor: Tim Vadas

Sponsor: SESI Consulting Engineers (Dr. Amine Dahmani)

 

Third Place: ENVE 3: Alexis Coley, Brianna Herman, Sarah Mazerolle, Ryan Tamayoshi

Title of project: Multi-Unit Septic and Well System

Advisor: Tim Vadas

Sponsor: CHA

 

Management and Engineering for Manufacturing 

First Place: MEM Team 7: Kyra Cullerton, Kelly Franklin, and Neha Muktadir

Title of project: Lyman Orchards Future Facility Design

Advisor: Craig Calvert, Frank J. Cunha

Sponsor: Lyman Orchards

 

Second Place: MEM Team 4 and 12 (tie): Nicholas Curley, Danielle Garnelis, Joseph Homan (Team 4) and Xavier Amos, David Bielawski, Oliver Bogan, Nishanth Sode (Team 12)

Title of project: Improve Fall Protection System with OSHA Compliance (Team 4) and Analyzing Digital Outputs of Ultra-Low Freezer (Team 12)

Advisor: Craig Calvert/Frank J. Cunha (Team 4) and Ryan O’Connor (Team 12)

Sponsor: Holo-Krome (Team 4) and Sikorsky (Team 12)

 

Third Place: MEM Team 11: Maia Dufane, Jacob Patterson, Natiya Washer

Title of project: Reduction in Ergonomic Risk Factors

Advisor: Craig Calvert and Frank J. Cunha

Sponsor: Prysmian Group

 

Materials Science and Engineering

First Place: Team 9: Alex Distelman, Michael Geragotelis, Megan Hurley

Title of project: Rapid Martensitic Phase Detection for Improved Processing of 301 Stainless Steel

Advisor: Yuanyuan Zhu

Sponsor: Ulbrich Stainless Steels & Special Metals, Inc.

 

Second Place: Team 10: Joe Doluca, Julia Roemer

Title of project: Design, fabrication, and testing of brain phantom and impactor for dynamic traumatic brain injury studies

Advisor: Jasna Jankovic

Sponsor: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

 

Third Place: Team 6: Louis Crisci, Kienan Tierney

Title of project: 3D Printing Materials and Processing for Seawater Applications

Advisor: Volkan Ortalan

Sponsor: NUWC

 

Mechanical Engineering

First Place: Team 1: Mackenzie Lea, Joseph Symochko, Jacob Tran

Title of project: Design of a Low Cost, Disposable Foam Spray Gun

Advisor: Francesco Carbone

Sponsor: Acme Machinery

 

Second Place: Team 50: Zoë Coleman, Andrew Bugryn, Steven Quinn

Title of project: Rubber Calendering Process Automation & Improvement: Feed-Cut-Stack

Advisor: Vito Moreno  

Sponsor: Rubber Labels USA  

 

Third Place: Team 19: Jack DiFrancesco, John Dana, Romario Bowen, Vinny Fazio

Title of project: Alternate Wear Sleeve Installation Method

Advisor: Vito Moreno  

Sponsor: EA Patten   

 

Professor’s Award: Team 68: Audrey Watkins

Title of project: Sensing and Demultiplexing Ultra-Low Frequency Waves

Advisor: Osama Bilal   

Sponsor: UConn Mechanical Engineering    

Author: Meet the 2021 Seniors: Jon-Marc McGregor, Chemical Engineering

(Photo Courtesy of Jon-Marc)

 

1. What are you getting your undergraduate degree in and why did you decide to pursue that field of engineering?

I am getting my undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering. I chose chemical engineering because I believe it is one of the broadest backgrounds and skillsets one can have to understand complex processes and solve current or future global problems.  I thought a degree in chemical engineering would prepare me for several exciting and fulfilling careers in research, engineering, patent law, business, or even policy decisions. In fact, whether I wanted to work in a lab or at a refinery, or in an office space, I believed the rigor of the chemical engineering curriculum would have prepared me for whatever I decided to do after college.

 

2. Are you coming to UConn to get your Ph.D. and is Exxon Mobil funding that? What were the other places you got into?

Although I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here at UConn, I thought for me to grow even more as a scientist and engineer it would be beneficial to take on a new challenge and begin a new chapter in my life at a separate institution. I have learned a lot from the Chemical Engineering Department during my time here, and I am looking forward to translating the fundamental engineering principles taught to me and my cohorts to my graduate studies.

So yes, I have been selected as an ExxonMobil Future Leader’s Academy Ph.D. Scholar. This rare and unique fellowship award provides financial support to cover my tuition, fees, other educational-related expenses, and a stipend as I pursue my doctoral degree at any accredited university. It also provides the opportunity for me to continue my research work with the company when appropriate. In fact, I will be conducting my third assignment with the companies’ Emerging Energy Sciences Section this upcoming summer.

I am truly blessed and humbled to have been accepted to all ten institutions for which I applied for admissions into their Ph.D. program for Chemical Engineering. This achievement is something that I never thought was possible knowing all the adversities I had to face in my life.

I have received acceptances into the following graduate programs:

The University of Texas-Austin, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Wisconsin- Madison,

University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign, University of Michigan- Ann Arbor, Northwestern University, UPenn, Rice University, Texas A&M University, and the University of Florida.

 

3. Talk about your time here. How did you grow as an individual? What things were you involved in and how has UConn Engineering shaped you as an adult and an engineer?

Well, my time at UConn Engineering has been one about self-discovery. Being an immigrant and minority in STEM, my time at the university has been one of change, acceptance, and overcoming challenges. Challenges that tested me intellectually and allowed me to grow as an aspiring researcher and engineer.  After graduating high school, I assumed that I was ready for the “real world.” Honestly, I had never been more wrong. I wasn’t prepared for the responsibilities that would fall upon me. I wasn’t ready to meet so many people from different backgrounds whose opinions and strengths were so different from mine. Quite frankly was not prepared for the world in the way that I thought I was, and that was terrifying.

But my fear of transitioning to such a large university was lessened through my involvement in the 2017 BRIDGE Program. This summer program prepared me for the rigors of the engineering curriculum at UConn, provided a support system of students through my entire college experience, and introduced me to leadership opportunities within the UConn National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Chapter and in Engineering Ambassadors. It has been an honor to serve as the Chapter President last academic year and as the Vice President of Analytics for EA for 2018-2019. Besides having served on both organizations’ executive boards, I was also heavily involved in the LSAMP and McNair Scholars Programs, which provided mentorship, research opportunities, professional development workshops, and seminars to prepare me for graduate school. Lastly, I have also served on both executive boards for Omega Chi Epsilon and Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Societies as President and Vice President, respectively.

 Outside of my involvement in student organizations, I am also an undergraduate researcher in Professor Wagstrom’s Computational Atmospheric Chemistry and Exposure (CACE) lab working on estimating the societal cost of residential heating options in the United States. When not occupied with my research project, I also serve as an undergraduate teaching assistant for three courses: Foundations of Engineering (ENGR 1166), Fluid Mechanics(CHEG123), and  Process Kinetics (CHEG 3151).

While college was a challenging time, it has also taught me some very good lessons. It has taught me that hard work and dedication will make up for what you lack in natural ability. It has taught me that patience is absolutely critical when solving complex problems as 9/10 times things won’t work the first time you try something new, and it taught me that it’s ok to fail, make mistakes, and admit when you don’t know something.  It became evident that learning from my failures has allowed me to discover new paths and motivated me to do better and achieve my career goals. In short, UConn has taught me that success in whatever we do boils down to our attitude and effort.

 

4. What’s your goal after you finish your Ph.D.? Do you want to be a professor, or do you want to do something else?

Beyond the completion of my Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, I plan to make a lasting impact on others through the work I conduct. Whether my career ultimately resides in academia or industry, I desire to help reduce our carbon footprint by developing the next generation of catalysts for sustainable technologies.  I also strive to be a positive, knowledgeable, and compelling leader in the field of STEM whose passion and talent will bring about change within my community, inspire those who look like me, and continue to push the boundary of science and engineering.

 

5. Who has been your mentor or mentors during your time at UConn? How did they help you?

I have been fortunate to have been mentored by two incredible faculty and staff at the university.

Dr. Kristina Wagstrom and Dr. Renee Gilberti’s guidance and tips have helped me realize my potential and push me to become a better student.  When anything has come up, they have always been open and willing to sit, discuss, and provide their insights and views on any particular topic—just knowing that I had few persons who I could to go to made my time at UConn easier.

 

6. Did you always want to go into engineering? What inspired you? Did you have a teacher growing up that you looked up to or a family member or friend?

It is funny that you asked that I have convinced myself that I would pursue a career in medicine growing up. While growing up, becoming an engineer wasn’t a career path that I saw to be common in Jamaica. The main career choices that I would hear about as a student were the possibilities of becoming a medical doctor, a lawyer, teacher, accountant, police officer, or even joining the military. Hence, I didn’t really know what engineers do on a day-to-day basis. 

I just knew that I always loved math and science and that those courses were primarily my strongest subjects in high school. But the question remains, why engineering? There was indeed a specific mentor/role model in my life who inspired me to study chemical engineering. In 10th grade, due to my academic performance, I was recommended by my previous math teachers to enroll in a more advanced math course called Additional Mathematics. In that particular class, I had a teacher named Shaven Hendricks, an alumnus of Ardenne High School — my alma mater — who was also a chemical engineer by profession. His teaching methods and enthusiasm for the subject coupled with learning about his previous projects as an engineer, increased my passion for science even more, and cemented the idea that I wanted to be a chemical engineer and make an positive impact on someone’s life.

 

7. What are you looking forward to the most as you embark on this new graduate school adventure?

I am ecstatic to be joining a community of scholars in the field of emerging sustainable technology and work collaboratively with like-minded individuals and faculty experts to solve current and future energy problems. Along my graduate school adventure, I hope to share my experiences and mentor undergraduate students similar to how I have been mentored while at UConn. Lastly, I am also looking forward to my graduate school journey equipping me with the necessary skills and experiences to have a successful research and engineering career.

 

Author: Jang Named 2021 Distinguished Engineering Educator

(Courtesy of Shinae Jang)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

The University of Connecticut School of Engineering is proud to announce that Civil and Environmental Associate Professor-in-Residence Shinae Jang is the recipient of the 2021 Distinguished Engineering Educator award for her outstanding teaching and pedagogical innovation at the undergraduate level.

Dr. Jang, who is also the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the CEE Department, started working at UConn in 2010 after receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Dr. Jang has an extensive teaching portfolio covering 9 undergraduate courses and two graduate courses in the forms   of face-to-face, flipped, hybrid, and online classrooms. Through these courses she has covered engineering theories, problem solving skills, software tool-suites for modeling and analysis, and field equipment for surveying and testing.

During the COVID-19 pandemic Dr. Jang re-imagined the traditional large Statics course using the Universal Design of Instructions for neurodiverse students to make the required course more flexible and accessible for students with disabilities. To this end, she successfully implemented innovative and creative approaches which worked seamlessly with distance learning modalities, improving inclusivity and reducing student stress, while maintaining academic objectives and effectiveness for all students.

Dr. Jang’s previous accolades include the 2018 Civil Engineering Educator of the Year Award by the Connecticut Society of Civil Engineers, and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Excellence in Civil Engineering Education (ExCEEd) fellowship in 2012. She currently serves as the faculty advisor of the ASCE UConn Student Chapter, in addition to other numerous internal and external boards and committees.

For more information on Dr. Jang and her background, please click here.

Author: Meet the 2021 Seniors: Zoe Coleman, Mechanical Engineering

(Submitted by Zoe Coleman)

 

Congrats on the honor of speaking to the graduating class! What was the process like for the competition and how did you feel when you were selected?

Thank you so much! The process was pretty straightforward.  Any student that wanted to apply just had to submit a video explaining why they would be a good candidate. From there, the students of our class had the opportunity to review the videos and choose who they wanted as their speaker. When I was selected I was very excited but also a little nervous. This is such a huge honor and I want to make sure I make everyone proud! I’m definitely going to give it my all, though, and I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity.

 

Give us a preview of your speech. What’s it going to be on? What was your writing process like?

I only found out three days ago, so I would say that I’m still in the drafting stage and trying to organize my ideas. I know that my main focuses are going to be inclusivity and celebration. We’re such a diverse and hardy class and I really want to give credit to all the challenges we have overcome during our time here. At the same time, graduation is an amazing accomplishment so I’m also excited to rally everyone around the celebration of this incredible journey. I’m definitely a planner at heart, so I expect to go through quite a few drafts before I finally settle on something I’m satisfied with. 

 

As you were preparing your speech, what did you reflect on, and how did your time here shape your speech?

The biggest thing that keeps coming back to me is my community that I’ve found at UConn. This includes the large ones like my major and my sorority, but also just the comfort of seeing a familiar face on campus, even if I didn’t know their name. I also keep reminiscing on all the times I felt most connected to the student body here. UConn has given me beautiful experiences that have helped define the woman I am today. I’ve grown so much in my time here, and I think it’s natural that the drivers of this growth will contribute to the themes of my speech. 

 

What does this honor mean to you? Have you ever given a speech like this?

 It’s exactly that – an enormous honor! I feel grateful for the trust of my faculty and classmates and determined to represent them to the best of my abilities. When I was in 8th grade, I was top of my class and was given the opportunity to speak at our middle school graduation ceremony. Looking back, it was adorable and clearly much lower stakes than a college graduation. At the time, however, it felt like the most important thing in the world! Short answer, I haven’t ever given a speech like this before (there aren’t many speeches like this one) but I’ve certainly spoken in front of a few hundred people. 

 

Now that you’re graduating, what will you look back on fondly the most?

I think that it’s all the little things that I’ll miss the most. My fondest memories are often fragments of an experience but they’re always so heartwarming. Deciding to neglect your homework for an afternoon because it’s too beautiful outside, catching up with an old friend you bumped into while walking to class, the commiserating glances you share with classmates after a particularly brutal midterm, there’s too many snapshots to name. These were the moments that defined my college experience. 

 

What are your plans for after graduation?

I’m going to be moving all the way out to Arizona! I’ll be working as a manufacturing engineer for Raytheon Missiles & Defense. It’s going to be a big change but I’m ready for it. I’m also very excited to start my career and put my education into practice. Plus, I’ll definitely be back to visit all my CT friends and family as often as I can!

Author: Senior Design Journey 2021: Using Lung Scans and Algorithms to Diagnose COVID-19, Part 2

Because of the work of the team’s neural net, researchers and diagnosticians get an almost instantaneous confirmation of if a patient has COVID-19 or not. (Courtesy of the team)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

This article is part of a multi-part series on engineering students, and their journey through Senior Design. Click here to read part 1 of this article series.

A group of five University of Connecticut computer science students are on the precipice of completing a Senior Design project that could not only aid researchers studying lung disease—but could be a boon for diagnosticians when it comes to COVID-19.

The team of Jamey Calabrese, Jay Chandran, Everett Han, Yuwen Jin, and Adam Veilleux are working on creating a portal where anyone could input x-rays and scans of diseased lungs using a machine learning concept called a neural net, and get an almost instantaneous confirmation of if a patient has COVID-19 or not.

For the team, their decision to go after building this diagnostic platform comes from a solid batch of research that suggests that using lung scans is one of the best ways to quickly diagnose COVID-19. According to a study done by radiologists at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, where they identified common characteristics and compared their diagnosis to a concurrent COVID-19 PCR test, they found that they were able to predict a positive test nearly 84 percent of the time when those common characteristics were used to make a diagnosis.

More specifically, according to one of the radiologists, they found that “the presence of patchy and/or confluent, band-like ground glass opacity or consolidation in a peripheral and mid-to-lower lung zone distribution on a chest radiograph is highly suggestive of SARS-CoV-2 infection and should be used in conjunction with clinical judgment to make a diagnosis.”

Initially, the team intended to build a platform that diagnoses several type of lung diseases, but according to Chandran, the scope of the project pivoted several times.

“Originally the project was planned to be a web service where a person could upload a picture, and then have the model classify the picture into a ‘Covid’ or ‘Non-Covid’ category. Simple enough. However, the project was then changed to be a web service where we actually train models for the users themselves, as the users would upload entire datasets to make this all possible.

Considering the fact that datasets can often be thousands of images long, and making a model is not a task that can be done the same way every time, this project quickly proved to be impossible, or at least not in the realm of possibility given our resources and knowledge. So, we shifted back to our original idea, and cut a lot of features that we were originally working on such as database hosting and a login page.”

But for Chandran and the team, while there were setbacks, there were also multiple triumphs, which included some members learning some key real-world skills.

“I think that working on this project has definitely helped me develop skills useful in a real job setting. My portion of the project dealt with integration and front-end development, allowing me to get experience working with GitHub and React. GitHub is at the center of most companies for keeping track of version control and React is one of the hottest packages for web development. It has been a difficult but rewarding experience working on this project, and I hope that the skills I have learned will be useful to me in the future,” Chandran said.

With any major project like this, the team also learned some important lessons in time management and group communication. With one of the team members overseas and everyone virtual, at times, coming together became a challenge—but not one they couldn’t overcome.

“Our team has definitely run into some communication and management problems. One of our members is overseas, making it difficult to schedule meetings due to the time difference. It was also very difficult to tell how much progress people were making before our regular meetings. School definitely played a role in our disorganization, seemingly with at least one person busy with homework or exams each week. This made it very difficult for us to manage our workflow, however we gradually learned to work around each other’s schedules,” Han said.

With Senior Design Demonstration Day looming on April 28, the team says they’ll most likely come down to the wire, but will be there with a working demo when the day comes.

“We will be ready by Design Day. We have a product working and just have to tidy up what we did and make it ready for showcase,” Veilleux said.

Senior Design Demonstration Day will be held virtually again this year, on April 28. For more information on the Senior Design program, please click here.

Author: Senior Design Journey 2021: Bringing More Lyman Orchards Pies to the Masses, Part 2

Workers prepare pies in the Lyman Orchards production facility. (Photo Courtesy of Lyman Orchards)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn Engineering 

This article is part of a multi-part series on engineering students, and their journey through Senior Design. Click here to read part 1 of this article series.

A team of University of Connecticut School of Engineering students are continuing their work with a business that has a deep connection to generations of families across Connecticut—using their skills to bring its bakery business to the next level.

The business, Lyman Orchards, is working with Management and Engineering for Manufacturing students Lindsey Fleck, Allison Pfahler, Scott Gaffney, and Blanche Gorham to closely observe their manufacturing process and make some recommendations that could increase their output of pies by 70 to 80 percent.

To do that, the group, in the Fall semester, did some safe and socially distanced observing at the production facility, timing every part of the process. Now they are working on the next part of their project, which includes writing up official recommendations, completing the freezer model they have been working on coding in Excel, collecting and analyzing data, and designing posters to hang on the wall that outline new recommendation procedures.

But, most importantly, Pfahler says that there are two key pieces of their plan that will help tremendously.

“This semester our project focus shifted to the freezer, to make sure the company and freezer would be able to handle the increased production. Additionally, a new idea was brought up to move the packing part of production to another building on property. With the development of this idea, we are looking at how this could increase production and what the company could do with the new space that has opened up in the Apple Barrel.”

Earlier in the semester, the team faced some hurdles with the expanded space and the freezer, but Gaffney says that the team has developed multiple contingencies to assure success.

“Early in the second semester there was a new idea to utilize another building on Lyman’s property. Utilizing this building would allow Lyman to greatly increase their production throughput. With this came a few hiccups; The first being that it has to be confirmed that this building is SQF (Safe Quality Food) compliant. Also, with this great increase in production we need to confirm/make a plan to confirm that Lyman will have enough freezing space to store all the added production. Although the SQF compliance is still pending, this is no longer a problem for us as we have contingency plans for both scenarios.”

Because of that, the team is on track to be done by Senior Design Demonstration Day on April 28—which was no small feat.

“It was a challenge to complete all the time studies by the goal we had set for ourselves in the beginning of the fall semester. We had to be flexible as a group and work around all of our schedules. Now we are working on an Excel spreadsheet that models input and output for Lyman’s freezer. We had to refresh our knowledge of VBA/Macros. Coding can be time consuming, so we have to manage our time to make sure we are still meeting our other project deadlines,” said Fleck.

And as for after Design Day? The four seniors are appreciative to have worked on a project that was impactful and related to their future careers.

“Several of us have plans to work in full-time positions in supply chain and operations management after graduation, so the work that we have done in this project is very closely related to our post-graduate jobs. I think that it has been great to gain experience in improving the production process for Lyman Orchards because we will likely have related tasks during our professional careers,” Gorham said.

Senior Design Demonstration Day will be held virtually again this year, on April 28. For more information on the Senior Design program, please click here.

Author: New $1.5 Million Grant to Fund Creation of “Water Processes Library” for Researchers

This “water library” has been identified by the U.S. Department of Energy as a critical need in the effort to design, develop, and build novel systems for secure, affordable, and energy efficient water supplies from non-traditional water sources. (Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

 

By: David Huck, UConn School of Engineering 

As freshwater sources across the United States become scarcer, scientists are increasingly looking at ways to use seawater or wastewater from industrial processes, like those from energy production, to provide new, sustainable, and clean water in areas of need.

A group of professors at the University of Connecticut’s School of Engineering, in partnership with two national researchers, have just received a $1.5 million grant from the National Alliance for Water Innovation to build an “open-source modeling and optimization library for water treatment processes,” in an effort to enable innovation and intensification of desalination processes through shared computational resources that support research on desalination of water and related water treatment technologies. The said computational infrastructure has been identified by the U.S. Department of Energy as a critical need in the effort to design, develop, and build novel systems for secure, affordable, and energy efficient water supplies from non-traditional water sources.

The team includes George Bollas, UTC Endowed Chair Professor in Systems Engineering of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department and Director of the UTC Institute for Advanced Systems Engineering; Matthew Stuber, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; Jeffrey McCutcheon, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Director of the Connecticut Center for Applied Separations Technology; Carl Laird, Principal Member of Technical Staff at the Center for Computing Research at Sandia National Laboratories; and Hubertus Tummescheit, Chief Solutions Officer and co-founder of Modelon Inc. The researchers anticipate that developing open-source libraries for the properties of concentrated brines, embedded in sharable dynamic simulation modules will help overcome challenges in the design and processing of saline water by providing models that accurately reflect the thermodynamic and kinetic processes involved in treating these alternative water sources. Currently, most water treatment plants rely on site-specific processes, whereas researchers are hoping to develop models and solutions that can be easily adaptable across the industry. Moreover, optimization and control of these processes require transparent mathematical models where the equations, assumptions, and range of model validity/accuracy are known to the researchers designing new water treatment plants. Existing process simulation software is often “black box,” that is the inputs and outputs can be evaluated, but not the internal processing and that existing software is not adaptable for customization.

The National Alliance for Water Innovation is headquartered at the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory in Berkley, California. In 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy-Water Desalination Hub selected the organization to bring together leading industry and academic partners to examine the “critical technical barriers and research needed to radically lower the cost and energy of desalination.” UConn is one of 19 research universities involved in the consortium, whose research is expected to last five years and is backed by at least $100 million from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Solutions and insights developed by the team of UConn researchers will be accessible from the ProteusLib project, an engineering software system that allows for modeling complex processes and customization. With a unique combination of expertise in electrolyte thermodynamics, process modeling, optimization, and water separation processes, the UConn team is uniquely positioned to overcome the limitations of today’s state-of-the-art in the simulation, synthesis, and design of water treatment processes and contribute to the vision of the United States for a sustainable future in the food-water-energy nexus. Modernization of such processes requires reliable computational tools that can serve as digital twins or virtual testbeds that support innovation. “Understanding of the thermodynamic and kinetic phenomena in concentrated multi-electrolyte, mixed-solvent solutions is a hundred-year old challenge originating in the pioneering work of Peter Debye that awarded him the Nobel Prize in 1936,” Bollas said. “Of course, the old theories and existing models have significant limitations when we deal with brines and water treatment facilities’ byproducts. Our goal is to capture as much understanding as possible about the physical phenomena in these processes, so that we can share with the research community computational modules that can lead to innovations in water treatment and a more sustainable future.”

For more information on NAWI and their projects, please click here.

Author: Rags to Riches: Alumnus Uses Education to Lift Himself from Poverty

Vijay Raghavan in 1996, at his graduate commencement ceremony (Photo Courtesy of Vijay Raghavan)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

Growing up in Hyderabad, India, in a family of modest means, Vijay Raghavan ‘96 knew he wanted to change his life for the better. So, he made a plan.

“I was an only child in a family of very modest means living paycheck to paycheck with absolutely no safety net whatsoever. It was obvious to me that education was my only way out of the paralyzing poverty.”

So, Raghavan set out on a career path in engineering, knowing that was the path to a more stable life.

“These were the decades before the IT (Information Technology) boom when there were only two career paths that guaranteed employment: engineering or medicine. I was bad at biology and good at math which made it easy for me to choose the engineering path.”

Raghavan, a member of the UConn Engineering Academy of Distinguished Engineers and Director of Engineering at MathWorks, a mathematical computing software company located in Massachusetts, initially started off getting his undergraduate degree in India, graduating from Osmania University in 1990.

From there, Raghavan turned his eye towards the United States, to continue his education in graduate school. But Raghavan encountered a problem—schools weren’t willing to invest in his education financially, and he couldn’t afford to pay for his graduate education on his own.

“UConn was the only school that offered me financial assistance. This was thanks to Prof. Krishna Pattipati and Prof. David Kleinman who offered a tuition waiver and graduate assistantship in their Cyber Lab. This was a really a big break for me as I could not have afforded to come to the US without it. I stayed on until 1996 to finish my Ph.D. under Krishna, who supported me throughout my stint at UConn.”

After graduating with his master’s and Ph.D. from UConn Engineering, Raghavan started working for MathWorks in 1996, which produces some of the most recognizable engineering software in the world, like MATLAB and Simulink.

Raghavan has stayed his entire career at MathWorks because of the culture and the unique engineering challenges he gets to tackle on a daily basis.

“I was very fortunate to work on some very exciting projects and technologies that allowed me to grow technically as well as career-wise. At MathWorks we believe in growing engineering leadership from within. This culture gave me ample opportunities to grow from an individual technical contributor to where I am today as a Director of Engineering at MathWorks. I now manage a number of different product areas in the fields of simulation, code generation, verification and validation.”

Looking back on his career, Raghavan realizes that his younger self was right—education was his key to a prosperous and enriching future, and he’s grateful he took that leap. As an alumnus, he has given back to the School of Engineering multiple times, and he urges other alumni to give back. 

“Those six years [at UConn] turned out to be the most memorable and formative years of my life. The graduate school courses were amazing. 

If you are a successful alumnus reading this, I urge you to look back to your UConn years and try to put a value on those years and see if you can repay a fraction of it. If you are a current student, make sure you remember these years and come back to support UConn when you are able.”

Author: CyberSEED Returns in Virtual Format

While CyberSEED was in-person in the past, this year CyberSEED is 100% virtual. (Christopher LaRosa/UConn Engineering)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

After a postponement last year, the annual CyberSEED event, hosted by Synchrony and The Connecticut Advanced Computing Center (CACC), is back on in a 100 percent virtual format.

CyberSEED 2021, which will take place on March 27, from 8:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m., will host teams from schools all over the United States, who will compete in a Capture the Flag-style competition focusing on a variety of cybersecurity challenges including a set of flags focusing on reverse engineering, web application security, network traffic analysis, cryptography, amongst others on the Cyber Skyline platform.

Student teams of 2-4 people will have the opportunity to win cash prices of between $250 to $3,000, hear from a panel of experts, and also get a chance to meet and hear from Synchrony’s own Chief Information Security Officer Gleb Reznik. The top three winners from last year’s competition included: Drexel University, University of Maryland, and New York University.

Registration is open until March 20. For more information on the event, and to register, please visit cyberseed.org.

Author: Javidi Wins Emmett Leith Medal from The Optical Society

(Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

The UConn School of Engineering is pleased to announce that Dr. Bahram Javidi, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been awarded the prestigious OSA Emmett Leith Medal from The Optical Society (OSA).

According to OSA, the medal recognizes seminal contributions to the field of optical information processing. The medal was established in 2006 to honor Emmett N. Leith, a world-renowned scientist in holography and optical information processing. 

Javidi was specifically chosen for this award “for exceptional innovation and transformative technological impact on the field information optics, including pioneering contributions to digital holography for life sciences, information security, optical sensing, and processing of photon starved scenes,” according to the award citation.

This award is the third accolade for Javidi from OSA in the past 3 years (he was also the recipient of the Joseph Fraunhofer Award / Robert M. Burley Prize in 2018, and C. E. K. Mees Medal in 2019), and is one of a long line of accomplishments during his career, which include: Being named one of the top 160 engineers between the ages of 30-45 by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) to attend the Frontiers of Engineering; the IEEE Photonics Society William Streifer Scientific Achievement Award, the Quantum Electronics and Optics Prize for Applied Aspects by the European Physical Society (EPS); the Dennis Gabor Award in Diffractive Wave Technologies from The International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE); the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship; the Alexander von Humboldt Prize for senior US Scientists in all disciplines; the SPIE Technology Achievement Award; the National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award; and the George Washington University Distinguished Alumni Scholar Award.

At UConn, he has received the American Association for University Professors (AAUP) Research Excellence Award; the University of Connecticut Board Of Trustees Distinguished Professor Award; the UConn Alumni Association Excellence in Research Award; and the Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award, among others.

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), Fellow of the Optical Society (OSA), Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), Fellow of the European Optical Society (EOS), Fellow of The International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE), Fellow of the Institute of Physics (IoP), and Fellow of The Society for Imaging Science and Technology (IS&T). Javidi has over 1100 publications which have been cited 47000 times with h-index=101 according to Google Scholar and 30 patents, some of which have been licensed by industry.

Javidi is also the director of the MOSIS Lab [Multidimensional Optical Sensing and Imaging Systems (MOSIS.UConn.edu)], which is focused on advancing the science and technology of imaging, by centering on the fields of optics, photonics, and computational algorithms and systems, from nano to macro scales. MOSIS works with, and finds solutions for, partners in the defense, manufacturing, healthcare, and cybersecurity industries.

To learn more about the OSA Emmett Leith Medal from The Optical Society, please visit: https://www.osa.org/en-us/awards_and_grants/awards/award_description/leith/

Author: Nominations Open for 2021 Academy of Distinguished Engineers

(UConn Photo/Christopher LaRosa)

 

Dear Colleagues:

Each year, UConn Engineering recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly to the reputation or advancement of the School by inducting them into our Academy of Distinguished Engineers. Since its inception, membership in the Academy has focused on:

  • Exceptionally distinguished alumni whose career achievements are of an enduring seminal nature; and
  • Dedicated individuals who have made dramatic and enduring contributions to our School.

In 2021, we mark the 38th year that the School has inducted selected nominees into the Academy of Distinguished Engineers.   We are asking for your help in identifying superb nominees for this honor; self-nominations are also welcome.  The School’s Academy Selection Committee will review each nomination received with care and serious consideration.

To nominate a candidate, please:

We are hopeful that in 2021 we will be able to host an in-person celebratory awards dinner, during which each new Academy inductee will be formally honored by the Dean and University administration, which will take place in mid-September 2021.

If you have any questions regarding the nomination process, please contact Noreen Wall (Noreen.wall@uconn.edu ).

We hope you will take this opportunity to acknowledge the achievements and contributions of one of our outstanding engineering graduates or friends of the UConn School of Engineering.  Thank you!

 

Sincerely,

Kazem Kazerounian

Dean and Professor of Mechanical Engineering

 

Author: Looking To The Netherlands As The Transportation “Gold Standard”

Bicycles parked in The Netherlands (Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

The last ten years has seen a spectacular raise in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities on the roads in the United States.  According to The Governors Highway Safety Administration there were 6,590 pedestrian fatalities in 2019, a 60 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities compared to 2009. The increase for cyclists is not as spectacular but no less troubling.  This crisis on the roads of America has been the subject of numerous media articles and a few books.  It is also worth noting that this crisis has a strong social justice component in that children, young people and racial minorities suffer at disproportionately high rates.

New research from graduate students and faculty members in the Transportation Technology & Society Research Group has identified the Netherlands as the gold standard when it comes to cutting down on pedestrian and cyclist fatalities—over 90 percent since the 1970s—by embracing a systems-based approach that has started to slowly gain traction in the United States.

This systems-based approach, which was studied by Associate Professor of Geography Carol Atkinson-Palombo, Professor of Civil Engineering Norman Garrick, and Engineering graduate students Ge Shi and Vanessa Methoxha, incorporates the design, infrastructure, policy, and transportation system in totality rather than reactive piecemeal initiatives, which has been the standard in the U.S. The key for the Netherlands has been to adopt the mindset that humans are fallible, and because of that, engineers, planners and policy makers have to create systems that mitigate the impacts that will inevitably be caused by human error. Partly because of the lack of a systems-based approach, the risk of fatality for non-vehicle occupants (pedestrians, bikers) is five to eight times that of vehicle occupants in the U.S.  But even then, vehicle occupants in the U.S. are less safe than their counterparts in the Netherlands.

So, what specific steps did the Netherlands take to build a system that has surpassed most other countries? According to the group’s research, the country started to look at alternative means of transportation during the 1973 Oil Embargo, when most countries around the world were severely rationing gas to their citizens. While the U.S. never really thought about de-emphasizing the use of cars during the Embargo, protesters in the Netherlands created a campaign called “Stop de Kindermoord” (or “Stop the child murder”), which was a movement from children and parents fighting for the right to play on and in safe streets with minimal disturbance from automobiles.

This campaign led politicians to allow transportation planners more room for innovation, leading to the first wave of novel projects—traffic calming and cycle network planning. They then conducted research on traffic volumes, speed, and crash data, and concluded that adding slow zones within an area improved overall road safety. Using research to verify the impact of these projects helped traffic calming to spread to other locations in the Netherlands, according to the researchers. At the same time, the Netherlands started to build an extensive network of paths and roads for bicyclists.

In the 1990s, according to the researchers, the country implemented their “Sustainable Safety Vision,” with a guiding philosophy that the whole traffic safety system, including the road environment, vehicle technology, education, and enforcement, should provide a reliable context that caters to human behavior and shortcomings. It should have mechanisms to monitor if all road users behave safely and if traffic professionals adequately fulfill their roles. If tragedies do happen, trauma care should ensure fast and effective assistance.

With all this progress, the researchers pointed out that the Netherlands’ success has started to permeate into the psyche of transportation officials in the U.S. In the most recent “Pedestrian Safety Summit,” sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, multiple groups gave presentations stressing the importance of systematic approaches to transportation safety, but the researchers said there’s still much work to be done to get to the level of the Netherlands and ultimately to “vision zero,” which is a term used to describe a future with no traffic fatalities or severe injuries from crashes – a goal to which many jurisdictions in the U.S. now aspire.

For more information on the research being done by the Transportation Technology & Society Research Group at UConn, please click here.

Author: Senior Design Journey 2021: Using Lung Scans and Algorithms to Diagnose COVID-19, Part 1

Part of the training sequence for the COVID-19 neural net. (Diagram courtesy of Senior Design team)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

Ever since the introduction of IBM’s Watson, companies have been on a voracious quest to use computers and machine learning to help doctors and diagnosticians solve medical quandaries. For a team of five University of Connecticut computer science students, they’re looking to apply those same machine learning principles towards determining whether a patient has COVID-19 or other lung-damaging diseases.

Using a neural network, which is a form of machine learning, a team consisting of computer science students Jamey Calabrese, Jay Chandran, Everett Han, Yuwen Jin, and Adam Veilleux will be inputting x-rays and scans of lungs with COVID-19, tuberculosis and pneumonia, and teaching the computer, based on certain key characteristics of the images, to diagnose which particular lung disease is shown.

“The whole scope of the project is to take images of lung scans of COVID-19, tuberculosis, and pneumonia patients and then train our algorithm to work on a neural network model. Once the system is trained you can input new scans and the neural network will start classifying the scans on its own.  This will be a tool that will give doctors and researchers a good confirmation or second opinion,” Chandran said.

To feed their neural net, the team is using scans from different places, including CheXpert, which, according to their website, is a large dataset of chest x-rays and competition for automated chest x -ray interpretation offered by Stanford University.

For the team, their decision to go after building this diagnostic platform comes from a solid batch of research that suggests that using lung scans is one of the best ways to quickly diagnose COVID-19. According to a study done by radiologists at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, where they identified common characteristics and compared their diagnosis to a concurrent COVID-19 PCR test, they found that they were able to predict a positive test nearly 84 percent of the time when those common characteristics were used to make a diagnosis.

More specifically, according to one of the radiologists, they found that “the presence of patchy and/or confluent, band-like ground glass opacity or consolidation in a peripheral and mid-to-lower lung zone distribution on a chest radiograph is highly suggestive of SARS-CoV-2 infection and should be used in conjunction with clinical judgment to make a diagnosis.”

But while building this diagnostic platform using a neural net is exciting, the team still faces some challenges in their journey towards Senior Design Demonstration Day.

“One of the biggest obstacles is working with large amounts of data in general and using it in a practical way. One of the things we’ve used used is the UConn cluster. A lot of people are using it, so it’s not much faster than a regular computer. We might have to use the ultra-high-performance cluster at UConn,” Chandran said.

Another pitfall for the team has been finding enough time to work together, especially while balancing classwork and other activities.

“Time management has hit the bottom of my priorities and all my schoolwork takes up the prime real estate of my time, which I’m sure will be elevated next semester. In order to make significant progress, you have to find two workdays in a week, and that’s mostly infeasible,” Calabrese said.

But the team is confident that they can get some significant work done, and are also excited about the range of applications this diagnostic platform may have.

“It’s certainly been interesting creating a platform that can help during this pandemic, but a tool like this is bigger than COVID. I’m a big open-source guy, so if we can advance this towards how we classify diseases, and let other developers build on this, the possibilities for diagnosing illness are endless,” Calabrese said.

 

This article is part of a multi-part series on engineering students, and their journey through senior design. Part two of this team’s journey will come out in April 2021.

Author: School of Engineering to Launch New Multidisciplinary Major in Fall 2021

(Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

Starting in Fall 2021, prospective and existing University of Connecticut School of Engineering students will have a new major to choose from—Multidisciplinary Engineering—allowing for the unique opportunity to customize their degree to their future career preferences. UConn’s Multidisciplinary Engineering program will join a small group of other engineering schools around the country to offer this unique degree.

“The advantage of Multidisciplinary Engineering is that it provides pathways for students with strong interests in fields complimentary to engineering to combine coursework in both disciplines, creating a specialization that will allow them to pursue specific employment opportunities post-graduation,” said Daniel Burkey, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education in the School of Engineering. 

At this time, the School of Engineering is pursuing ideas for those joint curricula with numerous other schools and colleges around UConn. One of the first will be a Theater/Entertainment Engineering specialization offered jointly with the School of Fine Arts as part of the recently founded Krenicki Arts and Engineering Institute. In the months to come, the School will start to introduce other specializations as conversations with other programs progress. Working with their academic advisor, students will also be able to design their own specializations outside of the ones created through collaboration across schools and programs.

For more information on the new Multidisciplinary Engineering major, please visit mde.engr.uconn.edu.

Author: Senior Design Journey 2021: Bringing More Lyman Orchards Pies to the Masses, Part 1

Workers prepare pies in the Lyman Orchards production facility. (Photo Courtesy of Lyman Orchards)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

Lyman Orchards, a fixture in Connecticut, has graced the tables of families with produce and baked goods for hundreds of years. But with growing popularity among consumers, and increased retail partnerships, Lyman finds themselves at the upper limits of their production capacity—and is calling on a group of UConn Engineering students to use their expertise to find creative solutions.

“What we’re looking for are process improvements. Currently, Lyman has a small production space, and they’re looking to move into a bigger space, but until then, with the space they have now, they can’t meet the high demand for their products. So, the overall goal is to increase their pie production by 30 percent to 50 percent in their current facility,” said Management and Engineering for Manufacturing student Lindsey Fleck

Founded in 1741, Lyman Orchards, located in Middlefield, Connecticut, covers 1,110 acres, and features “pick your own” fruits, a restaurant, 36 holes of championship golf, a 9-hole course, one of the top golf training facilities in the state, event space, a farm market and a bustling bakery business, creating pies that sell directly to consumers, as well as several supermarket chains.

This year, Lyman Orchards and their CEO Gary Jalbert connected with MEM students Fleck, Allison Pfahler, Scott Gaffney, and Blanche Gorham to closely observe the manufacturing process and make some fresh recommendations. To do that, the team has been doing some safe and socially distanced observing at the production facility, timing every part of the process.

“During the Fall semester, we’ve been going to Lyman once a week and doing time studies, making sure to time each of their processes, determining the optimal speed and identifying bottlenecks. Eventually we’re hoping to create a model that they can implement to help reach their goal,” Gaffney said.

But during this socially distanced school year, while some groups are finding it hard to get things done, this group of four is tackling every challenge that comes their way.

“One obstacle is that our schedules don’t overlap easily. We have been going to Lyman once a week, with this being their busiest season, and it’s been hard to find a common time to get down there. Luckily, with all of our other work, and when talking with our sponsor, we’ve been able to have virtual meetings, which make things much easier,” Pfahler said.

Plus, the familiarity with each other has made the team work very well.

“We’ve known of each other through MEM classes, but also Allie and Blanche were roommates last year, and Lindsey and I are cousins. So, you could say we all know each other pretty well,” Gaffney said.

The team said that once they’re done with the time studies, they’ll start to work over winter break to break into the second phase of their project—the recommendations.

“After our time studies are completed, we’re going into the next step, which is to analyze the time studies and look for places of improvement. We’re also going to look into increased freezing methods, because with increased production output comes the challenge of how to freeze it before shipping to their customers,” Gorham said.

All in all, every student in this group is excited to help an established, local business, especially one that has been a staple in most of their homes growing up.

“My grandparents live so close to Lyman Orchards and they ask me every time I mention it about my memories there. I grew up eating their pies, getting lost in their corn maze and picking their apples. It’s a big part of my childhood,” Pfahler said.

This article is part of a multi-part series on engineering students, and their journey through senior design. Part two of this team’s journey will come out in April 2021.

Author: Thanksgiving Message From The Dean

 

Dear UConn Engineering Family:

As we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday this year, I am thankful for the amazing staff, faculty, and students who make it such a wonderful place to work and learn, and I am honored and proud to be the dean of our school at this time in its history.  

We’ve made it to the end of in-person classes.  Echoing President Katsouleas’ message to the UConn Community on 11/19, to say it’s been one of the most unique semesters in our 104-year history is an understatement.  Despite a pandemic that has upended our lives, as a community of engineers we did what we do best — we transformed!  The world as we knew it a year or so ago is gone.  There is uneasiness in our society.  But you demonstrated that we will endure and thrive!  

As you sit down with your loved ones on Thanksgiving Day, make sure to reflect back on this semester, because it will be a memory which will become a barometer for professional and personal success when things get tough — from stories about innovations in teaching and research, to ingenuity in collaborating on Senior Design projects, to balancing ever changing work-life demands.  

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to thank you all for what we’ve achieved so far and once more express my gratitude for your incredible dedication, and I emphasize one more time that you put your health and the well-being of your families first.

I wish you a healthy and joyful Thanksgiving break.

Stay well,
Kazem

Author: Alumni Wins 2019 Meritorious Senior Professional Presidential Rank Award

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

(Photo by Dave Stoehr, McLaughlin Research Corp.)

After recently retiring from the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport, University of Connecticut School of Engineering alumni Steve Greineder (’82, ’87) won the 2019 Meritorious Senior Professional Presidential Rank Award.

According to a press release from NUWC, the honor, awarded by the U.S. president, recognizes a small group of career senior executives who demonstrate extraordinary professional, technical and scientific achievements on a national or international level. Thirteen Senior Executive Service members and two senior professionals from the Department of the Navy received awards for 2019.

NUWC Division Newport is a shore command of the U.S. Navy within the Naval Sea Systems Command, which engineers, builds and supports America’s fleet of ships and combat systems. NUWC Newport provides research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures associated with undersea warfare.

Greineder’s 40-year career at Division Newport began as a summer hire after his freshman year at the University of Connecticut. Notable roles throughout his career include submarine sonar advisor to the Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet; program manager/chief scientist for the Office of Naval Research Programs and Internal Research; science and technology chief technologist/chief engineer for Division Newport’s Sensors and Sonar Systems Department. In 2011, he joined the Senior Executive Service as a senior technologist for acoustic signal processing, the release said.

For more information please click this link.

Author: USDA Grant to Fund Research in 3D Printing Novel Food Products from Sustainable Sources

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

Armed with a four-year, $470,000 grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, National Science Foundation (NSF) SHAP3D Center Site Director and Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and Polymers Anson Ma—and his collaborator, Qian Yang, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering—are working on creating pulse-based food products with novel textures and customized nutritional profiles using machine learning and a specially designed 3D printer.

Pulses, which encompass all edible seeds in the legume family—including chickpeas, dry beans, lentils, and more—are seen as viable nutritional sources, as they are high in protein, complex carbohydrates, and low in calories and fat.  During the next four years, the two researchers will work in conjunction with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center (Natick, MA) to test their methods and results.

Ma and Yang will use UConn’s state-of-the-art pilot scale HuskyJet 3D printer housed at UConn’s Innovation Partnership Building. The versatile printer has a number of applications, which range from regular graphics on paper, to creating flexible electronics, medicinal tablets, and green parts for ceramics and metals. The printer was funded by UConn’s Academic Plan and has already been leveraged for a number of projects, including projects funded by the NSF SHAP3D center and a federally funded project from NextFlex – America’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute – both of which UConn is a founding academic member.

CCDC-Soldier Center will provide expertise in food 3D printing and nutritional solutions. Food is unlike other material used in 3DP, it is a uniquely complex non-linear material. CCDC-Soldier Center maintains 3D food prints with the capabilities and knowledge to characterize food matrices, conduct shelf-stability testing, evaluate sensory characteristics and perform nutritional and food microbiological analysis.

A number of societal benefits will be realized through this project. First, the ability to produce food that will meet an individual’s energy and nutrient needs, as well as flavor and texture preferences, and will help promote a healthier lifestyle. Second, by making the 3D printing technology more accessible, consumers will be able to experiment with different food forms at home, fostering creativity in the younger generations and changing their relationships with pulse-based products. Third, 3D food printers can function as standalone food production systems that could be used in disaster relief situations and austere environments. Lastly, the 3D food printing technology developed in this project can potentially be adapted for using a wide variety of sustainable feedstock materials.

For more information on Ma, and his research, please click here.

This research was funded by USDA grant #2020-67017-31273

 

Author: Remembering Brilliant Engineer, Art Lover, and Alumnus Bill Romanauskas

(Photo Courtesy of Bridgette Roman)

 

Romanauskas, William (“Bill”) Andrew.  Born June 4, 1928, in Waterbury, and passed on September 5, 2020.  Bill was a 1946 Graduate of Leavenworth Technical High School in Waterbury, and thereafter served honorably in the United States Navy from 1946 to 1948.  Following his Navy service, Bill returned to Connecticut to get a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Connecticut in 1952.

Bill was a long- time resident of Southbury, having moved there from Waterbury in 1970.  He left a wonderful legacy to Southbury, The Romanauskas Barn, built in 1780 and painstakingly restored in 2006.

Bill was also a long term employee of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., having retired in April of 1985 following a long career in research and development in the Biomedical Products Division.  Following his retirement from du Pont, he went on to Sorvall Products L.P., as a Senior Engineering Fellow.  Bill was the name inventor or co-inventor on approximately forty patents.

Although a brilliant engineer, he was also an art lover who became an accomplished painter of both landscapes and portraits.  In 2009, Bill and his beloved dog Sadie moved to Mystic to be close to the Seaport that he loved.  He lived at Academy Point and enjoyed the beautiful view of the Seaport.  As Academy Point’s longest resident, he became known as the Mayor of Academy Point and truly loved the people there.  He celebrated with 90th birthday a few years ago in the company of his Academy Point friends and niece Sandi with a special Dixieland Band cruise on the Sabino steamer.

Bill was preceded in death by parents:  Anthony Romanauskas and Anna Dundonais Romanauskas, his sisters: Lascadia R. Polmon (Anthony), Aldona Romanasukas, his brother Anthony Roman (Marjorie), and his beloved dog Sadie.  Bill is survived by his nieces, Sandra O’Brien of Niantic and Bridgette Roman (Michael Schwind) of Dublin, Ohio, and nephew David Polmon of Southbury.

On behalf of their Uncle Bill the family wishes to express their gratitude to the care-givers at Academy Point.  The family will hold a private ceremony for the interment of ashes.  Any friends wishing to make donations may do so in memory of William A. Romanauskas to the Engineering Scholarship Fund at the University of Connecticut Foundation, Inc. Checks made payable to the UConn Foundation, Inc., can be mailed to: The UConn Foundation, Inc, Attn: Data Services, 2390 Alumni Dr., Unit 326, Storrs, CT 06269-3206.

Author: UConn Engineering Virtually Inducts 2020 Academy of Distinguished Engineers Class

The 2020 class of the Academy of Distinguished Engineers toasts during the ceremony held Thursday, September 17.

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

For the first time in the event’s history, the University of Connecticut School of Engineering virtually inducted ten exemplary engineers during the annual Academy of Distinguished Engineers ceremony.

Although virtual, the ceremony featured a close-knit and special atmosphere, where the ten inductees were able to speak about their life journeys and work during this COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, the inductees to the Academy were Paul Cheney, Value Stream Leader for Pratt & Whitney; Michael Douglass, Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff Texas Instruments; Michael Gamache, President and CEO of The Carlyle Johnson Machine CO. LLC; Robert Hersh, Partner at Grant Thornton LLP; Dr. Robert LaFreniere, Program Manager for the Maritime Sensors Program Management Office; Danielle McGeary, Vice President of Healthcare Technology Management at The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation; Dr. Tina Morrison, Deputy Director of the Division of Applied Mechanics in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories; Eric Reed, Senior Vice President for Information Technology at Cigna; Kenneth Taylor, President of Taylor Medical Technology and Consulting; and Hui Xu, Technical Director of Energy Conversion Materials at Giner, Inc.

The Academy, which has inducted 246 total members since its inception in 2003, honors School of Engineering alumni and Connecticut engineers whose careers have been characterized by their sustained and exemplary contributions to the engineering profession through research, practice, education, policy or service. Members are individuals who bring enduring honor to their alma mater as practitioners and as citizens.

McGeary, who also gave a keynote address on the healthcare industry and COVID-19, talked about her humble start in her hometown, during her induction address.

“Where I grew up, my high school ended up being on academic probation, because it was a poor community that didn’t even have the funds to give every kid their own textbook—we all had to share,” McGeary said. “Later in my high school career, I enrolled in AP Bio, because I wanted to excel and be the best, but on the first day of class the teacher told us to not even bother, since no one from this school had ever passed the AP exam.”

For Douglass, his 40-year career at Texas Instruments was almost squashed over his tardiness during a career fair.

“I went to the Career Center to interview, and I found out that all the positions had been filled that day, so the person at the front desk told me to leave my resume and she’d get it to them. After that, I thought to myself ‘There’s a 10-cent resume I’ll never get back again,’” Douglass said. “A couple of weeks later, they asked me to come in for an interview and my planes got so delayed that I got in at 3 a.m. for a 7 a.m. interview. Everything was a blur that day, but it turned out pretty well for me in the end.”

For more information on the Academy of Distinguished Engineers, and our 2020 inductees, please click here.

Author: New Invention From UConn Alumni Gives Elderly a Boost

Jeremy Bronen presents SedMed at the CCEI Accelerate UConn Program in Hartford on February 28, 2020.

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

If you’re young and able-bodied, the bathroom is considered a relaxing space, where we go to refresh and rejuvenate. But for disabled and elderly people, the bathroom can be an accident waiting to happen.

For the elderly, the bathroom is so dangerous that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people over 85 years-old suffer more than half of their injuries near the toilet.

Two University of Connecticut Mechanical Engineering alumni are looking to reverse those statistics with a new company called SedMed. Their technology is a patent pending toilet lift assist product to help the elderly and disabled get on and off the toilet.

The company, which was formed after a senior design project this year, is the brainchild of Jeremy Bronen ’20 and Tim Krupski ’15.

“Funny enough, I met my co-founder, Tim Krupski (also a UConn Mechanical Engineering Alumni and a current UConn MBA/Masters of Engineering student) because he was my UConn Mechanical Engineering Senior Design sponsor. Our project was a powered toilet lift and we actually got 3rd place overall for Mechanical Engineering Senior Design this year. However, Tim and I realized we needed to completely pivot our design once we started analyzing the market viability of our product through the CCEI Accelerate UConn Program,” Bronen said.

CCEI (Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation), a center within the UConn School of Business, offers several programs to UConn faculty and students that spur innovation and entrepreneurship. Through Accelerate UConn, the Get Seeded program, and CCEI’s Summer Fellowship, the two took full advantage of everything UConn had to offer, including finishing as a finalist for the Wolff New Venture Challenge in the Fall.

Most important to Jeremy and Tim, who project they can capture a $17.5 million market in the first three years of manufacturing and distribution, is the intention behind their invention.

“The inspiration for this product is rooted back to Tim’s grandmother, who suffered from a stroke, rendering her wheelchair-bound when Tim was in high school. This company and this product were founded on the principle of caring for and helping the people we love – our families,” Bronen said.

As entrepreneurs and engineers, Bronen believes they’re the perfect team to bring this product to market.

“I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. With my engineering background I’ve always loved creating things. So the idea of creating a novel product and building a company around that product is really something that gives me joy – even through the challenges.”

For more information on the upcoming Wolff New Venture Challenge, which will happen on October 19 and feature SedMed, please click here.

Author: Engineering a Better Connecticut Scholarship Initiative

 

UConn Engineering is launching the Engineering a Better Connecticut Scholarship Initiative to create need-based scholarships for Connecticut students under-represented in the field of engineering.  COVID-19 has made scholarships more important than ever, especially, for these young men and women. 

We want to do better for all our students.

By supporting the Engineering a Better Connecticut Scholarship Initiative, you are making a difference and investing in the future of Connecticut.  We believe in the power of a UConn Engineering degree. Together we can help our students develop the tools they need to excel in these difficult times.   

In the coming weeks we will be launching additional details through email and social media about how to participate in the Engineering A Better Connecticut Initiative. To connect directly with someone from our team now, please call Don Swinton at 860-336-7234 or Nora Sutton at 860-539-8785. 

To learn more about the initiative, please visit our website by clicking here.

Author: School of Engineering Welcomes 12 New Faculty

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

The University of Connecticut School of Engineering is proud to announce that 12 new faculty–including five new faculty members in the Computer Science and Engineering Department and one new faculty member in the brand-new Krenicki Arts and Engineering Institute–are starting this academic year.

The new faculty members, who hail from Harvard, Georgia Tech, industry, and many other organizations, represent one of the biggest influxes of talent in the last several years, who will build on areas of growth and critical need within the School.

New Faculty:

Ghada Almashaqbeh

Department: Assistant Professor, Computer Science and Engineering 

Ph.D. program graduated from and/or previous work experience: Ph.D. in computer science from Columbia University, graduated in May 2019. Over the past year (before joining UConn) she worked in two startups; one she cofounded based on the work done in her PhD thesis, and in the other was as a cryptographer working on building an infrastructure for privacy preserving applications.

Area of teaching specialty or research: Cryptography, security, and distributed systems. 

 

 

Kriti Bhargava

Department: Assistant Professor-in-Residence, Computer Science and Engineering (Stamford Campus)

Ph.D. program graduated from and/or previous work experience: Ph.D. in computer science from Telecommunications Software and Systems Group, Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland. Graduated in 2019. Research Fellow in School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics, Coventry University, UK, from Dec 2018 to Aug 2020.

Area of teaching specialty or research: Internet of Things, Machine Learning, Computer Networking

 

 

Frank Cunha

Department: Professor-in-Residence, Mechanical Engineering 

Ph.D. program graduated from and/or previous work experience: Ph.D. P.E., mechanical engineering, New York University, aircraft engine and power generation design and development experience with GE, PW, and Siemens.

Area of teaching specialty or research: manufacturing processes, turbomachinery development, advanced thermodynamics, energy systems, solid mechanics, fracture mechanics and fatigue, fluid dynamics, advanced heat transfer. 

Any major awards or grants received: Fellow of American Society of Mechanical Engineers, member of International Center of Heat and Mass Transfer, associate editor of ASME International Journal of Heat Transfer, over 100 US Patents on gas turbine combustors, turbines and afterburners. 

 

 

Jorge Paricio Garcia

Department: Associate Professor-in-Residence, Krenicki Arts and Engineering Institute; Mechanical Engineering

Ph.D. program graduated from and/or previous work experience: Complutense University of Madrid,  Masters in Industrial Design from Pratt Institute. Part-time faculty in the Industrial Design Department at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) for 13 years; Taught at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh for 16 years; Worked as an exhibit designer for 4 years in New York City, preparing design concepts, blueprints for major US trade shows; Worked for Colgate Palmolive developing product concepts and CAD drawings for the Global Packaging Group.

Area of teaching specialty or research: Concept drawing for product design, digital rendering, design thinking, product development.

Any major awards or grants received: Teacher of Excellence Award in Continuing Education, RISD, 2019; Finalist, J. Frazier Wards as an Adjunct Faculty, RISD, 2015 and 2019.

 

 

Haitham Ghalwash

Department: Assistant Professor-in-Residence, Computer Science and Engineering

Ph.D. program graduated from and/or previous work experience: Ph.D. in computer science and engineering, University of Connecticut. 

Area of teaching specialty or research: Cybersecurity and computer networking. 

 

 

 

Farhad Imani

Department: Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering 

Ph.D. program graduated from and/or previous work experience: Dual-title Ph.D. in industrial engineering and operations research, The Pennsylvania State University

Area of teaching specialty or research: Data analytics in advanced manufacturing

Any major awards or grants received: 

  • 2020, James E. Marley Graduate Fellowship in Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University 
  • 2020, Breakthrough Project, Highlighted in National Science FoundationIndustry-University Cooperative Research Centers (IUCRC) website 
  • 2019, Brush Graduate Fellowship, The Pennsylvania State University
  • 2019, Featured Article in ISE Magazine, Institute of Industrial and System Engineers (IISE) Transactions on Healthcare Systems Engineering
  • 2018, Best Poster Award, Quality Control and Reliability Engineering Division (QCRE), IISE Annual Conference, Orlando, FL 
  • 2016 – 2017, Prestigious University Graduate FellowshipThe Pennsylvania State University

 

SeungYeon Kang

Department: Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering 

Ph.D. program graduated from and/or previous work experience: Ph.D. in applied physics, Harvard University; Senior Research Engineer at Samsung SDI and Program Manager for the UConn SHAP3D Center

Area of teaching specialty or research: Advanced laser materials processing techniques, fundamental principles and application of light-matter interaction, 3D nano-fabrication and energy technology. 

 

 

 

Stephany Santos

Department: Assistant Professor-in-Residence, Biomedical Engineering;Associate Director, Engineering Diversity and Outreach Center

Ph.D. program graduated from and/or previous work experience: University of Connecticut, Biomedical Engineering

Area of teaching specialty or research:

Teaching Areas: 1st Year Engineering Courses | Presentation and Communication Skills | Leadership & Teamwork

Research Areas: Biomechanics | [Engineering] Leadership | Equity | Microaggressions

Any major awards or grants received: Inspiring STEM Equitability Award at the Women of Innovation Awards by the CT Technology Council; Ford Foundation Fellow

 

 

Nikhil Saxena

Department: Lecturer, Computer Science and Engineering (Stamford)

Ph.D. program graduated from and/or previous work experience: Ph.D. from Pace University; Experience of 5+ years in geospatial information technology industry.

Area of teaching specialty or research: GPU, parallel and high performance computing, algorithms, optimization, IoT, systems eng., machine learning, geospatial eng. 

 

 

 

 

Dongjin Song

Department: Assistant Professor, Computer Science and Engineering 

Ph.D. program graduated from: University of California, San Diego, June 2016

Previous work experience: Research staff member, NEC Labs America, Inc. (July 2016 to July 2020). 

Area of research specialty: Machine learning, deep learning, data mining, time series analysis, graph representation learning.

Any major awards received: Top-10 finalist in Italian Telecom Big Data Challenge (2014); Best scientific project prize in the D4D Challenge (2013). 

 

 

Sophie Wang 

Department: Assistant Professor, Materials Science and Engineering/Institute of Materials Science

Ph.D. program graduated from and/or previous work experience: PhD (2016): George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech; Postdoc: Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University (2016-2018)

Area of teaching specialty or research: Advanced materials, mechanics and functional structures for energy and human health applications, including flexible/stretchable/bio-integrated electronics and mechanics of deformation and fracture in advanced materials.

Any major awards or grants received:

Awards:

  • ASME Haythornthwaite Foundation Research Initiation Award, 2019
  • Gary L. Cloud Scholarship Award, Society for Experimental Mechanics, 2016

Grants: Office of Naval Research (ONR), NSF, Haythornthwaite Foundation and Wallace H. Coulter Foundation

 

Yi Zhang

Department: Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering/Institute of Materials Science

Ph.D. program graduated from and/or previous work experience: He obtained his Ph.D. degree in chemical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2016 and did his postdoc at the Querrey Simpson Institute for Bioelectronics and Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University from 2016 to 2018. He was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical, Biological and Chemical Engineering at the University of Missouri, Columbia from 2018 to 2020.

 Area of teaching specialty or research: Soft materials, neuroelectronic interfaces, and wearable molecular sensors.

Any major awards or grants received: He is the recipient of the 2019 BMES Career Development Award and Waldemar T. Ziegler Award (for best research paper). His research program is supported by NSF ECCS and NIH Brain Initiative.

Author: A Welcome Message from Dean Kazem Kazerounian

 

Dear UConn Engineering community:

Today, the first day of classes, we are on the precipice of a historic semester. While the world around us is increasingly changing, we must remain focused on getting through our semester healthy and successful.  As I have communicated with you in past, we will engage in profound conversations and take on complex issues such as student mental health, diversity and equity.

To our brand new students, faculty, and staff: Welcome. UConn Engineering is a unique and rewarding environment.  Get engaged, meet new colleagues and friends, and make sure you look out for each other, because at times, having people to lean on will make all the difference.

To all of our returning community members, you have worked amazingly hard to prepare for this semester.  I cannot wait to see what things you accomplish this year. While we might not be at full strength yet, it is the job of an engineer to find solutions among challenges, and because of that, I think we will thrive.

As we go through the semester, do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or if I can be of any assistance. Beginning on September 8th, I will be hosting virtual office hours on Tuesday afternoons from 3:30-4:30 PM via WebEx.  Most importantly, stay well and good luck!

Regards,

Kazem

Professor and Dean

School of Engineering

University of Connecticut

Author: Digging Into a More Cost-Effective Solar Technology

Some of the visuals captured by Huey and his team of crucial grain boundaries (Courtesy of Huey)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

Solar panel technology has seemingly boomed over the last 20 years, but when you dig into the numbers, only six percent of U.S. homes have panels installed on their roofs. The prevailing material used in solar cells is silicon, which is easy to manufacture and lasts decades, but the cost has remained high. University of Connecticut Materials Science and Engineering Department Head Bryan Huey and his postdoc Jingfeng Song have produced some compelling research reported in the journal Nature Communications that could lead to another lesser-known material to come to market at a fraction of the price.

The material, known as Hybrid perovskites (HPs), can be manufactured into a thin film that is 200 times thinner than a conventional silicon cell but is just as efficient.

The biggest problem, says Huey, is their longevity doesn’t yet match silicon cells, which are the prevailing material used in solar cells.

“The primary limitation thus far is that their lifetime cannot yet compete with modern silicon cells, especially because the perovskites are highly sensitive to humidity. From an engineering perspective, that ought to be solvable—we also needed to figure out how to protect silicon from humidity, and now those panels can be warrantied to still produce 80% of their installed efficiency after 25 years. Current targets are for 50 years.” Huey said.

“Imagine any other technology being able to keep working so well after so long. If the perovskite thin films cells can survive even to just 5-10 years, they’ll begin to displace Silicon panels due to cost advantages.”

To help accelerate the technology to market, Huey and his team have spent the past several years developing a unique method of 3D mapping called tomographic atomic force microscopy (T-AFM). In this technique, which uses a super-hard tip to scrape away and map the layers of the material, researchers were able to study the grain boundaries of the material, which had previously only been studied at the surface.

Huey said that studying the grain boundaries beneath the initial surface allows scientists to understand the functionality of energy generation more accurately.

“Surprisingly, we found a new type of grain boundary, which is almost indistinguishable from the other interfaces at the top surface. After digging into the HP thin film, these interfaces behave as if there is no grain boundary at all. They don’t provide any particular advantage compared to the adjacent grains, and indeed photo-generated electron and holes carriers are almost free to travel across them, instead of channeling along them. Without our T-AFM advances at UConn, thanks to an NSF grant along with support from the SOE and IMS, we’d all still be guessing at what lies beneath the surface.”

With this new research out, Huey hopes that scientists and manufacturers use this new knowledge to make HP technology more accessible to the consumer. Next he hopes to turn his attention to another piece of the puzzle—solar cell degradation.

“Specific to Hybrid Perovskites, our results may guide the efforts of film manufacturing, and device design, to either leverage or suppress the properties of the 2 distinct grain boundary types we’ve resolved. While we continue to develop the method and apply it to several fundamental problems in materials science, we are also specifically focusing on solar cell degradation, one of the greatest remaining roadblocks for HP films before they can really compete in the >$100Billion solar panel market. Tune back again soon–we’re just beginning to scratch the surface.”

Professors Yuanyuan Zhou and Nitin Padture from the School of Engineering at Brown University, who collaborated with the team at UConn on this research, said that these findings can have a ripple effect on the industry.

“The tomographic AFM technique has the unique capability of revealing 3D buried microstructures at the nanoscale during perovskite device operation and degradation. This is extremely helpful for scientists and engineers to develop more robust hybrid perovskites devices in the future.” Said Zhou and Padture.

The team received support from the National Science Foundation (MRI development award, DMR-1726862), and the Institute of Materials Science of UConn.  

Author: UConn Startup Snags Third Place in Largest Graduate-Level Student Pitch Competition

Encapsulate co-founder and CEO Armin Rad (right), co-founder and COO Leila Daneshmandi (center), and co-founder and CTO Reza Amin (left) at an awards ceremony late last year.

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

A startup with origins in the University of Connecticut School of Engineering was awarded third place in the Mercury Fund Elevator Pitch Competition category of the Rice Business Plan Competition, the world’s richest and largest graduate-level student startup event.

The startup, named Encapsulate LLC, is run by current biomedical engineering Ph.D. candidate Leila Daneshmandi, and former UConn Engineering Ph.D. students Armin Tahmasbi Rad and Reza Amin. The three co-founders are building up a company that offers an automated tumor-on-chip system that grows cancer patient’s tumor cells outside the body and tests the efficacy of chemotherapeutic drugs against them to advocate for the best course of treatment for doctors.

This year, the Rice Business Plan Competition, which according to their website will be the 20th year for the competition, had 42 teams competing for $1.5 million in cash and prizes. Since 2001, the competition has grown from nine teams competing for $10,000 in prizes to this year, where the very large competition transitioned to a virtual experience with over 400 applicants for 42 spots.

The competition is designed to give collegiate entrepreneurs a real-world experience to fine tune their business plans and elevator pitches to generate funding to successfully commercialize their product. Judges will evaluate the teams as real-world entrepreneurs soliciting start-up funds from early stage investors and venture capital firms. The judges are asked to rank the presentations based on which company they would most likely invest. According to the organization, 87 percent of the competition judges surveyed considered investing in a team that presented at the 2019 RBPC or referred a team to a third-party investor.

For more information on Encapsulate, please visit https://encapsulate.bio.

Author: CT DOT and UConn Team Up on Driver Behavior Safety Analytics Tool

A driver sits behind the wheel of the driving simulator at the CTSRC. (UConn Photo/Christopher LaRosa)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

Building on the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s extensive amount of data, the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center and the CTDOT are teaming up to build a crucial driver behavioral safety analytics tool—thanks to a new $453,000 research grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation—that could strengthen data-driven countermeasures for crash prevention.

The grant, which will continue on the work performed by the CTSRC over the past five years, adds to the modern web-based application, Connecticut Roadway Safety Management System (CRSMS), which implements state-of-the-art practices in roadway safety management.

Including tools to help analyze trends in human behaviors, identifying vulnerable and target populations, as well as evaluating how effective media and enforcement campaigns are at long-term behavior modification will help the CT DOT become more effective and efficient in reducing serious and fatal motor vehicle crashes.

“Understanding the multiple and varied factors and circumstances associated with motor vehicle crashes, is a significant component in our ongoing efforts to reduce fatalities, injuries, and even the economic impacts associated with them.  Accurate, detailed information, beyond physical crash data, which includes human behavior elements, is critical to understanding, and more importantly, to tailoring programs to address them in a proactive manner – to prevent crashes through education and when needed, targeted enforcement campaign,” said Garrett Eucalitto, Deputy Commissioner, CTDOT, and the state’s federally-designated Highway Safety Representative.

As part of the state’s commitment to data-driven decision making, datasets have been linked across state agencies. Arrest, citation and adjudication data from Connecticut’s Judicial Department, injury data from the Department of Public Health, Toxicology data from the State Medical Examiner’s Office are being collected and linked with crash and roadway data from the CTDOT to produce a dataset that can be used in conjunction with a public health approach to have a meaningful and positive impact on motor vehicle safety. However, there are limited tools at the CTDOT to allow for quick and easy analysis of human factors and risk-taking programs and their effectiveness.

The project, which will have three separate parts, will close that gap and require CTSRC to identify and store appropriate data for the tool, build the visual platform for CTDOT employees to use, and require upkeep and maintenance after launch.

For more information on CTSRC, please visit https://ctsrc.uconn.edu

Author: UConn Engineering Joins 30 Universities in Offering Boot Camp Scholarships for Underrepresented Groups

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

University of Connecticut School of Engineering, in partnership with 30 nonprofit universities across the country and our partner 2U, is expanding access to our boot camp courses in Coding through a $3 million Boot Camp Scholarship Fund

Underrepresented people of color and women who have experienced recent job loss or economic hardship are eligible to apply for $2,500 towards the cost of a course. Our boot camp courses have advanced the careers of diverse learners in highly relevant technology fields, and we’re excited to be a part of an effort to expand pathways to work for those who have been affected most.

More than 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment as a result of the pandemic, and the economic devastation has disproportionately affected people of color and women. With unprecedented interest in this space and a growing need to fill technology-focused jobs, these scholarship opportunities will provide important pathways to secure employment.

For more information, or to apply to our programs, please visit: https://www.trilogyed.com/students/

Author: UConn Engineering Department Head, Graduate Student Named Women of Innovation Finalists

Maria Chrysochoou (left) and Leila Daneshmandi (right).

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

Continuing on the success of the past several years, the University of Connecticut School of Engineering has two finalists in this year’s Women of Innovation Awards, an annual program presented by The Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT) and the Connecticut Technology Council (CTC), which recognizes outstanding women in STEM.

This year’s finalists from UConn Engineering include Leila Daneshmandi (Collegian Innovation and Leadership), a Ph.D. candidate in biomedical engineering and co-founder of biomedical company Encapsulate, LLC and Maria Chrysochoou (Post-Secondary Academic Innovation and Leadership), department head for Civil and Environmental Engineering and executive director of the Connecticut Brownfields Initiative.

According to the press release, Women of Innovation® Finalists are nominated by their peers, coworkers, and mentors, and are selected based on their professional experience, history of innovation, ability to think creatively and solve problems, and demonstration of leadership. The finalists were selected from more than 150 women nominated earlier this year, one of the strongest fields in the 16 years of Women of Innovation®.  

This year’s 50 Finalists include researchers, educators, engineers, managers, students, and entrepreneurs who work in or study biotech, pharmaceuticals, software, computer hardware, advanced materials, medical devices, IT, and associated fields.

High school, undergraduate and graduate students who have exhibited extraordinary and unique achievements in their technology disciplines are also among the finalists. Students are judged on inventiveness, STEM accomplishments, independent research, community service, and academic performance.

For more information on the WOI awards, please click here.

Author: A Commitment from UConn Engineering

(Christopher LaRosa/UConn Engineering)

 

Dear UConn Engineering Faculty, Staff, Students and Alumni,

The appalling death of George Floyd has again underscored the ugly reality of racial injustice in our country.   This horrible event comes in the midst of a pandemic that is disproportionally affecting African-American, Latinx, and Indigenous communities, and prejudice against individuals of Muslim faith and Asian descent is growing. The resulting pain and agony is tearing our nation apart.  

President Katsouleas and Provost Lejuez in their recent statement ( https://today.uconn.edu/2020/05/message-uconn-community/ ) expressed the anger and the sadness that the University community has experienced as a result of the events of the last few days. They reinforced our collective commitment to the values of social justice, equity, and inclusion. As a School, we share this commitment and strive to model and practice these values every day. To those in our community who are black: we cannot begin to imagine what it is like to live in fear for yourself and for your loved ones.  To everyone in UConn Engineering community: reach out to your students, friends, and colleagues and show your concern and love. Ask how you can be a better advocate and ally.

In the coming weeks, we will be reflecting on how we, as friends, colleagues, and educators, can better support and advocate for our Black peers and others victimized by social injustices. Doing so is the first step towards more effectively representing the values of diversity and inclusion that are our community’s core values.   But we will not stop there. As engineers, our strength is designing, developing, and implementing approaches that maximize outcomes and impact.   We will draw on this training to collectively engage our students and our wider community in the planning and implementation of strategic initiatives that will allow us to deliver on this commitment.   

We ask you to join us in the hard work of making our community — and our world — a safer and more equitable place for all. 

School of Engineering Dean and Associate Deans:

  Mike Accorsi

  Pamir Alpay

  Dan Burkey

  Kazem Kazerounian

  Leslie Shor

Author: UConn Engineering and Industry Align to Fight COVID-19

UConn hand sanitizer is being produced by the Center for Applied Separations Technology at the UConn Tech Park.

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

In the face of a global pandemic, the University, the state and the world were faced with the realities of shutting down. Not only that, the whole healthcare community was faced with the daunting task of stepping up to the front lines and fighting back against a disease that has caused dire shortages of necessary supplies and equipment.

When faced with a challenging problem, though, it’s often the job of an engineer to come in and find a solution. Throughout the past couple of months, UConn Engineering faculty, staff, and students have used their knowledge to aid the healthcare industry, the state of Connecticut, and local businesses as we look to eradicate COVID-19 and bring our economy back to life.

One of those stories comes from Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Professor Jeff McCutcheon. McCutcheon runs the Center for Applied Separations Technology at the UConn Tech Park, and started working on many different helpful projects—but none more impactful than his work in creating a low-cost, easily reproduceable ventilator. Whitcraft Group– the aerospace parts maker in Eastford – answered the Governor’s call for help with respirators. They had an idea on how to make an inexpensive, quickly produced, efficient machines. When they needed outside expertise, they called UConn Engineering – colleagues they knew.

Other activity happening in the UConn Tech Park came from the efforts of Joseph Luciani, who is the director of our Proof of Concept Center. The mission of the Proof of Concept Center is to work with local manufacturers on integrating 3D printing into their manufacturing and also work with them to improve processes, but when COVID-19 shut down the state, and personal protective equipment was in short supply, Luciani jumped into action by using our 3D printers to create 150-200 face shields for our frontline workers at UConn Health.

Some of our students also joined in the work to support our frontline workers, with a couple of our students leading an initiative called The Ventilator Project, an all-volunteer organization based in Boston.  Noah Pacik-Nelson ’20 and Justin Schroder ’20 are both leading a team that is designing an emergency ventilator that can support a COVID-19 patient for as long as they need to be ventilated, usually a span of 11 to 21 days. The ventilator they are producing employs a motor that compresses a bellow system in a controlled fashion.

Near the end of the semester, our seniors also presented their Senior Design projects virtually—an effort that encompasses nearly 900 students completing 250 Senior Design Projects. These students solved real-world with real sponsors that run the gamut from large to small, including: City of Hartford, the Connecticut Department of Transportation, the Town of Wethersfield, Pratt & Whiney, Electric Boat, and ThayerMahan. Every year, the students present their projects in spacious Gampel Pavillion, but this year, the faculty and staff rallied together to create the School’s first Virutal Senior Design Demonstration Day.

Lastly, in an effort to give our graduating seniors more options, the School launched the 2020 Springboard Graduate Scholarship. This unique piece of financial aid, for full-time applicants who meet all graduate school requirements, reduces out-of-pocket expenses for a Master’s of Engineering degree by 65%, for up to one calendar year. The decision to offer this to our seniors was a combined response from our faculty and leadership to immediately give back, especially in an hour of lost experiences and hardship. The added engineering knowledge from this degree will be a leg-up for both students and Connecticut’s industry.

These are just a handful of stories from the past few months, but the School is working hard for our students and our state during this difficult time. For more stories on the School’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and our impact on industry and the State of Connecticut, please visit news.engr.uconn.edu.

Author: Santos Appointed Associate Director of EDOC, Assistant Professor-in-Residence in BME

Stephany Santos, left, then a graduate student of biomedical engineering, shows research on knee cartilage to State Senator Cathy Osten, State Rep. Gregg Haddad ’89 (CLAS) and State Senator Mae Flexer ’02 (CLAS) during a tour of the the Engineering & Science Building on June 11, 2018. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

Last week, Stephany Santos, a recent Ph.D. graduate in Biomedical Engineering, was appointed associate director of the Engineering Diversity and Outreach Center and made an assistant professor-in-residence in the Biomedical Engineering Department.

After nearly 10 years at the University of Connecticut, as an undergraduate and a graduate student, Santos has made her mark, especially in the EDOC, where she helped found Engineering Ambassadors as an undergrad–a group of hundreds of students, who help run prospective student tours, have outreach programs in local schools, and much more.

We recently sat down with Santos, and asked her about her time here, her plans for the future, and her reflections on landing her dream jobs.

 

  1. What will be your new title, and what responsibilities come with this new job?

I will be an assistant professor-in-residence in Biomedical Engineering, and the associate director of the Engineering Diversity and Outreach Center (EDOC). In these roles, I am excited to impact students on personal and professional levels. I will be teaching several courses, including ENGR 1166 – Foundations in Engineering, and co-teaching ENGR 1000 – Orientation to Engineering. These courses in particular deeply excite me because of how critical students’ first years are in developing a positive and robust STEM/Engineering Identity, strong and empathetic team and communication skills, and effective planning and metacognitive understanding.

 As the Associate Director, I will be co-advising many of the student organizations (such as NSBE undergraduate and graduate chapters, SHPE, SWE, and EA), and developing and teaching curriculum focused on emotionally intelligent and culturally-conscious team and leadership skills. Additionally, I will help Kevin McLaughlin and Velda Alfred Abney develop workshops and programming that serve and uplift the greater SOE community, and underrepresented students in STEM.  I will continue supporting EDOC Summer programs such as BRIDGE, Explore Engineering and SPARK. Lastly, I will be conducting research in the engineering education realm to further understand our students, their communities and environment, and the impact players in this ecosystem have on each other. I’ll be seeking grants and collaborations to support this important work.

 

  1. You’ve been at UConn for nearly a decade between undergrad and graduate school. How does it feel to land a job here?

It still feels like I’m in a dream. I remember in elementary school I was tall for my age, so I grew up playing and loving basketball. I looked up to the great Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, and Swin Cash, and dreamed of playing basketball for UConn. Unfortunately, I stopped growing in 5th grade, and didn’t have much of a chance playing power forward at this powerhouse institution. But still, UConn became my home. Fast forward to now, to be honest, I cried when I received my offer letter from UConn. Never have I felt so wanted, supported and uplifted, and I truly thank Dean Kazem Kazerounian and Dean Dan Burkey for not only putting their names in the ring when I entered the academic job market, but for creating this incredible opportunity to be able to stay.

 

  1. Let’s go back to your experience here when you were an undergrad. What were some of the most defining moments during that time, and how do you want to translate those experiences to your new post in EDOC?

There are two events that I’ll bring to the table here:

(1)        I remember it was 3 a.m. on a Wednesday sophomore year. We just ordered D.P. Dough and it was set to arrive in 30 minutes. I was hangry. We had been working through a problem set since 8 PM, and I was emotionally done. I was stuck, we were getting nowhere, and I was questioning why I chose engineering. The people I was studying with were some other students that participated in the BRIDGE program at the same time I did, or as I call them, some of my BRIDGE family. We had a quick vent session, picked up each other’s pieces, and promised each other that this too shall pass, and we needed to push through. If not for us, but for the culture.

(2)        I visited a middle school at the end of sophomore year with a hands-on activity and a story about how engineers help change the world. I vividly remember one girl, who came up to me after my presentation and said “Miss, so you’re an engineer?” I nodded. She said “I want to be an engineer just like you.”

These two hallmarks showed me the importance of community and the importance of role models. Community gets us through our darkest hour, and outshines our brightest moments. Through EDOC, I hope to continue to create opportunities for students to build community and find their families away from home. Many of our students are first generation, are ‘the only’ in their classes, or may not have many other mentors or support systems. I also hope to continue EDOC’s mission of letting everyone know they are role models, and mentor up and mentor down. Every individual can have an impact on another person; you never know whose life you can change.

 

  1. What makes EDOC such a unique and crucial piece to the School of Engineering?

UConn has one of a handful of Diversity, Outreach, or Inclusion Centers dedicated to a School/College of Engineering in the country. When you look at what we’ve done over the past decade, and what Kevin has done since 2004, we have had a tremendous impact on students through our ever-growing programming. One of the things that makes us unique is how much trust, power, and autonomy we give students. There are not many other universities that would let undergraduate students be fully in charge of nearly every detail for an event that serves hundreds of children and their families in the community. Or, voice their ideas for a brand new large scale event (i.e. Sisters in STEM), and provide support and funding to bring it into fruition. We provide so many opportunities for students to learn different skills and grow, such as through serving as a Pre-Engineering Program (PEP) teacher where you learn to actually develop classroom curriculum, to working in the office where you learn everything from making a Pivot Table in Excel, to maintaining a website. We also provide a suite of courses, such as ENGR 3025 – Engineering for Impact, which is catered to their leadership needs and goals, and ENGR 3020, which is Confidence and Communication Skills. I’m so proud of what EDOC is, and what it will continue to grow to be as we expand programming to reach and support even more students.

 

  1. You were one of the founders of Engineering Ambassadors here. How have you seen that group grow, and what do you see as the future of that organization now that you’ll be focused on them and other programs administered by EDOC?

I went back through my emails recently, and found that our very first EA meeting was September 2, 2010. It is wild to see we are approaching our 10th birthday. In the beginning there were a handful of us that were dedicated to the mission (shout out to Danica Chin [Plaskolite], Kayla Johnson [Pratt & Whitney], Dan Jaramillo [Pratt & Whitney], Nick Clements [Hexcel], Cara Redding [Pratt & Whitney],  Josh Leveillee [Univ. Illinois, Urbana-Champaign] Dave Golfin [Pratt & Whitney], Alex Brittain [Global Foundries], Kim Sayre [US Government], Kim Reindl [Collins Aerospace], and many others) , now we have over 200 students who are in new branches called Presentation Team (which primarily focuses on off-campus interactions with middle school students), Tour Guides (which primarily focuses on on-campus, personalized experiences with high school students and their families), and Greater Body (which supports on-campus activities, and programming such as STEM Night at the CT Science Center, and Engineers Week at the Storrs Campus). We’ve recently even initiated expanding Engineering Ambassadors, or STEM Ambassadors at the Stamford and Avery Point campuses to better serve and reach CT schools in those areas.

Looking forward, I am excited to collaborate more with PK-12 teachers, the Neag School of Education, and CETL to create an ecosystem of teaching, learning and mentoring. We’d love to be able to train ambassadors to understand Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) so that we can work with educators to better design activities, presentations and conversations around what kids are currently learning in school. We’d also love to provide a community of practice for PK-12 teachers around the state so that teachers feel appreciated and supported, and know how they can support and help their students go to college, and become future STEM studiers and STEMinists.

 

  1. Why do you think you’ve stayed at UConn so long? What is it about this University and School that makes you so invested?

When I needed someone to turn to, there were people that not only answered my questions, but took me under their wing to help me to fly. There are amazing, selfless individuals such as Aida Ghiaei and Kevin McLaughlin who invest their entire souls for students to stand up and shine. Everyone deserves that mentor and advocate, and I’d like to stand alongside them to be that person for others. At UConn, you’re not a number, and if you volunteer your time to help, UConn will always have your back and reward you. I had no issues finding funding for my Masters or my PhD because of the support at UConn, and even now, seeing that the UConn School of Engineering still hired me in the middle of a pandemic while other universities are furloughing their staff, rescinding offers, and freezing hiring, shows UConn’s values and commitment to me, and to others they care about.

 Of course UConn has areas for growth, particularly in the diversity, equity, and inclusion space, but I see avenues for change that I can be a part of, and I can’t say that about everywhere else. I’m excited by the leadership of Dean Kazerounian and Dean Burkey, and their investment in programs and courses I’ve helped pitch such as the John Lof Leadership Academy for Graduate Students, or the BOSS LADI (Building our Sister’s Strength – Leveraging Adversity, Diversity, and Intellect) class for underrepresented women in STEM. UConn loves, and UConn loves hard.

 

  1. Has it always been your dream to be a professor and mentor to engineering students who are underrepresented minorities? Why? What was your inspiration?

As an undergrad, after a few years of volunteering for events like Multiply Your Options (MYO) and for NSBE and EA, I realized I loved teaching. Senior year, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, so I applied for Graduate School, Teach for America, and positions in industry. I was accepted to Teach for America, and was set to be a science teacher in Newark, NJ. Shortly after, I was accepted to be an EAGLES Fellow, which was a dual degree M.S. program in Italy and at UConn. I was incredibly torn, because I was excited to teach the kids, but I was also thrilled to be accepted to get an M.S. in Italy. I turned to then Dean Mun Choi who gave me one of the greatest pieces of advice I’ve ever heard, “The more you learn, the more you can teach others.” That advice kicked off my graduate school career, as well as fueled my interests in engineering education. Now, as I’ve been sharing my career plans with some of my current undergraduate mentees, I saw their eyes light up when I say I wanted to be a professor. Many expressed excitement to have a professor “like me,” which can mean a lot of things from identity (Afro-Latina, child of immigrants), to one deeply invested in individual success and well-being. I love using #ILookLikeAnEngineer or #ILookLikeAProfessor because I am breaking stigmas and stereotypes that exist in these domains, and showing students they can be one too.

 

  1. Now that you’ve landed your dream job, what do you hope to accomplish here at the School of Engineering?

Many of my aims come from a coalition of alumni who care (some I listed before), my mentees, and my mentors. I touched on many of my aims throughout this interview, but to summarize:

  1. Collaborate with Dean Burkey, Dean Leslie Shor, Dean Kazerounian and others to include teamwork and communication skills in undergraduate and graduate courses to minimize incidents such as microaggressions, and maximize belongingness, effectiveness, and productivity.
  2. Use evidence-based research to both assess and improve our current diversity, equity, inclusion and outreach efforts.
  3. Coordinate with other talented folx at EDOC (shout out to Esther Chang) to develop a suite of workshops, programs, courses, and trainings that uplift, inspire, and push forward individuals spanning the gamut of PK-12 students, PK-12 teachers and guidance counselors, undergraduates, graduates, staff, and faculty.

Many people say they want life to return back to ‘normal’ after COVID-19. I’ve seen others say ‘normal’ is not an option, because it includes systemic inequities in our health care, in our education, and in our access to basic needs. I agree, ‘normal’ is not an option, only forward, where empathy, communication, and progress are at the core of all we are, and all we do.

Author: Alpay Named UConn Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor

(Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

The UConn School of Engineering is proud to announce that S. Pamir Alpay, Associate Dean for Research and Industrial Partnerships, has been named a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, after a vote by the trustees last week.

The award recognizes faculty who have achieved exceptional distinction in scholarship, teaching, and service while at the University of Connecticut and has been awarded annually since 1998.

In addition to being associate dean, Alpay is the General Electric Professor in Advanced Manufacturing in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Executive Director of UConn Tech Park, where he serves as UConn’s chief ambassador to industry and government agencies in building industry-responsive and economically important initiatives based on UConn’s strengths in applied research. In this role, he has excelled in outreach, having hosted workshops and symposia connecting over 500 professionals and government leaders on current topics ranging from sustainability, cybersecurity, energy, advanced manufacturing and support for small/medium size businesses.

In research program development, Alpay has led efforts to establish centers that offer infrastructure to support, develop, and expand research and has secured external funding of over $16M, as PI or Co-PI, for multidisciplinary initiatives supporting dozens of faculty and students. Alpay’s research focuses on discovering new phenomena in diverse material systems. Alpay employs tools from quantum mechanical computations to basic thermodynamic models to advance understanding of materials properties across multiple length scales. In recognition of his contributions, Alpay has been elected to the rank of Fellow of the American Physical Society and American Ceramic Society. He has over 200 publications which are internationally recognized and extensively cited. 

Alpay is a committed teacher and advisor to both graduate and undergraduate students. He has excelled at graduate student advising, particularly in mentoring minority students and women, and over half of his advisees have received awards either from the University and/or from national and international organizations. Consistent with UConn’s vision to provide experiential learning opportunities for undergraduates, Alpay has been exceptionally effective at connecting students with research and hands-on experiences.  He is the recipient of the NSF CAREER Award, UConn School of Engineering Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award, and the AAUP Excellence in Career Research and Creativity Award. He received his PhD in 1999 from the University of Maryland. Alpay joined UConn’s Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) in 2001 and from 2013 to 2017 he served as the Head of the Department.

For more information on the appointment, and a list of previous winners, please visit https://provost.uconn.edu/events-and-recognition/awards/.

Author: Senior Design Journey 2020: Mapping the Opioid Crisis, Part 2

A demo of the opioid map produced by the Senior Design team.

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

This article is part of a multi-part series on engineering students, and their journey through Senior Design. Click here to read part 1 of this article series.

With the in-person Senior Design Demonstration Day cancelled, due to the COVID-19 restrictions, and with every student sent home, Senior Design groups faced obstacles in completing their project.

But with obstacles comes opportunity and challenge, especially for engineering students.

One of those Senior Design groups, consisting of computer science students Mark Adanti, Solomon Poulose, Frances Yu, and Samson Weiner, is working on mapping the opioid crisis for Cigna.

Luckily for them, Adanti said, the nature of their project allowed them to be successful while separate from each other.

“Although we won’t be able to present our results at Gampel this year, we’re lucky that our workflow was only dependent on us having computers. We’re still able to build what we envisioned from the beginning,” Adanti said.

According to data from the U.S. Center for Disease Control nearly 8,000 people of all ages died from opioid overdoses in 1999. Eighteen years later, that number had risen 600 percent to 48,000.

While most news stories highlight teenagers and twenty-somethings with lives cut short from drug overdoses, further data from the CDC shows a trend of the greatest increase in opioid deaths coming from adults aged 55-64 years-old.

The team’s Senior Design project, with program sponsor Cigna, is using data and analytics to study the opioid crisis.

The team is actively filtering their machine-learning algorithm from multiple sources, including demographic and geographic data available from the CDC. This gives the group the chance to create a constantly evolving system, identifying demographic shifts over time.

Over the last few months, the team has been working to obtain data from multiple sources, but Weiner said that their biggest impediment early on has become their biggest asset.

“Because of the early roadblocks in getting data, we resorted to a number of other strategies deviating from our first county-wide model, including a statewide model where more information is available to looking at county data from more than 15 years ago. Eventually though, we were given clearance by the CDC to acquire sensitive data, which really helped us.”

Now that the team has the data that it needs, they have moved swiftly, developing a layout for their website, building on their model, and creating a heatmap at the state and county levels that can show the predicted value for each location.

But for this team, as well as many other teams, the emotions behind missing Demonstration Day have been palpable, with a definitive feeling of loss.

 An important aspect of our college experience, the semester that culminates four years of hard work, has lost an aspect that was very important to us, especially not being able to walk for graduation,” Weiner said.

 Despite all that, Poulose sees the overall experience as an important part his team’s development as engineers.

“The experience was extremely worthwhile for all of us. We wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world,” Poulose said. “Last semester we may have been a little worried about how far we could go, but in this moment, I must say we have gone further than we have ever thought imaginable.”

And in the end, Yu feels that the final product that they’re delivering to Cigna supersedes any disappointment from missing Demonstration Day.

“The vision of our project is to be able to use technology to predict the spread of epidemics such as the opioid crisis, in order to identify areas that are in need of resources,” Yu said. “We hope that our exploration of how machine learning can be used to build predictive models will give insight to industry leaders.”

Author: A Message from Dean Kazerounian on Coronavirus Efforts (Update #2)

Dear Friends:
 
A month ago, we began work from our homes to protect our students, colleagues, and families from the COVID-19 pandemic. Now we are preparing for the end of the 2019-2020 school year and examining what we can take from this time to be a stronger, smarter School on the other side.
 
What Are We Learning?
 
Hands-on rapid innovation, rapid prototyping, and rapid manufacturing are lessons that UConn Engineering faculty and students are teaching us in the immediacy of this pandemic-triggered scrum. Ventilators and face shields are being manufactured at the UConn Tech Park, and faculty are contributing solutions that will help eradicate COVID-19.  You can read about these inspiring innovations and initiatives on our Engineering news website.
 
I have been absolutely inspired by the drive of our students, alumni and faculty who immediately used their skills to help healthcare workers and first responders combat this epidemic, and have been touched by the virtual study groups and discussion sections with teaching assistants that are providing connections, support and camaraderie when we need it most.
 
Moving Forward
 
In the weeks ahead, I will periodically update you on the stories of these amazing people, as well as how the School of Engineering will hold—and you can participate in—a virtual Senior Design Day and Commencement, and an in-person commencement celebration (for friends and family of graduates) in the fall.
 
We are also shifting our focus on how and when we would come out of this crisis, how are we going to be different, and what are the challenges and opportunities we would face then.  
 
It is my hope that we will build on the challenges of the last few weeks to become an even more cohesive family moving forward. Do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or inspiring stories you’ve encountered, and, most importantly, stay healthy and safe.
 
 
Regards,

Kazem Kazerounian
Dean, UConn School of Engineering

Author: How Mapping COVID-19 Could Help Drug Companies

New official Coronavirus name adopted by World Health Organisation is COVID-19. Inscription COVID-19 on blue background

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

When the spread of COVID-19 started to affect the University of Connecticut, the state, and the country, Ranjan Srivastava, department head for Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, knew he had to spring into action.

Drawing on his previous work in mathematically modeling how the Hepatitis B virus spreads, Srivastava realized he could apply the principles of what he knew to the behavior of COVID-19, which could be useful to other researchers and drug companies.

“COVID-19 is caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Our goal is to mathematically model how the virus replicates within an infected cell and how the infection spreads within the human body,” Srivastava says. “If we can model how the virus replicates, we can identify the best drug targets to interrupt that process.”

While researchers have been specializing and doing parts and pieces of what Srivastava is doing, what sets his models apart is looking at the virus as a whole, through the lens of the virus as a complete system.

“I think the system idea is best explained via an analogy. Imagine you have a car that is completely taken apart and all the pieces are laid out in front of you. You could have one person who studies tires and is an expert in them, another who is an expert in seat belts, a third expert in catalytic converters,” Srivastava says. “However, only by studying all the pieces together can one actually understand the purpose of a car and how it works. It is the same way with viruses.”

Read more on UConn Today

Author: UConn Research Team Developing Emergency Ventilator Prototype

The second generation of a prototype of the emergency ventilator.

 

By: Mike Enright, UConn Communications

Jeffrey McCutcheon, the Al Geib Professor of Environmental Engineering Research and Education at UConn, is usually busy this time of year studying subjects like membrane separations and filtration. But like many, the director of the Fraunhofer USA Center for Energy Innovation, located in the Innovation Partnership Building at UConn Tech Park, has seen the focus of his work change with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, McCutcheon is leading a team that is developing a prototype of an emergency ventilator that could be produced by Connecticut manufacturers to help ease the anticipated shortage of the devices as the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the state.

The project started when Ed Wazer, the laboratory director of the Fraunhofer Center, saw a video from a company in Spain that was building ventilators by using a rotating cam to press a level that squeezes an Ambu bag. Ambu bags are used by medical professionals to provide ventilation to those in respiratory distress.

“The original designers, as well as the people from around the world that are partaking in discussion groups related to the project, have been instrumental in getting the project this far,” says Wazer.

Click here to read more on UC0nn Today

Author: Amidst COVID-19 Outbreak, UConn Researchers Working on Simple, Low-Cost CRISPR-based Diagnostic Test for Infectious Diseases

UConn researchers hope to develop a rapid, low-cost method of testing for coronavirus. (Getty Images)

 

By: Courtney Chandler, UConn School of Dental Medicine

Researchers in the Department of Biomedical Engineering— a shared department in the schools of Dental Medicine, Medicine, and Engineering—have been working to develop a new, low-cost, CRISPR-based diagnostic platform to detect infectious diseases, including the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).

With the recent outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19, Changchun Liu, associate professor, developed the “All-In-One-Dual CRISPR-Cas12a” (AIOD-CRISPR) method to enable simple, rapid, ultrasensitive, visual detection of SARS-CoV-2 and HIV viruses, intended for use at home or in small clinics.

Liu’s lab has long focused on developing simple diagnostic technologies for infectious disease detection.

“The recent outbreak of novel coronavirus has spread rapidly all over the world,” Liu says. “Rapid and early detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus​ will facilitate early intervention and reduce disease transmission risk. Our method has a great potential for developing next-generation point-of-care molecular diagnostics.”

Click here to read more on UConn Today

Author: A Message From Dean Kazerounian

Dear Friends:
 
We are in extraordinary times. With each day, we are learning how resilient we are. Yes – we have a new day-to-day reality. But our constant mission continues: to bring an environment of stability and continuity to the students, faculty and staff who still need to finish the spring semester.
 
Over the past couple of weeks, the University, and the administration at the School of Engineering have instituted initiatives aimed at creating safe and healthy surroundings for everyone, while maintaining our daily operations. Those initiatives include, but are not limited to:
 

  • Transferring all classes to an online-only format for the remainder of the semester, as well as giving students the option of transitioning their grade to pass/fail, where applicable.
  • All staff are working remotely, adhering to the recent guidelines from the State and University.
  •  All lab work has ceased. All of our researchers have been instructed to switch to tasks that can be done from home (research writing, data analysis, proposal submissions).
  •  All Engineering student workers will receive their normal pay, regardless of the circumstances they now face.
  •  As of a few days ago, there has been an outpouring of medical equipment donations from our faculty members, which has been sent to UConn Health.
  •  Although all lab-based research has ceased, we are using this opportunity to double the volume of research proposals that are normally generated by faculty in the School of Engineering. We were inspired to do this based on the story of Isaac Newton, who in 1666, during the time of the Bubonic Plague, went into self-isolation, and produced some of his greatest discoveries.

 
This list is certainly not exhaustive and there will undoubtedly be more tough decisions to come. However, I pledge to you that the School of Engineering has been, and will continue to be, open and transparent with you during this process. Please let me know if you have any questions.
 
I wish you all good health over the next several weeks.

Kazem Kazerounian
Dean, UConn School of Engineering

Author: PHOTO GALLERY: First Annual Women in STEM Frontiers in Research Expo (WiSFiRE)

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

On January 31, the University of Connecticut School of Engineering held the Women in STEM Frontiers in Research Expo, also known as WiSFiRE, for the first time—bringing together, and celebrating some of the important research and journeys of female faculty in the School.

Intended as a celebration of women in STEM, and their accomplishments, undergraduates and graduate students were treated to panel discussions on insights into a scientific research career and talks on topics such as humanizing engineering and the next generation of bridge infrastructure in the United States. Below are a selection of photos from the presenters, which numbered 22 faculty members, who represented all seven departments in the UConn School of Engineering. The conference was organized by Assistant Professors Anna Taraknova (Mechanical Engineering) and Qian Yang (Computer Science and Engineering). 

 

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Author: Senior Design Journey 2020: Rescuing Drones From the Ocean, Part 1

From Left to Right: Julia Oppenheimer, Marwan Ghellai and Cody Corey work on their platform in the machine shop in Castleman Building. (Eli Freund/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

When ThayerMahan came to a group of senior University of Connecticut mechanical engineering students with a challenging real-world problem, those students responded with a unique and cutting-edge solution.

ThayerMahan  a Groton-based company, working with government and industry partners to design, manufacture and operate systems that collect acoustic and electronic information on the world’s oceans. ThayerMahan challenged the students to launch and land an aerial vehicle from a moving ocean surveillance platform.

The of student group consists of  Julia Oppenheimer, Cody Corey, and Marwan Ghellai. According to Oppenheimer, one of ThayerMahan’s major problems was the possibility of losing the drones, which are prohibitively expensive. Traditionally this has been done by pneumatically launching then not recovering the drone.

“ThayerMahan wants to begin using drones, also called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), to collect data from the ocean. However, there’s no way to retrieve these UAVs once they’re too far out in the ocean,” Oppenheimer said. “The UAVs usually crash or are lost, which can cost between $10,000-$80,000 every time.”

To solve this, Oppenheimer’s team is collaborating with another senior design team to build a platform that could be placed on top of ThayerMahan’s fleet of unmanned surface vehicles. This platform would autonomously summon and fully-charge the drone once it’s done collecting data.

Oppenheimer remarked that because of the potential costs of a losing a drone, ThayerMahan doesn’t want to begin testing any of this in the water just yet. This is why her team is designing and testing the platform on land first, before it’s deployed on a USV.

Oppenheimer’s team is dedicated to building the actual platform, while the other team is focused on programming the drone to connect to the platform later on. The first step in the journey is for the team to finish their platform prototype during the break and then work on testing.

“Hopefully, if all goes well, testing will start in early February as we plan on having this prototype finished during winter intersession,” Ghellai said. “However, the other team can start testing other things before we join together for the major tests.”

Oppenheimer said the key for both teams will be for the drone to land on a stable platform. Then the team will transition to a moving platform to simulate the real-life conditions on a rough ocean environment.

While things have gone mostly smooth so far, the group is learning the skills that go into working in a team, which can cause some growing pains. “Initially, it was weird syncing up as a group because we didn’t know each other,” Ghellai said. “Also, we’re all involved in other extracurricular activities  outside of this. I’m in Formula Society of Automotive Engineers, Cody is in Rocketry Club, and Julia is in Band. Therefore, just finding good times to meet was  hard at first. However, we’ve recently gotten better at working that out.”

One of the other growing pains was making small, collective group decisions, which caused some frustration. “During the first couple of weeks, when we started designing, we couldn’t pick which drive system we wanted for the platform. After going back and forth, I was like, ‘Let’s just pick something for gosh sake,’” Corey said.

Regardless of these roadblocks, the group is excited to continue the work into the spring and produce something useable for a local company. “This project has always been my first choice and I can’t imagine doing a project which was mainly analytical. I just really wanted to build something,” Corey said. “I can’t wait to see the final product.”

This article is part of a multi-part series on engineering students and their journey through senior design. Part two of this team’s journey will come out in April 2020.

 

Author: New UConn Research Center Provides Reliable Data, Realistic Simulations for Manufacturing Industry

Rainer Hebert and Lesley Frame from UConn’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering in the Innovation Partnership Building at UConn Tech Park. (Carson Stifel/UConn Photo)

 

By: Anna Zarra Aldrich ’20 (CLAS), Office of the Vice President for Research

The University of Connecticut recently launched the Center for Materials Processing Data (CMPD) with their university and industry collaborators.

The center will provide the manufacturing industry with valuable data about how their materials will perform, eliminating much of the time and cost-intensive trial and error upon which the industry has relied for years.

UConn is working with the Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University at Buffalo, each bringing unique expertise and workforce to the center projects. Another key player is ASM International, one of the world’s largest associations of materials engineers and scientists. ASM International serves as the materials data archive, enabling easy access to data by industry members and non-members.

CMPD works with businesses in the manufacturing industry, like UTC Pratt and Whitney, to provide reliable transient material property data representing how materials respond under dynamic and realistic processing conditions. Currently, industries rely on material data gathered under static conditions that may not accurately reflect the variations in load, temperature, and atmosphere that materials undergo during manufacturing.

“The center provides an opportunity for the materials engineering community to take a deep dive into the specific challenges of gathering transient material property data,” says Lesley Frame, CMPD director and assistant professor in UConn’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering. “There are three equally important pieces to this goal: the first is generating accurate materials property data; second, we need to curate these data and qualify and compare against published materials data; and third, we need to demonstrate modeling applications of how we can reliably use these data. This is where the center comes in.”

One of UConn’s greatest contributions to the center is the state-of-the-art equipment in its Innovation Partnership Building (IPB) at UConn Tech Park.

“UConn has an arsenal of equipment at IPB that is perfect for gathering dynamic material property data,” Frame says. “We’re able to leverage these resources to answer questions about materials behavior that are very difficult to answer with basic equipment.”

Read more on UConn Today

Author: Senior Design Journey 2020: Mapping the Opioid Crisis, Part 1

From left to right: Solomon Poulose, Mark Adanti, Frances Yu, and Samson Weiner all review a data set as part of their heat-mapping project with Cigna. (Eli Freund/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

According to data from the U.S. Center for Disease Control, in 1999, nearly 8,000 people of all ages died from opioid overdoses. Eighteen years later, that number had risen 600 percent to 48,000.

While most news stories highlight teenagers and twenty-somethings with lives cut way too short from drug overdoses, further data from the CDC shows a trend of the greatest increase coming from adults aged 55-64 years-old.

That’s why taking a myopic view of the opioid crisis, instead of digging in and using all available data would paint an incomplete picture for the companies, governments and individuals working to help.

A group of four senior University of Connecticut computer science majors feel the same way, which is why they are working on a Senior Design project with program sponsor Cigna to use data and analytics to address the opioid crisis head on.

One of those students, Samson Weiner, says that by importing data from various governmental sources, and using a machine-learning algorithm they’re developing, they can create a heat map which could help Cigna locate areas of overdose concern.

“Part of computer science is data science and data analysis, which is really the powerhouse behind this project,” Weiner said. “The idea is that you have massive amounts of information about people and their backgrounds, so how can you use that data to predict where the opioid epidemic will hit the hardest? If you have that data, then you can go there and help these people.”

The data, which is being actively filtered into their machine-learning algorithm from multiple sources, including demographic and geographic data available from the CDC, gives the group the chance to create a constantly evolving system, letting Cigna see demographical shifts over time.

Frances Yu, another member of the group, said that the creative freedom they’ve gotten from Cigna has allowed them to be innovative with their design of the system.

“From the beginning, Cigna really wanted to focus our efforts on data mining an epidemic,” Yu said. “Since the opioid crisis is an epidemic, and one that effects many Americans today, we decided to put our focus into that.”

But, the Senior Design process is more than just working on a deliverable project for a client. All of the students working on projects get a taste of long-term group dynamics, deadlines, reporting and communication.

Solomon Poulose, who went into the project not knowing any of his teammates, said that even though the team wasn’t familiar with each other, they were all driven by the novelty of the project.

“It was a very cool project, honestly. Even though none of us knew each other, we were pretty like-minded and that’s really helped us motivate ourselves to do it,” Poulose said.

Overall, the team says that they are taking each challenge in stride and will be busy during the winter break and spring semester working on their first phase of preliminary data analysis and creating a programmatic pipeline and feeding in data to create this graphical analysis.

In addition to that, the team plans on creating some educational materials that will go along with this heat map, with intentions of creating a single repository for all data—whether that’s numerical or factual in nature.

Most importantly, the fourth team member, Mark Adanti, said that the team is just excited to play a part in a major humanitarian crisis.

“We’re happy we have a project that could have a real impact, especially in a state like Connecticut, where we’ve seen a strong focus,” Adanti said.

This article is part of a multi-part series on engineering students, and their journey through senior design. Part two of this team’s journey will come out in April 2020.

Author: Michel Appointed Synchrony Financial Chair for Cybersecurity

Laurent Michel (left) leading discussions during the recent opening of the newest cybersecurity lab, Altschuler Cybersecurity Lab. (G.J. McCarthy / UConn Foundation)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

The UConn School of Engineering is pleased to announce the appointment of Laurent Michel, a professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department, as the next Synchrony Financial Chair for Cybersecurity. Michel’s appointment was approved by the UConn Board of Trustees during their meeting on December 11, 2019.

The position, established by a generous donation from Synchrony Financial in 2016, is aimed at supporting a leader focused on the advancement of education and research in cybersecurity. In addition to the endowed professorship, Synchrony Financial also has a presence in the UConn Tech Park, with the Synchrony Financial Center of Excellence, which is currently led by Michel.

Michel is an internationally recognized expert in the area of cybersecurity and received a B.S. and an Sc.M. in computer science from “Les Facultes Universitaires Notre-Dame de la Paix” (‘93) in Namur, Belgium. He later received Sc.M. (‘96) and Ph.D. (‘99) degrees in computer science from Brown University.

He is an elected member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering and has served his professional field as the President for the International Association for Constraint Programming (2015-2018). At UConn, Michel currently serves as the Director of the Synchrony Financial Center of Excellence in Cybersecurity, as co-Director of the Comcast Center of Excellence for Security Innovation, and as co-Director of the Connecticut Cybersecurity Center. His work has been continually funded by federal and state agencies and by industry, including Comcast, Alstom Grid, ISO New England and others. His work in automation, resource allocation, configuration and side-channel attacks are directly pertinent to many industries, including financial, transportation, health care, and manufacturing. Michel is a leader of outreach and community engagement, organizing activities such as the CyberSEED competition for young, aspiring computer scientists held at UConn. He remains engaged with the State of Connecticut as a founding member of the Voting Technology Research Center, which allowed the State to become a leader in election security. He has co-authored 2 monographs, edited 1 book, has published more than 100 articles, and served as Associate CSE Department Head from 2014 to 2018.

For more information on Michel and his work, please click here to be brought to his academic page.

Author: UConn Cancer Treatment Startup Wins $500,000 Grant To Test Their Technology In Space

Encapsulate co-founder and CEO Armin Rad (right), co-founder and COO Leila Daneshmandi (center), and co-founder and CTO Reza Amin (left).

 

By: Tom Bradley, CTNext

Encapsulate, an early-stage company founded by three graduate students at the University of Connecticut School of Engineering, was named last month as one of only two winners of the 2019 International Space Station U.S. Laboratory and Boeing “Technology in Space” Prize. Encapsulate receives $500,000 and the opportunity to conduct research projects onboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Encapsulate is in the process of developing an automated “tumor-on-a-chip” system that can grow a patient’s cancer cells outside the body to evaluate their response to different chemotherapy drugs. The system allow for chemotherapy drugs to be tested prior to starting the actual treatment regimens. This can dramatically enhance the success rates of chemotherapy and compress the amount of time it takes to cure cancer patients.

Imagine a patient, newly diagnosed with cancer that requires chemotherapy. There are several FDA-cleared drugs available for their type of cancer.  The doctors will select a drug for the chemotherapy regimen based on the type of cancer and the success rate of the drug in previous patients with the same cancer. The doctors will then have to wait for a period of several weeks to see if their decision in choosing that drug was correct or not. If the choice was incorrect, the whole process starts over again, one treatment option at a time, taking even more weeks or months.

But what if there is a way to test multiple medications and treatment options simultaneously, on the patient’s own cancer cells, allowing doctors to identify the approach that works best on the quickest possible timeline? Encapsulate believes its technology will provide that solution.

“During each ineffective chemotherapy cycle, the tumor becomes stronger and harder to treat,” said Armin Tahmasbi Rad, one of Encapsulate’s founders. “With our technology, we can identify the most effective chemotherapy drug from the very beginning and potentially save millions of lives.”

Rad and his co-founders Leila Daneshmandi and Reza Amin are excited about the opportunity to conduct further testing on their technology in space, a rare opportunity for early-stage companies like Encapsulate. “Testing the process in weightlessness onboard the ISS lab will allow us to evaluate the behavior of patient-derived cancers cells in space,” said Daneshmandi. “It’s a tremendous honor to win the ISS/Boeing prize.”

Read More on the CTNext Website.

Author: UConn Recognized as a Leader in Educating Women Engineers

A group of SPARK campers work on their underwater robots in the UConn Wolff-Zackin Natatorium during the summer of 2019. SPARK seeks to mentor and encourage 7th-9th grade females to enter the STEM fields through overnight summer camps. (UConn Photo/Christopher LaRosa)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

The University of Connecticut School of Engineering has once again been recognized as a leader in the nation for fostering diversity and inclusion among its student and faculty population, according to a new “Top 20 Universities” list released by Woman Engineer magazine.

The list, which includes schools such as Carnegie Mellon, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia University, and Princeton University, was determined by a survey of their 135,205 women engineering student and professional subscribers.

According to the editors, readers based the selection on criteria such as the diversity of the student base and faculty, the diversity of the curriculum, and the schools’ ability to foster a diverse and inclusive learning environment.

This honor adds to the school’s recognized work toward gender equity and diversity in an engineering industry which has struggled with recruiting and retaining underrepresented minorities.

As part of the growing recognition for UConn, The Washington Post published a survey that documented Connecticut’s flagship was the top public institution in the U.S. for growth in female undergraduates from 2010 to 2015.

Read More on UConn Today. 

Author: Beyond Senior Design: From Project to Patent

Varney (left), poses with his team on Senior Design Demonstration Day in May 2019. (Photo Courtesy of Thomas Scanzillo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

Every year, hundreds of students at the University of Connecticut School of Engineering work on their Senior Design projects, often with company sponsors advising them, directing them, and mentoring them towards an innovative idea. For most, the year-long project is about gaining crucial problem-solving and groupwork skills—but for some, like Matt Varney ’19 (mechanical engineering and German), the experience can end with a job at the sponsoring company.

Even more rare though is when a project become a patented technology. For Varney, all of these are true of his story.

Varney, an engineer in Hubbell Incorporated’s Graduate Rotational Program, joined the company when he graduated in May, and the experience of leaving UConn and coming into Hubbell with a patent application has been humbling:

“It is a powerful moment when a company not only recognizes the hard work but has confidence that the product could work in the real world. It is great to put something on the table that was a valuable use of our time and their resources throughout the two semesters,” Varney said.

The project, which had real-world applications, was to develop an alternative/innovative wire termination that could be fast and convenient for electricians installing a 15 or 20 amp wall outlet. A wire termination is a crucial piece of any electrical installation, when the wire supplying the electricity is stripped and attached to the electrical contact.

Varney and his team developed an alternative/innovative wire termination that could be fast and convenient for electricians installing a 15 or 20 amp wall outlet.

 

On the Hubbell side, Tom Scanzillo, VP of Engineering, was the mentor and senior design client for Varney and his team last year. Scanzillo said that Varney’s team surpassed any of his expectations when they created this patentable design concept.

“Given how quickly two semesters can go by, the expectation is not a finished design that can be commercialized.  The expectations range from research to conceptual work that can then be picked up by a design team for further analysis.”

But Varney and his team treated the project as more than just a dalliance into conception, but a true test of their skills learned over four years, which led to a novel design.

“Matthew’s team did a great job in conceptualizing product design ideas and effecting validation testing,” Scanzillo said. “Part of the direction that the team received was to avoid current intellectual property.  Therefore, the final concept that was selected was novel and patentable.”

During the year-long process, Varney and his team worked using a set schedule, keeping up with progress, instead of letting the minutia of everyday life derail them. Having that mindset allowed them to keep building on their progress, according to Varney.

“For me, I tried to take care of as many little tasks for other classes as quickly as possible. They were quick wins and they would not loom over me, giving me time for Senior Design tasks later at night or early the next day. As a team, we had a set day every week to meet for an hour to brainstorm and update Tom via phone. Routine and consistency were key,” Varney said.

Moving forward in his career, Varney said that the experience he had during Senior Design has stayed with him as he continues growing in his engineering career.

“UConn has given me a great balanced education through all my classes to where I could be effective in any position, but the experience in Senior Design is what really transforms you from knowing engineering things into an actual engineer.”

Author: Faculty Q+A: Peters’ Important Collaborations with IBM

 

Some of the computer simulations done by Peters with IBM. (Credit: Thomas Peters)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

Dr. Thomas J. Peters, a professor of computer science and mathematics, who has been with the University of Connecticut for 30 years, has centered his research on computational topology, computer graphics, and scientific visualization, leading to some interesting collaborations.

One of those collaborations, which has been going on for over a decade, has been with IBM, which has brought compelling results. In a Q+A, Peters describes his work and relationship with one of the largest computing companies in the world.

 

  1. When did this collaboration with IBM start? How were you introduced to their University Award Programs?

The collaboration started in 2003 and continues through today, with my first awareness of their university programs in 2005.  I first met my primary IBM collaborator, Dr. K. E. Jordan, when we were co-organizing a SIAM conference, Mathematics for Industry.

  1. Describe your research relating to micelles. What were you trying to figure out and how do the learnings from your research effect the industrial world?

We create novel topological analyses to understand chemical changes that arise from instantaneous changes in shape.  The predictive mathematics is subtle.  Our previously published topological algorithms to predict protein misfolding are being extended to micelles.  The long-term goal is to improve the chemical engineering of micelles for applications for consumers (cosmetics, foods) and industry (petroleum extraction).  Our topological algorithms were previously developed to identify when molecular backbones could self-intersect and fracture, essentially the inverse operation of the step transform, where disjoint micelles merge. 

  1. Why was this work important to IBM?

The micelles are poorly understood and hard to analyze, yet have significant impact in consumer products and industrial applications.  Unilever, which has a significant presence in Connecticut, has considerable interest in this discovery, which IBM can accelerate by innovative simulation algorithms on world-class supercomputers.

  1. In addition to the grants you received from IBM, were there any other major resources you received from them that has been helpful to your research?

I have free access to their OpenPower supercomputers, consistently ranked among the top-five, worldwide.  As an IBM OpenPower Professor, I also provide that access to students.

It is amazing to see their conceptual algorithmic design creativity expand with realization of essentially infinitely many processors, rather than being bound by the limits of a laptop. In 2018-2019, this supercomputer time was conservatively estimated as $250,000, priced at $400 per hour.  The availability of well-curated, reliable data is crucial to advances in data science but is often difficult to obtain.  IBM Research readily provides such simulation data for our computational experiments and analysis validations.  In 2018-2019, this is estimated to have been worth $50,000.  I have enjoyed similar contributions for over a decade.

I was invited to attend IBM-MIT AI Week in Cambridge, MA.  This event was by invitation-only and featured exchanges with world leaders, such as a recent Turing Award winner.  I have already injected the knowledge gained into my research and classes.  Additionally, IBM offers on-line educational resources of their Academic Initiative (educational tutorials), Skills Academy (focused on emerging technologies) and an access program to work on IBM’s Cloud at no cost.  I have already used some of their quantum computing educational materials in my graduate algorithms class, as well as in my own research on `fragile topology’ for modeling quantum superconducting surfaces.

  1. How has IBM been as an industrial partner?

Fantastic. I have been welcomed to their research labs, collaborated freely with their key scientists and fully supported by their administrative staff.  Also, their awards are given in recognition of research accomplishment, not specifically proposed projects, so the money comes with `no strings attached.’  That flexibility is prized for facile response to dynamically changing research conditions. Intellectual property agreements were easily completed and there are no required deliverables.

Award consideration is by nomination, first by my primary collaborator, Dr. Kirk E. Jordan, IBM Distinguished Engineer, Data Centric Solutions; IBM T.J. Watson Research Chief Science Officer; IBM Research UK Member, IBM Academy of Technology.  It was reviewed by a senior executive team, including the IBM Executive Vice President, Dr. John Kelly III, who reports directly to the President and Chairman of IBM Corporation.  It was also reviewed by many of the uppermost technical leaders and executives of IBM, in a rigorous vetting process of 34 major steps.

  1. In your opinion, how important is it for large companies to have programs like IBM’s, which bridge the gap between industry and academia?

I think such relationships are great for both sides, advancing university knowledge and accelerating business goals.  I was formerly a senior scientist at a high-tech Fortune 500 company and advocated strongly for funding interaction with academia.

  1. Beyond your current funding with IBM, do you see this as a long-term partnership, for years to come? If so, what other research would you want to partner with them on?

This has already been a partnership exceeding 15 years, with Faculty Awards, Graduate StudentFellowships, an Open Collaborative Research Award and a Shared University Research Award.  We are planning future work on knot theory, machine learning and quantum computing.

For more information on Peters and his research, please visit: https://tpeters.engr.uconn.edu

Author: Dr. Cato Laurencin Wins the National Academy of Engineering 2019 Simon Ramo Founders Award

Dr. Cato T. Laurencin (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo).

 

By: Melanie Burnat, Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) on Oct. 6 honored UConn’s Dr. Cato T. Laurencin for his extraordinary impact on the engineering profession. Laurencin received the Simon Ramo Founders Award for his research contributions and leadership in engineering.

Laurencin is known worldwide as a leader in biomaterials, nanotechnology, stem cell science, drug delivery systems, and a field he has pioneered, regenerative engineering. He is being recognized with the Simon Ramo Founders Award “for fundamental, critical, and groundbreaking scientific advances in the engineering of tissues, guiding technology and science policy, and promoting diversity and excellence in science.” The award acknowledges outstanding professional, educational, and personal achievements to the benefit of society and includes a commemorative medal.

At UConn, Laurencin is the University Professor, the eighth to be designated by the school in its over 135 year history. He is professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, materials science and engineering, and biomedical engineering; the Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery; and CEO of the Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering.

Laurencin has produced seminal studies in a number of areas of engineering and science. In fact, he and his colleagues were the first to develop nanofiber technologies for tissue regeneration, and his group pioneered the development and understanding of polymer-ceramic systems for bone regeneration. The American Institute of Chemical Engineers cited this achievement when naming him one of the 100 Chemical Engineers of the Modern Era. In 2016, Laurencin was selected for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest honor bestowed in America for technological achievement, presented by the president of the United States, “for seminal work in the engineering of musculoskeletal tissues, especially for revolutionary achievements in the design of bone matrices and ligament regeneration.”

Click here to read more on UConn Today.

Author: Program is Fertile Ground for Student Innovation

Emily Yale, one of the three inaugural students in the UConn Master’s of Engineering in Global Entrepreneurship program, with her autonomous robot at the Great Lawn on Oct. 7. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

Most days, Emily Yale is moving between the Castleman Building and the School of Business Building on the Storrs campus, learning and testing concepts about entrepreneurship.

The University of Connecticut student is in the process of launching a startup, Land Maverick, and she is tapping the resources of the Schools of Engineering and Business.

“Entrepreneurship and building a company is a blend between business and engineering with a little luck, uncertainty, and chaos thrown in the mix,” said Yale, of Branford, Connecticut.

Her development, Land Maverick, is an autonomous robot with several sensors that test the soil and notify landscapers and golf course supervisors about water levels, potential disease, or problem areas.

Traditionally, Yale said, golf courses pursue a method of over-applying chemicals on their grass, to make sure that disease is never a problem, but this method lacks accuracy, and can cause devastating environmental effects.

“Right now, what golf courses do is over apply chemicals, to make sure that they will never have a disease present,” Yale said. “I actually have friends that live on golf courses and they’ll say things like ‘The superintendent turned my pond purple this year.’”

Yale has started testing her service with golf course owners across the state. Her subscription-based service is not only more environmentally friendly, but also economically friendly for clients, she said.

“Not only will this technology potentially cut their costs in half, but it will, more importantly, avoid the ineffective use of labor, freeing up personnel, and reducing overtime costs.”

Yale is one of the first students in the new Master’s of Engineering in Global Entrepreneurship program— a joint effort between UConn’s Schools of Engineering and Business, Trinity College, and the University of New Haven.

Originally, Yale conceived of the project during her time as an undergraduate at Fairfield University, as part of her senior design project.

“When we started that first robotic unit, we were focused on the agricultural sector, but we learned quickly that golf courses had a greater interest in this new technology,” Yale said.  “I can design the coolest, most exciting device in the world, but if it has no customer base, it’s not going places.”

After joining UConn’s program, Yale worked with faculty on solidifying the market for her product. With 15,000 golf courses in the country, Yale found a target market that has major potential.

“The combination of taking classes in entrepreneurship and engineering, and getting the chance to work with some very seasoned advisers has been a great experience,” Yale said. “That combination is very unique to UConn, and I’m not sure a lot of schools across the state would be able to pull this kind of program off, because of the resources and network UConn has.”

Looking ahead, Yale said that she is excited to grow her business in the state of Connecticut. And, she is pleased that she decided to pivot into entrepreneurship.

“Looking back, there’s never been a regret. In the tech startup world, there’s no time for regretting anything,” Yale said. “You just have to keep moving.”

Author: Synchrony and UConn Engineering Join Forces to Host CyberSEED 2019

UConn Engineering last hosted CyberSEED in 2017, where students from all over the country came to compete. (UConn Photo/Christopher LaRosa)

 

STORRS, CT – During National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Synchrony, a premier consumer financial services company, and The University of Connecticut School of Engineering are joining forces to sponsor CyberSEED 2019, a cyber wargame competition, on Saturday, October 19th from 9am to 5:30pm.

More than forty-two teams from 30 colleges and universities across the country will face off in a variety of challenges that test students’ skills, including: reverse engineering, web application security, network traffic analysis, and cryptography. The grand prize winner will take home $15,000; there will also be two smaller prizes of $2,000 and $500.

Registration for the competition is closed, but registration for a concurrent workshop will remain open through 17 October.

WHAT: CyberSEED – a cyber Capture the Flag competition and Workshop

WHEN: Saturday, October 19th

9:00am – opening remarks

9:30am – competition commences

5:00pm – competition ends

5:30pm – awards and closing

The workshop runs concurrently with the Capture the Flag competition.

WHERE: UConn Storrs Campus — Rome Commons Ballroom

Contact:

Jeannette Burke (UConn) Engr-cyberseed@uconn.edu

Nicole Ward (Synchrony) Nicole.Ward@syf.com

Technical (Synchrony) mark.underwood@syf.com

 

Author: Nearly $500,000 in Scholarships Awarded to UConn Engineering Undergraduates

Several UConn Engineering undergraduate students pose after the ceremony on October 10, 2019. (Eli Freund/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

Thanks to the generosity of several organizations, associations, and individuals, 256 undergraduate students in the School of Engineering were awarded a total of over $490,000 in scholarship funds, averaging nearly $2,000 per student.

On October 10, those student awardees gathered together, shoulder-to-shoulder with their donors, to celebrate, thank them, and bask in the honor of their achievements.

Kazem Kazerounian, dean of the School of Engineering, took a moment in the beginning to applaud the students for all the hard work that led to their scholarships, but also took a moment to thank the donors, and put their donations into perspective.

“The School of Engineering takes pride in being a critical component in workforce development in the state of Connecticut,” Kazerounian said. “Your investment in this school is an investment in a state we are all so proud of.” 

This year, some of organizations and companies that contributed to the $490,000 included: Eversource Energy, General Electric, Sikorsky, Cantor Colburn LLC, The Hubbell Foundation, The Connecticut Energy Foundation, Synchrony Financial, United Technologies Corporation, and many others.

Julia Opramolla ’21, a materials science & engineering student, and one of the recipients of the 2019 Pratt and Whitney BRIDGE Scholarships, talked about what the scholarship funds meant to her and her future.

“For me personally, I’m grateful that my scholarships have allowed me to work minimal hours and focus more on my academics and fulfilling hobbies,” Opramolla said. “Working fewer hours gives me and others the time to volunteer at various School of Engineering outreach events and to actively participate in mentoring programs for underrepresented engineering students.”

On the other side of the scholarship, donor and alumna Jeanine Armstrong ’87, who is Vice President at Milone & Macbroom, Inc., spoke about her time as a student and the importance of giving back to a School which is increasing its female engineering population:

“I was looking the other night at all the young women receiving scholarships tonight, and it caused me to look back at my civil engineering graduating class,” Gouin said. “When I looked back at my graduating class, there were two women–and one of them was me. So, it’s great to see all of your faces out there.” 

Closing the ceremony, Caitlin Krouse ’09 (CLAS), director of alumni relations, told students to bask in their present, but look to their future.

“Our students have seen in themselves the ability to change the world and make things work better,” Krouse said. “To our scholars tonight, keep up the great work. We have already seen the amazing things you have done, and we cannot wait to see what you do next.”

For a full listing of scholarships and recipients, please click here.

Author: $5M Gift Launches Arts and Engineering Institute

Donna and John Krenicki, both UConn Class of 1984. (Submitted Photo)

 

By: Grace Merritt, UConn Foundation

University of Connecticut alumni John and Donna Krenicki gave $5 million to the university’s Schools of Fine Arts and Engineering to launch the Krenicki Arts and Engineering Institute, an innovative, interdisciplinary nexus that will offer groundbreaking classes in areas like entertainment engineering and industrial design.

The pairing of arts and engineering will provide a space where different types of creativity can lead to imaginative solutions and radical breakthroughs, said those involved. It will allow students to explore such fields as robotics, music and sound engineering, digital media, and product design.

“We are incredibly grateful to John and Donna Krenicki for their support of this exciting new institute, which will push UConn to the forefront of innovative design and technical solutions,” said UConn President Thomas Katsouleas. “This collaboration will give students new opportunities, a competitive edge, and strong marketability, all while helping to fuel our state’s economy and meet workforce needs.”

Read More on UConn Today

Author: UConn Partners in $100M DOE Innovation Hub on Water Technologies

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

 

By: Jessica McBride, Office of the Vice President for Research

Around the world, fresh water scarcity poses a major economic, environmental, and humanitarian challenges. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and other federal agencies have forged important collaborations with universities, the private sector, the National Labs, and other organization to find innovative and practical solutions to address this threat.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced Monday that the National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI), a research consortium including the University of Connecticut, has been awarded a five-year, $100-million Energy-Water Desalination Hub (pending appropriations) to address water security issues in the United States. The hub will focus on early-stage research and development for energy-efficient and cost-competitive desalination technologies and for treating nontraditional water sources for various end uses.

Jeffrey McCutcheon, Al Geib Professor of Environmental Engineering Research and Education in UConn’s School of Engineering, is leading UConn’s participation in NAWI. McCutcheon is an internationally recognized expert in membrane technologies for sustainable water and energy production. He serves as a deputy thrust area lead for the hub’s R&D activities involving materials and manufacturing, and is also the UConn site representative to NAWI.

“UConn is excited to join a team consisting of top researchers in the field of water treatment and desalination,” says McCutcheon, who is also executive director of the Fraunhofer USA Center for Energy Innovation at UConn Tech Park. “While Connecticut does not suffer from severe water shortages, we do have water quality challenges that could see solutions emerge from this effort.”

Read More on UConn Today

Author: ‘Wake-up Call’: Drone Strikes in Saudi Arabia Show Urgency of UConn Research

A partial view of Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq oil processing plant on September 20, 2019. – Saudi Arabia said on September 17 its oil output will return to normal by the end of September, seeking to soothe rattled energy markets after attacks on two instillations that slashed its production by half. The strikes on Abqaiq – the world’s largest oil processing facility – and the Khurais oil field in eastern Saudi Arabia roiled energy markets and revived fears of a conflict in the tinderbox Gulf region. (Photo by Fayez Nureldine / AFP) (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

On September 14, 2019, the state-owned Saudi Aramco, one of the largest oil producers in the world, was attacked by several unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), causing panic, damage, and a spike in global oil prices. Although the facility attacked had several defense systems, all of them proved ineffective for a low-flying drone.

On a smaller scale, faculty at the Eversource Energy Center at the University of Connecticut are working hand-in-hand with its namesake to build a drone detection system. One of the people leading the project, Chandi Witharana, assistant research professor of natural resources and the environment, explains the plan.

Q: Why is a sensor-based surveillance system a good idea for a utility company? 

A: We should take Aramco as a loud ‘wake-up’ call, which we never heard before and we pretty much overlooked. Even a short-run power failure mediated by a drone attack to electrical infrastructure comes at a high price.  On top of that, such failures can trigger cascading events in the grid leading to much larger scale blackout. Imagine a coordinated attack on multiple substations, which would cripple the social and economic operations. Critical utility infrastructure have surveillance systems for perimeter instructions etc. Threat from air is a new form, which requires the same level of attention and surveillance as ground-based threats. As long as people have access to drones the threat prevails.

Q: How vulnerable are electrical sub-stations to drone attacks?

A: The risk prevails in all directions despite the security measures. Although the drones have been made available to civilians, most of the detection, tracking, and aversion technologies are still being confined to military use. Access to the few number of available detection technologies are mainly prohibited by the cost. To give a sense, some advanced systems costs in the range of $100k to half a million dollars. Drone detection is also a growing market but still way behind compared to the drone market. In a sense, the drone technology is disruptive. It has not settled down yet.  We have so far been seeing the bright side, however, the climate is quickly tuning for more of ‘misuse’ of drones worldwide given growth of the market.

Q: To install a detection system, how much time would it take to implement, and how much work would go into an installation?

A: Commercially-available detection and tracking devices are well-packaged and readily deployable, however, they are prone to limitations in terms of detection and tracking. What we are exploring is the detection capabilities cost effectiveness of commercial sensors with respect to drone types, movements, and varying environmental conditions. One of the key aspects we are looking into is how to analytically combine the data streams coming from multiple sensors to make a real-time prediction of intrusive drones and their paths. Collectively, we want to develop and test an early warning UAV detection system using commercially-available devices to detect and track unauthorized UAV operations near electric substations.

Read More on UConn Today

Author: UConn Engineering Welcomes Nine New Faculty

Top Row (left to right): Seung-Hyun Hong, Caiwen Ding, Francesco Carbone. Center (left to right): Hanna Aknouche-Martinsson, Alexei Poludnenko, Fiona Leek. Bottom Row (left to right): Osama Bilal, Suining He, Jacob Scoggin. 

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

During every new school year, a new crop of students come on to campus, ready to make connections, get involved and take on new challenges. But, behind the scenes, is often a group of other new faces—faculty—who are stepping into a new environment, with similar goals.

This Fall, this new group of faculty contains nine talented researchers and educators, hailing from as close as the University of Connecticut, to as far as The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and range from having several years of experience as a faculty member to fresh out of a Ph.D. program.

Below are the nine faculty members who have joined UConn Engineering this Fall:

Name: Hanna Aknouche-Martinsson

Title: Associate Professor-In-Residence

Department: Computer Science & Engineering

Bio: Prior to joining UConn, Aknouche-Martinsson served as an assistant professor at University West, Sweden, for eight years. During her time there, she taught courses in algorithmics, robot vision, robot modelling, probabilistic robotics and physics. Previously, she was part of the algorithmics team at a medical imaging company, developing algorithms for automated vessel analysis. Aknouche-Martinsson received her Ph.D. in computer vision from Université de Clermont-Ferrand, France, in 2008. She received her M.Sc. in engineering physics from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, and Ecole Centrale Paris, France, in 2002 as part of a double degree program.


Name: Osama Bilal

Title: Assistant Professor

Department: Mechanical Engineering

Bio: Bilal is interested in designing intelligent, autonomous and multifunctional materials and structures through understanding of correlations between geometry, symmetry, periodicity and mechanical properties of materials. His research interests spans dynamics of structures and materials, acoustic metamaterials, soft robotics, additive manufacturing, topology optimization, haptics and fluid-structure interaction, which requires combining theory, numerical simulations and experiments. Bilal received his training at Caltech, ETH Zurich, CU-Boulder and Cairo University in aerospace and mechanical engineering, computer science and condensed matter physics. His research is published in multidisciplinary outlets such as Nature, the National Academy of Sciences, Physical Review Letters, Advanced Materials, and others. He has been awarded multiple patents and has received several honors, including the ARL postdoctoral fellowship (Army), ETH postdoctoral fellowship (ETH), the Graduate Student Service Award (CU-Boulder), the International Student Award (CU-Boulder), the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award (CU-Boulder) and the Phononics Fellowship (National Science Foundation), among others.


 Name: Francesco Carbone

Title: Assistant Professor

Department: Mechanical Engineering

Bio: Francesco Carbone joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at University of Connecticut in Fall 2019 after serving at Yale University in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science as research faculty from 2014 to 2019 as well as a lecturer in 2018. Previously, he held research positions in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Southern California from 2012 to 2014, in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Yale University from 2010 to 2012, and in the Combustion Research Institute at the National Research Council (Italy) from 2008 to 2010. Francesco earned his M.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering and his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Naples Federico II (Italy) in 2005 and 2008, respectively.


 Name: Caiwen Ding

Title: Assistant Professor

Department: Computer Science & Engineering

Bio: Ding received his Ph.D. from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Northeastern University in 2019. His interests include efficient machine learning & deep neural network systems, neuromorphic computing and non-von Neumann computing, efficient computing for cyber-physical systems and embedded systems.


Name: Suining He

Title: Assistant Professor

Department: Computer Science & Engineering

Bio: He received his Ph.D. from the Computer Science & Engineering Department at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). His research interests include location-based services, urban and mobile computing, data analytics and smart transportation. He was a Google Ph.D. Fellow in Mobile Computing in 2015.


 Name: Seung-Hyun Hong

Title: Assistant Professor-In-Residence

Department: Computer Science & Engineering

Bio: Hong received his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Connecticut in 2005. Before this new role, Hong served as an assistant research professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UConn. His research interests include static/dynamic bone histomorphometry, assessing bone defect repair, automated image analysis, image processing and pattern recognition. Hong has taught multiple CSE undergrad/grad level courses including digital image processing, data mining, and introduction to discrete systems.


Name: Fiona Leek

Title: Assistant Professor-In-Residence

Department: Materials Science & Engineering

Bio: Leek has over 25 years of experience in the area of polymer characterization and product failure analysis. In her current position as Senior Forensic Scientist at the Travelers Risk Control Lab, Leek investigates materials failures related to loss of property, business, and personal injury. For ten years prior, she served as Interim Director and Associate Director of UConn’s Industrial Affiliates Program (IAP). In this capacity, Leek worked with scientists and engineers from a wide variety of Connecticut companies who needed access to the range of analytical tools and faculty expertise at UConn’s Institute of Materials Science to solve various materials-related challenges. During this time, she also served as a co-advisor for several MSE Senior Design teams and as a mentor for the Society of Polymer Engineers (SPE) Polymer Graduate Student Chapter and the UConn Connects program. Leek also spent nine years working at Millipore Corporation as a Senior and a Consulting Senior Research Scientist and two years at T.A. Instruments as an Applications Scientist. Leek has an M.S. degree in Textile Science and Engineering from North Carolina State University and an M.S and Ph.D. in Polymer Science from UConn.


Name: Alexei Poludnenko

Title: Associate Professor

Department: Mechanical Engineering

Bio: Poludnenko received his bachelor’s degree in Physics and Mathematics from the National University “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” in Kyiv, Ukraine, and Masters and Ph.D. degrees in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Rochester. Upon graduation, he joined the Department of Energy ASC Flash Center at the University of Chicago as a postdoctoral researcher. Subsequently, Poludnenko worked at the Naval Research Laboratory first as a National Research Council postdoctoral fellow and later as a permanent research staff member. Prior to joining the UConn Mechanical Engineering Department in the Fall of 2019, he had been an associate professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University. His research includes theoretical and computational studies of complex multi-physics reacting and non-reacting flows, numerical algorithm development for computational fluid dynamics, and high-performance computing. Poludnenko was a recipient of the Distinguished Paper Awards at the 36th and 37th International Symposia on Combustion (2017 and 2019), the 2016 François Frenkiel Award for Fluid Mechanics of the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics, and the Alan Berman Research Publication Award from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.


Name: Jacob Scoggin

Title: Assistant Professor-In-Residence

Department: Computer Science & Engineering

Bio: Scoggin earned his B.S. in Nanosystems Engineering from Louisiana Tech University in 2012, an M.S. in Electrical Engineering at Louisiana Tech University in 2014, and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Connecticut in 2019.  His research interests include semiconductor devices and phase change memory.

 

Author: Shea Appointed President of National Local Technical Assistance Program Association

Donna Shea, director of the Connecticut Training and Technical Assistance Center at the Connecticut Transportation Institute at UConn, and new president of National Local Technical Assistance Program Association. (UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

During the 2019 National LTAP-TTAP-NTTD Conference in August, Donna Shea, Director of the Connecticut Training and Technical Assistance Center at the Connecticut Transportation Institute, was installed as the President of National Local Technical Assistance Program Association. 

NLTAPA is the National Association of Local & Tribal Technical Assistance Programs, which is an organization offering educational and technical assistance to local municipal agencies throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.

The appointment as president marks the end of a three-year term in which Shea served as vice president, president-elect and now president. As the new president, Shea will represent 51 centers around the country and advocate for the local agencies they serve to national partners and funding agencies.

Shea has been the Director of Connecticut’s Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) at the University of Connecticut for over 17 years, where her primary responsibility is the transfer of knowledge and best practice to over 3,000 municipal public works employees each year. She is also a member of several statewide, regional and national committees.

For more information on NLTAPA, please visit http://www.nltapa.org, and for more information on the Connecticut Transportation Institute, please visit https://www.cti.uconn.edu.

Author: Enhanced Tree Trimming Reduces Storm-Related Power Outages, UConn Study Finds

Regular tree trimming can reduce power outages caused by lines being knocked down, according to new research. (Getty Images)

 

By: Jaclyn Severance, UConn Communications 

Enhanced tree trimming reduces the number of power outages during storms by 16 to 48 percent, according to a study from UConn researchers recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Electric Power Systems Research.

Electric utilities conduct regular tree trimming and other vegetation management along electric transmission and distribution lines to minimize damage during storms and maintain system reliability. Enhanced tree trimming – also called ETT – is a more focused and intensified management practice that involves completely removing trees and brush within eight feet to the sides, 10 feet below and 20 feet above power lines. Trimming and completely removing trees in populated areas often raises public concerns.

“In Connecticut, the vast majority of outages are caused by trees falling on overhead distribution lines and, as demonstrated in our paper, ETT has a significant impact on the reduction of outages,” said Diego Cerrai, a post-doctoral research assistant in UConn’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and an author of the study. “Such a study is necessary to open discussions between utilities, regulators, towns and residents in order to find the right balance between different techniques to improve the resiliency of the electric grid.”

The study specifically evaluated the impact of enhanced tree trimming conducted by the public utility company Eversource Energy in Connecticut during 144 weather events and 58,236 power outages – with an outage defined as a location where a two-man crew was needed to restore power – that occurred between 2005 and 2017. The study excluded outages related to two major hurricanes, Irene in 2011 and Sandy in 2012, from its evaluation.

To read more, please visit UConn Today

Author: Four Engineering Faculty Receive NSF CAREER Awards in 2019

Yupeng Chen, associate professor of biomedical engineering (top left); Bin Feng, assistant professor of biomedical engineering (top right); Sabato Santaniello, assistant professor of biomedical engineering (bottom left); Julia Valla, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering (bottom right).

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

Four UConn Engineering professors received Faculty Early Career Development Awards from the National Science Foundation this year, one of the highest honors a junior science or engineering faculty member can receive.

The NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program supports early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education, and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. Activities pursued by early-career faculty build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.

The recipients for 2019 are as follows:

Yupeng Chen, associate professor of biomedical engineering, received $480,625 over four years for his project, “Assembly of Nanopieces for Controlled Penetration and Binding of Difficult-to-Reach Cartilage Matrix for siRNA Therapy against Osteoarthritis.”

Chen will center his research on Osteoarthritis (OA), which affects approximately 13.9 percent of Americans aged 25 years and older. This equates to an estimated 30 million people in the United States, making it one of the leading causes of disability. OA is a degenerative joint disease involving in the degeneration of joint cartilage. This leads to pain, stiffness, movement problems, and activity limitations. Currently, there is no clinically successful therapeutic to against OA. As a Nobel-prize winning discovery, siRNA can effectively and specifically inhibit disease gene expression, which provides a great therapeutic potential to treat OA. However, it is extremely challenging to deliver negatively-charged siRNAs to infiltrate avascular, dense, negatively-charged tissue matrix, such as cartilage. This research will develop a novel delivery vehicle, which can self-assemble with therapeutic siRNAs and deliver them into matrix-rich tissues in an effective and safe manner.

Bin Feng, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, received $549,656 over five years, for his project, “Understanding Peripheral Neuromodulation to Enhance Non-drug Management of Chronic Pain.” 

For his research, Feng will look at chronic pain, its treatment with prescribed opioids, and curbing the current epidemic of prescription opioid abuse, which costs $500 billion annually in medical, economic, social and criminal ramifications.

According to Feng’s research description, the most serious side effects of opioids, including physical dependence and addiction, arise from unintended effects on the central nervous system (CNS). Pain is generally evoked from the periphery and thus targeting the peripheral nervous system (PNS) could alleviate pain without unintended CNS effects. However, drug-based treatments to selectively target the PNS remain largely unsuccessful. Peripheral neuromodulation treats chronic pain by focused delivery of physical energy (usually electrical current) to PNS tissues. However, current peripheral neuromodulation methods are unpredictable and only benefit a fraction of chronic pain patients. This project aims to develop novel experimental and computational tools to advance our mechanistic understanding of peripheral neuromodulation, and thus will provide new experimental and theoretical data to improve neuromodulation for benefiting a broader patient population with chronic pain.

Sabato Santaniello, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, received $500,000 over five years for his project, “Robust Identification and Multi-Objective Control Methods for Neuronal Networks Under Uncertainty.” 

According to Santaniello, the control of biological neural networks underpins the development of minimally-invasive brain therapies as well as adaptive learning for cyber-physical systems, but it remains challenging because of the irregular dynamics involved. These systems also have sparse and weak connections and a range of dynamics that cannot be fully probed. There is an urgent need to determine the impact of unmodeled dynamics on the controllability of these networks and develop robust controls accordingly, otherwise controllers will remain underperforming, fragile, and hard to calibrate. This is the case for deep brain stimulation (DBS), which follows a conservative “one-size-fits-all” paradigm and remains underutilized despite having the potential to treat millions of people worldwide. The objective of this CAREER program is to develop identification methods that estimate the impact of unmodeled dynamics on neuronal circuits and a robust control framework for these circuits. Brain circuits targeted by Parkinson’s disease and DBS will be considered to maximize the impact of the research.

Julia Valla, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, received $500,000 over five years for her project, “Revolutionizing sulfur removal in transportation fuels via adsorption in ion exchanged zeolites.”

Valla’s research will look to aid the fuel processing industry, which faces mandatory government- and industry-issued standards that require the reduction of sulfur in transportation fuels (e.g., gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels) to near-zero levels. Hydrodesulfurization (HDS) is the widely-accepted commercial refinery technology used for the removal of sulfur in fuels. Although HDS is effective for this purpose, it is also energy intensive, particularly as refineries attempt to meet tighter regulatory standards of sulfur. This project will establish a new technological platform and associated fundamental science enabling the development of environment-friendly “filters” for the efficient and cost-effective adsorptive desulfurization (ADS) of liquid hydrocarbon fuels at ambient conditions. Such “filters” will be portable, compact, and regenerable and may eventually be integrated into vehicle engines or gas stations. Successful design of these desulfurization “filters” will transform the fuel processing industry by reducing combustion-based sulfur emissions, the energy requirements, and the cost of fuel desulfurization.

Author: Summer REU Students Immerse Themselves in Entrepreneurship

The 10 REU students stand outside the UConn Tech Park after their poster presentations. (UConn Photo/Tracy Maheu)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

Each year, students from across the country apply to the National Science Foundation REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) program, gaining experience in a myriad of different subject areas. In the summer of 2019, the University of Connecticut School of Engineering hosted a select group of 10 engineering students, who hailed from UConn, as well as multiple other schools across the country.

This year’s research theme centered around entrepreneurship and innovation (E-REU), in consultation with Daniel Burkey, associate dean undergraduate education and diversity; Dr. Hadi Bazorgmanesh, UConn Professor of Practice in Engineering Entrepreneurship; Nerac, a Tolland-based global research and advisory firm for companies developing innovative products and technologies, run by President & CEO Kevin Bouley; and multiple UConn faculty members and graduate students. In addition to the mentorship received from faculty, Nerac, and graduate students, participants in the program received funding to cover housing, meal expenses, and a generous stipend.

The ten students worked on entrepreneurial ideas which ran the gamut from converting oils and fats to bio-diesel to using Matlab’s App Designer as a software controller for a whole slide imaging platform.

Below, some of the students and Nerac employees involved in the 10-week program share their experiences:

Name: Colin Fitzsimonds
School: University of Connecticut
Year: Junior
Major: Chemical Engineering
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jeffrey McCutcheon
Project:Forward Osmosis and Reverse Osmosis Hybrid System For Water Desalination

 Is your goal to eventually be an entrepreneur?

There may be a future for me to be an entrepreneur, I’m not sure whether that is in my future but this E-REU at least opened my eyes to the possibility.

Why do you think it’s important for engineers to learn these skills?

If you can’t properly explain the value of your work, nobody will buy into your ideas and you won’t succeed as an engineer.

 

Name: Jessica Hornyak
School: University of Florida
Year: Senior
Major: Biomedical Engineering
UConn Faculty Advisor: Dr. Thanh Nguyen
Project: Utilizing the Piezoelectric Properties of Poly-L-lactic Acid for Medical Applications

 Why did you decide to join UConn Engineering’s REU program this summer?

UConn’s E-REU program was unique in comparison to other REU programs because it fused together elements of both entrepreneurship and engineering. These two words to me are not independent of each other. When attempting to solve a problem, which is the intention of the research, I always possess the mindset of how can this solution reach the public and what market would it reside in. The program’s description aligned with this mindset.

How did the experience you had this summer change the way you think about the world?

I have always attempted to look for solutions to the problems in the world around me. However, what I often found was that my solutions started as an idea in my mind and also ended that way. This program taught me that the idea of starting a company should not be a roadblock. The program equipped me with the tools to take my ideas and translate them into something that exists outside of my mind.

 

Name: Robert Beinstein
Company: Nerac
Title: Director, Sustainability Innovation

 After taking a look at all the projects, how confident did you feel in the future of engineering?

These students’ take on their future-focused research topics left me in awe.  In many cases, their poise and presence only added to the effect.  Several of the topics resonated with me, with their multi-benefit solutions that push the boundaries of today’s technology.  Even at their young age, these kids seem to sense the need to look beyond current state-of-the-art, visualizing what the future will need. 

 

Name: Cooper Langanis
School: Binghamton University
Year: Senior
Major: Biomedical Engineering
UConn Faculty Advisor:Dr. Hoshino
Project: Formation of Breast Cancer Spheroids For Analysis of Anti-Cancer Pharmaceuticals

This program was centered around entrepreneurship. What did you work on this summer?

I worked on developing a microscope incubator capable of culturing cancer cell spheroids that could use fluorescent and time lapse imaging. 

Why do you think it’s important for engineers to learn these skills?

Engineers often get stuck thinking under a lot of constraints, entrepreneurship forces you to think of things on a broader scale and consider all possibilities which can be extremely beneficial.

Author: Juggling Athletics and Engineering? It’s All About Balance for Botsis

Chanell Botsis (right) poses with her British Columbia teammates during the 2019 Canadian National Championships. (Contributed by Chanell Botsis)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

For many in college, the prospect of adding the time and effort that comes with being a Division I athlete on top of homework, classes, and extra-curriculars seems like a daunting balancing act—but hundreds of University of Connecticut student-athletes go through this every year. Compound that balancing act with a challenging and demanding engineering curriculum, and the task might seem insurmountable.

But for Chanell Botsis, a senior biomedical engineering student and UConn Track and Field athlete, the balancing act is neither insurmountable nor daunting:

“The first thing that I do is I try to keep myself as organized as possible. I have a planner that I write in all the time and I find that this helps me the most because I can see which assignments are ongoing and which ones are due, along with my training times and travel dates,” Botsis said.

That kind of organization is key for Botsis, who often has a packed training schedule to follow during the season and off-season. During the semester, she barely has any major breaks during the day, often filling every time slot:

“A day as a student-athlete is very busy. For the days that I am on campus, I usually begin my day with an early class and then have more classes to follow until the afternoon. Next, I have my throwing practice and lift session,” Botsis said. “After my lift, which is usually around 4:30 or 5:30 p.m., I may have one more class to finish off the day and then it’s back to my apartment to eat dinner and to do homework. I also do other things such as attending Engineering World Health club meetings every week.”

During the track season, which begins in January and ends in June, Botsis said that she travels nearly every weekend, and often misses up to three weekdays of school on weeks that she travels. Because of those absences, Botsis works with her professors to plan in advance when she knows she’ll miss class. She works with them to gather class materials she’s missed, takes her work and textbook on the road with her, and takes every precaution to not fall behind while traveling.

Nothing that Botsis does is in a vacuum, though, and she makes sure she keeps the right people around her to keep her on task:

“Having a support system around me such as my coaches, my family back home, my friends and the kindness of my extended family in Connecticut has also helped tremendously in keeping me on track. I also credit iced coffee for helping to keep me awake!,” Botsis said.

With all the travel and extra training, most would crumble when it came to keeping up a GPA in a tough biomedical engineering program, but Botsis seems to thrive in all the chaos:

“My biggest accomplishments as a student at UConn have been making the Dean’s List over the past three years and earning the New England Scholar distinction this past fall. Both athletics and academics are important to me, so I strive to do the best that I can both in and out of the classroom,” Botsis said.

Out of the classroom, Botsis thrives as one of the top throwers in the United States and Canada. This summer, Botsis, a Canadian citizen, competed for Team Canada at the World University Games, placing 9thoverall, and the Canadian National Championships, winning a bronze medal. Two years ago, she competed at the Pan American Junior Track and Field Championships and placed 4thoverall.

Chanell Botsis competing during the World University Games in July 2019. (Contributed by Chanell Botsis)

 

For nearly every college athlete though, their careers come to a close at the end of their senior year, and Botsis has anticipated that fact, but still has a glimmer of hope for competing post-college:

“I want to make a difference in the lives of others. Through studying biomedical engineering I have become very interested in biomechanics and bioinstrumentation. In this way, I would love to have a career developing prosthetics, medical devices or surgical devices. As an athlete, I would like to continue to pursue my career and to qualify for international competitions and the Olympic Games.”

Author: Shor and Alpay Appointed Associate Deans For School of Engineering

(UConn School of Engineering)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

The UConn School of Engineering is proud to announce the appointment of Dr. Leslie Shor to the position of Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Research and the creation of a new position—Associate Dean for Research and Industrial Partnerships—which will be filled by Dr. Pamir Alpay.  In addition to this new role, Dr. Alpay will continue as the Executive Director of UConn Tech Park, reporting to Vice President for Research Radenka Maric. The dual role will allow Alpay to effectively lead engineering centers and initiatives in Tech Park.

“We are thrilled to have someone with Dr. Shor and Dr. Alpay’s experience taking the lead on our research development and industry relations. With their passion, strong backgrounds, and innovative thinking, I am excited for the future of our School,” Dean Kazem Kazerounian said.

Shor is an associate professor in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department, where she has served as a leader and an accomplished researcher since 2009. She also has a joint appointment as a graduate faculty member in the Environmental Engineering program and is an affiliated faculty in the Institute of Materials Science.  Prior to her tenure at UConn, she held various appointments at Vanderbilt University and received her Ph.D. from Rutgers University in 2002. 

Since arriving at UConn, Shor has secured over $5 million in research funding from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and several others. She has advised over 50 undergraduate and graduate students at UConn. Her research is in the development of engineered microbial habitats and the fate and transport of hydrophobic organic contaminants. Because of her leadership and academic strength, Shor was named a Dupont Young Professor, has been a finalist for a Connecticut Women of Innovation award, and has been an invited speaker for the National Academy of Engineering, Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium. She has nearly 100 peer-reviewed journal publications and conference proceedings.

Alpay is the Executive Director of UConn Tech Park, leading the University’s efforts to increase strategic partnerships with businesses in a state-of-the-art research and development facility. He is also the General Electric Professor in Advanced Manufacturing in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Alpay joined UConn’s MSE department in 2001 and served as its program director and subsequently as its department head from 2011 to 2017. He received his Ph.D. in 1999 from the University of Maryland. 

He is an elected member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE) and a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and the American Ceramic Society. He is the recipient of several awards including the NSF CAREER grant in 2001, the UConn School of Engineering Outstanding Junior Faculty Award in 2004, the UConn School of Engineering Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award in 2013 and the AAUP Excellence in Career Research and Creativity Award in 2018. Alpay has over 200 peer-reviewed journal publications and conference proceedings, four invited book chapters and a book on functionally graded ferroelectrics.

“Dr. Alpay’s new leadership role within the School of Engineering allows him to continue leading efforts to establish new industry partnerships and leverage the unparalleled capabilities available at Tech Park,” Dr. Radenka Maric, Vice President for Research at UConn and UConn Health said. “Having worked closely with industry partners throughout his career, I am confident that Dr. Alpay will continue to contribute to the University’s mission to support research, education, and economic development in the state.”

For more information on the School of Engineering’s leadership team, please visit:  https://www.engr.uconn.edu/about/leadership/.

Author: Summer Undergraduate Researcher Ian Sands ’20 (ENG)

Ian Sands ’20 (ENG) uses a device to characterize the size of nanoparticles in a lab at the Engineering Science Building on June 24, 2019. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

 

By: Mike Enright, UConn Communications

UConn’s Office of Undergraduate Research each year provides Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF) awards to support full-time undergraduate students in summer research or creative projects.

SURF awards are available to students in all majors at all UConn campuses. The students’ project proposals are reviewed by a faculty committee representing various schools and colleges, and SURF award recipients are chosen through a competitive process. Each SURF award winner is supervised by a UConn faculty member.

This summer, UConn Today will take a look at various SURF scholars and their work.

Name: Ian Sands
Year: Rising Senior
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Summer research project: Sands is researching nanoparticle drug delivery for the treatment of osteoarthritis in knee joints, and trying to reduce inflammation in the knee in order to stop the progression of cartilage deterioration. His faculty mentor is associate professor Yupeng Chen in the biomedical engineering department.

Sands, a native of West Newbury, Massachusetts, will continue research in the 2019-20 academic year as part of the UConn IDEA grant program, which awards funding to support student-designed and student-led projects. For his IDEA grant, he will work on penetrating neurons into microglial cells in the brain.

Why did you decide to apply for a SURF grant?
During my freshman and sophomore year, I took the standard engineering classes that most biomedical engineering students have to go through. However, a lot of my friends were pretty heavily research-driven and I always wanted to get into a specific lab that was geared towards my interest and my future career paths, which would be research in private industry or academia. I figured that instead of spending one of my summers working a typical summer job, I would see what opportunities UConn has to offer, and the SURF grant stood out as the number one option.

I applied for a SURF grant and an IDEA grant at same time, and got both of them in tandem. They are very similar in terms of their research goals and outcomes.

Click here to read more on UConn Today

Author: Common Steroid Could Soften Up Tumors for Chemo

(Image Courtesy of John Martin, University of Tokyo, and Matthew Stuber, UConn)

 

By: Kim Krieger, UConn Communications

A common drug used to alleviate side effects of cancer treatment may also make the treatment more successful if given beforehand, report a consortium of research institutions including the University of Connecticut.

Dexamethasone, a steroid often given to decrease swelling and nausea, and relieve side effects of chemotherapy treatments for cancer, may also enhance the effectiveness of the chemotherapy itself, the researchers reported in ACS Nano.

Cancerous tumors tend to grow abnormal blood vessels. Squished, twisted, and compressed, these blood vessels inside tumors also tend to be leaky. 

“This creates low pressure in the blood vessel, while the tumor tissue has high pressure. And you can’t flow from low to high pressure,” says Matthew Stuber, UConn assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering, and study author. The low pressure in the blood vessels makes it hard for the chemotherapy drugs to penetrate the interior of the tumor. 

Click here to read more on UConn Today 

Author: Meet John and Sue, The Pioneers of the Internet at UConn


John Marshall, one of the pioneers at UConn who established the internet on campus, shutting down the old server for good at the Information Technologies Engineering Building (ITE) on June 25, 2019. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

In a ceremony held at the end of June, in the Information Technologies Engineering Building, John Marshall stepped up to a computer, entered a short line of code, and shut down a server that served as the last known artifact linking the University of Connecticut to its earliest connections to the internet.

Marshall, who worked for the UConn School of Engineering from 1976-2009, served as the ceremonial shutdown appointee because of his role in originally setting up that server, and connecting UConn’s first users to the internet.

The story goes that when faculty members from the University of Connecticut Computer Science Department were clamoring for a connection to internet in the late 1980s, Marshall decided he had to take action.

With the internet in its infancy, and primarily used as a way to transmit emails and files between different users, only higher education institutions and government entities had allocated resources towards building the infrastructure needed to connect to this burgeoning technology, but UConn still hadn’t committed to the technology yet in the late 1980s.

Even so, Marshall made it his mission to serve the faculty within the School who were asking for access to it. So, on August 18, 1987, he went ahead and purchased the domain name that every faculty, staff, and student has encountered over the last 25 years—Uconn.edu.

Now, every email ends with the domain name “uconn.edu,” but back in 1987, when Marshall approached the “Computer Center,” the pre-cursor to today’s Information Technology Services department, about adopting the domain name campus-wide, he was met with reluctance:

“I remember first reaching out to the folks at the Computer Center to gauge their interest in using the domain and creating a larger network, but they responded by telling me that they couldn’t see a need for it at the time.”

Marshall said that the reluctance didn’t come from malice, but was based in an overall skepticism across the country about the internet as a viable and useful technology.

But, Marshall carried on and eventually connected the School to the internet through connections configured by the phone company, purchased several 19 kilobyte routers, set up an early email software called Sendmail, and created UConn’s first internet gateway and domain name server (DNS) which they called “brcgate.” This DNS was crucial, as it translated a computer’s  internet address, like mycomputer.mydepartment.edu to its numeric equivalent.  Sendmail then translated both incoming and outgoing messages so they could be sent into a specific mailbox.  In doing so, it contacts the name server to (for outgoing messages) to get the internet number of the computer it is to be sent to.

After that initial set-up, Marshall, as well as the School’s other network administrator Sue Lipsky, served as the support for Sendmail and the network configuration, and provided domain name services for the larger University when the Computer Center got requests to connect other users to the internet.

Lipsky said that in those first few months, when she went around training different departments on email, she got some initial disinterest and pushback:

“While John was setting up the infrastructure, I was spending a whole lot of time training faculty, but there was a lot of initial resistance,” Lipsky said. “A lot of people would come up to me and say things like ‘why can’t we just walk down the hall, why do we have to send an email?’” Ironically, those same people, within a year, were the biggest screamers when the system would go down.”

Lipsky said that, for several years, none of the other computers outside of the school used the network or UConn.edu domain, but used a separate system to connect called BITNET from IBM, and users of that service would have email addresses that ended in “UConn.Bitnet.Net.”

It wasn’t until a few years later, in the early 1990s that the University started to accelerate their commitment to the internet, by installing fiber optic lines underground and building its server infrastructure, in order to handle the new traffic brought on by the growing internet. Once those crucial steps were made, internet services were provided to the rest of the School of Engineering, as well as the entire campus. Later, in December 1996, UConn’s website, www.UConn.edu was launched, and over the past 20 years, UConn’s technology and infrastructure has become more and more complex.

But, in those early days, when they were building the initial infrastructure, Lipsky said that the process wasn’t easy or smooth:

“Needless to say, there were ups and downs throughout this process,” Lipsky said. “Fiber was accidently dug up at times and systems crashed, including the network devices and name servers.”

More than 32 years later though, Lipsky sees the internet at UConn, and in general, as a much more powerful tool than they could have ever envisioned in the early days:

“I absolutely hate shopping, and back 30 years ago I had to suck it up and drive to the store,” Lipsky said. “These days, I order a lot of stuff over the internet, and I think that capability, and all of the social media that I use, would be very hard to give up now.”

Author: UConn’s New HuskyJet Brings 3D Printing to the Next Level

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

Adding on to the myriad of equipment and capabilities of the University of Connecticut’s Tech Park, the UConn National Science Foundation (NSF) SHAP3D site, and its site director, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering Anson Ma, have acquired a state-of-the-art Pilot Scale industrial inkjet 3D-printer, appropriately named HuskyJet.

The versatile printer has a number of applications, which range from regular 2D graphics on paper, to creating flexible electronics, medicinal tablets, and green parts for ceramics and metals. The printer was funded by UConn’s Academic Plan and has already been leveraged for a number of projects, including a federally funded project from NextFlex – America’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute – of which UConn is a founding academic member.

In July 2018, UConn, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and the Georgia Institute of Technology launched a new collaboration named SHAP3D, an NSF-funded Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC), in order to address the emerging challenges in the additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing) process. The SHAP3D center aims to develop critical insight into the fundamental structure-processing-property relationships for the additive manufacturing industry which has exceeded $7.3 billion in 2018 and is expected to top $35.6 billion by 2024, according to a recent report.

The site, run by Ma and Materials Science and Engineering Professor Rainer Hebert, is primarily focused on 3D printing applications for the aerospace, shipbuilding, and biomedical applications—all major industries in the state of Connecticut.

How HuskyJet works is multi-faceted, and can be adjusted for many different parameters, including different inks, substrates and powders, and the strength of the ink stream, using three piezoelectric print heads.

The print job, whether it be for a 2D graphic or a medicinal tablet, is brought along the printer from left to right using a controlled, linear sled system. Near the end of the printing task, the object passes to a section of the printer that uses infrared and ultra-violet rays to perform both high-temperature processing and high-speed drying of the ink and additional solvents. At the very end of the process, the object is placed under a camera in order to review if there has been any printing error during the process.

The HuskyJet printer is also equipped with a drop watcher system, which gives the user the ability to test and measure the droplet volume, velocity, and trajectory of any new ink or substance to achieve optimal printing performance.  

For more information on the National Science Foundation SHAP3D center and NextFlex, please visit: https://www.uml.edu/research/shap3d/and https://www.nextflex.us/.

Author: A Q+A with Kevin Musco, Alumnus of the Engineering for Human Rights Initiative

(Photo courtesy of Kevin Musco)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

Launched in 2012, The Engineering for Human Rights Initiative between the School of Engineering and the UConn Human Rights Institute is an opportunity for engineering students to immerse themselves in the world of human rights, through research and classroom time, with a focus in risk management, climate resiliency, life-cycle analysis, impact assessment, and several other synergistic topic areas.

Kevin Musco, who graduated from the School of Engineering in May, with a dual degree in Electrical Engineering and Human Rights, shared why he joined the program, and how a focus in human rights can help engineers.

 

  1. Where did you hear about the program and why did you decide to pursue it?

At the conclusion of my first year at UConn, I realized that while engineering was an incredibly deep field of study, there were so many other disciplines to delve into. Picking up a minor in human rights made the most sense; it was as multidisciplinary as anything else offered, and I knew it was a hotbed issue in political and social spectrums.

  1. What kinds of classes did you take to fulfill the minor, and what kinds of learnings did you take away?

My first ever human rights course was “Assessment for Human Rights and Sustainability”, taught by Professor Shareen Hertel (ENGR/HRTS 3257). Being an engineering course, I expected it to similar to other math-heavy classes and require lots of formulas and problem sets. It ended up being rigorous in a totally different way; we learned about different environmental and social factors and how they were being tackled using a human rights framework. Professor Hertel and Professor Allison MacKay, from Ohio State University (the course was jointly taught live with OSU) spoke of various NGOs and other actors working to mitigate these issues.

After my exceptional experience in that joint course, I expanded my academic horizon to include business administration, philosophy, history, english, economics, film studies, and political science courses, all though a human rights lens. After a few semesters, I was so enamored with the study that I declared a dual degree, and it was truly one of the best decisions I made during my undergraduate career at UConn.

  1. When did you graduate and what degree did you graduate with?

I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts in Human Rights, both in May 2019.

  1. Where are you currently working and why did you decide to pursue law school?

I considered entering the engineering job market immediately out of undergrad, but after careful consideration I realized that service would better align with my ultimate career goals. My plan is to attend law school starting in the Fall of 2020, and my gap year will be spent working directly with students in underserved schools in Miami, Florida with City Year through Americorps. For the moment, I’m spending my days studying for the LSAT, which I’ll take on July 15th.

Law school has always been of interest, as I have a few cousins who are practicing attorneys. However, the interest became a solidified goal when I took Constitutional Rights and Liberties with Professor Virginia Hettinger last Fall. We studied landmark Supreme Court cases and their subsequent impacts on American society, which opened my eyes to the pivotal effects judges can have, and sitting on a federal bench immediately became my career goal.

  1. A lot of people don’t necessarily equate human rights considerations with engineering. How are the two subjects relevant to each other and in what ways can an engineer integrate human rights into their day-to-day work?

This is a challenging question to answer. I think most people familiar with engineering would consider a formal study of it to be almost entirely vocational; they might see it as a means to an end (obtaining a job). But with human rights, there is no jointly associated profession that immediately comes to mind. Rather, a study of human rights truly changes one’s subconscious to ask more questions of the world around us and how we effect it.

These sorts of questions arise all the time, but can be to engineering problems related to the environment (“Is the component I’m designing going to be manufactured in a particularly hazardous way?”), manufacturing (“Are there companies in my supply chain which use unethical labor practices, such as child labor?”), cybersecurity, global health, access to electricity, and so much more.

Some may counter that it is not the role of a practical engineer to care about these sorts of larger issues, but I would contend that ​all​ engineers are working to better humanity, no matter how far-fetched it may seem. Regardless, a human rights education forces the learner to approach their world from a very broad perspective, and I believe this change in mindset could have a huge impact on future innovation.

  1. As a future lawyer, there will be a lot of human rights considerations to think about during your career. How do you plan to integrate learnings from your human rights major into the profession?

For me, studying human rights has increased my ability to view people, cultures, and places previously unfamiliar in a much more objective manner. We all form biases based on our unique experiences, but I believe there is great value in approaching certain topics without a mindset full of emotion and preconceived notions. Of course, emotion serves a very important purpose; it is a mechanism by which we earn trust, gain respect, and prove our interest in something. But too much emotion can cause us to be short sighted and narrow minded, especially when we attempt to engage with people of differing backgrounds.

In relation to law, I strongly believe that my human rights education will strengthen my ability to represent clients. People are immensely complicated, and finding solutions to problems where multiple parties are in dispute requires an ability to look both narrowly and broadly at the information presented, which my education has sharpened.

  1. Why is human rights as a field, in general, a good thing to study and engage with?

The field of human rights offers something for everyone. For those who currently study the natural or applied sciences, concepts from human rights can be applied to “humanize” subjects which otherwise lack a prominent social aspect. People who are more interested in the humanities or social sciences can broaden their mental horizons and apply their work to this relatively new and rapidly developing field. Regardless, all who engage with human rights in an academic sense will have an advantage in modern political discussion, as universal rights will undoubtedly come up during the election process.

 

For more information on the Engineering for Human Rights Initiative, please visit: https://engineeringforhumanrights.uconn.edu.

Author: Mechanical Engineering Keney Clock Tower Senior Design Project, Fox 61

 

The 130-foot-tall Keney Memorial Clock Tower sat silent and immobile for a number of years, the hands on its four clock faces no longer turning and its bells no longer sounding the hours from the small park at the intersection of Albany Avenue and Main Street, just north of downtown Hartford.

The historic tower’s original chimes are now ringing again, though, through a partnership with the City of Hartford, the nonprofit Friends of Keney Park and Keney Park Sustainability Project, the UConn Office of Service Learning Initiatives, and the UConn School of Engineering’s Mechanical Engineering Senior Design program.

Author: A Q+A With Dr. Sarira Motaref, 2019 Distinguished Engineering Educator Awardee

Dr. Motaref (left) receives her award from Associate Dean Dan Burkey (right) in a ceremony held during Senior Design Demonstration Day in May 2019. (UConn Engineering Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

In the inaugural year of it’s existence, the University of Connecticut School of Engineering Distinguished Engineering Educator Award has been awarded to Dr. Sarira Motaref, an associate professor-in-residence and assistant director of faculty development in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. Since 2011, when she came to UConn as a postdoctoral researcher, Motaref has been beloved by the hundreds of students that she has interacted with. In this Q+A, Motaref talks about her background and her tricks of the trade when it comes to educating the next generation of engineers.

 

1) How long have you been at UConn and where were you before?

I was a Ph.D. student in Reno, Nevada from 2007 to 2011. I received my Ph.D. in Civil engineering. My Ph.D. dissertation was on Seismic design of precast bridge columns during my study.

I joined UConn in September 2011 as a postdoctoral fellow and worked under the supervision of Dr. Richard Christenson on a project called “Bridge Weigh in Motion.” I had the opportunity to teach course of Mechanics of Materials in Fall 2012 while I was a postdoc. I loved teaching and received positive feedback from student evaluations of teaching in that semester. I got hired by UConn as an assistant professor-in-residence in the fall of 2013.

 

2) After winning this award, could you tell us some of your secrets and techniques that you employ in the classroom that lead to student success?

 I use flipped delivery mode in my classes. That means our class activities are switched (flipped) compared to a traditional class. My lectures videos are available in HuskyCT 24/7 and from the 1st day of class. Students need to watch the videos before each class. We have discussion about real life applications of engineering topics, solve problems individually or in a team of students, and complete homework partially during class. My students practice sample exam problems within specified times as a team. It helps them to learn working in team, collaborate with other peers, compromise and apply their knowledge towards solving an engineering problem.

 

3) Did you have a mentor that inspired you to go into teaching and shaped you into the educator you are today?

 Yes, I have had two role models during my undergraduate education (Mr. Zandi) and graduate education (Dr. Saiid Saiidi) who inspired me and showed me the characteristics of a good educator. I learned from them that an instructor needs to have an extensive comprehension of the topic before going to the class, needs to plan his/her teaching steps, be organized, care about students and be approachable.

I have also learned many techniques by attending different teaching workshops. I have implemented each technique little by little in my classes and tailored my teaching by carefully considering students’ feedback in my future teaching.

 

4) Why did you decide to go into engineering? Was there a specific moment in your life that sparked your interest?

My love for engineering is rooted in my passion for mathematics. I had a pretty strong background in math when I was in high school (in my home country, Iran). I chose a math discipline in high school that had a clear path towards select engineering majors in college.

I was lucky to get accepted into the civil engineering discipline in college, as I loved this major from the very beginning. I was able to see application of my knowledge in structures, bridges, roads, and environmental infrastructure.

 

5) After nearly eight years here you’ve taught hundreds, if not thousands of students. What is your impression of the undergraduates at UConn Engineering? Do they make you excited for the future of engineering?

I truly enjoy teaching our undergraduate students. I really want to see their success in my class and later in their career. I make sure to offer my students all available resources to prepare them for the real engineering problems that they face in the future.

I remind them about importance of ethics and liability. Our little mistakes in design may result in disasters that can endanger people’s lives.

I get excited when I hear my from my students who have continued their studies in graduate school, or are performing in high-level positions at well-known companies.

Author: Nearly 95% of UConn Engineering Class of 2018 Employed or in Grad School

Class of 2018 at commencement in May of 2018. (UConn School of Engineering Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

In a sign of a hot market for engineers, recent data from the University of Connecticut Center for Career Development reveals that 2018 UConn Engineering grads had a 92 percent positive career outcomes rate six months after graduation—over six percent higher than the national average.

The positive outcomes rate, calculated by adding together the percentage of students employed (70 percent), continuing their education (20 percent), serving in the U.S. Armed Forces (0.8 percent), and participating in volunteer service (0.2 percent), provides a barometer for the in-demand nature of engineering skills. This is solidified further by the fact that of the Class of 2018 students surveyed, only one percent responded that they aren’t seeking employment or continuing their education.

Of the 70 percent registering that they had secured a job, many were hired by some of the top- hiring engineering companies in the state and the country, such as Electric Boat, Pratt & Whitney, and Lockheed Martin.

But interestingly enough, a third of the companies hiring UConn Engineering graduates were Fortune 500 companies in the financial and insurance industries, which included Travelers, Cigna, and Fidelity. According to a recent article from consulting company EY, insurance companies are going through a massive digital transformation, which includes integrating blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, and warding off cyberattacks from outside hackers.

Another study, from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, confirms the national need for graduating engineering majors, with several of the top, in-demand undergraduate degrees falling in an engineering disclipline, according to data collected in the fall of 2018. In the year before that, the top majors list had no engineering representation.

For more information on career statistics for the School, as well as the University, please visit the UConn CCD at: https://career.uconn.edu.

Author: When It Comes to Your Health, Sweat is the Magic Elixir

Yingzheng Fan (left), a Ph.D. student in Baikun Li’s Bioenergy Group, holds the current wearable design, while Li (center), and Ph.D. student Tianbao Wang (right) study it from afar. (Christopher LaRosa/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

It’s estimated that in the United States, the personal healthcare devices market has become a $300 billion industry, and encompasses everything from glucose-monitoring devices to Apple Watches.

The biggest problem for the industry, though, is the number of devices needed to monitor each piece of health data, and the consumer unavailability of more advanced data metrics.

But, Baikun Li, a University of Connecticut environmental engineering professor, might have a solution to that problem, and it comes from a very common bodily fluid—sweat.

A wearable device that monitors your health through your sweat, Li says, opens up the user to a bevy of physiological information that modern wearable devices aren’t able to:

“One of the biomarkers we can test for through human sweat is chloride, which is a health indicator for your lungs, ” Li said. “If your sweat contains a high amount of chloride, then that’s a major indicator of fibrosis, or scarred and damaged lung tissue.”

Li said that while using sweat as a means to monitor health has been studied before, the novelty of her device lies in the ability to integrate millimeter-sized sensors, printed using inkjet technology, onto ultra-thin polyimide films, which will measure major biomarkers, including glucose and lactate levels, electrolytes, and skin temperature. Additionally, the device will use the individual’s lactate, produced from sweat, to power a flat enzyme-lactate biobattery, allowing the team to ditch traditional re-chargeable batteries.

The wearable sensor system measures only millimeters thick, and features a flexible design. (Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

Funding for the development of the prototype was provided by The BioScience Pipeline program, a grant program sponsored by Connecticut Innovations. The BioScience Pipeline program was founded in September 2015 to enhance biomedical commercialization by providing milestone-based funding of up to $30,000 per project. In its fourth award round, this $500,000 per year pilot program provides critical funding to interdisciplinary ventures for business strategy, market definition, and prototyping activities. Awarded projects were selected based on their potential to create economic value and transform human health.

And transforming human health and creating economic value it will, says Li. According to her and her team’s research, the fully integrated milli-electrode array has an unbeatable advantage over existing sensors, which can only measure a single biomarker, and the full device can provide solutions for initial diagnostic screening that can be more cost-effective and less time consuming.

“Our short-term goal is to test this in a hospital setting, but in five or six years from now, we can see this available right on the shelf of your corner drug store”

Li said that her and her students are currently working on a couple of different issues, which includes getting the biobatteries to be less bulky:

“In order to power the whole device, it takes about one volt of energy, which can’t be done through just one biobattery, you’d have to stack multiple batteries to get your desired output,” Li said. “While we’ve been able to do that, the problem exists in the bulkiness of stacking batteries, which isn’t good for a wearable device.”

Li said that currently no one in the world has been able to figure out how to stack biobatteries in a way that would make them completely flat, so she said that’s been a roadblock.

But, what Li is proud about is how much cross-discipline collaboration has occurred during the process of developing the device, and how much she has expanded her research horizons:

“My interest in this research goes back to my Ph.D., when I was working with microelectrode sensors for monitoring of wastewater,” Li said. “When I came to UConn in 2006, I teamed up with Dr. Yu Lei in Chemical Engineering, who introduced me to inkjet printing and miniature flat sensors, which launched me into a completely new area of research.”

In addition to colleagues in UConn’s Chemical Engineering department, Li said she has been working with colleagues in the Electrical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry and Kinesiology departments. 

For more information on The Bioscience Pipeline program, please visit: http://biopipelinect.org.

Author: Come Explore Engineering at the UConn School of Engineering This Summer

(Christopher Larosa/UConn School of Engineering)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

Throughout the summer, students in middle school and high school will get the unique chance to immerse themselves in the world of engineering through two interactive programs: Spark and Explore Engineering.

Explore Engineering, a five-day program for students currently in 10thand 11thgrade, allows participants to reside on campus, gives the students a glimpse into what engineers do in the workplace, and introduces them to key engineering concepts. During the evenings, through the YESS Program, students focus on a single engineering discipline by fabricating a discipline-specific device. The week wraps up with demonstrations of items the students created during the week. Examples have included: rudimentary EKG devices, Smart Lego vehicles that can follow a trail, fuel cell and other energy efficient devices, wooden bridges, environmentally friendly processes, and how to resolve differences.

When students are attending departmental activities during the day, they will be participating in both lecture and hands-on experiment-based activities run by the department’s professors andgraduate assistants. Throughout the day, students will also learn from constant interactions with their counselor, who is a current UConn Engineering undergraduate.

Spots for this camp are filling up fast, but interested parties have until June 10 to claim their spot in either the session from June 16-June 20 or June 23-June 27. To apply for financial aid, applicants should check off that they wish to be considered for financial aid on the application form and then email the documents to engr-explore@uconn.edu (make sure any confidential information is redacted on the documents sent). For more information, or to reserve your spot, please visit: http://edoc.engr.uconn.edu/explore-engineering/.

SPARK, a six-day program for  7th-10thgrade girls, also allows participants to reside on campus, immerses them in specific engineering disciplines, such as coding and robotics, and pairs them with female undergraduate mentors, who provide a positive influence on their future career path as an engineer.

During the day, all of the participants will work on various projects, and during the night, the students will participate in fun activities like movie nights, trips to the Dairy Bar, and an interactive STEM night.

Each week during the four sessions has a different theme, and they are as follows:

  • Coding (July 7 – 13): Design apps, make circuits, and learn to apply programming to control the world around you
  • Underwater Robotics (July 14 – 20): Explore mechanics while building and testing an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV)
  • Designing and Flying Drones (July 21 – 27): Apply principals of material science, 3D printing, and chemistry to make a drone fly
  • Engineering Through the Ages (July 28 – August 3): Explore the past and present while building a more sustainable city for the future

The deadline for enrollment is June 17, and applicants must be a current 6th – 9th grade female student during the 2018 – 2019 school year.  Applicants who are not in the grade range but are interested in the program are encouraged to apply to be placed on the waiting list. To apply for financial aid, applicants should check off that they wish to be considered for financial aid on the application form and then email the documents to engr-explore@uconn.edu (make sure any confidential information is redacted on the documents sent). For more information, or to reserve your spot, please visit: http://edoc.engr.uconn.edu/spark/.

Author: In Memoriam: Clement D. Zawodniak

(Image courtesy of Pixabay)

 

After being blessed with a good life filled with an abundance of love, laughter and happiness, Clement D. Zawodniak, P.E., 88, of Wethersfield, beloved husband for 61 years of Jacqueline (Falivene) Zawodniak, passed away peacefully at Hartford Hospital on Monday, February 25, 2019. Born in Torrington on October 9, 1930, he was the son of the late Clement J. and Mary C. (Waskiewicz) Zawodniak. When Clem was six years old, he lost his father in a workplace accident. Fortunately, he had a strong family support system to guide him and he graduated with honors from Torrington High in 1948. Thanks to the encouragement and financial support of his sister Eleanor and her husband Fred Monti, Clem earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering with High Honors from the University of Connecticut (Class of 1952). Clem obtained a master’s degree from the University of Illinois (Class of 1953) and then served proudly in the United States Army during the Korean War. Clement worked as a Civil Engineer in Boston, Massachusetts and then for the Connecticut Department of Transportation, retiring in 1992 after 28 years. His last position for CTDOT was Head of Bridge Design and Structures.

Clem was a kind man, who had a sharp mind, terrific memory, enjoyed the company of family and friends, traveled throughout the world and always hoped for ‘clement’ weather. He was a firm believer in education, and bled blue and white as a fan of all things UCONN. A loving husband, father and grandfather, he will be forever missed by his devoted wife Jacqueline; three sons, Christopher Zawodniak and wife Margaret, Bruce Zawodniak and wife Bernadette and Brian Zawodniak and wife Ryley and his six adored grandchildren Alex, Adrianna, Sarah, Erik, Rebecca and Zoey; and in-laws, Jeanette Bergonzi, Karen and Paul Egliskis, Peter and Kathy Falivene and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by three sisters, Eleanor Monti, Bernice Kost and Dorothy Zawodniak.

A Funeral Mass will be held on Saturday (June 8) at 10 a.m. at Christ the King Parish (Corpus Christi Church), 601 Silas Deane Highway, Wethersfield. Burial with military honors will follow at Village Cemetery, 1 Marsh Street, Wethersfield. In lieu of flowers, donations to a Civil Engineering Scholarship in Clement’s memory may be made to The UCONN Foundation Inc., 2390 Alumni Drive U-3206, Storrs, CT 06269. To share a memory of Clement with his family, please visit www.desopofuneralchapel.com.

Author: And The 2019 Senior Design Winners Are….

(Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

After a year’s worth of sleepless nights, highs-and-lows, and bated anticipation, 236 Senior Design groups proudly stood by their projects at one of the most anticipated School of Engineering events of the year—Senior Design Demonstration Day.

With over 800 senior University of Connecticut School of Engineering undergraduate students participating, projects this year ranged from an autonomous firefighting drone, to a cloud-based smart storage system for a local aerospace manufacturer.

Each of the projects presented at the Demonstration Day, sponsored by more than 100 organizations, provide students with extensive hands-on experience, and an opportunity to work on real-world problems presented by sponsoring organizations. Sponsors invest time and resources, and work in-depth with their individual groups and consulting faculty members to create innovative solutions that are often integrated back into their organization.

The sponsoring organizations, which span the public and private sectors, include companies like Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky, General Dynamics Electric Boat, Comcast ,and governmental organizations like the City of Hartford, the Town of Wethersfield, NASA and the Connecticut Department of Transportation.  

During the day, students present to faculty, staff, industry sponsors, and guests, with a team of judges on hand to determine the winners from every department. Below are the 2019 awardees from each department (faculty advisor in parentheses):

Biomedical Engineering

First Place 
Team 6, “Mechanical Assay for the Evaluation of Breast Cancer Pharmaceuticals”

Members: Krishna Dixit, Zoe Moscato, Quinn Shields (Dr. Kazunori Hoshino)

 Second Place
Team 4, “Intravascular Hemorrhage Control Device for Trauma to the lliac Arteries”

Members: Kyle Bystrianyk, Samuel Ganem, Bennett Propp, Robert Silverman, Paige Woods (Dr. Ki Chon)

Third Place

Team 27, “DST Series EEA Stapler Staple Line Wound Protector”

Members: Jeffrey Baroody, Kenneth Berkery, Eric D’Souza (Dr. Bin Feng)

Honorable Mention

Team 26, “Multifactorial Clavicle Plate Design and Strength Analysis”

Members: Sayan Basu, Danielle Caefer, Devin Finnerty (Dr. Krystyna Gielo-Perczak)

 

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

First Place
Team 19, “Tumor on a Chip”

Members: Ugne Kirvelevicius, Kush Kumar, John Pettersen, Albert Tuli IV (Dr. Mu-Ping Nieh)

Second Place
Team 18, “Spatial Atomic Layer Deposition Fluid Modeling for Thermal Glass Applications”

Members: Howie Craig, Tori Danis, Alex Oliveira, John Yao (Dr. Brian Willis)

Third Place

Team 15, “Reduction of Pt Loading in PEM Electrolyzers using RSDT”

Members: Patrick Mascoli, Soha Nadeem, Andrea Naranjo Soledad (Dr. Radenka Maric)

 Honorable Mention

 Team 14, “Optimal Design of a Sustainable Intensified Food Production System”

 Members: Alberto Aguillon, Shaylin Cetegen, Alanna Gado (Dr. Matthew Stuber)

Honorable Mention

Team 11, “Modeling the Fluidization of Carbon Black for Post-Production Treatment”

 Members: Keith Loureiro, Jimi McLellan, Ian Puckette, Kamil Wielechowski (Dr. George Bollas)

 

Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Place 

Team 22 (Civil), “National Chromium Site Remediation”

Members: Cameron Criniti, Caleb Erhard, Trenton Kowalec, Robin Rittgers (Dr. Nefeli Bompoti)

 

Team 4 (Environmental), “Quantum Biopower FOG Treatment”

Members: Donald Curtiss, Aaron Golab (Dr. Baikun Li)

 

Second Place
Team 10 (Civil), “Fenton River Embankment Improvement”

Members: Cameron Criniti, Caleb Erhard, Trenton Kowalec, Robin Rittgers (Dr. Lanbo Liu)

 

Team 6 (Environmental), “Remediation of an Oil Terminal Site”

Members: Daniel Zeigher, Jennifer Mulqueen, Katie Katrichis (Dr. Amine Dahmani)

 

Third Place

Team 5 (Civil), “Traffic Sign Replacement Strategy and Intersection Design”

Members: Daniel Terach, Gavin Metsack, Ben Jednak, Michael Pagano (Dr. Nicholas Lownes)

 

Team 3 (Environmental), “National Chromium Site Remediation”

Members: Ian Adomeit, Tony Arreaga, Ginger Turner, Sikai Zheng (Dr. Nefeli Bompoti)

 

Computer Science and Engineering

First Place
Team 26, “Secure Embedded Architecture for the 1042 Processer”

Members: Brandon Renick, Cameron Morris, Killian Greene, Jacob Boislard (Dr. Bing Wang)

 

Second Place
Team 37, “Predictive Maintenance through Digitalization of Manufacturing Indictors”

Members: Nathan Hom, Mike Marandino, Kyle Berry, and Jon Simonin (Dr. Song Han, Dr. Mousumi Roy)

 

Third Place
Team 3, “Synchrony Financial Voice Experience”

Members: Mariem Ouni, Richie Viscardi, Fitch Spencer, and Zachary Galica (Dr. Yufeng Wu)

 

Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Place
Team 1915, “Electromagnetic Expulsion of a Cylindrical Body from an Outer Tube”

Members: Christian Corwel, Stevan Webb, George Zoghbi (Dr. Abhishek Dutta)

 

Second Place
Team 1901, “Autonomous Firefighting Helicopter”

Members: Ryan Heilemann, Kerry Jones, Joshua Steil (Dr. Ashwin Dani)

 

Third Place
Team 1914, “Implantable Glucose Sensor Communication System”

Members: Luke Boylan, Jack Davidson, Abhi Patni (Dr. John Chandy)

 

Honorable Mention

 Team 1910, “Real-time and Secure Wireless Systems based on Software Defined Radio”

 Members: Nicholas Cacace, Md Islam, Anam Qureshi (Dr. Shengli Zhou)

 

Honorable Mention

Team 1918, “Analysis of Constrained Pockets in the Transmission System”

 Members: Benjamin Albano, Noah Gonzalez, Tara Stokes (Dr. Peng Zhang)

 

 

Management and Engineering for Manufacturing

First Place (tie)
Team 2, “Logistics VNA Material Movement Analysis”

Members: Kenneth Jordan, Victoria Marino, Zeen Zhang (Dr. Mousumi Roy)

 and

Team 6, “WickAway Smart Automatic Candle Extinguisher”

Members: Max Aronow, Justin Cooper, Ray Fagan (Dr. Liang Zhang)

 

Third Place (tie)
Team 7, “Cost and Risk Analysis for Nano-coating Process of PEM Electrolyzers”

Members: Suzana Amaral, Omkar Patil (Dr. Craig Calvert)

and

Team 8, “IoT for Predictive Maintenance”

Members: Nathan Hom, Mike Marandino (Dr. Mousumi Roy and Dr. Song Han)

 

Materials Science and Engineering

First Place
Team 13, “Design of a Machine Learning Algorithm to Design/Discover Layered Materials for Battery Applications”

Members: Hetal Patel (Dr. Avinash Dongare)

 

Second Place
Team 9, “Post-Processing Heat Treatments of Additively Manufactures Aluminum Alloy, AlSi10Mg”

Members: Beril Tonyali, Avery Gray, Lara Huapaya Royas (Dr. Seok-Woo Lee)

 

Third Place (tie)
Team 12, “Compression Molding of Carbon Block Filters”

Members: Iwona Wrobel, Jordan Gomes, Linghao Li (Dr. Stefan Schaffoener)

 and

Team 4, “Sheet Metal Properties and their Effects on Deep Drawing”

Members: Grace Quinlan, Steven Kha, Joao Carlos Barbosa (Dr. Lesley Frame)

 

Mechanical Engineering

First Place
Team 19, “Design of a Proportional Flow Valve”

Members: Luke Nichols, Ben Swartzell, Vincent Zhang (Dr. Chenyu Cao)

 

Second Place
Team 46, “Automated Positioning System to Take High Precision Measurements on a Radio Frequency Filter”

Members: Bobby Bickley, Jonathon Jacobs, Matthew Kramer (Dr. Bryan Weber)

 

Third Place (tie)
Team 60, “Design, Development and Fabrication of a Right Sized Flat Pattern Laser Cutter”

Members: Eli Gates, Leah Morasutti, Michelle Reinert, Zeke Pare (Dr. Vito Moreno)

and 

Team 62, “Alternative Cable Fatigue Testing Machine”

Members: Ted Blake, Steve LoPresti, Guillermo Mercado (Dr. David M. Pierce)

 

Professor’s Award (tie)
Team 3, “Analysis and Optimization of a High-Speed Catamaran Airboat”

Members: Connor McNaboe, Andrew Yin (Dr. Georgios Matheou)

and 

Team 57, “Surface Finish Impact on Heat Transfer and Pressure Drop for Additively Manufactured Fins”

Members: Katrina Awad, Vincent Chen, Justin Longton (Dr. Chih-Jen Sung)

 

For more information on the Senior Design Program, please visit our website: https://seniordesign.engr.uconn.edu.

Author: 2019 UConn Academy of Distinguished Engineers Inductees Speak About Road Blocks, Adversity

All thirteen 2019 UConn Academy of Distinguished Engineers pose for a photo in the Student Union after the event. (Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

Flanked by former professors, close family and friends, and members of the engineering community, 13 accomplished engineers took to the stage for their formal induction into the University of Connecticut Academy of Distinguished Engineers.

The Academy, which has inducted 236 total members since its inception in 2003, honors School of Engineering alumni and Connecticut engineers whose careers have been characterized by their sustained and exemplary contributions to the engineering profession through research, practice, education, policy or service. Members are individuals who bring enduring honor to their alma mater as practitioners and as citizens.

This year, the inductees hailed from academia, aerospace, and even included an administrative patent judge for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

That judge, the Honorable Jean R. Homere, who graduated with a B.S. in electrical engineering in 1993, said during his induction speech that he was initially cast aside as a child and labeled a “slow learner”:

“As a child growing up in Haiti, I had very little interests, and was cast aside as a slow learner, until my elementary school teacher and my cousin found out that my performance was due to lack of guidance and structure in my life,” Homere said. “They took me under their wings and taught me that with hard work and discipline, there is nothing that I couldn’t achieve.”

A similar path was experienced by another inductee, GE Appliances President and CEO Kevin Nolan, who said that he dreamed of coming to UConn and getting a degree in engineering, but wasn’t the best student:

“When I first applied to UConn, I didn’t get in. But, I actually give credit to UConn, because I don’t think I would have let myself in either,” Nolan said. “When I eventually transferred here, it felt like home, and it was the first place where people had faith that I could be a good student.”

In addition to Nolan and Homere, 11 other inductees shared their stories of highs and lows. Those 13 inductees to the 2019 Academy class are as follows:

Diane E. Cavuoto ’87, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain at CTS Engines.

-Thomas P. Filburn (B.S. ’80, M.S. ’86, M.S. 2001, Ph.D. ’03), MPE Group Liaison at United Technologies Corp.

David U. Furrer, Service Award, Senior Fellow Discipline Lead for Pratt & Whitney.

Alison E. Gotkin, Service Award, Associate Director of Strategic Business Development at United Technologies Research Center.

Jean R. Homere ’93, Administrative Patent Judge for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Benjamin S. Hsiao (M.S. ’84, Ph.D. ’87), Distinguished Professor in Chemistry at Stony Brook University.

Philip W. Moreschi ’78, Partner at Fuss & O’Neil.

Kevin F. Nolan ’89, President and CEO of GE Appliances.

Raymond V. Petniunas ’67, Founder of Utility Resource Consulting, Inc

Vijaya Raghavan (M.S. ’94, Ph.D. ’96), Director of Engineering at MathWorks

Mark D. Rolfe ’83, Chief Engineer at the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

Edgar B. Sweet ’80, Director of Regulatory Compliance and Integrity at Novara GeoSolutions and the CHA Group of Companies.

Matthew D. Teicholz (B.S. ’06, M.S. ’08), Program Chief Engineer at Pratt & Whitney.

For more information on our Academy of Distinguished Engineers, please visit: https://www.engr.uconn.edu/academy-profile/.

Author: Senior Design Journey 2019: Reimagining Wheelchair Design, Part 2

Mitchell DuBuc (foreground) monitors Anders Waldo’s (background) EMG sensor readings while testing the RoWheels. (Christopher LaRosa/UConn Photo)

 

This article is part of a multi-part series on engineering students, and their journey through Senior Design. Click here to read part 1 of this article series.

By: Ryley McGinnis, Student Written Communications Specialist, UConn School of Engineering

Coming close to the finish line of their Senior Design journey, the biomedical engineering team of Mitchell DuBuc, James Welch and Alex Draper are finding out that the real-world of engineering is more stressful than their engineering education.

The team is testing a new type of wheelchair wheels called Rowheels, which use a pull motion to go forward. In a traditional wheelchair, the user pushes to go forward and pulls to go backward. In the new pull wheelchair, users do the complete opposite and pull to go forward and push to go backward.

Under the advisement of Professor Krystyna Gielo-Perczak, the team is putting these wheels to the test. RoWheels have passed laboratory tests and applications, but this Senior Design team is testing these wheels in real-life applications.

However, the team faced major time constraints in their testing, which threw a wrench in their original plans.

The reason for the time constraints centered on the longer-than-anticipated approval process from the Institutional Review Board (IRB), leaving them only enough time to test on three people: DuBuc, Draper (as a control to see what muscles are activated for someone who isn’t wheelchair-bound) and DuBuc’s roommate, Anders Waldo ‘20 (CLAS), who also uses a manual wheelchair.

“That’s definitely my biggest regret, I just wish we had more time for testing,” said Draper.

DuBuc echoed the same sentiment and added that any Senior Design team that needs to conduct testing should definitely start the IRB process much earlier in order to avoid these obstacles.

“Once we got approval on March 26, we immediately sent out recruiting info to UConn’s Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) and the UConn Daily Digest,” said DuBuc, “But, there are only five people on campus who reported to CSD that they used a manual wheelchair, including myself and my roommate.”

Draper (back) and DuBuc (right) test out the RoWheels as part of their Senior Design project with Waldo (left). Photo by Christopher Larosa.

 

They haven’t heard from the other three possible people, and they said they’ve accepted that they’re just going to have a limited sample.

However, the time constraints haven’t tainted their excitement for the project overall.

“We’ve been working on this project for about a year now and being able to collect the information and test our assumptions is exciting,” said DuBuc.

The team’s original hypothesis was that the Rowheels’ pulling motion would activate bigger muscles, like larger back muscles, and therefore prevent shoulder impingement that conventional wheels cause. They found that while this may be true in some cases, it really depends on the user’s type of disability and the muscles they have control of.

For DuBuc, who is paralyzed from the mid-spine down, the Rowheels didn’t activate the muscles they thought it would.

“Since I don’t have complete function of the bigger back muscles, we found that the body compensated to use more of the upper back muscles,” said DuBuc. He went on to say that this could possibly cause even more shoulder impingement.

“The testing showed us that it’s more complicated than just saying the Rowheels are better,” said DuBuc. “You can’t really make a blanket statement, it depends on the individual’s level of disability.”

The team said they hope that more people will continue testing the Rowheels so that they can eventually become a part of the physical therapy diagnosis process.  

“After part one of this story came out, a lot of people reached out saying they didn’t know about these wheels,” said Draper, “and that just lends itself to why we are evaluating these methods and how important it is to get the word out there.”

If the project were to be picked up by another team or professionals, Draper said that getting more testing done is crucial to see more trends and how it could actually apply to the field.

The team will finish up the project and prepare their final reports in time for Senior Design Demonstration Day on May 3, and they said they are honestly ready for it to be over.

“Even though we haven’t presented yet, just knowing that I’ll be done soon is a huge weight off my shoulders,” said Draper.

This team, along with over 230 others, will be presenting their final projects in person on Senior Design Demonstration Day, which will occur on May 3, from 1-4 p.m. in Gampel Pavillion. For more information on the program, please visit: https://seniordesign.engr.uconn.edu.

Author: UConn in Top 10 Worldwide for Biological Data Research Output

UConn tied for ninth-place with Princeton for research output in the fields of bioinformatics and computational biology, according to CSRankings. (Getty Images)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

According to CSRankings, an organization which compiles a metrics-based rankings of the top computer science programs in the world, the University of Connecticut ranks among the top 10 when it comes to research output in the fields of bioinformatics and computational biology.

Tied for ninth place with Princeton University, UConn ranked in the top 10 with other powerhouse research institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. More specifically, the rankings calculate the total amount of publications submitted and presented at top bioinformatics and computational biology conferences around the United States and beyond in the past decade.

Kazem Kazerounian, dean of the UConn School of Engineering, says the ranking is a reflection of the talent assembled in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

“The School of Engineering has a very strong roster of faculty in computer science and engineering, with a high level of scholarship and innovation,” he says. “This ranking only further solidifies our standing as one of the top schools in the country for research.”

In addition to the research coming from the department as a whole, the School of Engineering is home to several centers in the field of cybersecurity, including the Center for Voting Technology Research, a partnership with the Connecticut Secretary of State’s Office; Centers of Excellence with Synchrony and Comcast; and Altschuler Cybersecurity Lab, UConn’s first cybersecurity instructional lab, which is scheduled to open this summer.

Radenka Maric, vice president for research at UConn and UConn Health, notes that the rankings speak to the research innovation happening in the University’s computer science and engineering department:

“These rankings speak to the preeminence of UConn researchers in computer science and engineering, both on the national and international stage,” she says. “Their innovative research leads to technologies that help our community as well as our economy. This is a major milestone to be celebrated.”

For more information on UConn’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering, visit: https://www.cse.uconn.edu.

Author: 10% Discount Offered to Alumni Looking to Advance Their Education

 

(Christopher LaRosa/UConn Photo)

 

The UConn School of Engineering Professional Education (PE) program gives engineers the ability to pursue a master’s level degree in several engineering concentrations, to improve their skills in cutting-edge subject areas through our advanced engineering certificates and our Master of Engineering degrees.

According to PE Director Kylene Perras, “We want to help working engineers remain current, garnering skills that are applicable for their career. Data shows that along with time and dollars invested towards lifelong learning, this yields higher salaries, career advancement and personal gratification.” That’s why the PE program created a new alumni discount*, a 10% reduction off of the program’s fees for alumni who do not have company sponsored tuition reimbursement policies. “We are encouraging alumni to come back after graduation and earn an advanced degree with us — online and distance learning through the Professional Education programs.

Designed for working professional engineers who want to earn a master degree without work day interruptions, the PE program combines technical and engineering professional development courses. Alumni will enjoy top-tier teaching that’s relevant, accessible, interactive, convenient, affordable, engineered for their future.

To learn more about the PE program alumni opportunities, please contact us at: soeprofed@uconn.edu or (855) 740-4044.

*10% discount is available to anyone who has graduated from UConn School of Engineering. The discount cannot be compounded with any other discount or company sponsored tuition reimbursement program.

Author: Alumni News for April 2019

Jeff Engelberger (BS Electrical Engineering, ‘88) has joined Kawasaki Robotics as Northeast regional sales manager. He brings more than twenty years of industry experience, ranging from custom robotics systems to AGVs (automated guided vehicles), and most recently fail-safe control systems for nuclear power plants. Engelberger earned a master’s degree in Management Technology from NYU Polytechnic University.

 

 

Kenneth H. Klapproth (BS Mechanical Engineering ‘92) has been named vice president of Marketing at CHASM Advanced Materials, a leader in next generation advanced materials. In his role, Klapproth is responsible for expanding the company’s market presence for its printed hybrid transparent conductive films (TCFs) and battery materials across industry sectors. With more than 20 years of success matching technically advanced products to market demand, he has helped companies small and large achieve double-digit growth. Klapproth began his career at Pratt & Whitney designing jet engines found on many of today’s aircraft including the Boeing 777 and Airbus A380.

 

 

Sharon L. Nunes (MS, PhD Materials Science, ‘80, ‘83) was recently elected into membership by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). The current chair of board of directors of The Cape Cod Foundation, Nunes was chosen for her accomplishments in corporate leadership and the development of next-generation green technologies focused on novel materials and processes.  Election to the NAE is one of the highest professional distinctions accorded an engineer. Nunes retired as vice president for Smarter Cities & Green Innovations following an esteemed 28-year career at IBM.

 

 

Thomas F. Zimmie (MS, PhD Civil Engineering, ’63, ’72) has received an Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. Presented by Marquis Who’s Who, the world’s premier publisher of biographical profiles, Zimmie celebrates years of experience in his professional network, and has been noted for achievements, leadership qualities, and the credentials and successes he has accrued in his field. He is president and chief executive officer of Civrotech Engineers, P.C. and a professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

 

 

Stay in touch with the School of Engineering.  Join our LinkedIn alumni groupto share your latest activities and learn what your fellow graduates are doing.  You may also send your news directly to Caitlin Krouse, Director of Engineering Alumni Relations.  We love hearing from you!

Author: Senior Design Journey 2019: Protecting The Elbows of Young Pitchers, Part 2

Hill throws a ball to his teammates, during a test of the  wearable device designed for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. (Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

This article is part of a multi-part series on engineering students, and their journey through Senior Design. Click here to read part 1 of this article series.

When you embark on a journey, sometimes the path is long and treacherous, and sometimes the path taken is smooth. For a team of four University of Connecticut biomedical engineering seniors, their journey to create a wearable pitch monitoring device with Connecticut Children’s Medical Center has been neither treacherous nor smooth.

In fact, as the team rounds the corner towards their Senior Design Demonstration Day deadline, they have only faced a couple of bumps, according to team member Jared Hill:

“One of things we didn’t anticipate was that some things would take way longer than expected,” Hill said. “For example, when we were fabricating the mold to make the wristband with the Machine Shop, we didn’t anticipate how much back-and-forth there would be.”

Imbriaco expanded on Hill’s point, and said that the process of making the mold, from beginning to end, required several minute changes:

“The guys at the Machine Shop kept emailing us back with several suggestions on how to improve the mold, so Jared would have to go back and change the design in SolidWorks, only to have more changes after the initial,” Imbriaco said. “Because of how busy they are, it would often take a couple days in between each email.”

 

The metal mold, created by the Castleman Machine Shop, took several weeks of back and forth to come to fruition. (Christopher LaRosa/UConn Photo)

 

During most of their Fall semester, and through part of their Spring semester, Tim Gutowski, Chris Imbriaco, Jenna Clum-Russell, and Hill, with faculty advisor Dr. Matthew Solomito, were working on building a device that will help to mitigate severe elbow injury risk for youth, high school, and college pitchers who are sometimes throwing up to 500 high-velocity pitches in a week through competition, practice, and private pitching clinics.

According to the team’s research, studies have found that UCL injuries become more prevalent as a pitcher gets older, and faces more intense competition. One study found that 15 percent of all Minor League Baseball players and 25 percent of all Major League Baseball players have suffered at least one UCL injury during their career. But, high school-to-early college players bear the brunt of UCL tear surgeries, dubbed the “Tommy John Surgery,” to the tune of nearly 60 percent of all procedures in the United States, according to a 2014 study.

The device embeds a sensor which has a tri-axial accelerometer, a gyroscope, memory, and a Bluetooth transponder, inside of a silicone rubber wristband. Similar to the design of a Fitbit, the device will relay pitch information to a database accessed by the coaching staff and pitcher, which will give them an accurate representation of how many high-velocity pitches (represented as 80 percent of the pitcher’s agreed-upon maximum velocity) have been thrown by each pitcher in practices, warming-up, and during a game. With this information, coaches will be able to scale down a pitcher’s workload, which will cut down on injury.

While the team was able to create the mold for the band, create a sample band, and do most of the coding, the biggest additional hiccup they’ve had is with the bluetooth sensor in the device:

“So there’s a Python library for MetaWear sensors, which are the type of sensors we’re using, and we’re having trouble downloading the library,” Hill said. “We’ve gone around and we’ve coded everything we needed to in Python, but we need the MetaWear python package to download in order to connect the device to a computer.”

Both Hill and Clum-Russell, who were the two coding the device, said that one of the major factors has been compatibility issues with their Apple laptops, since their device requires Windows 10 to run. But even when they tried using Bootcamp on their Mac’s, which allows a Mac to run Windows 10, Clum-Russell nearly destroyed her computer:

“I ended up calling Apple for five hours, because it gave my laptop a virus, and I couldn’t get out of it, and it ended up shutting down my laptop and it wouldn’t turn back on.”

The team said that they’ve reached out to the UConn computer science and engineering department, and will be speaking with one of the faculty members soon to figure out a solution, but once the Bluetooth coding is figured out and running, the team and Connecticut Children’s intend to test the device with multiple youth pitchers before Demonstration Day:

“Our faculty advisor also works at Connecticut Children’s, so he has access to participants that can test this from multiple age groups,” Gutowski said. “We think that after we get this coding issue out of the way, we’ll have some good data between that and testing the device on ourselves.”

In the end, reflecting back on the past year, the group agreed that Senior Design was great practice for their futures as professional engineers:

“Chris, Tim and I were in a group last year for Junior Design, but doing this Senior Design project has taught me even more about working in a group than that one, because that was only half a year and this was a full year,” Hill said. “This is a true long-term project, so there’s a lot to be done, with work being split up by expertise, so this is truly great practice for when we’re in the real world and working on a big project in a job-setting.”

This project, along with over 220 other Senior Design projects, will be on display during Senior Design Demonstration Day on May 3, from 1-4 p.m. in Gampel Pavillion. For more information on Senior Design Demonstration Day, please visit: https://seniordesign.engr.uconn.edu/senior-design-day-event/.

Author: Self-Driving Vehicle Technology Conference to be Held on April 23 at Rentschler Field

By: Ryley McGinnis, Student Written Communications Specialist, UConn School of Engineering

On Tuesday, April 23, from 9 a.m.-12:05 p.m., Greater Hartford AAA Allied Group and the UConn Transportation Safety Research Center will be holding a free and open to the public speaker series at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field, which will focus on the the world’s transition to autonomous vehicles.

At the Technology Take the Wheel event there will be two speakers, Jessica Nigro and Chan Lieu, and moderator Amy Parmenter from AAA Greater Hartford, who will discuss the possibilities and challenges that autonomous vehicle technology brings.

Nigro is the head of Technology and Innovation at Daimler North America Corp., who just recently became a founding member of PAVE, a new coalition that aims to promote public education around autonomous vehicle technology. She mainly works on policy, connectivity, data and cybersecurity and future mobility strategies for automated vehicles.

Lieu is a member of the Connecticut Autonomous Vehicles Task Force. He has extensive experience with autonomous vehicles in the areas of transportation, data and cybersecurity, privacy and emerging technologies.

There will be a Q&A with both of the speakers after their presentations, which will be followed later in the day by a panel consisting of Tyler Suiters from the Consumer Technology Association, Eric Jackson, the director of the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center at UConn, and Peter Calcaterra, transportation planner at the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

The Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center at UConn, which is co-sponsoring the event, was established in 2012 by the Connecticut Department of Transportation to create tools to analyze crash data, research safety improvements and concerns, build outreach and education to address and fix transportation-related concerns, and conduct industry safety research. For more information on the Center itself, visit its website here.

The event is open to the public but space is limited, so please register here to reserve your spot.

Author: UConn Engineering Announces Organizational Transformation of the Connecticut Transportation Institute

Dr. Eric Jackson, newly appointed Executive Director of the Connecticut Transportation Center, talks with U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal in a visit to CTRC’s full-sized driving simulator in August 2018. (Eli Freund/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

The UConn School of Engineering is pleased to announce changes in the Connecticut Transportation Institute that will position it for future growth, further support of economic development in the State of Connecticut, and a larger impact on the transportation industry.

As of today, Dr. Eric Jackson, current director of the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center, will become the new Executive Director of the Connecticut Transportation Institute, with current CTI Executive Director James Mahoney becoming Associate Director of Operations, and current Connecticut Technology Transfer Center Program Director Donna Shea taking on the additional responsibilities of Associate Director of Education and Outreach for CTI. In addition to their management roles for CTI, Dr. Jackson will remain Director of the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center, Mr. Mahoney will be Director of the Connecticut Advanced Pavement Lab, and Ms. Shea will be Director of the Connecticut Training and Technical Assistance Center (T2 Center), which was formerly known as the Connecticut Technology Transfer Center.

Dr. Jackson is the founder and Director of the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center (CTSRC) at UConn.  The CTSRC assisted the CTDOT with the complete overhaul and modernization of crash data and safety analysis in the state. Dr. Jackson’s current research has focused on autonomous and connected vehicles, big data, innovation in research and data visualization, and improving the crash data collection process in Connecticut as well as providing public access to crash data and transportation safety analysis tools. This includes the award winning Connecticut Crash Data Repository, which allows users to analyze transportation safety issues, through linking crash data with injury, roadway, hospital and social factor databases to improve transportation safety.  The systems developed by Dr. Jackson have won three national awards: 1) The Peter K. O’Rourke Special Achievement Award for Outstanding Achievement in Transportation Safety.  2) Governors Highway Safety Association. August 30, 2016. 2015 National Best Practices in Traffic Records. Association of Transportation Safety Information Professionals. October 27, 2015 and 3) the 2015 Bright Idea: Innovations in Government Program by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School. February 28, 2015.  Dr. Jackson is dedicated to the idea of cross disciplinary research that improves and protects quality of life.  

Ms. Shea has been the Director of Connecticut’s Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) at the University of Connecticut for over 17 years, where her primary responsibility is the transfer of knowledge and best practice to over 3,000 municipal public works employees each year. She is also the President-Elect of the National LTAP Association, representing 52 Local and Tribal Technical Assistance Programs throughout the U.S. She is also a member of several statewide, regional and national committees.

Finally, Mr. Mahoney a 1995 UConn grad has served CTI in various capacities since 1996.  In 2007  Jim as asked to take over as Director of CTI, then in 2008 was promoted to Executive Director where he has served ever since.  CTI has seen significant growth over the last 12 years and is a valuable resource to the transportation community.  Mr. Mahoney’s research has focused on bituminous pavements, testing construction, pavement preservation, and the implementation of superpave.  Mr. Mahoney is heavily involved with the Northeast Transportation Technician Certification Program (NETTCP), serving both on the Executive Board and Board of Directors while also teaching training courses.

For more information on CTI, please visit: https://www.cti.uconn.edu.

Author: An “Accidental Dean” Becomes a Transformative Leader

Kazem Kazerounian, current Dean of UConn Engineering, seen here in his office in 1985. (Photo courtesy of Kazem Kazerounian)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

When Dean Kazem Kazerounian stepped onto the campus of the University of Connecticut for the first time in 1984, he was struck by the stark contrast of where he had just come from.

As an undergraduate and graduate student, Kazerounian had just spent five years navigating the hustle and bustle of the mostly urban University of Illinois at Chicago campus. Fresh off of his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, Kazerounian got off of a plane, made his way to Storrs, and took in the beauty of his surroundings:

“I first came here to interview in the spring of 1984, and I remember that it was absolutely beautiful here,” Kazerounian said. “Coming from Chicago, which had its campus integrated into the city, there was no real campus feel. Here, the dynamics and the beauty of the campus hit me instantly.”

After a long day of interviewing and meeting people, Kazerounian became convinced that UConn was the right fit for him—not only because of the campus, but because of the impressive stable of people at the School of Engineering and the Mechanical Engineering Department.

Because of that, he jumped at the chance to join the faculty when he was eventually offered a job as an assistant professor.

But if you reverse through time eight years before that moment, Kazerounian’s life could have taken a much different turn if his circumstances were different. As a boy in Shiraz, Iran, Kazerounian had a passion for music—especially classical guitar:

“Truth be told, I have been a classical guitar player since I was a kid, before I decided on engineering,” Kazerounian said. “I got two high school diplomas, in math and music, and was actually accepted into one of the top music schools in the world to study music after high school. But, I was raised in a time and a culture that wasn’t very accepting of a career in music—being an engineer or doctor was the path to prosperity.”

An 18 year-old Kazem Kazerounian plays acoustic guitar in his dorm room in Iran that he and his roommate were remodeling. (Photo courtesy of Kazem Kazerounian)

 

So, a career in engineering and academia is where he went. Using his parents as his inspiration, both chemistry teachers, Kazerounian forged into a career that he found both challenging and fulfilling.

“I consider myself a natural teacher and mentor, and love to impact the environment around me,” Kazerounian said. “Academia is a fabulous place to practice those skills.”

And for years, Kazerounian slowly built a solid reputation by excelling at teaching, mentoring students, and performing research that heavily impacted the mechanical engineering community. Being an administrator was far from his mind, but like music, his talent started to attract attention:

“Becoming an administrator was never actually a goal for me, and because of that, I consider myself an accidental dean,” Kazerounian said. “Early on, I was called to serve on various committees, and as time went on, one thing led to another, and I was asked to take on more and more administrative tasks.”

From 1994-1998, Kazerounian became group chairman of the Design, Manufacturing, and Systems program, then from 1997-2001, Kazerounian served as associate dean for research and outreach, from 1999-2005 he served in various leadership roles before returning as associate dean for research and strategic initiatives from 2009-2012 under Dean Mun Choi.

Under Choi, Kazerounian said that he gained a greater passion and understanding about leadership:

“I learned a lot from Mun, and I admire how he led,” Kazerounian said.

In 2012, Choi became provost, appointing Kazerounian as interim dean. When a national search for the School’s dean position began, Kazerounian jumped at the opportunity, and was eventually selected and signed to a five-year term.

 

In 2012, Mun Choi became Interim Provost naming Kazerounian Interim Dean. In this photo, then Interim Provost Mun Choi (far right), and then Interim Dean Kazem Kazerounian (right-center), discuss a new $7.5 million partnership with executives from General Electric. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

 

At the beginning of his new term, a member of the School of Engineering advisory board approached him and asked him how he was going to define his success as dean. Kazerounian was initially speechless at the question, but slowly started to conceptualize his success metrics:

“That was a profound question that I didn’t want to have a canned answer for,” Kazerounian said. “After some soul-searching and discussions with several people after, we identified three categories that we wanted to focus on, which were: student success, research excellence, and economic impact on the State of Connecticut.”

With a focus on those three values, Kazerounian has been able to grow the undergraduate population by over 75 percent over the past six years, has grown research expenditures by over 40 percent, and has forged major industrial partnerships with Synchrony Financial, Pratt & Whitney, Comcast, and many others.

Additionally, a point of pride for Kazerounian has been a focus on increasing diversity in the school, among its students and faculty. During his tenure, the School has experienced the largest increase in female undergraduates among public universities and doubled the amount of female faculty.

According to Kazerounian, who was re-appointed to another five-year term earlier this year, his eye is on leveling the playing field by the end of his term:

“We are at the point where we can have a serious conversation about what it takes for us to have a five-year runway for undergraduate gender parity, which is already underway by Daniel Burkey, our capable associate dean for undergraduate education and diversity.”

With that, and his goals of attracting top faculty talent to the school, bringing in more resources for research, and further positioning the school as a resource to the state, Kazerounian said he’s looking forward to elevating the School to new heights.

“All of us in the State of Connecticut rise or sink together,” Kazerounian said. “UConn, and the School of Engineering, are crucial parts of our state’s future success. Because of that, we look forward to our role in impacting economic development growth.”

Author: 2019 UConn Gives Event Scheduled for March 27-28

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

For 36 hours, on March 27-28, all of UConn Nation will come together like never before during UConn Gives to show their support for the University they love and the programs they are passionate about. Gifts can be made between 7 a.m. on March 27 and 7 p.m. on March 28.

This year, the School of Engineering will ask alumni and friends to join together in support of three specific initiatives:

SPARK: Helps shrink the STEM gender gap and inspire young women to become engineering students at UConn. Your gift to SPARK will allow middle school and high school female students access to a series of week-long, engineering  programs focused on disciplines including coding, robotics, 3-D printing, and real-life problem solving. 

BRIDGE: Allows UConn to lead the way in increasing the number of underrepresented students in engineering and other STEM fields. Your gift will provide fellowships for BRIDGE, a five-week summer program designed to prepare students who are underrepresented in engineering fields for the rigor of engineering curriculum at UConn, introduce leadership opportunities and careers in engineering, and to familiarize students with the University of Connecticut and the college experience as a whole.

Freshman Year Experience: Use your donation to help alleviate financial stress for a UConn Engineering student. Your gift will support the purchase of Arduino Kits, a palm-size circuit board for students to learn basic computer science principles during the Freshman Year Experience program.

These three initiatives are needed and important to fund, because of our recent explosive growth. That growth—a 70% increase in our undergraduate population over the last five years—means that we are projected to graduate a record number of students. These students will go on to be the next generation of educators and engineering leaders, and your donation helps us provide them with the best tools available. Your donation also helps fund our diversity and outreach programming, which creates a direct pipeline into our local schools, attracting some of the best female and minority students into the engineering discipline.

Thank you for giving back to our students, as well as our school. Your donation is truly an investment in the future of engineering, the state, and the University.

To donate to our three causes from March 27-28, please visit (link is only active at 7 a.m. on March 27): https://givingday.uconn.edu/?cfcat=7991

Author: Daneshmandi, Marshall, and Pardakhti Sweep Top Spots in 5th Annual SAGE Poster Competition

Leila Daneshmandi, a UConn biomedical engineering Ph.D. candidate, pitches her research to the panel of judges. Daneshmandi would go on to win first place in the competition. (UConn Photo/Christopher Larosa)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

On March 15, over 70 University of Connecticut School of Engineering graduate students assembled to present their research at the 5th Annual Poster Competition, sponsored by the Student Association of Graduate Engineers.

As the event wound down, 70 teams were eventually pared down to a top eight (the top from each department, plus a “People’s Choice”), who presented their final pitches to a panel of three judges. Each of the finalists had a total of five minutes to explain their research, conceptualize its importance, and answer any questions from the judges.

The first place winner in the competition received a $1,000 prize, second place received a $500 prize, third place received a $250 prize, and the “People’s Choice” winner and the departmental winners each received a $50 prize.

The placers, People’s Choice winner, and departmental winners for the 5thAnnual Poster Competition are as follows:

Department

Winner

Overall 

BME

Leila Daneshmandi

1st

ME

Lauren Marshall

2nd 

CBE

Maryam Pardakhti

3rd

BME

Eli Curry

People’s Choice

CE

Sudipta Chowdhury

 

CSE

Reynaldo Morillo

 

ENVE

Yuankai Huang

 

MSE

Ayana Ghosh

 

ECE

Roman Mays

 

 

For more information on the graduate school at UConn Engineering, and its programs, please visit: https://grad.engr.uconn.edu.

Author: Alumnus Q+A with Kevin Nolan, CEO of GE Appliances

(Photo Courtesy of GE Appliances)

 

Kevin Nolan is the President and Chief Executive Officer of GE Appliances, a Haier company, headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky. GE Appliances is at the forefront of building innovative, energy-efficient appliances that improve people’s lives. The business employs 12,000 people. Nolan graduated from the UConn School of Engineering in 1989, and recently sat down for a Q+A session about his time as an undergraduate, and his career so far.

 

1) What degrees have you received (and field) and when did you receive them from UConn Engineering?

 I received a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering from UConn in 1989.

2) What made you decide to attend UConn Engineering?

I grew up in Stamford, Connecticut, and have always been intrigued and passionate about creating and inventing.  Engineering seem to fit what I liked, so UConn was the obvious choice. 

3) Did you have any mentors during your time here, and how did they shape your future as an engineer?

My passion for building, making, creating and changing was ignited by mentors and the opportunities I received at UConn, and then at GE. There were many people that have had a significant influence on my professional life, but two people really stand out. The first is Russell Johnston, my academic advisor.  During my first year, he encouraged me to pursue an honors degree. His time and guidance made a difference in me getting the most out of what the University offered. 

The second is Joseph Gartner, my vibration professor. I had a student job working in his lab and spent countless hours with him. He caused me to fall in love with that field. I was always amazed at his depth of knowledge and ability to be hands on. He later nominated me for a scholarship with General Electric in its Industrial Distribution division. When I look back on my career, he is the most important person that set me on my path. 

4) Why did you decide to pursue a career in engineering? Was there a specific moment in your life that sparked you?

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved making and fixing things, and engineering was the perfect fit. 

5) After you left UConn what did your career path look like?

When I left UConn, I joined General Electric’s Edison Engineering Training program. It was an experience that shaped me as an engineer. Following  the program, I held several engineering roles in a North Carolina manufacturing plant until I moved to the appliance division in 1997 to lead the microwave oven and air-conditioning engineering team. Later, I became the head of engineering and held that position for 10 years.  Haier – a global appliances company – bought GE Appliances in 2016, and I transitioned to be the Chief Technology Officer for the global business.  In 2017, I was named the CEO of GE Appliances.

 6) What’s it been like working for one company your entire career? What has made you stay for so long, and what would you say to students about to graduate, who are unsure about where they want to start their careers?

During my career, I’ve been an inventor, a maker, a team player, a manager and now CEO. UConn gave me the tools to succeed, but those tools must be paired with passion and drive, which come from within.

General Electric is an amazing company that always seemed to have new challenges for me. I had the opportunity to travel around the world and meet friends I will have forever. I always felt like I was doing something new and different, so that made working for the same company ideal. 

I think there are two questions to ask yourself as begin your career:

  • Will I be challenged in this role?
  • Are there people who I will work with that I can learn from and build my skillsets as an engineer?

After I graduated, I never imagined that I would be working on circuit breakers. It was far from my ideal job, but it taught me resilience and drove my passion for learning about new concepts. The knowledge I gained and the relationships I developed in that role helped later in my career.

7) How much would you attribute your current success to the education you received at the UConn School of Engineering?

Without UConn, I would have been on a much different path. The school helped me mature from a disinterested high school student to a passionate engineer. UConn has much to offer its students, and I am so pleased to see the way it has evolved over the years and the high-quality engineers that are graduating today.

Author: Engineering Alumni Brothers Create UConn’s First Cybersecurity Instructional Lab

Stephen Altschuler (far left) and Sam Altschuler (far right) stand with their undergraduate scholarship recipients at a ceremony in 2015. (Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

By: Kristin Dumont, UConn Foundation

In response to the growing field of cybersecurity, two University of Connecticut alumni brothers have donated $1 million to create a new cybersecurity curriculum and launch Altschuler Cybersecurity Lab, UConn’s first cybersecurity instructional lab.

Samuel ’50 and Stephen Altschuler ’54, who earned their UConn bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering, will cut the ribbon on the new lab, located on the first floor of the Information Technology Engineering (ITE) Building, sometime in summer 2019.

“We chose to make this gift because of the support we received from UConn when we were engineering students in the early 1950s,” said the brothers in a joint statement. “Our training enabled us to advance our careers to the point where we are financially able to make a gift of this size. Connecticut has been a major focus for us our entire lives, and we are proud to be able to make a meaningful contribution to its flagship university.

Our participation in this critically important project was initiated in conversations with Donald Swinton, Director of Development for the School of Engineering and UConn School of Engineering Dean Kazem Kazerounian. We believe that cybersecurity is among the most critical issues of this age. In order to assure that society will be able to safely continue to use the ever-accelerating advancements of technology, the study of cybersecurity is crucial to the maintenance of peaceful cultures.”

The new Altschuler Cybersecurity Lab will be the cornerstone of UConn’s effort to graduate engineers with expertise in cybersecurity, said Dean Kazerounian: “We are in an age where the threat of cyberattacks has gotten more pervasive. As an institution, we need to be training the next generation of engineers to combat this threat, which is why this gift from the Altschuler brothers is so important for the School of Engineering and the University.”

When fully launched, the lab will be dedicated to teaching hands-on cybersecurity to all Computer Science and Engineering freshmen, as well as other undergraduates and graduate students. A special freshman curriculum is being developed to teach cyber-hygiene in software and hardware and learn about vulnerabilities in commercial-off-the-shelf devices, Internet-of-Things devices, equipment to test the security and integrity of electronic election/voting systems, smart power-meters and power grid devices. The curriculum will also cover website security, secure configuration of networks and networked systems, and security of network routing. The UConn CSE Department is home to more than 800 undergraduate and 150 graduate students.

“The establishment of this Cybersecurity Laboratory is wonderful news for Connecticut,” says Arthur H. House, the state’s chief cybersecurity officer. “It will enhance UConn’s academic strength and partnership in the ongoing effort to understand and counter evolving cyber threats to the state’s government agencies, businesses and organizations.” 

Mark Raymond, Connecticut’s chief information officer, agrees. “One of the fundamental principles of the state’s cybersecurity strategy is cybersecurity literacy.  The strategy calls for all sectors to reduce cybersecurity risks through education and awareness. The laboratory at UConn will play a critical role in developing the next-generation cybersecurity skills required to keep our state’s citizens and business safe.”

Samuel Altschuler graduated from UConn with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1950, earned an MBA from Northeastern University in 1958 and founded Altron, Inc. where he was the chairman, and president until his retirement.

Stephen Altschuler graduated from UConn with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1954 and went on to earn his master’s degree in engineering from Yale in 1955. He is the founder, president, and chairman of Altek Electronics. He also served on UConn’s Board of Trustees from 1986-1993.

“We have provided scholarships annually to UConn’s Engineering students,” said the brothers. “We recognize that Dean Kazerounian and his staff have assembled a first-class faculty to be stewards of the Cybersecurity specialty, and we are highly motivated to support it.”

UConn’s School of Engineering is also home to the state’s Voting Technology Research Center, which evaluates Connecticut’s voting machines and audits results for cyberattacks. It has also created centers of excellence with Synchrony Financial and Comcast on cybersecurity research and hosted major annual cybersecurity conferences.

For more information on UConn’s Computer Science and Engineering Department, please visit: https://www.cse.uconn.edu.

Author: Sung Named Combustion Institute Fellow

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

The UConn School of Engineering is proud to announce that Mechanical Engineering Professor Chih-Jen Sung has been recognized as one of the 2019 Class of Fellows for The Combustion Institute.

Sung joins a class of 38 accomplished international scholars from industry, academia, and the public sector, and was recognized for “novel contributions to flame dynamics and structure, and development of rapid compression machines to enhance understanding of low-temperature chemistry.”

According to the website, Fellows are recognized by their peers as distinguished for outstanding contributions to combustion, whether it be in research or in applications. In addition, Fellows are active participants in The Combustion Institute, as evidenced by the publishing of papers in CI affiliated journals, attendance at the International Symposia on Combustion, and/or attendance at CI Section meetings.

Sung joined the Mechanical Engineering Department in 2009. He served as a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Case Western Reserve University from 1999 to 2009. He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the National Chiao Tung University in 1986, M.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering from the National Taiwan University in 1988, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University in 1991 and 1994, respectively.

His research is funded by various federal and industrial sponsors. He is also a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and an elected member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering. He is also the founding faculty advisor of the AIAA Student Chapter at UConn.

Sung received the 1998 Best Paper Award from the 12th Microgravity Science and Space Processing Symposium at the 36th AIAA Aerospace Science Meeting, the National Science Foundation early CAREER development award in 2002, the 2004 and 2006 Northern Ohio AIAA Best Paper Awards, and the Distinguished Paper Award in Colloquium of Laminar Flames from the 31st International Symposium on Combustion in 2007. He has also received awards for teaching, including the Graduate Teaching Award of the Case School of Engineering and the Case Western Reserve University Srinivasa P. Gutti Memorial Engineering Teaching Award. He is author or co-author of over 185 archival publications in combustion, propulsion, and sustainable energy.

For more information on The Combustion Institute, please visit: https://www.combustioninstitute.org.

Author: UConn-Sikorsky Team Engineers Autonomous Firefighting Drone

From left, Kerry Jones ’19 (ENG), Ryan Heilemann ’19 (ENG), and Josh Steil ’19 (ENG) look on as their drone takes off for a test flight on Horsebarn Hill in Storrs. (Christopher LaRosa/UConn Photo)

 

By: Ryley McGinnis, Student Written Communications Specialist, UConn School of Engineering

Working with mentors from Sikorsky, three University of Connecticut engineering seniors are translating their classroom education to the field.

Electrical engineering majors Kerry Jones and Joshua Steil, and computer engineering major Ryan Heilemann, are collaborating to build and program an autonomous firefighting drone to battle blazes without a pilot’s guidance.

“In the world today there’s a high prevalence of forest fires, like in California, but the problem is of how to safely put out these fires,” says Steil. “So our project, in essence, is to see if we can start putting out fires without a human driver.”

Once finished, the drone will carry a thermal imaging camera to identify a fire, object avoidance technology to steer clear of any obstacles, and a softball-sized fire-extinguishing ball that will be dropped over the flames. The system’s technology will be tied together through coding language developed by the students, and will operate based on inputted coordinates.

While their drone will only be able to put out a campfire-size blaze, the project is meant to prove that this technology is possible, so that much bigger technology can be engineered in the future, says Heilemann.

“The idea is that in the future, on a larger scale, there can be a fleet of unmanned helicopters that can go out and put out forest fires, thereby lowering loss of life,” says Steil.

While drones are currently used by fire departments across the country, all of them so far have a pilot who navigates the drone from a distance, and most are used for observation, not fire suppression.

“The autonomy definitely makes it different,” says Jones, “and the fire-extinguishing ball, for sure.”

Teams in previous years have worked on similar projects with Sikorsky, which provided some guidance on what has worked and what has not.

The team looked back on previous projects’ reports, including last year’s team, which was the first to integrate firefighting capabilities into the drone. While the previous team to work on this project used small thermal sensors called thermopile array sensors, Heilemann says these sensors required the previous drone to be only about six feet from the flames, which was too close for real-world applications. His team decided to use an infrared camera, which allows for more distance from the flames.

This year’s team had the added benefit of working on their project in UConn’s brand new 118,000 square-foot Engineering and Science Building, which features three engineering floors filled with faculty and labs focused on robotics, machine autonomy, and virtual and augmented reality.

The eight propeller drone flies above Horsebarn Hill in Storrs on a recent test flight. (Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)
The eight-propeller drone flies above Horsebarn Hill in Storrs on a recent test flight. (Christopher LaRosa/UConn Photo)

 

At Sikorsky, the team is working with a recent UConn School of Engineering alum, Jason Thibodeau, deputy manager of Sikorsky’s Flight Controls and Autonomous Systems Department.

“He’s really helpful. We have phone meetings every Monday, and we tell him what’s going on, what we’re struggling with, and he reasons with us,” says Jones.

Adds Heilemann, “He really wants us to figure our way through issues we have, instead of just giving us a direct solution.”

Working with Sikorsky also introduced the UConn seniors to new career options. Jones has accepted an offer with Sikorsky after she graduates, in their autonomy lab as part of their Rotary and Mission Systems department.

Steil has accepted a job offer with Sikorsky’s parent company, Lockheed Martin, in Massachusetts after graduation.

“Working with Sikorsky definitely sparked a greater interest looking into the company as a whole,” he says.

Heilemann also decided to go into the aerospace industry, and has found a job doing control and diagnostics at another aerospace company.

Most importantly, the collaboration was a chance to get some experience with a top company.

“In this project, I get to learn so much about Sikorsky and what they do,” says Steil, “and having a company like that so close to home and have them be our sponsor is definitely an added benefit.”

Author: 40 Under 40 Entrepreneur Uses Engineering Skills To Bring People Affordable Glasses

Photo Courtesy of UConn MSE Department.

 

By: Marlese Lessing, Student Written Communications Specialist, UConn Materials Science and Engineering Department

The daughter of an optometrist and a Farmington native, MSE alumna and Connecticut businesswoman Stephanie Higgins Bealing is using her materials science and engineering experience to push the gauntlet on the eyeglasses industry, winning her numerous awards, getting herself named as one of Connecticut’s 40 under 40, and netting her national recognition for her business, Replacement Lens Express. Her previous jobs have included being a fuel cell engineer for Rolls Royce, a technology developer for UTC Aerospace and a project lead for an MCHX coating project at Carrier Corporation.

 

What inspired you to get into engineering?

I was really into Stephen Hawking as a kid. My dad definitely pushed me into the sciences, and after I graduated high school, I got a degree in physics, with a focus in geophysics, from Hamilton College. I got the opportunity to go to Antarctica and study the geochronology of underwater volcanoes through the United States Ocean Drilling Program, using alpha-decay spectroscopy. We actually discovered a new underwater volcano on that trip.

While I was in college, I took a class in ceramics, and it inspired me to learn more about the physical and engineering aspect of it. I wanted a college with a good engineering program and that was close to home, so UConn was ideal. I pursued my masters in solid oxide ceramics soon after I got my Bachelor’s, in 2004.

What struck you about your time at the MSE department?

I was here for two years, but I got to work with so many excellent people. I worked as a graduate assistant at the Connecticut Global Fuel Cell Center (now C2E2), and it was a wonderful master’s experience. The faculty opened up so many opportunities for me, especially to travel internationally and collaborate with some of the top industry experts in the field. I got to visit Imperial College in London for a conference about solid oxide fuel cells.

Professor Mark Aindow and Professor Pamir Alpay were both especially helpful. They connected me with a large range of people in the field, which helped me land a job working with fuel cells for Rolls Royce in London, and later with UTC Power (now called UTC Aerospace). When I graduated in 2006, I left UConn MSE with such a great mindset about industry and collaboration.

What are some of the other resources the MSE Department offered you?

I was blown away at the exposure and opportunity I was offered. I felt like I was an entrepreneur with my projects. I got to design my master’s thesis project as I wanted to, and work with measurement equipment that I never could have imagined getting access to. I made a ton of great connections and got a lot of lifelong exposure to a field that holds a very dear place in my heart.

At one of the conferences I was sent to in Denmark, I was asked to talk about my master’s thesis in solid oxide fuel cells. I got to network and talk about my project with some of the top people in the field, which was incredible.

Where are you right now?

After working in the engineering world for a while, I decided to pursue my master’s in business administration from Carnegie Mellon University in 2008. In 2010, I launched online, home-delivery eyeglass lens replacement service, Replacement Lens Express, as a side-project. The popularity exploded after just one year, and I continued to pursue it to this day.

The company offers prescription glasses at an affordable rate to people who need replacement lenses. The prices are 30 percent less than commercial prices for most major brands, and we’re even offering our own in-house lens. We’re the only female-owned online optical lens company, and we’re bringing in a great amount of new and repeat customers in over 55 countries. It’s a new way for people to get affordable glasses.

How did your experiences in the MSE Department help you get to that point?

My master’s experience really taught me how to put myself out there, to be assertive and to stand up for myself. As a businesswoman now, it’s a crucial skill.

Dr. Aindow’s microscopy class was also a great help. It was very writing-intensive, and he wanted to help us, the students, improve our writing. It helped me learn to communicate my ideas clearly and effectively, which is a skill I use all the time now.

Author: Javidi Wins 2019 C.E.K. Mees Medal from The Optical Society

(Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

The UConn School of Engineering is pleased to announce that Dr. Bahram Javidi, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been awarded the prestigious C.E.K. Mees Medal from The Optical Society (OSA), which he will accept in June  2019.

According to OSA, the medal was established in 1961 to honor OSA charter member C. E. K. Mees, who contributed preeminently to the development of scientific photography. The Mees family endowed the medal to recognize achievements that exemplifies the thought that “optics transcends all boundaries,” and recognizes an original use of optics across multiple fields. 

Javidi was specifically chosen for this award “for pioneering multidisciplinary contributions to information-optics with diverse applications in bio-photonics, 3D imaging and displays, photon-counting imaging and cyber-physical security,” according to the award citation.

This award is the second accolade for Javidi from OSA in the past 12 months (he was also the recipient of the Joseph Fraunhofer Award / Robert M. Burley Prize in 2018), and is one of a long line of accomplishments during his career, which include: Being named one of the top 160 engineers between the ages of 30-45 by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) to attend the Frontiers of Engineering; the Quantum Electronics and Optics Prize for Applied Aspects by the European Physical Society (EPS); the Dennis Gabor Award in Diffractive Wave Technologies from The International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE); the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship; the Alexander von Humboldt Prize for senior US Scientists in all disciplines; the SPIE Technology Achievement Award; the National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award; and the George Washington University Distinguished Alumni Scholar Award.

At UConn, he has received the American Association for University Professors (AAUP) Research Excellence Award; the University of Connecticut Board Of Trustees Distinguished Professor Award; the UConn Alumni Association Excellence in Research Award; and the Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award, among others.

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), Fellow of the Optical Society (OSA), Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), Fellow of the European Optical Society (EOS), Fellow of The International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE), Fellow of the Institute of Physics (IoP), and Fellow of The Society for Imaging Science and Technology (IS&T). Javidi has over 1000 publications which have been cited 42000 times, according to Google Scholar, and 19 patents, some of which have been licensed by industry.

Javidi is also the director of the MOSIS Lab (Multidimensional Optical Sensing and Imaging Systems), which is focused on advancing the science and technology of imaging, by centering on the fields of optics, photonics, and computational algorithms and systems, from nano to macro scales. MOSIS works with, and finds solutions for, partners in the defense, manufacturing, healthcare, and cybersecurity industries.

Click here to learn more about the C.E.K. Mees Medal from The Optical Society.

Author: Predicting the Future of Robotics

UConn School of Engineering Professors Ashwin Dani, Abhishek Dutta, and Shalabh Gupta work on robotics research in autonomy, biological robotics, and human-robot collaboration. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

 

By: Ryley McGinnis, Student Written Communications Specialist, UConn School of Engineering

Research in robotics crosses many engineering disciplines, including electrical engineering. Because of this, some University of Connecticut electrical engineering professors are using their unique perspectives to advance robotics research.

Assistant Professor Abhishek Dutta is just one of these professors who specializes in robotics, with an emphasis in biological robotics.

“My hope is to create a bionic robot, as in a biologically constructed robot,” Dutta said.

Dutta works to create cyborgs, which are micro-circuits interfaced with organisms resulting in a controlled organism, which means he also faces challenges with biology.

Recently, Dutta released research related to control of cockroaches through the creation of a newly designed microcircuit. Connecting this small electronic “backpack” to the back of the cockroach, Dutta and his graduate students believe that there are unlimited applications, including use in search-and-rescue missions and national defense.

“My biggest challenge is to run this interdisciplinary lab that relies on as much engineering as much as biology,” he said.

Dutta said he hopes that over the next few years robotics research will advance to create more social robots, and ultimately reach human-like cognition.

If robots are going to reach human-level cognition, artificial intelligence and autonomy would also have to advance, and that is where Associate Professor Shalabh Gupta comes into play. Gupta researches how to improve robots autonomy, which has many different aspects, he said.

“The biggest challenge for autonomy is when the robot is in an unknown environment and the robot doesn’t know its surroundings. When you leave a robot in a building, it has to completely make its own decisions, and we have to learn how to optimize that decision making in the robot,” Gupta said.

When it comes to the artificial intelligence of these robots, Gupta said that some of these robots are already smarter than humans.

“You can ask it any question and it can give you answers from anywhere,” Gupta said.

However, once you place the robot in an environment with other humans and moving obstacles, the robot struggles with the decision-making process, and the research on that is still ongoing.

“It has to learn human patterns,” Gupta said, “We are trying to reach how humans think, but we don’t know how to replicate that. The data is big, but we have to figure out how to make sense of that data.”

To learn human patterns, these robots need to be collaborative and safe. Professor Ashwin Dani specializes in this area, and he said he sees big advancements in the collaboration area in the near future.

“Human-robot collaboration, design and development of collaborative and safe robots, building intelligent machines using advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence, are some of the things that are happening in the robotics and automation community,” said Dani.

For challenges in these advancements, Dani cited infrastructure as the main obstacle for robotics advancement.

“For any robotics research, infrastructure is most critical. It takes time to build the right infrastructure and support system to carry out long-term research,” said Dani.

Author: Medical School Announces New Institute for Regenerative Engineering

(Photo Courtesy of UConn Health)

 

By: Chris DeFrancesco, UConn School of Medicine and Dental Medicine

Following is an announcement from Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, director of the new Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering, and Associate Director Lakshimi Nair.

To the University Community:

We are excited to announce that with the support of University of Connecticut School of Medicine (SOM), we have created the Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering as a Type 2 Center in the SOM from the merger of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering (IRE) and the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS) at UConn.

Regenerative engineering is a new field founded by Professor Cato T. Laurencin. It is described as the convergence of advanced materials sciences, stem cell science, physics, developmental biology, and clinical translation for the regeneration of complex tissues and organ systems. The Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering (The Connecticut Convergence Institute) represents a transdisciplinary effort at UConn with a focus in the musculoskeletal area. The Institute integrates medicine, engineering, surgery, biology, physics, chemistry, and statistics/machine learning to enable a powerful platform for addressing scientific and medical problems in regeneration and healing of complex tissues, organs, or organ systems.

In research, the merged Institute serves as UConn’s home for the DOD Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI) and the DOD Armed Forces Institute for Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM). The Institute has a broad portfolio of funding from other federal agencies, including the Director’s Pioneer Grant Award from the National Institutes of Health and the Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation Award from the National Science Foundation.

The Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering will continue its leadership in education nationally. From being a research/teaching site for the NIH Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Program and the National Science Foundation’s Research, Education and Mentoring (REM) Program, to the Young Innovative Investigator Program (YIIP), Pre-K Scholar Award Program and M-1 Mentoring Program founded at UConn, to its newly announced partnership with the Aetna Foundation, education and outreach will continue to be a hallmark of its work.

The scientific and educational opportunities being pursued now and in the future at the Connecticut Convergence Institute will enable innovation and problem solving beyond conventional academic boundaries.  A core mission of the University of Connecticut is precisely to foster new ways of thinking and new approaches to answers in medicine, science, engineering, and technology. We invite the University community to engage and be a part of the efforts and programs that will continue to emerge from the leadership and staff of the Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering.

Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Connecticut Convergence Institute
Lakshmi Nair, Ph.D., Associate Director, Connecticut Convergence Institute

Author: Olgac Awarded Honorary Doctorate from Czech Technical University

Olgac, right, receives his doctorate in a ceremony that took place on January 29. (Photo Courtesy of Czech Technical University )

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

In recognition of his 35-plus years of high impact scholarly work and collaborations with Czech scientists, University of Connecticut Mechanical Engineering Professor Nejat Olgac was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Czech Technical University in Prague, in a ceremony taking place on January 29.

The CTU honorary doctorate, given out since 1905, has seen 160 leaders in their field receive the award, including U.S. Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Herbert Hoover, and renowned electrical engineer Nikola Tesla.

Olgac, who joined the faculty of the Mechanical Engineering Department in 1981, received his Doctor of Science degree from Columbia University in 1976 and M.Sc. degree at the Technical Univ. of Istanbul, Turkey in 1972 (summa-cum-laude), both in mechanical engineering. Prior to joining the department, he directed an industrial operation in radio, television, and home appliance manufacturing in his native Turkey. His research interests are on time-delayed systems, vibration suppression techniques, nonlinear robust control of dynamic systems, and micromanipulation in cellular biology.

Olgac holds four patents, three on the Delayed Resonator active vibration suppression technique (1995-1996-1999)  and a fourth one on anti-chatter concepts in simultaneous machining (2011). His research has been funded by the Department of Energy, NSF, NIH, the Office of Naval Research, NOAA, the Army Research Office, GE, Connecticut Innovations Inc., Pratt and Whitney, Sikorsky, and other organizations. He is the director of Advanced Laboratory for Robotics, Automation and Manufacturing (ALARM) at UConn. Olgac was a guest professor at INRIA (France; 1988 — 89), the Technical University of Munich (1995 — 96), Harvard University (2002 — 03) and the Czech Technical University Prague (2017-18). He is a member of CASE (Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering), a Fellow of ASME and Senior Member of IEEE, and has served as a member and chair of the Executive Committee of ASME-Dynamic Systems and Control Division. 

He has served or is serving on the editorial boards of the ASME Journal of Dynamic Systems, Measurement and Control, IEEE, Transactions on Control Systems Technology, IET Control Theory and Applications, Journal of Vibration and Control, International Journal of Mechatronics and Manufacturing Systems, Bulletin of Applied Mechanics, and also served on the board of directors of American Automatic Control Council (AACC). He is the recipient of a UConn Research Excellence Award (2015) and was the ASME Distinguished Engineer of the Year in the Hartford chapter (2015).

For more information on the CTU honorary doctorate, please visit: https://media.cvut.cz/cs/foto/20190129-predani-cestneho-doktoratu-eve-jiricne-a-nejatu-olgacovi and https://www.cvut.cz/en/doctor-honoris-causa-ctu-in-prague.

Author: Senior Design Journey 2019: Protecting The Elbows of Young Pitchers, Part 1

 

Gutowski (left) and Hill (right) study their coding work, while Hill holds the crucial bluetooth sensor used in the device. (Eli Freund/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

Scores of kids who play youth baseball have dreams of making it as a Major League Baseball player when they grow up. In response to this demand, youth leagues and tournaments have exploded in popularity, allowing some kids in warmer climates the opportunity to play year-round.

But with increased competition comes overuse, and with enough overuse, injury becomes a short-term and long-term concern.

When the overuse comes from pitching a baseball, something done with maximum effort in practices and games by youth pitchers, the risk for career-derailing injuries like ulnar collateral ligament tears—a crucial connector ligament which stabilizes the elbow—becomes a growing issue.

Through that growing concern, UConn Biomedical Engineering seniors Tim Gutowski, Chris Imbriaco, Jenna Clum-Russell, and Jared Hill, with faculty advisor Dr. Matthew Solomito, have set out to build a device to mitigate that risk for youth, high school, and college pitchers, through a wearable wristband they’re creating.

The device, sponsored by Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, will embed a sensor, which has a tri-axial accelerometer, a gyroscope, memory, and a Bluetooth transponder, inside of a silicone rubber wristband. Similar to the design of a Fitbit, the device will relay pitch information to a database accessed by the coaching staff and pitcher, which will give them an accurate representation of how many high-velocity pitches (represented as 80 percent of the pitcher’s agreed-upon maximum velocity) have been thrown by each pitcher in practices, warming-up, and during a game.

The team shares a simulation of what the device would look like. (Eli Freund/UConn Photo)

 

Imbriaco said that if they are successful in building the device, then their work could go a long way towards curbing injury in youth pitchers:

“The real goal of our project is to prevent these horrible UCL injuries before they happen,” Imbriaco said. “Especially at a youth level, where their bodies are still developing, they don’t truly realize the danger of throwing 500 high-velocity pitches a week.”

According to the team’s research, studies have found that UCL injuries become more prevalent as a pitcher gets older, and faces more intense competition. One study found that 15 percent of all Minor League Baseball players and 25 percent of all Major League Baseball players have suffered at least one UCL injury during their career. But, high school-to-early college players bear the brunt of UCL tear surgeries, dubbed the “Tommy John Surgery,” to the tune of nearly 60 percent of all procedures in the United States, according to a 2014 study.

That statistic is bolstered by the fact that only in-game pitch counts are measured in youth baseball, Hill noted:

“There are a lot of youth pitchers that are younger than 16-years-old that are playing for two different travel teams, and then going to pitching training three times a week, and as a result are throwing upwards of 500 high-velocity pitches a week, but their in-game pitches are the only ones being counted” Hill said. “So, this project is developing a way for pitchers and their coaches to make sure they are carefully monitoring their workload to avoid injury.”

Currently, the team is in the process of coding and building the device, but they said that next steps will be creating a reproduceable mold and testing the device:

“We worked with the Engineering Machine Shop to design and build a mold, where we could easily reproduce the production of the device,” Hill said. “Once that’s done, and the coding is all set, we’ll be able to just throw a baseball around and test—imagine having that as your Senior Design project?”

Even though that process requires a lot of work, the team is pretty confident they’ll be ready when Senior Design Demonstration Day rolls around in the beginning of May:

“I think we’ll hopefully have a device by the end of February, all of March we can do further testing, and by May we should be ready to go,” said Gutowski.

This article is part of a multi-part series on engineering students, and their journey through senior design. Part two of this team’s journey will come out in April 2019.

Author: Alumni News for January 2019

 

Steven E. DeLisle (B.S. Mechanical Engineering/Materials Engineering, ’95; M.S. Computer Science & Engineering, ’98) joined Monster Worldwide Inc. as chief technology officer. He will be responsible for all aspects of the global technology organization, including infrastructure, business applications, security, product engineering and architecture. Previously, DeLisle led a global team of over 500 engineers in his role as vice president of Engineering, Watson Commerce and Supply Chain at IBM.

 

Jacquelynn K. Garofano (Ph.D. Materials Science & Engineering, ‘11) has been selected Program Manager in the prestigious Margaret Ingels Engineering Development Program at United Technologies. Named after the first American woman to receive a professional degree in mechanical engineering, it is UTC’s new entry-level rotational program for top engineering associates around the world sponsored by the Chief Technology Officer.

 

Craig S. Slavtcheff (B.S. Chemical Engineering, ’90) has been appointed vice president and head of Research and Development at Campbell Soup Company. He will lead the company’s entire R&D organization, as well as its science and technology, regulatory, nutrition and culinary teams. A member of the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee for The American Institute of Baking, Slavtcheff has been awarded dozens of patents in his career.

 

Edgar B. Sweet, PE (B.S. Civil Engineering, ‘80) has rejoined Novara GeoSolutions, a CHA company, as associate vice president and director of Compliance and Integrity Management. In that role, Sweet will help expand, direct and manage the company’s consulting in the areas of regulatory compliance and assurance, asset integrity management, safety management systems, and operational improvements. He earned M.S. in Management at Lesley University.

 

Funding Opportunity

Are you a UConn alumnus involved in a startup seeking early stage funding? The UConn Innovation Fund invests up to $100K in CT startups tied to research, advanced technologies, or innovations developed at UConn. The next application deadline is January 31st, 2019. Visit entrepreneurship.uconn.edu for information on the fund and how to apply. Please email kathy.rocha@uconn.edu if you have any questions.

 

Stay in touch with the School of Engineering.  Join our LinkedIn alumni group to share your latest activities and learn what your fellow graduates are doing.  You may also send your news directly to Heidi Douglas, Director of Engineering Alumni Relations.  We love hearing from you!

Author: Rajasekaran Named Department Head of Computer Science and Engineering

(Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manger, UConn School of Engineering

The University of Connecticut School of Engineering is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Sanguthevar Rajasekaran – Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor and United Technologies Corporation Chair Professor – as the next Department Head of the Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) Department, effective February 1st, 2019. Rajasekaran will be taking over the role from Dr. Reda A. Ammar, who has been interim head since August 2018. 

“We are thrilled to have someone with Dr. Rajasekaran’s stature become the next department head of the CSE Department. With his amazing research and educational leadership record, I have no doubt that Raj will be a wonderful and effective mentor for our faculty, and will take the department to new highs,” said UConn Engineering Dean Kazem Kazerounian. 

Rajasekaran received his M.E. degree in automation from the Indian Institute of Science (Bangalore) in 1983, and his Ph.D. in computer science from Harvard University in 1988. Currently, he is the Director of the Booth Engineering Center for Advanced Technologies at the University of Connecticut. Before joining UConn, he served as a faculty member in the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Department at the University of Florida and in the Computer and Information Science Department of the University of Pennsylvania, and from 2000-2002 was the Chief Scientist for Arcot Systems.

His research interests include big data analytics, bioinformatics, parallel algorithms, data mining, and randomized computing and he has published over 350 articles in journals and conferences. He has co-authored two texts on algorithms and co-edited six books on algorithms and related topics. He has been awarded numerous research grants from such agencies as NSF, NIH, DARPA, and DHS (totaling around $20M). He is an elected member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers,  and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

For more information on the UConn Computer Science and Engineering Department, please visit https://www.cse.uconn.edu. 

Author: UConn Engineering Welcomes Two New Staff

 

Elizabeth Fongemie, Business Development and Marketing Associate for the School’s Professional Education program (left), and Caitlin Krouse, Director of Alumni Relations (right).

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

The University of Connecticut School of Engineering is proud to announce the addition of Caitlin Krouse as Director of Alumni Relations, and Elizabeth Fongemie as Business Development and Marketing Associate for the School’s Professional Education program.

Krouse has nearly a decade of alumni relations experience in higher education, most recently as Manager of Alumni and Parent Relations at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and will be replacing the retiring Heidi Douglas, who has held the role for nearly nine years. Prior to Brown, Krouse held roles at Roger Williams University and the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Krouse is an alumna of UConn, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2009.

Fongemie has had a robust career in marketing, business development and corporate partnerships, spending over 15 years at PME Enterprises, a sales and marketing agency specializing in conferences, events and expositions, ending her tenure as Senior Vice President. Most recently, she served as Philanthropy Director at the American Red Cross, focused on corporate partnerships throughout Connecticut and Rhode Island, working in tandem with businesses to achieve their marketing, branding and employee engagement goals, all while raising funds to support the organization’s mission.Fongemie received her bachelor’s degree in communications and public relations from Regis College in 1998.

For more information on our alumni and professional education programs, please visit engr.uconn.edu.

Author: #ILookLikeAnEngineer: Susmitha Rayakota

Susmitha Rayakota, UConn computer science and engineering major. (UConn Photo/Christopher Larosa)

 

1) Why did you decide to attend UConn Engineering?

I moved to Connecticut right before the start of senior year of high school. Having just moved from the other side of the country, I knew I wanted to stay in-state and close to my family. I looked for colleges that cared for its students’ personal and professional growth, and my school’s guidance counselors spoke highly about UConn Engineering. I visited the Storrs campus, I met a few engineering students, and I fell in love with the program. And then, I found myself here.

2) When you’ve told people you were studying engineering, what kinds of looks or reactions have you gotten?

The most popular reactions involve something like “Wow, you must be smart then,” or other kinds of reactions such as “Oh that’s rough,” or “Good luck,” with a look of pity on their faces. Honestly, I found it kind of funny. It made me wonder what it’s like to view engineering students from the other side. I don’t think I would’ve really understood what that’s like unless I was in their shoes. The same thing would apply if roles reversed, I guess. You don’t fully understand until you’re living it.

3) Why did you decide to pursue engineering? Was there a specific moment or person who inspired you?

Growing up, I pushed all the buttons. I “accidentally” broke my parents’ TVs & remotes (sorry mom & dad). In my defense, I wanted to learn how things worked! I still do. I don’t think that’ll ever stop, and engineering seemed to be my best fit.

4) Tell us about your background. Where do you come from and what’s your family like?

My immediate family consists of me and my parents. My father’s career involved electronics and communications, and he took on various roles in his life as a solution architect, analyst, project manager and more. My mother’s undergraduate degree was in biology, but her career interests and pursuits are eclectic. She was a teacher at one point in her life, she was driven in finance, accounting, law, chemistry in materials, etc. Currently, she’s pursuing her master’s degree in Software Engineering. My parents’ aspirations led our family to relocate a lot. To paint a better picture, between Pre-K and 12th grade, I attended 10 different schools, UConn is number 11. I am beyond thankful for all of it. I had the time of my life being exposed to multiple cultures, places, people, foods, traditions, lifestyles and many, many more. Only to gather that every time we moved, there happens to be so much more I had yet to learn about and experience. Fortunately, my parents were consistently encouraging me to cherish every opportunity and learn the most out of everything that this world has to offer since there was no telling how long it would last. And I plan to do just that every day. 

5) What are your career goals?

Ideally, I want to pursue a career that never ceases to challenge me. I want to help drive initiatives, enterprises, advancements, and more that positively impacts the world.

6) What’s your favorite experience been so far in your time at UConn Engineering?

While each and every moment added to my overall experience here, I’d say my favorite ones involve having the opportunity to proudly represent UConn Engineering as a member of Engineering Ambassadors at all of the outreach events organized through the Engineering Diversity and Outreach Center and the School of Engineering.

7) If you could start over, and go back to your senior year of high school, do you think you still would have chosen to pursue engineering?

I definitely would choose engineering if I were to have a do-over, without a doubt.

Author: New Department Head Q+A: Maria Chrysochoou, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Dr. Chrysochoou, in a ceremony held in the ITE Building in November 2017, introduces and launches the Connecticut Brownfields Initiative (Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

1) Tell the audience about yourself and your UConn Engineering career so far. What do you teach? What Initiatives have you been involved in?

I joined UConn in 2007 as assistant professor to fill a position in Environmental Geotechnology. This field is in the intersection of geotechnical engineering, which is related to the properties of soil as a construction material, and environmental engineering, as soils are an important part of the ecosystem. I have taught related courses, such as Soil Mechanics, Geoenvironmental Engineering, Contaminated Site Remediation and now Brownfield Redevelopment. My research has spanned various topics, ranging from fundamental science such as the behavior of metal contaminants in soils, to practical applications, such as the use of spectroscopic tools in construction management, and brownfield redevelopment policy.

 

2) Why environmental engineering? What made you interested in this field?

My undergraduate major was in physics. I chose it because I didn’t know what I wanted to do long-term and I thought it was a broad field that would allow me to explore different science areas. I did my senior thesis in atmospheric science and I was drawn to the environment. I turned to environmental engineering partially because I wanted to do something application-oriented and partially because of the circumstances. I received a scholarship to do my M.S. at the Technical University of Dresden in Germany, working with a professor who was an expert in waste management.

 

3) What’s your background? Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Thessaloniki, which is the second largest city in Greece, with a million people. I am a city girl through and through! My parents were keen on my obtaining an international education and sent me to a half-Greek, half-German high school. I was taught three languages by the time I was 12, which is not uncommon in Greece.  My daughter is the same way now, she speaks the same three languages at 11–English, Greek and German.

 

4) Last year you launched the Connecticut Brownfields Initiative. Can you tell us what that is and why you decided to launch that?

CBI is a program with a dual mission: To train UConn students and to support Connecticut towns in the complicated work that comes with brownfield redevelopment. Brownfields are abandoned properties, often with industrial past, where the suspicion or presence of contamination inhibits redevelopment efforts. Connecticut has a rich industrial history, which has resulted in thousands of abandoned sites throughout the state. 

The core concept of the program is that a cohort of undergraduate students attends a year-long program, which involves one semester of training in the classroom, including EPA grant proposal support for municipalities, and one semester of field work on brownfield projects with Connecticut towns. Students work together with faculty and professionals to plan and write grant proposals and incorporate environmental, economic and social aspects of planning and redevelopment. This model achieves both goals of supporting Connecticut towns in their funding and redevelopment goals for these sites, and creating a robust local workforce ready to take on these challenges.

Launching CBI was a close collaboration between myself, the development team at the School of Engineering, and the Department of Economic and Community Development. I had worked on a EPA grant proposal to create a brownfields center here at UConn. When the proposal was not successful, Tim Sullivan, the Deputy Commissioner of DECD at the time, believed in the concept and he helped us secure funding from DECD and other partners. We have a great cohort of industry supporters, who not only support us financially, but are also active partners in the course and our activities. This is what motivates me mostly about CBI; that it is really an organic collaboration between government, academia and industry, to effect real impact on our communities. The response of the students in this first semester of operation has been fantastic!

 

5) In January, you will be taking over as department head of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. What does that appointment mean to you and what are your plans for the future of the department?

I am both challenged by and excited about this appointment. A department head is a liaison between several levels in the academic environment–students, faculty and upper administration. A department head has to balance conflicting interests and allocate resources in a difficult economic time for the state and, more importantly, ensure that everyone feels respected and included. I am very fortunate that I have a great mentor, the current department head Ross Bagtzoglou, and a great boss, Dean Kazerounian, both of whom are exceptional leaders. My first priority for the department is that we continue to foster a climate of collaboration and collegiality, as these are the conditions necessary for individuals to thrive. Of course I have a lot of specific plans and ideas on how we can continue to grow and prosper and I have put together an amazing administrative team that will work with me to implement those ideas: Nick Lownes, Associate Head for Undergraduate Education and Outreach; Arash Zaghi, Associate Head for Research and Graduate Education; Tim Vadas, Director of the Environmental Engineering Program, and Marina Astitha, Associate Director of the ENVE program. Our department is currently at a peak of research productivity. Sustaining and growing that can only be accomplished through a team effort.

 

6) Beyond our own department at UConn, how do you think the field of environmental and civil engineering is changing overall? Has the curriculum shifted over the years you’ve been in academia?

I would say that the biggest change I have seen is that the world has become a lot more integrated and complex and so have the problems that engineers must tackle. Balancing complexity and critical skills, such as writing and communication, while maintaining academic rigor is a challenge. To achieve this, we must change how we teach, not what we teach, like using more real world problems and encouraging team-based work. Again, doing that while enrollments are increasing is not easy. The key to this progress, and I believe UConn has made a huge investment in this area, is through the UConn Institute of Teaching and Learning. Online education is where academia is heading at a very fast pace. This transcends disciplines and is a challenge that we must take on if we want to be relevant and successful as a department and institution.

 

7) What is the thing you’ll look forward to most as department head?

 In addition to things I mentioned above, I want to specifically talk about one initiative I am passionate about and I am believe I will have the ability to make some impact as department head: inspiring young girls to pursue engineering and leadership. Being the first female department head in the history of the school is a great honor and I see it as my responsibility to make sure that we bring in and grow women leaders in the years to come.

 

Author: #ILookLikeAnEngineer: Stephany Santos

Stephany Santos, UConn Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering. (UConn Photo/Christopher Larosa)

 

1) Why did you decide to attend UConn Engineering?

Growing up I played basketball, so naturally, UConn has always been on my radar from the days of Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, and more. I was a 5’4″ power forward, which meant I would not make it pro, but I still loved watching UConn basketball. I applied to over 12 colleges my senior year of college, but when it came down to it, UConn offered me the best scholarship package, and was one of the only ones to have a BRIDGE program in the School of Engineering. 

 

2) When you’ve told people you were studying engineering, what kinds of looks or reactions have you gotten?

It is ALWAYS a surprised audible or visible reaction. “Oh wow!” Often time they’ll respond with “that’s really hard”, or “you must be really smart”. It might be a bit of imposter syndrome that wants to respond with ‘no I’m not that smart, I just worked really hard’, but I always want people to know that engineering is really accessible, not some far-removed labyrinth of numbers that only geniuses can do. 

 

3) Why did you decide to pursue engineering? Was there a specific moment or person who inspired you?

As a child, I wanted to grow up to help people. When it came time for me to go to college, my father said I needed to select a career ‘appropriate for women’, which at the time, I did not agree with, but I loved my father, so I settled on a major that I knew he would not deny, mechanical engineering, because he was a mechanical engineer himself.

When I arrived at college, I was painfully shocked at what engineering actually was, since all I knew was what my father did. I switched to biomedical engineering after being enlightened by a friend that did the BRIDGE program with me, and realized I could conduct research to help directly after all. I recall thinking where has this – the world of biomedical engineering – been all my life, and wanting other kids to have that same feeling, regardless of the STEM discipline. I co-founded the outreach organization Engineering Ambassadors, in hopes to inspire other kids, especially other underrepresented kids, and show them how engineers can change the world.  Being involved in Engineering Ambassadors reaffirms my love of engineering everyday, and gives me so much hope for what engineers can do.

 

4) Tell us about your background. Where do you come from and what’s your family like?

I was born and raised in Connecticut to parents that immigrated from the Dominican Republic. My parents were very loving but very strict, so many of the activities I was allowed to do had to be school related. I was a 3-season athlete, was the president of a business club called DECA, played the saxophone in marching band, and did quite a bit of community service. At home, I spoke English and Spanish, and learned how to be really observant about the world around me.

 

5) What are your career goals?

Kevin McLaughlin in the Engineering Diversity and Outreach Center taught me that a person’s background does not define who they become. He also introduced me to the world of engineering, something I thought was only planes and automobiles. I learned that engineers’ primary motive is to help others. My new found sense of unlimited potential in a world of benevolent possibilities became motivation to impact others. My impetus has now evolved into two interconnected life missions: Research and Education, through the lens of Communication. In the future, as a faculty member in academia, I hope to develop more courses to integrate student-driven inquiry and education. I hope to relieve the stresses and concerns that I hear from my undergraduate mentees such as “Why do I bother going to class if the professor just reads from the slides” or “I try so hard and feel like I am learning a lot, but my grades don’t reflect it.” I aim to be a beacon of light and a strong support for my students, as well as my fellow faculty. I hope to be a hybrid faculty member with cross-disciplinary interests in both biomedical research and engineering education research. I recognize that there are there are about 102 Hispanic female engineering faculty in the United States, out of nearly 27,000 total engineering Faculty across the country, so I look forward to pushing boundaries, breaking stereotypes, and changing perceptions on who can be an engineer. 

 

6) What’s your favorite experience been so far in your time at UConn Engineering?

I have the privilege of being able to teach two one-credit courses for UConn Engineering students that revolve around communication and public speaking. This class is often the highlight of my week. I love seeing engineers develop themselves as culturally competent communicators that can speak their opinion unapologetically about global engineering issues. I love seeing the progress in undergrads that blow the “Dilbert” stereotype out of the water. 

 

7) If you could start over, and go back to your senior year of high school, do you think you still would have chosen to pursue engineering?

I would still choose it, but I wish I would have fallen in love with it earlier. I wish there were organizations like EA, NSBE, SHPE and SWE that came to my high school to do all of the fun things that they’re doing now. 

Author: From Undecided to Dean of Engineering at Michigan Tech

Janet Callahan, Dean of Engineering at MTU, and alumna of the UConn School of Engineering MSE program. (Photo Courtesy of Janet Callahan)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

Dr. Janet Callahan, Dean of Engineering at Michigan Technological University, arrived at the University of Connecticut as a sophomore transfer student, undecided in major. A decade later, she had three degrees from UConn and a clear career path.

“It’s normal not to know what you will settle on as your major,” Callahan noted. “My most basic message to every entering student is this: explore your interests, embrace them as part of your toolkit, while also moving forward and taking the fundamental courses.”

During that first year at UConn, Callahan took courses in alignment with a vague notion of being “pre-med” and then selected chemical engineering, which resonated with her, having a parent who was an engineer.

By her senior year, her pre-med route had led to her taking all the prerequisite courses except Introduction to Engineering. In her last semester, she learned that taking this introductory course was still an expectation. But with a great deal more persuasion, she was able to avert disaster:

“I had been called to a meeting with the head of Chemical Engineering, who explained that I had to take Introduction to Engineering (a first-year course) in order to graduate. I remember asking him, ‘Why, what knowledge is in this course that I need to learn as a graduating senior?’ I just kept asking about what it was that taking the course would teach me. After a long half-hour with me, the department head signed the paperwork to waive the course completely.”

After learning that she was on-track to graduate on time, Callahan started planning her post-graduation steps. She never intended to launch herself headfirst into a career in academia, and had plans to enter the workforce.

As fate would have it, a chance encounter with a UConn Engineering professor, Dr. Donald Potter, pivoted her trajectory towards the academic world:

“In my last semester as an undergraduate, Dr. Potter spied me one day crossing campus, returning from an on-campus interview and stopped to chat with me. He asked when I was graduating, and what my plans were. And he went on to introduce the idea of graduate school,” Callahan said.

During that conversation, he convinced her to delay her plans to enter industry and get a Master’s in metallurgy. When she entered graduate school, she had no intention of getting a Ph.D., but fate intervened again:

“I didn’t actually set out to earn my Ph.D., but after about a year in graduate school, I realized how much I liked to do independent research,” Callahan said.

While in graduate school, she took all the opportunities presented to her, which included learning a third language:

“I wanted to exercise another part of my brain.”

She remembers her advisor discovering after about a year, that she’d been taking coursework in Italian, and asking her about it. “He was fine with it, just curious about my motivation.  Ironically, a year later, he sent me to present my research at a conference at Riva del Garda, in northern Italy.”

After leaving UConn, she went on to do post-doctoral work in Melbourne, Australia, became a faculty member in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at Georgia Tech, held various leadership roles at Boise State University, and eventually arrived at Michigan Technological University, where she was appointed Dean of Engineering earlier this year.

As Dean at Michigan Tech, Callahan has the important responsibility of leading the academic and research mission of the college. She also has the distinction of being the first female dean of engineering at Michigan Tech. According to the American Society of Engineering Education, there are 368 engineering deans in the U.S., with only 17 percent of those deans being female.

Callahan is proud to serve as a role model for women looking to go into academia, and into academic leadership:

“My personal message to women is that engineering is a place where we certainly belong. Academia— being a professor—we belong there too. While getting an engineering degree, and a Ph.D., and seeking an academic career is hard work —well it turns out that for people who like hard work, and solving problems, it’s a great career. And so why not choose a career where you can make a difference in the world, which is what engineers do?” Callahan said.

And to this day, even though Callahan never intended to dive into a career in the academic world, she is forever grateful for everything that UConn Engineering has given her:

“My entire engineering foundation is based on what I learned in UConn’s School of Engineering. Beyond my technical foundation, I learned about persistence, independence, and camaraderie,” Callahan said. “It was at UConn that I learned the huge value of being with colleagues who love problem-solving, design, laughter, and teamwork. I am still in touch to this day with my graduate school friends, and with my doctoral mentor. For alumni who may read this—keep in touch with your home department and with your colleagues—these are your life-long allies.”

Author: Professor S. Pamir Alpay Elected ACerS Fellow

Pamir Alpay, executive director, speaks at the dedication ceremony of the Innovation Partnership Building (IPB) on Sept. 20, 2018. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

 

By: Marlese Lessing, MSE Department, UConn School of Engineering 

The Materials Science and Engineering’s own Professor S. Pamir Alpay, Executive Director of the Innovation Partnership Building at UConn Tech Park, has been elevated to Fellow status by the American Ceramic Society (ACerS), a great honor and distinguishment given to individuals who have impacted the ceramics engineering industry through scholarship and enterprise.

Professor Alpay was given this honor at the ACerS Annual Honor and Awards Banquet, in Columbus, Ohio in October. His research in ceramics involves multi-scale modeling, electrothermic heating and cooling, HVAC systems, dielectrically tunable oxides and other practical applications of ceramic materials.

Click here to read more on the MSE website

Author: UConn, UMass Lowell, Georgia Tech to Collaborate with Industry on 3D Printing Research Supported by NSF

Multi-material micro-lattice polymeric structures fabricated using 3D printing. (Kavin Kowsari/UConn Photo)

 

By: Anna Zarra Aldrich, Office of the Vice President of Research

UConn, the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UMass Lowell), and Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) announced a collaboration to establish SHAP3D, a National Science Foundation (NSF) Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC), to address emerging challenges of additive manufacturing, also commonly referred to as 3D printing.

IUCRCs bridge the gap between early academic research and commercial readiness, supporting use-inspired research leading to new knowledge, technological capabilities and downstream commercial applications of these technologies.

“This Center will address the grand challenges that prevent the entire 3D printing field from moving forward,” says Joey Mead, Distinguished University Professor and David and Frances Pernick Nanotechnology Professor in the Department of Plastics Engineering at UMass Lowell. Mead serves as the center director of the Center for Science of Heterogeneous Additive Printing of 3D Materials (SHAP3D).

“Our vision is to establish a synergistic national network of excellence in additive manufacturing knowledge, experience and facilities that will add value to the additive manufacturing industry, which is expected to top $20 billion within the next five years.”

The three universities, each serving as a site, are working cooperatively as SHAP3D, one of nearly 75 IUCRCs nationwide, to conduct pre-competitive research that will guide future technologies in 3D printing. The NSF funding supports the partnership, universities provide the research infrastructure and talent, and industry partners provide research funding and guide university researchers on industrially relevant projects. All members vote on the research areas the center should pursue, and research is conducted at university sites.

Read more on UConn Today.

Author: Senior Design Journey 2019: Reimagining Wheelchair Design, Part 1

Mitchell DuBuc, center, tests the new wheels in the Arthur B. Bronwell Building at UConn. (Eli Freund/UConn Photo)

 

By: Ryley McGinnis, Student Written Communications Specialist, UConn School of Engineering

One of the biggest debates in the world of wheelchair propulsion is push vs. pull, and one Senior Design team is looking to take this question to the next level of testing.

Senior biomedical engineering majors Mitchell DuBuc, James Welch, and Alex Draper, under the advisement of Professor Krystyna Gielo-Perczak, are putting a new type of wheelchair wheel to the test. Rowheels and Numotion, two companies which design wheelchair wheels with a pull system, have passed laboratory tests and applications, but this Senior Design team is testing these wheels in real-life applications.

DuBuc, who is in a wheelchair himself, got interested in the project through personal experience.

“I got interested in it because I’m in a wheelchair and that lends itself to me being interested in ambulatory advancements that come out,” DuBuc said. “I was just talking with Dr. Gielo-Perczak one day about push vs. pull, because that’s a big interest of hers, and how in what aspect the human body is stronger. I had learned about these wheels a while back, very briefly, so I looked them up again and found out that they were still pushing forward with the wheels, so I brought it to her attention, and we went from there.”

In a traditional wheelchair, the user pushes to go forward and pulls to go backward. In the new pull wheelchair, users do the complete opposite and pull to go forward and push to go backward. According to DuBuc, in push wheels, the more conventional format, some users suffer from shoulder impingement from the push movement.

Draper says the reason that wheelchair users experience pain and wear-and-tear is because the traditional wheelchair wheel is designed physiologically backward:

“For someone who’s not in a wheelchair, it’s like someone would rotate your hips 180 degrees and then someone tells you to walk forward while your legs are backward,” Draper said.

A pulling model, on the other hand, is supposed to spread out the force to bigger muscles in the arms, such as the biceps. And through their tests, they hope to see if this holds true in real-life application.

Specifically, they will be running a series of tests on other wheelchair-bound individuals, with varying levels of disability, to see whether the push or pull system works the best. They will do this by tracking muscle activity using a series of sensors that will measure the activity level of specific muscles in the arms and back. The sensors will show which muscles are activated at any given time, and the team will look at which wheels activate which muscles, Draper said. 

(Eli Freund/UConn Photo)

 

In order to perform testing on other individuals, the team needs approval from the UConn Institutional Review Board (IRB), which regulates any testing done on humans. They are hoping to have their application finished and approved by mid-December, Draper said, who cited the IRB application as one of the most stressful parts.

“It’s very specific legal talk, you have to be very direct with your phrasing, and you have to be very clear what a risk is and the solution to it,” said Draper.

DuBuc echoed this as a struggle and added that finding the participants may be another issue. He has already reached out to his support group back home, and they hope to utilize the IRB and UConn’s Center for Students with Disabilities to get the word out, but they’re still worried about the number of people they’ll be able to get.

After finding the participants, they will all have to work diligently to conduct the experiments, which will be the main project for the spring semester. They want each participant to come in two separate times to test out the different wheels so that they can get more accurate data.

“It’s important to make them comfortable,” Draper said.

But even with the obstacles, all of the team members have big hopes for what this project could do outside of the classroom setting.

“To me, the main goal is to introduce this to be used more,” said DuBuc, “and a job would be good too.”

Draper and Welch quickly agreed on the job part. But Draper still hopes it will help the company and the future of this technology.

“First, opening up the door for future research on this topic, it is something that is a relatively new technology that people aren’t familiar with and it’s not outspoken in the medical community,” said Draper. “The second would be an actual change in physical therapy diagnosis. If this project affects when they offer these wheels, that would mean the world to us.”

This article is part of a multi-part series on engineering students, and their journey through senior design. Part two of this team’s journey will come out in early April 2019.

Author: #ILookLikeAnEngineer: Jon-Marc McGregor

(Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

1) Why did you decide to attend UConn Engineering?

Besides being one of the top tier public research universities in the United States, I decided to attend the UConn School of Engineering because it was evident that faculty members and staff had their students’ best interest at heart and that the university itself had a great emphasis on diversity and inclusion with the goal of reducing the minority gap for engineering. This impacted my decision as I was looking for a university where I can feel as if I am a part of a family, and I got that feeling from UConn. In addition, from my admitted student’s day visit, I was also persuaded that engineering students on campus have a plethora of resources and opportunities at their disposal aimed to help them excel academically and succeed professionally. As such, I wanted to indulge myself within such a rich culture of excellence and student development. Hence, it was a no-brainer for where I wanted to pursue my chemical engineering degree for the next four years.

2) Tell us about your background. Where do you come from and what’s your family like?

Well, I just want to mention that I wasn’t born in this country. I am proud to have been from a beautiful tiny island within the Caribbean deemed “Land of Wood and Water” — Jamaica. To be more specific, the majority of my life has been spent residing in a relatively small community called Eltham Park within the parish of St. Catherine. I was raised in a single-parent home with my lovely mother being my sole provider, due to my father abandoning us. As such, it has been quite difficult for us financially with all the burden resting on her. Nevertheless, despite our unavoidable situation, my mom ensured that I would be provided all necessities and guidance to earn a good education so that one day we can have a better life. It is evident that she made countless sacrifices for me, ones that I will forever be grateful for because if it wasn’t for her, I definitely would not be the person I am today.

3) When you’ve told people you were studying engineering, what kinds of looks or reactions have you gotten?

Whilst growing up, becoming an engineer wasn’t really a career path that was common. Main career choices we would always hear about as kids were the possibilities of becoming a doctor, lawyer, teacher, accountant, police officer or even joining the military. So, when I told my friends and family that I wanted to study chemical engineering, I got a lot of raised eyebrows and pondering questions as engineering on a whole was a field multiple persons, including myself, were just uninformed about. One reason is that chemical engineering isn’t even a course or degree offered at any university in Jamaica.   So, I knew I had to leave my home country and basically start a new life in order to pursue my dreams and aspirations. Nevertheless, through my passion and excitement for this field of study, in the end, they all supported my decision and wished me the best of luck before my departure to the United States, where my journey began.

4) Why did you decide to pursue engineering? Was there a specific moment or person who inspired you?

As I mentioned earlier, engineering isn’t a common career choice where I’m from. Hence, growing up I didn’t really know what engineers do on a day-to-day basis. I just knew that I always loved math and science and that those courses were primarily my strongest subjects in high school. So, I somewhat knew that my future career had to be STEM-related whether that was to be a chemist, doctor, geologist, environmental scientist etc. But the question remains, why engineering? Well, there was indeed a specific mentor/role model in my life who inspired me to study chemical engineering. In 10th grade, due to my academic performance, I was recommended by my previous math teachers to enroll in a more advanced math course called Additional Mathematics which then led to taking Pure Mathematics. In that particular class, I had a teacher of the name Shaven Hendricks who was an alumnus of Ardenne High School — my alma mater — who was also a chemical engineer by profession. His teaching methods and enthusiasm for the subject, and his past jobs simply increased my passion for science even more and cemented the idea that I wanted to be a chemical engineer.

5) What are your career goals?

In all honesty, I am on the fence of whether I would like to go to graduate school or work for a chemical industry after graduation. Nevertheless, my goal in the mere future is to indeed become a chemical engineer within the research and development sector and someday afterward gain a higher level degree, whether that be a Master’s Degree or Ph.D., in analytical chemistry. I am hopeful that I will have a clearer mind and a better sense of direction in what I would like to accomplish in the future after my upcoming summer internship/co-op assignment with ExxonMobil’s Research & Engineering Company’s Process Technology Department.

6) What’s your favorite experience been so far in your time at UConn Engineering?

I have had many great experiences so far during my years here at UConn, whether that be involved in my UConn NSBE-Chapter, doing independent undergraduate research or from being a BRIDGE Calculus and Chemistry tutor this past summer. But if I was to pick one, my favorite experience thus far definitely stemmed from my involvement in Engineering Ambassadors (EA). EA is an outreach-based organization that aims at inspiring students in K-12 about engineering through the fundamentals of science and engineering. So, in entirety, we facilitate a lot of on-campus visits from elementary to high schools, but as Presentation Team members, we also go out to schools within the Connecticut area to educate students about STEM. I just love being a part of this as there is just a fulfilling feeling obtained when you see the students engaged and happy, and when both teachers and students show their gratitude and appreciation for how much our visit meant to them. Personally, it doesn’t get better than that.  It is times like those that sort of continue to motivate me every day to pursue engineering. Reason being is that the end goal, after all, is to one day positively impact society similar to how this organization impacts the wider community.

7) If you could start over, and go back to your senior year of high school, do you think you still would have chosen to pursue engineering?

If I could go back to my senior year I definitely would still choose this career path of becoming a chemical engineer. It is such a multidisciplinary field that challenges you and forces you to think differently to solve problems, and I like it!! I love being challenged, and I love the idea of one day being able to make a contribution to society through science and engineering.

Author: #ILookLikeAnEngineer: Menna Elfouly

(Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

1) Why did you decide to attend UConn Engineering?

To start with, UConn seemed to have an amazing Engineering program with a great Senior Design reputation that inspired me to be a part of the UConn community. Besides academics, I simply fell in love with the beauty of the campus as soon as I visited it, and I appreciated the diversity of students, which was visible from day one. Also having such delicious ice cream on campus is definitely a plus!

2) When you’ve told people you were studying engineering, what kinds of looks or reactions have you gotten?

Luckily people always try to say something nice such as ‘Good for you!’,  however, most of them seem to get surprised. They are surprised when I say I am studying engineering and even more surprised when they know it is mechanical engineering. I just don’t appreciate comments such as ‘Isn’t it a hard major?’ because it may question my abilities. Still, some people say it with good intentions because they may want me to take it easy. On the other hand, I have got such great reactions too. Some people get so excited and happy for me that I am studying engineering, isn’t that adorable?

3) Why did you decide to pursue engineering? Was there a specific moment or person who inspired you?

I was raised in a family that had a couple engineers and just seeing them talk so passionately about it made me passionate about engineering as well. Then I took multiple advanced courses in high school to explore engineering further. I enjoyed these courses a lot and I did well in them. That’s when I knew engineering could be a good fit for me. Sometimes I had doubts that it may be too challenging but my father always helped me to get over my doubts.

4) Tell us about your background. Where do you come from and what’s your family like?

My parents are Egyptians and I lived in Egypt for a while, then we moved back to the U.S. for school. My father is a UConn Ph.D. student alumnus, he studied computer science is currently a university professor. My mother is a kindergarten teacher. I also have three brothers, two of them go to UConn as well. The first one is a sophomore mechanical engineering major, and the second one is a freshman political science major. My youngest brother is in elementary school. I am also married and I live with my husband, who is a hospital pharmacist. Overall, I have an amazingly supportive family that helped me accomplish all the things I have accomplished today. They are loving, well-meaning and generous. They gave me strength and independence, and I am forever grateful to have them.

5) What are your career goals?

As I am currently a senior I have been looking for full-time jobs to gain some experience in the aerospace field that I have always been passionate about. Maybe later down the road, I may consider graduate school depending on which discipline I choose to specialize in.

6) What’s your favorite experience been so far in your time at UConn Engineering?

I appreciate every experience I have had at UConn Engineering because it made me the engineer I am today. However if I would classify one of them as a favorite, it would definitely be my senior design project.

7) If you could start over, and go back to your senior year of high school, do you think you still would have chosen to pursue engineering?

Definitely, I wouldn’t even change a slight detail. Engineering is not only an education that you get, but it is also a way of thinking that you learn to master that carries on with you for the rest of your life.

Author: Senior Design Resources: Departmental Leads

Professor Krystyna Gielo-Perczak at Senior Design Demonstration day. (Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

By: Ryley McGinnis, Student Written Communications Specialist, UConn School of Engineering

In each engineering department, there is at least one professor who works as the designated Senior Design lead. The position doesn’t come with any fanfare or reverence, yet this dedicated individual leads the department’s Senior Design course, collects all of the projects, distributes those projects, and guides the students through their journey from beginning to end.

For mechanical engineering majors, Professor Vito Moreno is just one of these professors.

Moreno’s job as a Senior Design lead starts even before the school year does. In mid-to-late June, Moreno and the other Mechanical Engineering Senior Design lead, Professor Brian Weber, start reaching out to companies, in conjunction with Director of Senior Design Business Development Charles Maric, to gauge which have projects they would like students to work on, and what exactly they need for those projects.

“Mechanical engineering has a long history, where a majority of our projects are sponsored by companies,” Moreno said. “We want to give the students a real-world experience and a transition by doing this.”  

All of this preparation leads to a comprehensive list that details each project, what the sponsor is looking for, and expectations. Senior Design students are then given this list on the first day of classes and they have a week to decide which projects they are interested in. Moreno and Weber then match the groups themselves so that the students aren’t just in groups with their friends.

“When you go to work you’re not going to be able to pick who you work with,” Moreno said.

After the students have their projects, they are assigned a faculty advisor, but Moreno’s role doesn’t stop there. While he still advises some teams’ projects, students still have a class component of Senior Design that meets twice a week. In the classroom, Moreno and Weber said he likes to focus on complementary information that will help them with their Senior Design project.

Communication, oral presentation skills, and teamwork are just some of these supplementary skills that students learn throughout the semester.

“We spend time talking to them about personality types and recognizing that people have a different perspective,” Moreno said. “Part of solving an engineering problem is one in which you appreciate the other person’s perspective because they may be looking at the project different from you are and vice versa.”

The supplemental materials are meant to prepare the students for the ultimate goal in April: Demonstration Day. Students will hone their oral presentation skills by conducting two presentations in both the fall and spring semester.

Throughout the first few oral presentations, Moreno said that students feel they should be presenting the absolute right answer, but this isn’t the case.

“It’s about presenting your progress, and what you’re learning, and how you’re going to use that learning to go forward,” Moreno said. “At the end, we expect to see the final answer, we don’t expect to see one in October.”

Students seem to reach that final answer through trial and error in the spring semester, when their experiments are usually in full swing and usually not going as planned, since typically most teams first test runs always fail, Moreno said.

“My response is welcome to the real world,” Moreno said.

Professor Vito Moreno at Senior Design Demonstration Day  (Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

However, overall, Moreno sees the mechanical engineering education as good preparation for Senior Design and ultimately the real world.

The same sentiment was echoed by Professor Krystyna Gielo-Perczak, Senior Design lead for Biomedical Engineering.

“They go through Junior Design, and we have certain courses that prepare them,” Gielo-Perczak said. “But Senior Design is different because they need to make this product and place it on the table.”

Much like mechanical engineering, Gielo-Perczak said that biomedical engineering projects are also sponsored by companies, but Gielo-Perczak sees her role as more than setting up projects.

“My main role [for students] is to facilitate, support and nurture, but not spell out needs,” Gielo-Perczak said. “Because I’ve known them so long, for four years, I see where they have talent and how valuable they are.”

And sometimes this support means knowing when her students need some extra support, and teaching team members to recognize this as well.

“I am showing and revealing even to my students that we need to be very flexible. If someone is stopping for a moment, let’s raise him together,” Gielo-Perczak said.

Gielo-Perczak sees these breaks as part of the learning process that will prepare them for their engineering career, not as struggles themselves, she said.

“If there is an incubation process, it is for everyone and there’s nothing wrong with it. It is a part of the process,” Gielo-Perczak said.

As for the skills Gielo-Perczak believes her students learn, creativity is at the top of the list.

“I really would like to bring the program from STEM through STEAM to STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine), and to make art (or arts) a creative component in the engineering design process,” Gielo-Perczak said.

Engineering skills, openness, problem-solving, and trying to overcome stressful situations are just some of the other many skills that students learn.

“Mostly, they need to be aware that they are not alone,” Gielo-Perczak said.

Author: #ILookLikeAnEngineer: Stephanie Kreitler

(Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

1) Why did you decide to attend UConn Engineering?
I decided to attend UConn Engineering because the second I walked on campus I fell in love. I came here on my first and only college visit freshman year of high school, with my brother and cousin, to take the campus tour. They hated it, I loved it, and I could not imagine myself anywhere else.

2) When you’ve told people you were studying engineering, what kinds of looks or reactions have you gotten?
For me, I am studying civil engineering, which is a heavily male-dominated profession. When I tell people I study civil they first think it is some kind of philosophy. But then I correct myself and say civil engineering and I will usually get the wide eyes and people saying “Wow that’s great! It must be hard right?” I remember going to my interview for my first internship and they had to ask me if I would feel comfortable working in a male-dominated environment. Being at my internship I was actually the only girl on site and they had to make a special bathroom just for me! It was crazy to think about how much confidence I was able to gain from being in a meeting with all men and being the one to propose an idea and have them all agree or propose a better way to schedule and organize a process and have them say “Why haven’t I thought of that?”

3) Why did you decide to pursue engineering? Was there a specific moment or person who inspired you?
I decided to pursue engineering because I love math and science. I actually was going to go to school for teaching, but I decided to first come to school for engineering and then, if I want to, I can come back and learn to teach. My grandfather was also an engineer, so he was a big role model for me. Whenever I would go visit him, we would go into a discussion about something he was doing at work, a problem in the world that an engineer can fix, or he would ask me about a topic and say “well if you were an engineer you would be working with this kind of stuff.” So he was the one who gave me the big push in the right direction.

4) Tell us about your background. Where do you come from and what’s your family like?
I am from Shelton, Connecticut and I come from a middle-class family. My parents own a pie shop named Oronoque Farms which is known to have the best apple pie in Connecticut, so you could find any of the Kreitler kids at the pie shop. We are all hard working and we learned about what responsibility is at a young age. My parents were able to teach us skills with communication as well as problem-solving, because we not only learned how to use the cash register, take orders and bake pies, but we would also go out to multiple farmers markets and sell there too. We are also probably the most supportive family you know, going to every lacrosse game, volleyball game, or dance competition. My parents were always supportive of every decision we made and I could not have been more blessed to have such an amazing family that cares so much about each other.

5) What are your career goals?
My goal is to become a structural engineer. I love learning about the different forces acting on an object, and it just makes so much sense to me. With this, I want to go into some kind of testing for different materials or structures. I am currently looking to work for big companies like Sikorsky, Electric Boat, or a structural engineering company.

6) What’s your favorite experience been so far in your time at UConn Engineering?
My favorite experience at UConn Engineering is Engineering Ambassadors. We are an organization that helps to improve students here at UConn, and we go out to schools and educate kids about STEM and expose them at a young age. I love being a part of this group because they are full of the most amazing people I have ever met, and the goal is something that I strongly believe in. I wish that someone told me about STEM at a young age because I did not have any kind of exposure to engineering until I was a senior in high school. And even then, it wasn’t until I did the BRIDGE program that I had a full grasp about what it was that I would be studying for the next four years of my life.

7) If you could start over, and go back to your senior year of high school, do you think you still would have chosen to pursue engineering?
If I could start over I know I would choose this as my career path. I loved what I learned then, and I’m loving what I am learning now. I don’t think I would change a thing!

Author: Building a Research Career at UConn

Pierre Fils, a first-year graduate student on the Ph.D. track in structural engineering. (Carson Stifel/UConn Photo)

 

By: Anna Zarra Aldrich, Office of the Vice President for Research

Sometimes walking into a professor’s office hours can launch a student on an incredible research track. Pierre Fils, a first-year graduate student on the Ph.D. track in structural engineering at the University of Connecticut, did just that his junior year.

When he went to his design of steel structures professor, Arash Zaghi’s, office, Fils was immediately intrigued by the research Zaghi was doing in structural engineering.

“I went in thinking I would just talk about the class, but I left with an unofficial mentor,” Fils says.

Zaghi, along with Sarira Motaref, assistant professor in residence, is indeed now Fils’ mentor for his Ph.D. work.

Fils is studying the structure of homes in Haiti. He hopes to determine how they could be built to be more resistant to earthquakes like the catastrophe in 2010 that brought down hundreds of thousands of buildings, displacing millions of survivors.

Fils got his start in research early on by utilizing the connections available to undergrads at UConn. As a member of the EcoHouse learning community, he was able to see first-hand what research looks like.

“I kind of had this perception that researchers were a little weird, but once I got to know Professor (Richard) Parnas (faculty director of EcoHouse), I got to see what a cool person he was,” Fils says. “That was my introduction to research and I thought ‘this is cool’.”

Read more on UConn Today. 

Author: Male Fertility Test Developers Win Venture Competition

Engineering doctoral student Reza Amin presents the QRFertile concept to a panel of judges during the Wolff New Venture Competition. (Eric Olson for UConn)

 

By: Mike Enright, UConn Communications

One grew up in the shadow of UConn and the other, on a distant continent. But Stephanie Knowlton and Reza Amin are happy they made their trip to the state’s flagship university – no matter the route.

The pair of biomedical engineering doctoral candidates recently won $20,000 to further their entrepreneurial concept through the Wolff New Venture Competition. They are developing an in-home device to measure male fertility, called QRfertile, under the guidance of Savas Tasoglu, assistant professor of mechanical engineering.

“When we are in the lab every day, it feels like a lab project,” says Knowlton. “But when we get out there and talk to people about the potential to be something that affects real people, that gets us more excited.”

The Wolff Prize is endowed through the Thomas John and Bette Wolff Family Chair in Strategic Entrepreneurship, and the event is sponsored by the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in UConn’s School of Business.

Amin came to Connecticut after doing his undergraduate work in electronics in India and his master’s in mechanical engineering in his native country of Iran. He is earning his doctoral degree at UConn in biomedical engineering. Knowlton, of Tolland, grew up with some members of the Wolff family as neighbors – something she didn’t even realize until the day of the competition.

Amin and Knowlton began working on this project in 2015, when it was just a research idea. One in six couples of reproductive age worldwide are affected at least once by some form of infertility, and male infertility contributes to about half of those cases, according to Tasoglu.

The pair developed the technology needed for the home testing before they had the idea of what the exact product would be. They then started to explore how consumers use microfluidics – the science of manipulating and controlling fluids on a small sub-millimeter scale.

Read more on UConn Today. 

Author: UConn Rocketry Team Hopes to Reach New Heights

The UConn Rocketry Club traveled to the Spaceport America Cup in New Mexico this past summer, which was their first time competing (Photo Credit: UConn Rocketry Club).

 

By: Ryley McGinnis, Student Written Communications Specialist, UConn School of Engineering

Many people dream of one day building a rocket from scratch that can reach 10,000 or 30,000 feet–University of Connecticut’s rocketry team has made that dream a reality.

The new team, which is a subset of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) club, was started by senior chemistry major Samuel Hamilton IV about a year ago. Since then, it has drawn in engineering majors from various disciplines.

“It was really my brainchild,” Hamilton said, “I really wanted to form a competition team, and there was a lot of red tape involved in getting our own club so we decided to go under AIAA.”

AIAA is a professional organization that is “dedicated to advancing aeronautics and astronautics and promoting the professionalism of those engaged in these pursuits,” according to AIAA’s UConntact page.

Last year, Hamilton got in contact with mechanical engineering alumni Ryan Hyatt ‘18, former president of UConn’s AIAA club, to discuss the club, and they both decided they wanted to move forward and create UConn’s own competition team.

“The basic premise of the club is to design and fabricate a high-power[ed] rocket and a high-power[ed] rocket motor to fly to an altitude that we determine,” Hamilton said.

The end goal for each year is to go and compete in the Intercollegiate Rocketry Engineering Competition, otherwise known as the Spaceport America Cup, which has two different altitude categories: 10,000 and 30,000 feet. This year, Hamilton said they are aiming to make a rocket that will reach the 30,000 feet mark, like last year.

The Spaceport America Cup is held in June every year in New Mexico and brings over 100 teams from across the globe such as McGill University, Stanford University, and the University of California, Los Angeles. Hamilton and three other club members went this past June, but they’re hoping that this year’s rocket will be a better success.

Last year’s rocket was five inches in diameter, made with filament-wound fiberglass and was projected to reach 27,000 feet. Unfortunately, there was an anomaly in the rocket that caused the main parachute to deploy at high speeds–about 600 mph or greater. This instantly shredded the entire airframe and destroyed the electronics on board, Hamilton said.

Therefore, they were unable to present their altitude to the judges and were not able to be considered for the final judging.

This year, however, they have learned from their mistakes, their team has grown, and they are ready to improve.

“Last year we only had six people, so it was all hands on deck,” Hamilton said.

This year, there are about 10 to 15 people on the team, and they are now divided into subgroups. A member of the club can choose to work on propulsion, the airframe, avionics, or the payload.

The club does not instantly jump into the creation of the main rocket, members practice on smaller scale rockets through building and test runs.

“The first couple months we’re making our own mini-rockets, and we will eventually go to work on the main rocket,” club member Liam Smego ‘22, a mechanical engineering major, said.

A lot of the club members are mechanical engineering majors, which has an aerospace concentration. Some of the members see this club as preparing them and helping them further their ME education.

Lars Gorczyca, a senior mechanical engineering major, and club member, said that the Rocketry Club is a much more hands-on experience, but in terms of fabricating and designing the rocket, he said his classes definitely helped him out.

While Smego is only in his first year at UConn, he believes that his involvement with the rocketry team will help prepare him for the rest of his coursework, especially since he wants to specialize in aerospace.

“I think it will help ground my future classes in reality,” Smego said, “I think it’s good to work a deadline and work with other people to meet it.”

Author: Over $550,000 in Scholarships Awarded to UConn Engineering Undergraduates

(Eli Freund/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

Three-hundred and eight worthy students gathered in the Rome Ballroom on October 10, excitingly accepting their scholarships, while also meeting face-to-face with their donors.

One-by-one the students beamed as they shook hands with their donors and swapped stories, clutching the certificate they just received.

The ceremony, and the certificates, were all part of the annual UConn Engineering Undergraduate Scholarship Ceremony, which rewards students who have exhibited exceptional accomplishments in their academic career.

Dr. Kazem Kazerounian, UConn Engineering Dean, said that this event is important because it celebrates and recognizes some of the School’s top students:

“You all are the true spirit of engineering, and are the very top,” Kazerounian said. “Because of that, you will proudly carry that torch forever, and make us proud when you graduate.”

Over $550,000 was given out to students from individual donors, distinguished alumni, small businesses, and large companies like Eversource Energy, General Electric, and United Technologies Corporation.

Dana Hamed ’20 (BME), a student receiving a School of Engineering Centennial Scholarship, said that she hopes she has the opportunity to give back to students in the future:

“Scholarships allow students to pursue their dreams and become practicing engineers,” Hamed said. “Hopefully, several years from now, we’ll be able to help future engineers pursue their dreams, just like these wonderful donors have done for us.”

On the donor side, Dr. John Wyatt ’73 (B.S., Chemical Engineering), who was fundamental in setting up the ExxonMobil UConn Alumni Endowed Fund, during his time working for the company, said:

“You should all be proud of what you have accomplished, and bask in these college years, but don’t stay too long,” Wyatt said. “There’s a lot of work to do out there, and we have a lot of energy problems, and environmental problems, and we need all of you to get out there and get that work done.”

But most notable was one of the new scholarships announced this year, in memory of long-time UConn Engineering Professor John Enderle, which was announced by one of his former students, Dr. George Alexander Korentis. Enderle, who passed away in April 2018, was a department head in the Electrical Engineering Department, and the founding director of the Biomedical Engineering Department in 1997.

Korentis, who was mentored and shaped by Enderle, said that the opportunities that are created from scholarships are opportunities to look forward, not backwards:

“Dr. Enderle started out at a community college, where he met someone who inspired him to design devices that would benefit humanity,” Korentis said. “In 1973, he received a scholarship to attend RPI, and ever since that day he never looked back. I think that’s an important lesson to everyone receiving a scholarship tonight, to know that it’s important never to look back.”

Ending the night, UConn Engineering Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and Diversity Daniel Burkey left the students with some words of encouragement:

“So much of what scholarships do is launching you as future engineers,” Burkey said “We look forward to all of the great things you’re going to do once you graduate.”

For a full listing of all of the scholarships and recipients, please click here.

Author: New GAANN Funding Will Allow UConn Engineering to Hire Up To 30 Additional Top-Quality Ph.D. Students

Arash Zaghi, one of the faculty members awarded a GAANN grant, works with two of his Ph.D. students, one of whom is currently being supported by a GAANN grant. (Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

Following a nationally-competitive application process, the University of Connecticut School of Engineering successfully secured four multi-year Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) awards from the U.S. Department of Education, each for approximately $1 million. The number of awards given to the School represent around 5.5 percent of the total given across the country in 2018.

Over the next three years, the awards will provide prestigious fellowship opportunities to around 30 top-quality Ph.D. students in disciplines ranging from cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, big data, and biopolymer to resiliency and robustness of infrastructures, creating crucial knowledge generation and workforce development to the state and the country.

The purposes of the GAANN program are to strengthen graduate research, training, and scholarship, as well as expand access to graduate study. Domestic students with demonstrated financial need and outstanding academic credentials are provided funding to pursue a Ph.D., according to the GAANN website. In addition to this year’s four awards, the School of Engineering has received 13 other GAANN awards since 2009.

According to UConn Engineering Dean Kazem Kazerounian, these prestigious awards will allow the School to attract top-quality graduate students who will work in cutting-edge research with the School’s most talented faculty members:

“High quality graduate students are crucial for our research efforts, helping us to advance some of the world’s toughest engineering challenges,” Kazerounian said. “With these new GAANN awards, we will have the opportunity to bring in extremely talented students in areas of high need, help push new discovery, and in-turn fuel economic progress in our state and beyond.”

Faculty receiving the awards, top row (from left to right): Dr. John Chandy, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Dr. Tim Vadas, Civil and Environmental Engineering; Dr. Arash Zaghi, Civil and Environmental Engineering. Faculty receiving the awards, bottom row (from left to right): Dr. Kelly Burke, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Dr. Sanguthevar Rajasekaran, Computer Science and Engineering.

 

The five faculty members, from four different departments, who will lead each GAANN are: Dr. Kelly Burke, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; Dr. John Chandy, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Dr. Arash Zaghi and Dr. Tim Vadas of Civil and Environmental Engineering; and Dr. Sanguthevar Rajasekaran, Computer Science and Engineering. In addition to working within their respective departments, all of these grants will involve faculty crossing disciplines, which will expose graduate students to a unique multi-disciplinary research environment.

For more information on GAANN at the School of Engineering, please visit: https://gaann.engr.uconn.edu.

Author: Innovation Partnership Building Officially Open

The Innovation Partnership Building was officially opened at a dedication ceremony on Sept. 20. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

 

By: Mike Enright, UConn Communications

UConn is home to some of the most active and innovative researchers in the world. Across all of the University’s campuses, scholars, artists, and scientists are working on projects that will help our state, society, economy, and the world.

That global commitment was demonstrated at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for UConn’s Innovation Partnership Building (IPB) on Discovery Drive in Storrs Thursday.

UConn President Susan Herbst, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, various state legislators, and faculty, staff, and students took part in the morning event.

“Today, we can say the dream of a state-of-the-art facility to foster collaboration between UConn and our industry partners is reality at last,” said President Herbst. “It is one more demonstration of our unwillingness to settle for the good when we know we can achieve great things. That spirit not only drove the creation of this project, but will drive the discovery and research that take place here.”

The IPB is UConn’s premier center for state-of-the-art equipment, cutting-edge research, and cross-disciplinary industrial partnerships. The new facility houses 10 industrial research and development centers that cover a diverse base, ranging from advanced manufacturing to biomedical devices to cybersecurity.

Read More on UConn Today

Author: Senior Design Resources: The Machine Shop

Mark Bouley, right, sits with a UConn Engineering student during safety classes. (UConn Photo/Christopher Larosa)

 

By: Ryley McGinnis, Student Written Communications Specialist, UConn School of Engineering

Tucked away in the basement of Castleman is a 6,000 square-foot space filled to the brim with mills, lathes, and an industrial 3D printer.

Known to students and faculty as the “Castleman Machine Shop,” the space acts as a major resource for university research across all disciplines. But come every spring semester, the Machine Shop becomes a second home for UConn Engineering students trying to design, build, and finish their Senior Design projects.

In their fall semester, Senior Design teams will decide whether or not they need to use the Machine Shop based on their project. If so, they can send one or two group members to attend the mandatory 16-hour training class to learn the basics and safety procedures of the shop from two lifelong machinists who run the machine shop, Senior Machine Shop Engineer Peter Glaude and Mechanical Design Technician Mark Bouley.

The training is mostly an introduction to the shop’s capabilities, but safety is one of the main concerns when teaching students, Glaude said, who has worked at the Machine Shop for eight years.

After a student completes their mandatory training, they are free to come into the shop and work on their projects. Most students come in with an idea in their head, and Glaude and Bouley are there to help them make it into a comprehensive design. For Glaude and Bouley, sometimes this means telling students that their projects aren’t realistic with the time or money available.

“These students spend all fall semester designing and thinking about their project. Then they come to us in February and tell us all about what they want to make, and we have to teach them that they can’t make what they want,” Glaude said.

Eventually, students come back with tweaks to their plans and get started on their projects.

“It is a learning experience,” George Assard, Director of Engineering Technical Services, said. “Students have to figure out how to work together to make a project happen.”

Both Assard and Glaude agree that students experience a “pretty steep learning curve” when they come to the Machine Shop, but Glaude and Bouley try and teach students as much as they can in the time students have to bring their projects to life. “We like to see them learn, we don’t want to see them fail,” said Assard.

For Bouley and Glaude, their goal of making sure every student succeeds doesn’t end with the initial design process. They take students through their projects from start to finish by answering questions, teaching students more specifics on how to use machines, and sometimes even helping them make parts that they couldn’t have made on their own, Glaude said.

Still, with all of this help, March and April are crunch-times for most students preparing for Demonstration Day.

Peter Glaude, center, teaches a group of students safety procedures for the Machine Shop. (UConn Photo/Christopher Larosa)

 

“Mark and I are running around putting out fires here and there, chasing tools, it can get kind of hectic,” Glaude said. Even in the hustle and bustle of Senior Design, Glaude and Bouley still have to keep up with other university research projects, so they always keep busy, Glaude said.

Glaude’s biggest tip for Senior Design students using the Machine Shop is to get there when the shop opens at 8 a.m., that way they get extra time and attention since the shop is usually empty until about 11 a.m. every day.

The end result of a year’s worth of work is rewarding not only for the students but for Bouley and Glaude as well.

“Students get to finally put their ideas into actual parts. That experience alone when they get done with something, and they’re just excited that they were able to go from thinking about something to having it is really neat,” Glaude said.

Glaude and Bouley always try to make sure that every student has something to present on Demonstration Day, even if it isn’t exactly what they originally planned, Glaude said.

“There is usually always an answer to a problem. We will put in some extra hours with them versus making them do all the parts themselves so at least the school has something to present,” Glaude said.

Most importantly, Assard points out that the goal of Senior Design is to learn crucial workforce skills.

“The industry is looking for people who can work together as a team in a time frame and budget to finish a project,” Assard said. “This is what they’re going to do in the outside world.”

Author: UConn Engineering Welcomes Twelve New Faculty, Increases Focus on Faculty Diversity

The twelve new faculty members hail from top institutions like Brown University, MIT, and Stanford. Top Row (from left to right): Yuanyuan Zhu (MSE), Yupeng Chen (BME), Qian Yang (CSE), Stefan Schaffoner (MSE), Volkan Ortalan (MSE), Syam Nukavarapu (BME); Bottom Row (from left to right): Liang Zhang (CBE), Jasna Jankovic (MSE), Lesley Frame (MSE), Anna Tarakanova (ME), Ahmad Jbara (CSE), Derek Aguiar (CSE).

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

The UConn School of Engineering is proud to announce the hiring of twelve high-caliber faculty members since the spring 2018 semester.

The new faculty members come from a variety of different backgrounds, including recent Ph.D. graduates and postdocs from institutions like Brown University, MIT, and Stanford, and veteran faculty from the UConn Health Center and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, one of the top engineering schools in the world.

This year’s faculty hires, as well as hires from the last few years, reflect the  School of Engineering’s emphasis on increasing faculty diversity. Since Fall 2017, 47 percent of the school’s new hires have been female, and nearly 20 percent of the school’s tenure/tenure-track faculty and 38 percent of the assistant professor-in-residence faculty are female, both above the national average.  

Additionally, in the last few years, the school has hired several top-notch underrepresented minority faculty, and in the summer of 2018 the school appointed its first ever female department head, Dr. Maria Chrysochoou, to lead the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.

The new faculty members are as follows:

Name: Dr. Derek Aguiar

Title: Assistant Professor

Department: Computer Science and Engineering

Bio: Dr. Aguiar joined the UConn Computer Science and Engineering Department in 2018. He graduated from the University of Rhode Island with B.S. degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Brown University, advised by Professor Sorin Istrail, and completed his postdoctoral work at Princeton University with Professor Barbara Engelhardt. His research aims to develop probabilistic machine learning models, combinatorial algorithms, and scalable inference methods to better understand high-dimensional data, particularly genomics and genetics data applied to complex disease.

 

Name: Dr. Yupeng Chen

Title: Associate Professor

Department: Biomedical Engineering

Bio: Dr. Chen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Connecticut. He received his B.S. from Fudan University in China and pursued his M.S. in biomedical engineering and Ph.D. in nanomaterials and nanomedicine at Brown University. Dr. Chen has a long-term interest in translating advances from nanotechnology into clinical applications. In particular, he focuses on engineering self-assembled Janus-base nanotubes into various non-covalent architectures for drug delivery and tissue engineering. Several US and international patents on his work have been successfully licensed to NanoDe Therapeutics, Inc. Dr. Chen also serves as the Principal Investigator of several competitive research grants from NIH and NSF and has received more than three-million-dollars in funding so far in his career. Dr. Chen has won several prestigious awards, including the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from NSF in 2017 and the New Investigator Recognition Award from the Orthopaedic Research Society in 2013 (he was the top-one awardee selected from 545 applicants all over the world).

 

Name: Dr. Lesley Frame

Title: Assistant Professor

Department: Materials Science and Engineering

Bio: Dr. Frame earned her S.B. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Department of Materials Science Engineering. Frame then completed her M.S. and Ph.D. in MSE at the University of Arizona. After receiving her Ph.D., she remained at the University of Arizona as a postdoctoral researcher with The Arizona Research Institute for Solar Energy, and in this position, she worked on the novel design and construction of a solar-thermal desalination unit for use by the Navajo Nation to generate potable water for livestock. In 2011, Frame conducted research at Cardiff University and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory as a Fulbright Scholar, where she focused on mechanisms of residual stress relaxation in plastically deformed copper alloys using accelerated corrosion testing, traditional metallography, x-ray diffraction, and neutron diffraction methods.

 

Name: Dr. Jasna Jankovic

Title: Assistant Professor

Department: Materials Science and Engineering

Bio: Dr. Jankovic has been serving as an assistant professor since January 2018. She has been teaching students and working on research within her areas of expertise, which include fuel cell materials fabrication and characterization, advanced microscopy techniques, ceramic materials processing, polymer coatings, fuel refining, and catalyst deactivation. She completed her doctoral research at the University of British Columbia, where she worked on proton conductive ceramic materials for an intermediate temperature proton exchange fuel cell. Her work provided an understanding of the conductivity mechanisms in these novel materials and opened the door for further development in the future.

More recently, first as a post-doctoral fellow and then as a senior research scientist at Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation, she acquired profound experience in materials for clean energy applications and skills of advanced materials characterization including tomographic TEM. 

 

Name: Dr. Ahmad Jbara

Title: Assistant Professor-in-Residence

Department: Computer Science and Engineering

Bio: Dr. Jbara received his Ph.D. in Computer Science in July 2016 from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. He was a researcher at the Enterprise Systems Modeling Laboratory for two years, and was an adjunct lecturer of software engineering at the Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. He was also a faculty member at the Computer Science School of the Netanya Academic College, Israel. His research interests are in the fields of program comprehension, code complexity metrics, code visualization, and conceptual modeling using Object-Process Methodology (OPM). During the course of his Ph.D. studies he coined the term “code regularity” and modeled its effect on comprehension. Insights from his Master’s thesis were adopted into an early version of Internet Explorer.

 

Name: Dr. Syam Nukavarapu

Title: Associate Professor

Department: Biomedical Engineering

Bio: Dr. Nukavarapu’s research interests include orthopaedic biomaterials and tissue engineering, with emphasis on developing and evaluating scaffold structures that mimic the extracellular matrix environment to promote bone, cartilage, and bone-cartilage interface regeneration. He completed his Ph.D. from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), India, in Materials Science, and received post-doctoral training at Lehigh University, PA, and University of Virginia. Dr. Nukavarapu’s group is moving from UCONN Health where he is an Associate Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery with joint appointments in the departments of Biomedical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering. He has authored over fifty original articles, book chapters, and invited opinion article/reviews. He has edited two books in biomaterials and tissue engineering and has two issued patents. Dr. Nukavarapu has been the elected chair of Tissue Engineering Special Interest Group at the Society for Biomaterials (SFB).

 

Name: Dr. Volkan Ortalan

Title: Associate Professor

Department: Materials Science and Engineering

Bio: Dr. Volkan earned his Ph.D. in 2010 from the University of California, Davis, with a thesis in atomic-scale characterization of nanostructures in heterogeneous catalysts. He had previously earned two Bachelors of Science from the Middle East Technical University in Turkey; one in mechanical engineering, and one in metallurgical and materials engineering. Ortalan has been a postdoctoral scholar at Physical Biology Center for Ultrafast Science and Technology at California Institute of Technology working with Nobel Laureate Ahmed Zewail and a visiting scientist at the National Center of Electron Microscopy at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and at the Advanced Microscopy Laboratory at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  

Following his postdoctoral studies at Caltech, he joined Intel Corporation as a lithography technology development engineer. After his industrial career at Intel, he joined Purdue University and established an impressive research and teaching portfolio as an assistant professor of materials engineering.

 

Name: Dr. Stefan Schaffoner

Title: Assistant Professor

Department: Materials Science and Engineering

Bio: Dr. Schafföner earned his doctorate in 2015 from TU Bergakademie Freiberg, a premier STEM university in Germany. His thesis focused on calcium zirconate as a refractory material for titanium and titanium alloy melts. While at this institution, he ultimately led a research team of one postdoctoral and two Ph.D. students studying high-temperature ceramics, along with five related projects, funded from several German and European agencies. He later continued his research and teaching at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, funded by a research fellowship from the German Research Foundation (DFG). 

While at UConn, Schaffoner intends to research automotive, aerospace, energy and biomedical applications of high-temperature alloys, ceramics and compounds, as well as to develop processing and recycling techniques for these materials.

 

Name: Dr. Anna Tarakanova

Title: Assistant Professor

Department: Mechanical Engineering

Bio:  Dr. Anna Tarakanova joined the University of Connecticut in 2018 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Her research focuses on advancing molecular and multiscale modeling methods to study the structure, function, and mechanics of biological and bioinspired materials, driving the development of new functional materials for medical and engineering applications. Additionally, she investigates new characterization approaches for highly disordered molecules and their associated functions and implications for health and disease. Her work aims to expose disease mechanisms from a fundamental scale into structural and functional hierarchies associated with complex biological systems. She received her B.S. in Applied and Engineering Physics from Cornell University (2011), and her M.S. and Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2015 and 2017, respectively), followed by a one-year appointment as a postdoctoral scholar, also at MIT. 

 

Name:  Dr. Qian Yang

Title: Assistant Professor

Department: Computer Science and Engineering

Bio: Dr. Yang completed her Ph.D. from the Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering at Stanford University, and holds a B.A. in applied mathematics/computer science from Harvard College. Before joining UConn, she was a postdoctoral scholar in the Materials Computation and Theory group at Stanford University. Her research interests lie at the intersection of machine learning, computational science, and the physical sciences, in particular materials science and chemistry.

 

Name: Dr. Liang Zhang

Title: Assistant Professor

Department: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Bio: Dr. Zhang is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UConn. He earned his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin. After that, he worked at Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania for his postdoctoral training. Dr. Zhang’s research focuses on atomistic simulation and understanding of important chemical reactions for energy and environmental applications. His research focuses on in-silico discovery and engineering of materials for a sustainable future.

 

Name: Dr. Yuanyuan Zhu

Title: Assistant Professor

Department: Materials Science and Engineering

Bio: Dr. Zhu earned her Bachelor’s in metallic materials engineering from the College of Materials Science and Engineering in Sichuan University, in Chengdu, China in 2006. Her Master’s degree in the Solid Atomic Imaging Division from the Institute of Metal Research Chinese Academy of Sciences was focused on STEM characterization of pyrolytic carbon. Her Ph.D. from Texas University A&M was centered around atomic-scale characterizations of functional heterogeneous thin films.  

Zhu understands first-hand what it’s like to apply research to a commercial market. She previously worked as a postdoctoral research associate and later as staff scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, both in the Physical & Computational Sciences Directorate and the Reactor Materials and Mechanical Design group in the Energy and Environment Division. 

Author: A Cyborg Cockroach Could Someday Save Your Life

A cockroach with an implanted neurocontroller. (Image courtesy of the Dutta Lab)

 

By: Colin Poitras, UConn Communications 

A cockroach no bigger than a large paper clip scurries across the floor of Abhishek Dutta’s lab at the University of Connecticut.

Some scientists might be shocked to see such a notorious visitor occupying their research space.

But not Dutta. He watches intently as the roach moves left, and then right, then left again, as it traverses the cool tile floor. His interest is well-founded, for he is the one initiating the tiny creature’s movements with a small handheld device about 15 feet away.

The Madagascar hissing cockroach in this lab is not just any old member of the order Blattodea. It is a robot-roach hybrid, a hardwired biological insect  a cyborg if you will  and its future high-tech brethren may one day save your life.

“The use of insects as platforms for small robots has an incredible number of useful applications, from search and rescue to national defense,” says Dutta, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering who specializes in control system optimization and cyber-physical systems.

Cockroach robots aren’t new, however. Researchers have been exploring biorobotic platforms for insects for the better part of the past decade. But building robotic systems at such miniature scale isn’t easy, and the technology seems to work only about half the time.

In a paper soon to be published in Proceedings of the Conference on Cognitive Computational Neuroscience, Philadelphia 2018, Dutta, and undergraduate Evan Faulkner, a junior working in his lab, report their creation of a microcircuit that they say allows more reliable and precise control of robotic insect motion.

Read more on UConn Today

Author: Human Rights and the Supply Chain

A young boy working at a light bulb factory in India. A human rights class for engineering and social sciences students encourages complementary approaches to social and environmental sustainability in the supply chain for manufacturing businesses, addressing such issues as child labor and pollution. (Photo by Robin Romano/University Library Archives Special Collections)

 

By: Kenneth Best, UConn Communications

When a white paper was issued earlier this year from a recent UConn conference addressing how to protect human rights and promote social and environmental sustainability in the light manufacturing sector, the document became the most recent addition to resources that help the 200 students pursuing either major or minor studies in human rights.

One of the classes these students can take is an interdisciplinary class, Assessment for Human Rights & Sustainability. Over the past four years, students in the class have examined how companies assess their global supply chains to ensure designs and business practices that promote positive social and economic development, while minimizing the environmental impact on the communities where they make products.

The class was developed by Shareen Hertel, an associate professor of political science with a joint appointment in the Human Rights Institute, and former UConn engineering professor Allison MacKay, who now is a professor and chair of civil, environmental, and geodetic engineering at Ohio State University. They continue to co-teach the class, which is offered again this semester, via live simulcast for students both in Storrs and in Columbus, Ohio.

Hertel says the idea for the class resulted from the interest she and MacKay shared in looking at how to assess the social and environmental sustainability of most products that people use.

“Allison and I were always looking for ways to collaborate,” she says. “Because I research in the area of supply chain management – Where do your shoes come from? Your morning cocoa? – and Allison works on fate of contaminants – How polluted is the world and how long will that pollution hang around? – we realized that we had an extraordinary area of mutual interest, which was looking at how we would assess social and environmental sustainability for the products that we use. The goal was to equip students to assess the readiness of companies to comply with both legal requirements and voluntary standards that go above and beyond what the law requires.”

As an example of the benefits of bringing social sciences and engineering experts together for this purpose, Hertel says a company such as the athletic footwear and apparel manufacturer Reebok might send a mixed skills audit team to look at the fabrication of soccer balls in Pakistan and find child labor in that supply chain. The engineer on the team is not going to know what to do with that child, but the social scientist will, she says. Or if contaminants are found in the waste stream, it will be a challenge for the social scientist to measure the actual level of contamination, but the engineer will know what to do.

Read more on UConn Today. 

Author: Alumni News for August 2018

Jason Cabral (B.S., M.S. Civil Engineering, ‘03, ‘08) has been named a 2018 40 Under 40 award recipient by the Hartford Business Journal. A regional transmission & distribution manager at Burns & McDonnell, Cabral served as program manager for FirstEnergy’s $1 billion large transmission project program and grew a team of four to over 80 project managers, schedulers, engineers, cost analysts and construction representatives within 12 months. That program’s success led to FirstEnergy choosing Burns & McDonnell for a more than $5 billion initiative called Energizing the Future.

 

Robert Catudal (B.S. Chemical Engineering, ’81) has been named regional director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at ExxonMobil Chemical Company. In his nearly 40 years with ExxonMobil, Catudal leaves his post as chemical plant manager in Baytown, TX for his new position with the company in Brussels, Belgium. He began his career with the company in 1981 in Baton Rouge holding numerous technical, operations, engineering and process supervisory and management positions in Baton Rouge, Baytown, and Houston.

 

Thomas M. Ionta, P.E. (B.S. Civil Engineering, ‘79) has joined TranSystems Corp. as a vice president and senior project manager in the company’s Santa Ana, California, office. With more than 38 years of experience, Ionta has worked on projects for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC), and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) in southern California.

 

Inaam Khan (B.S. Mechanical Engineering, ’14) launched I-Khanic, LLC, a luxury line of colorful, whimsical, performance socks, in 2017. Starting with men’s dress socks that people loved, Khan expanded to an athletic sock, and then, responding to popular demand primarily from young women, he designed an ankle sock. While most sales have been conducted via the company website, promotional activities have extended to manufacturers’ conventions and on-site sales at major Connecticut companies like Cigna.

 

Thomas G. Lewis, P.E., J.D. (B.S., M.S. Civil Engineering, ‘86, ‘91) has joined the Louis Berger Board of Directors. President, U.S. Division, at Louis Berger, Lewis has also served as group vice president for the U.S. domestic business segment and, previously, manager of the environmental and disaster management services practice area. He is a licensed professional engineer in three U.S. states and serves on several industry boards and committees, including the Sustainable Infrastructure Advisory Board at Harvard University and the Transportation Research Board. Lewis earned his law degree at Rutgers University.

 

Stay in touch with the School of Engineering.  Join our LinkedIn alumni group to share your latest activities and learn what your fellow graduates are doing.  You may also send your news directly to Heidi Douglas, Director of Engineering Alumni Relations.  We love hearing from you!

Author: UConn Engineering and Connecticut Innovations Bridge the Gap Between Entrepreneurial Success and Failure

Reza Amin, co-founder of QRfertile LLC and UConn Ph.D candidate in Mechanical Engineering, shows a panel of judges his technology at a competition in 2016 (Christopher LaRosa/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

Entrepreneurship is one of the riskiest professions an individual can embark on. Many take that journey alone, without a safety net, which often leads towards a tough journey ahead. That’s why support, knowledge, and mentorship are key factors in growing an entrepreneurial venture.

Those key ingredients are baked into the way things are done in UConn Engineering’s two semester Experiential Technology I and II courses, which culminates in an opportunity for students in the class to apply for a “Third Bridge Grant.”

The class, which was started around five years ago, offers graduate students the chance to learn crucial skills in entrepreneurship and technology development, apply those skills towards commercialization with faculty advisors, and gives them the opportunity to be mentored by veteran entrepreneurs.

Led by UConn Engineering Professor-of-Practice Hadi Bozorgmanesh, the class, along with the Third Bridge Grant program, which is co-sponsored by Connecticut Innovations, helps lift innovative start-ups like Encapsulate LLC into success, through crucial funding and mentorship.

Encapsulate, run by UConn Engineering Ph.D. candidates Armin Tahmasbi Rad and Leila Daneshmandi, is developing a cancer treatment testing technology that can be used in healthcare, as well as pharmaceutical applications:

“Our company is offering an automated tumor-on-chip system that grows cancer patient’s tumor cells outside the body and tests the efficacy of chemotherapeutic drugs against them to advocate for the best course of treatment,” Rad said. “Our mission is to offer personalized cancer screening in the most accurate, expedited, and cost-effective manner. We are offering a multi-tumor-on-chip model which is capable of growing ex vivo micro-tumors derived from a patient’s own cancer cells in an optimized hydrogel in 72 hours.”

With 1.6 million Americans being diagnosed with cancer every year, and the success rate of chemotherapy cycles and treatment plans hovering in the 20 percent range, the new technology could identify the right treatment plan for a patient before they even start, increasing their survival chances and saving them un-needed pain and suffering.

Rad and his team, which includes faculty advisors from UConn and UConn Health, received $30,000 in funds from the Third Bridge Grant program, which will be used to help build a prototype and proceed to clinical trials:

“We were fortunate that the Third Bridge board found our idea valuable enough to award us $30,000. We have already completed our proof of concept stage using our previous resources and this grant will be sufficient for us to proceed our venture to the next stage, which would be the prototype,” Rad said. “Through this stage, we are planning to have our first version of the machine for automated testing, and in parallel, start our pre-clinical tests on UConn Health colorectal cancer patients to prove what we are offering can help the oncologists find the best cancer drug for each patient and ultimately save people’s lives.”

Another team that received funding from the Third Bridge program was QRfertile LLC, founded by UConn Engineering Ph.D. students Reza Amin and Stephanie Knowlton, and their faculty advisor Savas Tasoglu, assistant professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering.

QRfertile is an in-home device with a smartphone-based automated analyzer which measures male fertility. The testing process requires the user to load a semen sample on a disposable device, which in turn processes the result right on a smartphone. The technology then rapidly returns measurements of sperm count, sperm motility, fructose, and pH, which are all important factors in analyzing semen quality and fertility.

According to Amin, one in every eight couples in the United States has trouble conceiving a child. Half of the infertility cases are because of the male partner, however, female partners often complete costly and invasive tests before the male partner has any testing. Male infertility is a growing concern because, in the last 40 years, the average sperm counts have been cut in half.

To date, QRfertile has received $70,000 in grant funding from Bio Pipeline CT, Third Bridge, UConn Innovation Quest, and the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The funding from Third Bridge, according to Amin, was one of the earliest, and is helping them to create a product which can be convenient and widely accessible:

“The good news is that, in many cases it is easy to fix but the first step is to get a male fertility test. Our private, easy, and inexpensive test can relieve a lot of pain and frustration for couples who want to build a family at very early stages. Because male fertility issues can be a very sensitive subject, we want our test to be available online or purchased in a pharmacy, eliminating a trip to a clinic or doctor’s office.”

For Amin, without Third Bridge, and the knowledge gained from Bozorgmanesh’s class, he might not be where he is today with his venture:

“As an engineer, I was trained to design, develop, evaluate, and iterate to create new technologies in the lab. With the entrepreneurship course and Third Bridge, I learned how to make my technology commercializable, study the market and competitors, and make a product that could have real-world implications by planning, focusing and having commitment.” 

For more information on the Third Bridge program and the Experiential Technology I and II courses, please visit http://www.thirdbridge.uconn.edu.

Author: Senator Blumenthal Discusses Autonomous Vehicle Safety with UConn Engineering Professor Eric Jackson, UConn Officials

Senator Richard Blumenthal sits in the full-sized driving simulator while discussing its features with CTRSC Director and UConn Engineering Professor Eric Jackson. (Eli Freund/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

With a strong interest in autonomous vehicles and their safety, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) visited the Connecticut Transportation Research Safety Center at the University of Connecticut last week, to speak to Director and Engineering Professor Eric Jackson and other officials about the University’s role in advancing the technology.

CTRSC recently received a full-scale driving simulator, located in the center, which is being used to test human interactions with autonomous vehicles and other driving scenarios. Funded by the Connecticut Department of Transportation and UConn, the car was custom built by Realtime Technologies, a simulation company based in Michigan.

Stepping into the simulator, Blumenthal was able to experience and test its autonomous vehicle mode, and get a first-hand look at the cutting-edge research capabilities of the Center.

Blumenthal is one of a handful of Senators that are leading the charge on safety and the study of autonomous vehicle technology before it goes into the hands of consumers.

On Friday, he stressed the importance of research, because autonomous vehicle technology, still to this day, hasn’t been perfected:

“The fully autonomous vehicle doesn’t always work, so usually a human has to override it, and I’ve noticed that there is currently a strong need for manual override,” Blumenthal said. “Maybe not in every instance, but it’s been enough that I’ve insisted on legislation that makes sure we take a safe approach to autonomous vehicles.”

Jackson agreed with Blumenthal’s concerns, and relayed that virtual simulation will be an important aspect of autonomous vehicle study, because it eliminates danger:

“The simulator lets you put people in much more riskier situations, so that if they crash in the simulator, no one gets hurt, which might not be the same scenario if you tested in a real-world situation,” Jackson said.

Reviewing all the information he learned from Jackson, and other UConn officials, Blumenthal remarked that the research going on at UConn is important:

“Automation of vehicles will definitely be an important technological innovation when it’s fully released to the public,” Blumenthal said. “But we want to be cautious, and that’s why I think that UConn is doing some great and important research with this simulator.”

For more information on the simulator, and its future plans, please click here.

Author: Conquering Everest: A Life-Changing Trip to Nepal

(Photo Courtesy of Harrison Graham)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

During those three short months of summer vacation, college students spend their time doing a variety of things. Some may go out and get a summer job, some take on an internship, some may even take those months to relax and recharge for the new school year.

Harrison Graham, an incoming sophomore Civil and Environmental major, did none of those things. That’s because Graham spent several weeks volunteering in Nepal, which culminated in a climb up to the basecamp of Mt. Everest.

Climbing with a group of over a dozen college students, the 17,600-foot vertical journey took nine days to complete. The group was initially flown in by helicopter to a village named Lukla, a popular starting point for novice Mt. Everest climbers, and from there they made the arduous journey, stopping at night to stay in tea houses (similar to a small bed-and-breakfast), where they would recharge and rest.

Graham said that the 80-mile roundtrip had some challenges, including a battle against the elements:

“The main challenge proved to be the altitude. As we climbed higher and higher it became harder to breath, and altitude sickness became a worry (although none of us contracted any form of altitude sickness), Graham said. The oxygen level at Everest Base Camp was just half of that at sea-level, which I live at, so breathing proved to be a bit difficult at times.”

Even with the challenges, Graham said that climbing the famed mountain was one of the best moments of his life, as was his experience with GIVE, the organization hosting the trek to Nepal.

GIVE, which stands for Growth International Volunteer Excursions, is an international organization that focuses on increasing social and economic opportunities in the areas that volunteers visit. Graham’s visit focused on the small village of Paslang, which was devastated by a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 2015.

The village was one of the hardest hit in Nepal, with almost nothing left but “enormous piles of broken red bricks and heaps of mud and dust,” according to a news report from April 2015.

When Graham and his fellow volunteers reached the village, they saw a community still recovering from that tragedy, and did all they could to help:

“While there, we worked vigorously alongside the locals to complete homes, which also serve as businesses during the pilgrimage season, where the villagers open up their homes as homestays, Graham said. We saw tremendous progress as we put roofs on two houses, got another ready for roofing by finishing the walls, and completed the foundation for another. We were in Paslang for two weeks helping to construct these homes and teaching English at a nearby school.”

Graham volunteering in the village of Paslang (Photo Courtesy of Harrison Graham)

 

Graham said doing that kind of work gave him a sense of pride and accomplishment, and it also allowed him to fulfill his secondary goal of traveling to a destination that he had never explored, while doing something meaningful:

“I decided to spend part of my summer in Nepal for many reasons. For starters, I love to travel and I had never been to Asia, so already I was looking into an opportunity such as this, Graham said. Secondly, I am a huge believer in travelling sustainably — giving back as much as you take from an experience abroad. Working alongside the locals and hearing their stories is an enlightening and inspiring experience that is difficult to find anywhere else.”

And in the end, reflecting back on his summer, Graham got an experience that changed his perspective on life:

“The people I met and connected with were incredible, the things I saw and took part in were life-changing. The trip changes the way you think about everything back home for the better. I feel more open and connected to those around me. It opens your mind to different perspectives and cultures and gives you an appreciation for the billions of people we share this world with.”

Author: Follow UConn School of Engineering on Social Media!

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Author: UConn Team to Be Featured on Season 3 of Entrepreneurship-Focused PBS Show

(Photo Credit: Ultimaker)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

A four-person team, featuring University of Connecticut Engineering and Business students, will test their luck on the PBS show “Make48.”

Make48, a nationwide invention competition documentary series, captures the journey of brilliant young innovators looking to create the next great consumer product from scratch. The team of four from UConn, sponsored jointly by the Schools of Engineering and Business, features Enoc Escobar, Jr. (Engineering Physics); Adrienne Schultz (Biomedical Engineering); John Kimball (Management); and Omar Anwar-Krumeich (Management and Engineering for Manufacturing).

The team will be filming at the Stanley Black & Decker Innovation Lab in Towson, MD from August 10-12, and will have 48 hours to build a marketable product prototype, create a promotional video, and present their idea to a panel of judges, according to a press release from the show.

After the presentations, the judges will pick three final teams, who will spend the remainder of the season working with mentors to bring their products to market.

The team from UConn will face off against 11 other college teams from Georgetown University, Rice University, Tulane University, University of Nevada-Reno, University of Miami, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Kansas State Polytech, Kansas City Art institute, and Michigan Technological University.

For more information on the competition, and the show, please visit Make48’s website at Make48.com.

Author: Alumni News for July 2018

Rohan Freeman, PE, LS (B.S. Civil Engineering, ’95) has received the esteemed 2018 CEO/President Award for a business of 100 employees or less as part of the Hartford Business Journal’s annual C-Suite Awards. Founded in 2009, Freeman Companies LLC is among the largest minority-owned and engineering firms in the Greater Hartford Area and specializes in land development, engineering design, and construction services.

 

Rob Infantino (B.S. Electrical Engineering, ’85), founder and CEO at Openbay, has announced the company closed an $8M Series A round of financing. The new round will be used bring artificial intelligence (AI) enabled solutions to market that provide automotive repair services to businesses and grow existing and new markets across all its offerings. Headquartered in Cambridge, MA, Openbay is privately held.

 

James M. King (B.S. Computer Science, ‘01) has been promoted to president at Eljen Corporation, an onsite solutions company for the treatment and management of septic wastewater headquartered in East Hartford, CT. King joined Eljen in 2010 following an extensive military career with the US Army, serving two tours in the Middle East as an officer, and leading as a transformation officer coordinating new policies and tactics for combat missions with the Pentagon. He earned an MBA from UConn Business.

 

John Krenicki, Jr. (B.S. Mechanical Engineering, ’84; Hon. D.Sc. ’07) was elected as a director at Devon Energy Corporation; his election expands the board to 10 members. Krenicki is a senior operating partner at the private equity investment firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, LLC. He previously worked at General Electric Co. for 29 years, including as vice chair and president and CEO at GE Energy. He has a master’s degree in management from Purdue University.

 

David F. Rivera (M.S., Ph.D. Electrical Engineering, ’90, ’05) has won an Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers for the Year 2017 award. A senior research electronics engineer in the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport Undersea Warfare Electromagnetic Systems Department, Rivera received the Individual Engineer Award for his contributions to the development of antennas for submarines and “other volume- constrained platforms.”

 

Kyle Sirignano (B.S. Civil Engineering, ‘14) has joined SeamonWhiteside as a civil engineering project coordinator based in the Mount Pleasant office. After graduating, he moved to Austin, TX working three years in the Land Development division at Stantec. A certified EIT, Sirignano passed the PE exam early and plans to earn his license in 2018.

 

Zachary Stone (B.S. Materials Science & Engineering, ’04) has been appointed as vice president of Operations at Vuzix Corporation. A leading supplier of smart-glasses and augmented reality (AR) technologies and products for the consumer and enterprise markets, Stone joined the company in 2016. He has more than 10 years of experience in manufacturing, quality controls, supply chain management and operations. Stone earned an MBA at the University of New Haven.

 

David Works, Jr. (M.S. Mechanical Engineering, ’96) has joined US Foods Holdings Corp. as executive vice president and chief HR officer. Before joining US Foods, Works was chief HR officer at Hackensack Meridian Health. He served in the US Navy submarine force for seven years prior to starting his career in industry. Works earned an MBA from Northwestern University.

 

Stay in touch with the School of Engineering.  Join our LinkedIn alumni group to share your latest activities and learn what your fellow graduates are doing, and follow our School of Engineering LinkedIn page to hear all the big news coming out of the school.  You may also send your news directly to Heidi Douglas, Director of Engineering Alumni Relations.  We love hearing from you!

Author: UConn Bridge Repair Could Save The Connecticut Taxpayer Millions of Dollars

A view of the north and south lanes of the Gold Star Bridge, which is made of steel and is the longest bridge in the state (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

With an aging inventory of steel bridges in the state of Connecticut, corrosion has become a large and costly issue. Facing this growing problem offers only two expensive solutions for Connecticut, and many other states across the country—replace or do a time and labor-intensive repair.

Across the country, little has been done to improve the process, with no new novel repairs gaining traction. Complete replacement costs can run into the millions of dollars, depending on the project, and the process of cutting out the corroded section of steel and replacing it with new steel is costly and cumbersome, requiring multi-day traffic stoppages, paint removal, and specialized equipment to jack up the superstructure.

Over the past few years, the application of ultra high-performance concrete has gained traction in structural engineering. This material has allowed UConn Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Arash Zaghi, and his Ph.D. students, Kevin McMullen, Alexandra Hain, and Dominic Kruszewski, the ability to develop an alternative repair that could save millions of dollars, avoid large-scale shutdowns, and regain the original strength of a beam.

The implementation, which is being coordinated with the Connecticut Department of Transportation, will happen during the summer of 2019, and could potentially save the state a significant amount of money, if successful:

“A traditional repair may cost about three or four million dollars, and a complete bridge replacement could cost tens of millions of dollars,” Zaghi said. “Using this repair method for just one bridge could save the state millions of dollars and would not need the bridge to be shut down.”

The implementation would be the final step in a three-phase project which began in 2015. The other two phases, involving simulated modeling and full-scale testing, were well received by the DOT.

Zaghi said that the ultra high-performance concrete is special, because of its strength and ease-of-use:

“One of the most crucial characteristics of this concrete is that it’s about six times stronger than normal concrete,” Zaghi said. “Additionally, its viscosity is equivalent to maple syrup, and that flowability allows us to cast the material into very complex and unique geometries.”

 

A steel beam encased in the UHPC in the Structures Lab in the Castleman Building (Courtesy of Kevin McMullen)

 

The flowability is especially key, as corrosion on a steel beam doesn’t form in a perfect shape, but creates its own unique form. By creating that customized shape, workers will be able to weld headed studs into the intact portion of the beam, and then encase the girder end in the ultra-high performance concrete. The repair requires no traffic shutdown, no jacking of the superstructure, and can be completed much faster than conventional repair methods.

If Zaghi and his team’s novel repair works, the possibilities and applications could be nearly unlimited, considering the large amount of steel bridges in the United States, which are rapidly deteriorating. According to Kruszewski, the situation is dire:

“It’s sort of like a fulcrum right now, where we’re noticing bridges from the 1950s and 1960s are all reaching their service life, almost at the same time,” Kruszewski said. “This was the result of a huge infrastructure boom during the Eisenhower administration.”

According to the team’s research, there are a total of 56,000 structurally deficient bridges throughout the country. Over 75% of these bridges are over 50 years old and have exceeded their design life. Corrosion damage is a major problem for aging bridges across the country and approximately $273 billion is spent annually on corrosion maintenance, $8.3 billion of which goes to the repair and replacement of highway bridges.

According to McMullen, the huge corrosion problem is very prevalent in Connecticut and the eastern United States:

“In the northeast, and in Connecticut, a lot of our bridges are made from steel,” McMullen said. “In places on the west coast, like California, they don’t have this problem as much, because a lot of their bridges have been made from concrete.”

Hain says that in the year leading up to implementation, UConn and the Connecticut DOT will take long and deliberate steps to make sure the process goes smoothly:

“We’re going to be working closely with the state DOT to transfer all of the knowledge we learned from phase one and phase two, and to support the implementation of the new repair,” Hain said. “Our goal is for Connecticut DOT to be able to use this repair statewide and have the ability to perform the repair in-house.”

Author: New UConn Driving Simulator Provides Data, Learnings for Transportation Industry

(Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

Hidden in a tucked-away side room in the Longley Building is a dark and cold space housing a full-sized 2014 Ford Fusion. Surrounding the car are six screens projecting a cityscape, not unlike the downtowns of the 169 towns and cities spread across Connecticut.

While the car looks like a fully-functioning automobile, the intention of the car is not for transportation, but simulation.

More specifically, the Fusion is a full-sized driving simulator, transporting the user into an experience mirroring the force felt during acceleration and stopping—the car is equipped with actuators  located under the car which provides the sensation of movement —and providing an environment in which Dr. Eric Jackson, associate research professor and director of the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center, and his team, can study new vehicle technology and human driving behavior in a safe, simulated way.

The simulator, funded by the Connecticut Department of Transportation and UConn, was custom built by Realtime Technologies, a simulation company based in Michigan.

This new piece of technology opens a new world of research opportunities for Jackson and the University, because of the ways in which his team had to conduct research in the past:

“Before we got this simulator, we weren’t able to do research like this at all,” Jackson said. “A lot of research before was done through police reports, with the officer documenting what happened in the crash, and whether they were intoxicated, or they had drugs in their system. That kind of research is a very reactive approach, where we’re now able to take a proactive approach.”

The proactivity will stem from the ability of Jackson and his team to study things like drunk driving, which kills over 10,000 people in the United States a year, distracted driving, which causes nine deaths a day in the U.S., and human interaction with autonomous and connected vehicle technology.  

Through scenario simulation, biometric recording, and reaction time measurement during intoxication or distraction, Jackson will be able to study human participants, and eventually build educational campaigns and materials around the data collected.

(Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

But beyond just the research coming out of the CTSRC, Jackson emphasized that this simulator is a tool that could be used by the entire UConn community for research:

“We’re going to basically make this a university-wide resource, inviting anybody that wants to write a proposal to do whatever they want to do, it’ll be here for them,” Jackson said.

For example, Jackson said that the UConn Health Center researchers might be interested in using this simulator if they were looking to develop a new monitoring system, embedded in the driver seat, to actively measure a driver’s vital signs for drowsy, drugged, or distracted driving.   

Most importantly, the mission for Jackson is increasing road safety and reducing the amount of fatal crashes in the state and beyond.

“Having this controlled environment allows you to test, without putting people in harm’s way, and results in research and technologies that could have a real effect on the world.”

Author: New Engineering Program Aims to Attract the Most Talented Entrepreneurs to Connecticut

UConn is launching a new Master’s of Engineering in Global Entrepreneurship, the first entrepreneurial graduate degree in the state that is focused on engineering. (Getty Images)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

In a push to attract highly talented entrepreneurs from around the world to the state of Connecticut, UConn is launching a new Master’s of Engineering in Global Entrepreneurship, the first engineering-focused entrepreneurial graduate degree in the state.

The new master’s degree program, a partnership between the UConn Schools of Engineering and Business, Trinity College, and the University of New Haven, is intended to create a nurturing ecosystem for a profession that sees 90 percent of start-ups fold. It will enable novice entrepreneurs to learn best practices, receive mentorship from veteran entrepreneurs, and be set up for success.

“This program, and its related initiatives, will be a major step towards bringing in the best and the brightest from all over the world, giving them the tools they need, and turning them into major entrepreneurial advocates for the state of Connecticut,” says associate dean of engineering Mei Wei. “If we can bring them in early, train them, and open up doors toward commercialization, then we can literally help create start-ups from scratch, and help them to grow roots in this state.”

The program, which is fully funded, will recruit individuals from all over the world who are in the early stages of developing start-ups, or who have shown an impressive penchant for entrepreneurship, to apply to the program. Accepted students will receive full tuition remission, a yearly stipend, and significant other resources to help them commercialize their ventures.

Kazem Kazerounian, dean of the School of Engineering, says it is essential to spread the net wide when recruiting in order to bring in the most talented students, regardless of their state or country of origin, in the same way student-athletes are recruited. “We have to search nationally and internationally to assemble the best possible collection of talent,” he says, “setting us up for sustained success in entrepreneurship.”

John Elliott, dean of the School of Business, says that creating more entrepreneurial programs in a wider variety of academic concentrations will have a significant impact on Connecticut’s economic future.

“At the School of Business, we have a tremendous opportunity to help other entrepreneurs, in the sciences, engineering, medicine, and other specialties, to develop the business knowledge and meet the mentors and advisers who can help them take a great idea and bring it to the marketplace.

“This is a pivotal juncture for our students and faculty,” he adds. “We are charting a powerful course that will ultimately impact our entire state and beyond.”

Support for this program comes from CTNext, with a funding match from UConn’s Schools of Engineering and Business, Trinity College, and the University of New Haven. The program is being co-led by David Noble, professor-in-residence in management, director of the Peter J. Werth Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, and co-director of the UConn Entrepreneurship and Innovation Consortium; Hadi Bozorgmanesh, professor of practice in engineering entrepreneurship and co-director of the UConn Entrepreneurship and Innovation Consortium; Sonia Cardenas, dean of academic affairs and strategic initiatives at Trinity College; and Ron Harichandran, dean of the Tagliatela College of Engineering at the University of New Haven.

In the next couple of months, UConn and its partner institutions will work toward developing the curriculum, establishing an advisory board, creating a virtual inter-institutional platform, and will start recruiting for the first cohort of students. For more information on program, contact Wei at mei.wei@uconn.edu.

Author: UConn Engineering Selects First Female Department Head in School’s 102-year History

Dr. Chrysochoou, in a ceremony held in the ITE Building in November 2017, introduces and launches the Connecticut Brownfields Initiative (Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

The University of Connecticut School of Engineering is proud to announce the appointment of Dr. Maria Chrysochoou, a talented scientist, teacher, and academic leader, to the position of department head for the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. Dr. Chrysochoou, when she assumes her new role at the beginning of the Spring 2019 semester, will become the first female department head in the School’s 102-year history.

Dr. Chrysochoou will be stepping into a department that has been in the capable hands of Dr. Amvrossios Bagtzoglou for nearly a decade. During his tenure, the CEE department increased the number of faculty by nearly 40%, recorded a 318% increase in research expenditures (largest departmental increase in that time period), and has seen its student population in the Environmental Engineering program become a majority female.

Dr. Chrysochoou has served as the Director of the Environmental Engineering program since 2015, has been a faculty member in the CEE department since 2007, and received her Ph.D. in environmental engineering from the Stevens Institute of Technology in 2006. 

In addition to serving as the program director for EE, Dr. Chrysochoou is also the director of the Connecticut Brownfields Initiative, an interdisciplinary training program, launched in 2017, which is teaching students how to transform polluted and abandoned property into valuable land. Students in the program work directly with Connecticut cities and towns to revitalize and restore properties, gaining experience while supporting local communities.

She is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Geoenvironmental committee, serves as a subject matter expert for the Federal Highway Administration, was named a Marie Curie Fellow in 2013, and received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency People, Prosperity, and the Planet Award in 2012, for her and her team’s use of local byproducts to stabilize soils against erosion in Nicaragua.

The move comes on the heels of the School’s strong push to increase females in engineering over the past several years, in a field which suffers from severe underrepresentation. On the student side, UConn was named the top public institution in the country for closing the engineering gender gap, in a survey conducted by the Washington Post. Overall, across the country, female engineering students comprise only about 21 percent of the undergraduate population, and UConn Engineering has a population that is 38 percent above the national average.

For more information on Dr. Chrysochoou, and the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at UConn, please visit: https://cee.engr.uconn.edu/.

Author: Beyond Senior Design: Bringing Hospital Communications into the Future

YouCOMM Co-founder Daniel Yasoshima is seen here demonstrating the device in a hospital setting.

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

Hospitals are one of the busiest places that an individual can be in. Doctors and nurses are running around, often supervising many patients, and during hectic times caregivers are confronted with the task of prioritizing patient’s needs, which is a very complex process. But two former UConn Engineering students are looking to streamline patient-caregiver interactions through a device called YouCOMM.

The device, which is being developed by two recent engineering alumni, Tom Cotton (B.S. BME ’17, M.S. BME ’18) and Daniel Yasoshima (B.S. BME ’17, M.S. BME ’18), is a tablet-based platform with an interface allowing the patient to choose their problem or need from a list, or write a custom message to the caregiver. Once completed, that message is sent as a text message directly to the caregiver assigned to that patient.

Additionally, head movement tracking technology allows patients who are unable to move, from IV’s, pain, or paralysis, the ability to send messages hands-free, translating their head movements into the motions of the cursor on the screen. This feature is voice activated and the device also can be interacted with via voice recognition technology.

Cotton and Yasoshima originally conceived the idea for the device when they developed it as a Senior Design project, the year-long project requirement for all UConn Engineering seniors, in 2017, according to Yasoshima:

“The Senior Design process started with a Pitch Night about a month prior to the conclusion of our junior year. Pitch night consisted of several faculty members and mentors introducing projects, and students chose the top three that they were interested and were assigned one of them. This project was pitched by BME Professor Patrick Kumavor and was titled “Augmentative and Assistive Communication Device,” with the goal of addressing the issues involved in therapy for patients with limited communication.”

After that night, Yasoshima said that the team was determined, and went on a roll:

 “Throughout the summer, we brainstormed potential ways to improve communication, and once classes resumed, we had decided a tablet app would be the way to go. As we developed the project, we thought of ways to expand it towards a larger target audience, and decided to create features for patients with motor impairments, which is when we incorporated the handsfree option. Our project was starting to look promising, and we demonstrated at Open House, at the Northeast Bioengineering Conference, and at Senior Design Demo Day, and received very high praise from students, parents, professors, and the biomedical engineering department head.”

The novelty of this device is quite important to a healthcare system that has developed medical technology at a lightning pace, but still suffers from a lack of technology geared towards improving the patient-to-caregiver communication process. Currently, hospitals employ call-bell technology that is decades old, which doesn’t give a clear signal of priority or need, according to Cotton:

“This device further enables patients to indicate their specific needs and thus allows nurses to prioritize which patient rooms to visit based on need criticality. Nurses won’t have to enter a patient’s room to determine a patient’s need (consider the simple example of fetching a glass of water), then leave and return again to finally address it,” Cotton said. “Utilizing our device, they will know the need in advance and will arrive equipped to handle it. It’s been shown in several studies that response time is directly correlated to increased patient risk (e.g. of falls), and implementation of this time-saving device can therefore decrease patient risk.”

Those precious seconds or minutes could literally mean life or death for a patient that is unable to move or properly communicate their needs. According to a recent study, the average response time to a call-bell was 13 minutes and 18 seconds, which doesn’t even factor in the back-and-forth that occurs after the caregiver enters the room.

Since their senior year, Cotton and Yasoshima have been on a mission to commercialize their device. In the past year, they have filed a provisional patent application with the help of the Accelerate UConn program and the UConn Law Clinic, and have received about $35,000 funding from multiple sources. They have also performed a successful pilot study at UConn Student Health Services and are aiming to incorporate this device into UConn Health, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and Wilton Meadows Rehabilitation Center later this year, in three parallel large-scale trials. Cotton and Yasoshima have since formed a company, YouCOMM LLC, where Cotton serves as the COO and Yasoshima as the CEO.

The two co-founders, and their faculty advisor, Dr. Patrick Kumavor, display their first-place award from the 2018 UConn Innovation Quest Competition.

 

Looking back, Cotton said that without the experience he and Yasoshima gained from their Senior Design project, they probably wouldn’t be where they are today:

“It’s easily the single most valuable experience I had during my education at UConn. Senior design – and the continuation of our project into our graduate year – has given me an extensive understanding of the variety of different processes required in bringing a product to market. I learned about regulatory pathways, how to obtain grant funding, how to budget a project and focus on downstream goals while also maximizing the effectiveness of my available resources in the present.”

Author: John Lof Leadership Academy Inducts First Cohort of Members

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

In a ceremony held on Tuesday, May 22, 29 graduate students were inducted in front of faculty, staff, and UConn Engineering leadership, into the John Lof Leadership Academy, a new exclusive society for UConn Engineering graduate students.

Backed by the generous endowment from John Lof, a former UConn electrical and computer engineering professor of 35 years, this exclusive Academy will aim to continue the legacy of Dr. Lof, who wished to reward and cultivate a select group of future leaders and engineering trailblazers.  The proceeds of the endowment will be used towards the direct support of the student members (in the form of grants and fellowships), as well as the corresponding Academy programs. 

The Academy will continue to accept applications throughout the summer and those newly accepted members will be inducted in the fall 2019 ceremony. Through membership in the Academy members will receive a myriad of benefits, including:

-Exclusive mentorship from the Dean of Engineering, including a special reference from the Dean during the job search process

-One-on-one mentoring with members of industry and alumni

-Individualized career fairs

-Resume building advice,

-Access to grants and fellowships specific to John Lof Leadership Academy members.

-A professional certificate of leadership upon successful completion of 6 workshops and qualified activities.

The first cohort of John Lof Leadership Academy are as follows:

Adam LaChance

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Bilal Khan

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Brandon Williams

Material Science and Engineering

Christina Feng Chang

Environmental Engineering

Christopher Hawxhurst

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Donald McMenemy

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Donyeil Hoy, Jr.

Biomedical Engineering

Farnoosh Saeedinejad

Biomedical Engineering

Jessica M. Maita

Material Science and Engineering

Julia Czarnecki

Environmental Engineering

Kenneth Ogueri

Material Science and Engineering

Leila Daneshmandi

Biomedical Engineering

Manish Goyal

Computer Science and Engineering

Maryam Pardakhti

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Rishi Roy

Mechanical Engineering

Rob Smith

Civil Engineering

Roman Mays

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Sarah Peck

Computer Science and Engineering

Tara Walsh

Environmental Engineering

Vannesa Kello

Civil Engineering

Wei Kou

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Wenjie (Jack) Huang

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Yan Li

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Yuankai Huang

Environmental Engineering

   

The first executive board for the Academy was also announced, which are as follows:

Randi Mendes

President

Environmental Engineering

Stephany Santos

Vice President

Biomedical Engineering

Armin Tahmasbi Rad

Event Coordinator

Biomedical Engineering

Arshiah Yusuf Mirza

Secretary

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Justin Fang

Treasurer

Biomedical Engineering

 

For more information on the John Lof Leadership Academy, its benefits, and information on how to apply can be found by visiting: https://grad.engr.uconn.edu/john-lof-leadership-academy-for-graduate-engineering-students/.

Author: Chandy Appointed Department Head of Electrical and Computer Engineering

The UConn School of Engineering is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. John Chandy as the next department head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, effective the beginning of the Fall 2018 semester. Dr. Chandy will be taking over the role from Dr. Rajeev Bansal, who has been department head since 2009.

Chandy had served as associate department head since 2009, and has been a faculty member in the ECE department since 2002, after he left a distinguished career in industry. He received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1996. 

In addition to serving as associate department head for nine years, Chandy also serves as co-director of the Comcast Center for Excellence in Security Innovation, co-director of the Connecticut Cybersecurity Center, and director of the Center for Hardware Assurance, Security, and Engineering, and previously served as associate director of the UTC Institute for Advanced Systems. He is currently an editor for ACM Operating Systems Review, has served on several conference committees, is a senior member of IEEE, serves on the UConn Infrastructure and Architecture IT Governance Committee, and has won awards for his advising and teaching. Prior to joining UConn, he had executive and engineering positions in software companies, working particularly in the areas of clustered storage architectures, tools for the online delivery of psychotherapy and soft-skills training, distributed architectures, and unstructured data representation. 

Kazem Kazerounian, Dean of the UConn School of Engineering, said that he is excited for the future of the ECE Department, with Chandy at the helm:

“We are thrilled to have someone with Dr. Chandy’s experience become the next department head of the ECE Department,” Kazerounian said. “With his strong leadership and  excellent departmental knowledge, I am excited to see him build on the progress Dr. Bansal made during his tenure, and I am confident he will do an excellent job in his new role.”

Chandy will be stepping into a department that has been extremely well-run by Bansal for nearly a decade. During his nine-year tenure, the department grew tremendously, research output steadily increased, and the internal and external reputation of the department remained extremely positive. Bansal was also often asked by UConn to provide his insight and wisdom on university-wide issues, and held many positions on the University Senate over the past 20 years.

For more information on Chandy, and his academic background, please visit: https://www.ee.uconn.edu/john-chandy/ 

Author: DOE Grant Aims to Increase Resilience of Distributed Energy Resources

 

By: Anna Zarra Aldrich; Office of the Vice President for Research

Professor Peng Zhang from the University of Connecticut Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering has received nearly $400,000 from the Department of Energy to develop a computational method for studying and predicting how our nation’s power grids, with high penetration of distributed energy resources (DER), like solar energy, will respond to various conditions and situations.

Traditional energy distribution models are a one-way system from the plant that generated to the user. Distributed energy resources, however, are decentralized electric systems using a two-way power flow, usually of renewable energy like solar or wind. By distributing the energy, these systems provide more stability and backup power for periods of high use when the generation of renewable energy can’t keep up. They allow for ultra-fast grid control and load changes. However, on the flip side of these advantages, the high penetration of power electronic components, which convert other energies into electrical power, make the grid highly sensitive to disturbances like storms or cyberattacks.

Being able to understand the stability of our bulk transmission-distribution grid under a nearly infinite set of possible scenarios and being able to control these conditions and the grid’s response is of the utmost importance to the development of this technology.

Zhang’s project will work to establish an innovative and tractable method, looking specifically at formal analysis (FA), to assess the stability of the transmission and distribution grids from various sources, including DERs, under a variety of possible adverse conditions.

“Formal methods are all about building resilience in our power grids — that ability to overcome the unexpected and bounce back,” says Zhang.

Zhang and his team will work to develop a formal theory that can be used to mathematically compute the bounds of all possible trajectories. These predictions can then be used to predict the stability of the system under certain conditions.

Click here to read more on the UConn Today website. 

Author: Alumni News for May 2018

Chris Beschler (B.S. Mechanical Engineering, ‘80) has been selected assistant city manager to the city of Rocky Mount, NC. Most recently, Beschler worked for the state of Virginia where he served as director of the Department of General Services. A majority of his previous experience is working in utilities and construction, including 26 years with Yankee Gas Services Co., Connecticut’s largest natural gas utility. Beschler holds an MBA from UConn Business.

 

Janet Callahan (B.S. Chemical Engineering, ‘83; M.S. Metallurgy, ‘86; Ph.D. Material Science, ‘90) will become dean of Michigan Technological University’s College of Engineering on July 1, 2018. Callahan joins Michigan Tech from Boise State University where she is chair and professor of the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering. She is a member of the UConn Academy of Distinguished Engineers.

 

 

Brad Huff (B.S. Mechanical Engineering, ’10), P.E., BEMP, AP, BD+C has been promoted to project manager at BVH Integrated Services. Huff began his career at BVH as an intern in 2008 and joined the company as a Mechanical Engineer upon graduation. He is currently pursuing an MBA at UConn Business.

 

 

Eric Leknes (B.S., M.S. Biomedical Engineering, ’09, ‘10) was selected from 1,600 Elbit Systems of America enterprise employees as one of three 2017 Outstanding Employee Award winners. Recognized as a top-performing engineer and commended for his high ethical standards and leadership, Leknes is senior systems engineer at KMC Systems, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems of America.

 

 

Jordan Manos (B.S. Civil Engineering, ’94) is a 2018 People’s Choice Award finalist. Known as the “Oscars” of government service, the Sammies honor noteworthy and inspiring accomplishments by federal employees. Manos, an engineer with the Department of Veterans Affairs on temporary assignment to FEMA, earned his nomination by improving the system used to assess flood damage from hurricanes and other major storms. His contributions helped residents receive aid more quickly and saved the government an estimated $20M in appraisal costs.

 

Samuel Pierre-Louis (B.S. Mechanical Engineering and Materials Engineering, ‘97) has been named vice president, Information Technology, at FirstEnergy Corp. He has more than 20 years’ experience in information technology services, strategic planning and organizational management. Prior to joining FirstEnergy, Pierre-Louis was vice president, chief information security officer, at Providence St. Joseph Health in Irvine, CA. He earned an MBA in finance and information systems at The University of Texas at Dallas and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in systems and engineering management at Texas Tech University. 

 

Mark Turano (B.S. Chemical Engineering and Materials Engineering, ‘84) has been named director of Sales of the Lumirror® Polyester Film Division at Toray Plastics (America), Inc. Turano joined Toray in 2016 as the National Sales Manager of the Division. Prior to joining Toray, he worked with Danafilms, Consolidated Container Company, Polycel de Mexico, and Printpack. Turano holds an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

 

 

Stay in touch with the School of Engineering.  Join our LinkedIn alumni group to share your latest activities and learn what your fellow graduates are doing.  You may also send your news directly to Heidi Douglas, Director of Engineering Alumni Relations.  We love hearing from you!

Author: UConn ASCE Teams Post Second Place Wins in Regional Competitions

Pictured above: UConn Steel Bridge Competition team; Pictured below: UConn Concrete Canoe Competition team.

 

By: Heidi Douglas, Director of Alumni Relations, UConn School of Engineering 

Every spring, eighteen American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) student conferences are held across the country with ambitious agendas including business meetings, professional/technical presentations, social activities, competitions, and awards banquets. At this year’s New England student conference, UConn came away with second place finishes in both the Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge competitions.

There are some similarities, and a lot of differences between these two UConn ACSE student teams and their competitions. Both events were held at the University of Vermont at the end of April competing against nearly an identical roster of participating schools. However, building a bridge is not the same as floating a canoe and, this year, inclement weather through a monkey wrench into canoe race day.

Dr. Kay Wille, assistant professor in the Civil & Environmental Engineering department, advises the Concrete Canoe Association, the student organization dedicated to designing, building, and competing. This year’s team comprised about 25 students in total, with 18 undergrads actively involved in the competition. Concrete canoe engineering facilities are housed in the Longley Building on the Mansfield Depot Campus.

Each year the rules and regulations governing the design and competition change a bit and a canoe is built from scratch. This year, UMass Lowell finished a very respectable 3rd with their second attempt; they started fabrication very late and the first broke, but their second was “an amazing canoe,” according to UConn team president Chris Schwarz.

First place finisher in both the Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge competitions was Université Laval. A French-language, public research university in Quebec City, Université Laval is always in the winner’s circle. Ranked among the top ten Canadian universities in terms of research funding, budgets allocated to both ASCE student organizations are very generous.

The canoe competition is two days. The first consists of a poster session, boat exhibition, and cross section display. The second day is usually race day, but this was not a usual year. Snow melt, rain, and cold created a hazardous situation and the races were cancelled. Rain or not, UConn’s second place finish is a school best and one for the record books.

As opposed to an 18-foot canoe that arrives at competition complete, an integral aspect of the Steel Bridge contest involves assembly. That certainly resonates considering the recent collapse of the Florida International University pedestrian bridge engineered using accelerated bridge construction (ABC), where bridges are prefabricated and quickly moved into place.

UConn Steel Bridge Club advisor and alumnus Michael Culmo, Chief Technical Officer at CME Associates, Inc., and an ABC expert focuses on constructability. A team advisor for eighteen years, Mike’s guidance and commitment are invaluable for the team who, according to president Jordan Vogt, struggles to recruit lower class members. The younger students feel they lack the advanced engineering courses necessary to design and build the bridge – in reality, that is not the case.  Even first year students can play a significant role in the fabrication and assembly of the bridge. This year’s team finished the year with five active members, four of whom worked on build. Their fabrication shop is also housed at the Depot Campus, complete with all the welding and cutting equipment needed to build a steel bridge from scratch.

The Steel Bridge competition is judged on several criteria including time required to assemble the bridge, bridge weight, and deflection. There’s also a poster session, display highlighting bridge esthetics, and presentation of a paper on ethics. Last year’s treasurer and incoming president Melissa Hernandez delivered the ethics presentation and explained although not used for scoring, it was required to attend nationals. At end of the day, there’s one overarching criterion for winning – lowest cost.

This year’s bridge was another impressive bridge in a long line of quality UConn efforts.  Spanning 19 feet and weighing a mere 160 pounds, it was able to support a 2500 pound weight with less than ½” of deflection.

For the Concrete Canoe competition, 25 schools, including 19 that qualified through regionals, are headed to the national competition in July hosted by San Diego State University. UConn was edged out by Université Laval and didn’t win one of the six wild card spots.

The Steel Bridge team’s 2nd place finish in a field of 15 teams qualified them to compete at nationals. They’re on the road headed for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to compete this Memorial Day weekend against 42 other qualifiers.

Congratulations to both of our ASCE teams and best of luck to our Steel Bridge team this weekend!

Author: Five UConn Engineering Professors Received NSF CAREER Awards in 2018

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

In 2018, five UConn Engineering faculty were awarded Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) grants from the National Science Foundation. The CAREER program awards these funds to exceptional junior faculty who exhibit outstanding skills in research and education, and show the potential to be academic leaders and role models. The number of CAREER awards has nearly doubled from 2017, when the school had three faculty members receive these highly prestigious awards.

This year, the five faculty members represent four different departments, and have projects ranging from 3-D printing to air pollution. The awardees for 2018 are as follows:

(Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

Dr. Ali Bazzi, UTC Assistant Professor of Engineering Innovation in electrical and computer engineering received $500,000 over five years for his project, “Hierarchical Control of High-Performance Motor Drives.” Bazzi’s research will be focused on multi-electrical motor drives. Multiple drives or multi-drives open a new dimension of research into optimizing their combined performance metrics through energy savings, cost savings, increased reliability, and enhanced performance. This project will establish foundations for control, fault diagnosis, fault mitigation, and coordination between multi-drives. It will mainly utilize supervisory and switching control concepts at the local and global drive levels. Through this research, a hierarchy of controls will be established. 

 

(UConn School of Engineering)

 

Dr. Xu Chen, assistant professor of mechanical engineering was awarded $500,0000 over five years for his project, “Adding to the Future: Thermal Modeling, Sparse Sensing, and Integrated Controls for Precise and Reliable Powder Bed Fusion.” Chen’s research will generate new knowledge critical for enabling high-throughput, quality-assured new Powder Bed Fusion processes to ignite the next industrial revolution. Powder bed fusion (PBF), in which new material is added by applying and selectively melting a powdered feedstock, is a popular form of additive manufacturing (also known as 3-D printing) for metallic and high-performance polymeric materials. Building on fundamental innovations to model and control the thermal mechanical process, the research will illuminate ways to mitigate quality variations on the fly, and provide new feedback-centric control paradigms to engineer the layered deposition of thermal energy, which is imperative for quality and reproducibility.  

In addition to the research aspect, Chen will build new PBF hardware platforms and open hands-on 3-D printing courses to students and teachers. The impacts of this project will also be disseminated to collaborating universities, expanding the knowledge base in PFB and AM across the country.

(Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

Dr. Mohammad Khan, assistant professor of computer science and engineering received $559,786 over five years for his project, “The Role of Emotion and Social Motives in Communicating Risk: Implications for User Behavior in the Cyber Security Context.” Khan will center his research on risk-mitigation of cyberattacks by designing effective risk communication strategies. Khan notes that many cyberattacks are preventable if end users take precautionary measures, such as keeping systems updated, but they often fail to do so. His proposal builds upon theories of risk communication and self-determination to design new approaches to cybersecurity risk communication and training. The goals are to enable users to assess risks, costs, and benefits consistently and correctly, and to promote task-focused coping responses. By enabling non-expert users to make informed security decisions through raising cybersecurity risk awareness and self-efficacy development, this project directly addresses an increasingly serious threat to economic growth and national security. This project also creates cybersecurity research and training opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students, and members from underrepresented population groups through outreach initiatives.

(Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

 

Dr. Julian Norato, assistant professor of mechanical engineering was awarded $500,000 over five years for his project, “Geometric Rules and Cost in Topology Optimization for Efficient Design of Manufacturable and Economically-Viable Structures.” This project will advance fundamental research and formulate a design framework to systematically incorporate geometric design rules and manufacturing cost considerations into the computational design of structures.  In particular, the techniques advanced in this project belong to a group of techniques called topology optimization, in which a computer program finds the optimal shape of a structural component or an architected material.  This research will enable the conceptual design and optimization of lightweight, high-performance, and economically-viable structures with applications across a wide range of engineering industries. The new design capabilities will have the potential to significantly reduce manufacturing and R&D costs and increase the economic competitiveness of American manufacturers. Norato was also a recipient of the 2017 ONR Young Investigator Award.

(Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

 

Dr. Kristina Wagstrom, Eversource Energy Assistant Professor for Environmental Engineering Education in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department, received $500,000 over five years for her project, “Engaging Communities to Bridge the Local to Regional Gap in Air Pollution Exposure Assessment.” Wagstrom’s research will empower local communities to combat local near-road air quality issues. According to Wagstrom’s abstract, over 19% of the United States population lives near major roads. This can negatively impact health and lead to lower life expectancy. More specifically, her project will equip communities with crucial information on local air pollution and advocate for solutions. Wagstrom will achieve those goals by combining air quality measurements, modeling, and community engagement. If successful, the results of this research will transform air pollution exposure assessment modeling and highlight the potential for productive collaborations between researchers and community members to solve air quality problems. Student involvement will lead to an increase in participation of underrepresented groups in engineering and also her work with local communities will significantly impact understanding in environmental science and air pollution, which will lead to greater pollution policies and improved urban planning.

For more information on NSF CAREER awards, please visit: http://ow.ly/paV930jZmyf

Author: John Lof Leadership Academy to Officially Launch on May 22

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

On May 22, at the UConn Alumni Center, the UConn School of Engineering will officially launch the John Lof Leadership Academy and announce its first cohort of John Lof Fellows.

Backed by the generous endowment from John Lof, a former UConn electrical and computer engineering professor of 35 years, this exclusive Academy will aim to continue the legacy of Dr. Lof, who wished to reward and cultivate a select group of future leaders and engineering trailblazers.  The proceeds of the endowment will be used towards the direct support of the student members (in the form of grants and fellowships), as well as the corresponding Academy programs.  The John Lof Leadership Academy will be led by an elected student council, and aims to:

-Develop leadership and professional skills

-Organize and facilitate social, academic, and professional activities that help Academy members develop these skills

-Promote and support the academic and future professional success of graduate students in SoE; and

-Engage communities inside and outside the School to promote, and provide mentoring and support where appropriate

Members, who are called John Lof Fellows, serve in the Academy for a period of two years. Through membership in the Academy, members will receive a myriad of benefits, including:

-The ability to learn and develop skills attractive to employers

-One-on-one mentoring with members of industry and alumni

-Individualized career fairs

-Resume building advice, including the ability to list the dean of the School of Engineering as a reference

-Access to apply for grants and fellowships specific to John Lof Leadership Academy members.

-Exclusive social hours for academy members and faculty

-A professional certificate of leadership upon successful completion of 6 workshops and qualified activities. To maintain active member status attending 3 qualified workshops or events per semester is required; and

-The opportunity to make new friends, have fun, and be a force for change!

The ceremony will begin promptly at 3:30 and will last till 5 p.m. All graduate students who are interested in attending should RSVP by following this link: https://grad.engr.uconn.edu/john-lof-leadership-academy-ceremony-rsvp/

Author: UConn Engineering Professor to Receive Honorary Degree from the Icahn School of Medicine

Cato Laurencin at his office at UConn Health in Farmington on Oct. 6, 2014. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, the University of Connecticut’s 8th University Professor in school history, and a tenured professor in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department, the Materials Science and Engineering Department, and the Biomedical Engineering Department, will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai on May 11, recognizing his impact and contributions to the medical field and his pioneering work in Regenerative Engineering.

More specifically, his citation states, “Doctor Cato T. Laurencin, for your revolutionary impact on the fields of biomaterials, stem cell science, nanotechnology, drug delivery systems, and regenerative engineering, for advancing our ability to treat diseases and heal injuries, and for inspiring important lines of inquiry now and in the future, it is a privilege to confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa” (Click here to read full citation).

Laurencin’s work in nanotechnology, polymer-ceramic systems, and engineered tissue regeneration has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation for three decades and has had a tremendous impact on the field, inspiring numerous new technologies that are either available to patients or in the clinical pipeline, and countless other technologies to be developed in the future. His ground-breaking work is also the basis for lifesaving clinical products used in the treatment of brain tumors and musculoskeletal injuries requiring bone and ligament repair, for which he was honored in 2016 with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement.

Kazem Kazerounian, Dean of the UConn School of Engineering, echoed the sentiment of the citation, and emphasized the importance of Laurencin to the UConn community and beyond:

“Dr. Laurencin is an asset to the School of Engineering, as an accomplished educator and a voracious researcher,” Kazerounian said. “This honor is well-deserved, and reflects the reputation he has in the medical community, as well as the reverence he holds among his peers.”

Internationally-renowned, Laurencin serves a dual role with UConn Health, as the Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery and director of both the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical, Biological, Physical and Engineering Sciences and the Institute for Regenerative Engineering at UConn Health. He is also CEO of the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS), UCONN cross-university translational science institute. He previously served as the UConn Health Center’s Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean of the UConn School of Medicine, and prior to that was the Lillian T. Pratt Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Virginia, as well as the Orthopaedic Surgeon-in-Chief at the University of Virginia Health System. He is an elected member of both the National Academy of Medicine and of the National Academy of Engineering.

Laurencin has a degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University, graduated Magna Cum Laude with an M.D. from Harvard Medical School, and holds a Ph.D. in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology from MIT. To learn more about Laurencin and his work, please click here.

Author: Senior Design Demonstration Day: Providing Innovative Solutions to Technical Challenges

A senior explains her project to an attendee of Senior Design Demonstration Day on April 27. (Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

Two hundred and twenty-eight groups, consisting of nearly 800 seniors, stood proudly by projects ranging from as small as a cyborg insect, to as large as an all-electric car inside of Gampel Pavilion. The capstone projects, which were the culmination of a year’s-worth of work, are known as Senior Design, and are presented annually at Senior Design Demonstration Day.

Each of the projects presented at the Demonstration Day, sponsored by more than 100 organizations, provide students with extensive hands-on experience, and an opportunity to work on real-world problems presented by sponsoring organizations. Sponsors invest time and resources, and work in-depth with their individual groups and consulting faculty members to create innovative solutions that are often integrated back into their organization.

The sponsoring organizations, which span the public and private sectors, include companies like Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky, General Dynamics Electric Boat, Comcast ,and governmental organizations like the Town of Mansfield, the Town of Stafford Springs, the Connecticut Department of Transportation and the City of Bridgeport.  

During the day, students present to faculty, staff, industry sponsors, and guests, with a team of judges on hand to determine the winners from every department. Below are the 2018 awardees from each department (faculty advisor in parentheses):

Biomedical Engineering

First Place 
Team 20, “Cerebral Palsy Hand Rehabilitation Device”

Members: Morgan DaSilva, Brittany Morgan, Katie Bradley, Brianna Perry (Dr. Krystyna Gielo-Perczak)

 Second Place
Team 11, “Incubation Unit for Neural Cell Electro-Mechanical Stimulation and Growth”

Members: Norah Cowley, Bianca Wyman, Alexander Almeida, Jenna Taormina (Dr. Kazunori Hoshino)

Third Place

Team 6, “Applications of Machine Learning to Analysis of Neurological Data”

Members: Keeyan Ghoreshi, Eric Van Der Karr (Dr. Bin Feng)

Honorable Mention

Team 23, “Wearable technology to noninvasively measure cognitive and physiological fatigue”

Members: Alyssa Tacchi, Shasha Graves, and Charmi Patel (Dr. Insoo Kim)

Honorable Mention

Team 19, “Blood Alcohol Content Monitoring Device and Companion Application”

Members: Ryan Cunniff, Amisha Dave, Sarah Knapp, Divya Bana, and Matthew LeClair (Dr. Dr. Krystyna Gielo-Perczak)

Honorable Mention

Team 8, “An Inexpensive Device to Alleviate Back Pain Due to Poor Posture”

Members: Pedro Ramirez, Alemayehu Asres, Magdalena Wegrzyniak, Cristina Rascoll (Dr. Patrick Kumavor)

 

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

First Place
Team 18, “Reducing Pt loading in PEM electrolysis stacks via nano-coating processes”

Members: Alex Keane, William Tait, Kyle Terracciano, Tom D’Auria (Dr. Luyi Sun)

Second Place
Team 7, “Modeling the Filling Process for Structured Body Wash to Predict Process Sensitivity”

Members: Emma Willett, Bailey Gannett, Dana Parmalee, and Alicia Gorski (Dr. Anson Ma)

Third Place

Team 19, “In-Situ Resource Utilization for a Self-Sustaining Martian Colony”

Members: Amy McKinstry, Carmi Mandelkern, Brielle Cash, Julia Kennedy (Dr. Dan Burkey)

 

Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Place

Team 11 (Civil), “St. Basil Church Parking Garage: Foundation and Structural Design”

Members: Tyler Brett, David Masse, Ryan Kennedy, David Linder, Front: Jeffrey McLamb, Erin Albrecht, Dominic Godi, David Verdis (Dr. John Ivan and Dr. Amvrossios Bagtzoglou)

 and

Team 12 (Civil), “St. Basil Church Parking Garage: Site Design and Transportation Planning”

Members: Tyler Brett, David Masse, Ryan Kennedy, David Linder, Front: Jeffrey McLamb, Erin Albrecht, Dominic Godi, David Verdis (Dr. John Ivan and Dr. Amvrossios Bagtzoglou)

 

Team 1 (Environmental), “Rectory School Wastewater Renovation”

Members: Kyle Cappotto, Joshua Crittenden, Jonathan Detoudom, Danny Ross, and Sarah Rudnick (Dr. Alexander Agrios)

 

Second Place
Team 13 (Civil), “Mansfield Public Library: Stormwater Management”

Members: Edward Gill, Steven Matyi, Flannery Mackin, Hayden Clarkin (Dr. Marina Astitha & Dr. Alexander G. Agrios)

 

Team 5 (Environmental), “Design of Anaerobic Digester to Capture Methane & Power Microgrid at the Windham WPCF”

Members: Sara Nelson, Kim Quach, Emma Hughes (Dr. Baikun Li)

 

Third Place

Team 16 (Civil), “Structural Design of a Solar Carport”

Members: Atta Detome Henoun, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chris Pawlowski, and Dillon Pepin (Dr. Shinae Jang)

 

Team 3 (Environmental), “Town of Franklin Public Water Supply and Wastewater Treatment Design”

Members: Melanie McFadden, Zihan Huang, Warren Maskell IV, Elizabeth Lagoy, Nicholas Masse (Dr. Jonathan Mellor)

 

Computer Science and Engineering

First Place
Team 7, “Inferencing Based on Machine Stoppages”

Members: Peter Polis, Michael Feldman, Daniel Camilliere, Michael Pappas, Patrick Guyer and Michael Presch (Dr. Swapna Gokhale)

 

Second Place
Team 18, A Visual Euclid’s Elements

Members: Soumya Kundu, Sailesh Simhadri, Ian Dechene, Drew Monroe and Joe Sweeney (Dr. Donald Sheehy)

 

Third Place
Team 31, Hartford Steam Boiler Nameplate Recognition System

Members: Qiansheng Hu, Chris Peterson, Chengchen Zhang, Eddie Huang, Hunter Hollant and Michael Gentile (Dr. Dong-Guk Shin)

and

Team 16, “Smart Hotels”

Members: Arun George, Brian Matuszak, Rafal Bezubik, Chris Skoczylas, Kevin Schumitz and Rich Infante (Dr. Reda Ammar and Dr. Sanguthevar Rajasekaran)

 

Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Place
Team 1826, “Design of a Cloud-based Battery Management System”

Members: Laurne Williams, William Brown, Donald O’Boyle (Dr. Sung-Yeul Park)

 

Second Place
Team 1819, “Autonomous Weight Detection System”

Members: Daniel Fernandes, Amy Robinson, Marilyn Duong (Dr. Mousumi Roy, Dr. Necmi Biyikli, Dr. Xu Chen)

 

Third Place
Team 1814, “Glucose Monitoring Smartwatch”

Members: Richard Mullen, Alexander Valdes, Keelin Becker-Wheeler (Dr. John Chandy)

 

Management and Engineering for Manufacturing

First Place
Team 9, “Integrated Workbench Implementation in Sub-Assembly”

Members: Christopher Haack, Richard Sangster, Cassidy Cooley (Dr. Mousumi Roy)

 

Second Place
Team 13, “Cell Redesign for Bolt Rework Process”

Members: Jennifer Piekos, Daniel Gustafson, Dr. Mousumi Roy Not Shown: Patrick Purdy, Yani Lagoutis (Dr. Mousumi Roy and Dr. ZhanZhan Jia)

 

Third Place
Team 15, “Jonal Laboratories Value Stream Mapping Senior Design Project”

Members: Bradley D’Alelio, Hailey Ross, Rod Gonzalez (Dr. Diane Van Scoter)

 

and

Team 16, “Army Ant Emulation”

Members: Nicholas Leong, Owen Rockwell, Dennis Scheglov, Richard Goldman (Dr. Mousumi Roy and Dr. Chengyu Cao)

 

Material Science and Engineering

First Place
Team 11, “Investigation of Additive Manufacturing Design, Processes, and Variables to Enhance a Ti-6Al-4V Actuator Bracket

Members: Haley Hubbell and Alexa Wilcox (Dr. Rainer Hebert, Dr. John Graham, Dr. Robert Morlath)

 

Second Place
Team 10, “Design of a Method for Better Predicting CMAS Infiltration into Thermal Barrier Coatings”

Members: Greg Ladestro, Ryan Dibiase, Michael Gingrave (Dr. George Rossetti, Dr. Elisa Zaleski)

 

Third Place
Team 8, “Optimized Post Processing Treatment of Additive Manufactured AlSi10Mg”

Members: Carl Rizzo and Carissa Dibattista (Dr. Seok-Woo Lee and Tom Derko (Sikorsky))

 

Mechanical Engineering

First Place
Team 55, “Design, Development, and Fabrication of a Right-Sized Compact Press Rolling Machine”

Members: Brandon Steeves, Mateusz Sroka, Lucas Marcouiller (Dr. Horea Ilies)

 

Second Place
Team 35, “Thermal Gradient Rig Sample Holder Redesign”

Members: Edward Ostrowski, Kinga Wrobel (Dr. Ryan Cooper)

and

Team 52, “Racing Shell Stiffness Measurement Method and Apparatus”

Members: Tegh Terrell, Dillon Johnson, Anthony Pizzola (Dr. Tom Mealy)

 

Third Place
Team 18B, “Disabled Submarine Compartment Decompression”

Members: Spencer Cohen, Michael Ferrara, Marc Cacioppo (Dr. David Giblin)

 

Professors Award
Team 34, “Rotating Disk Heat Transfer Coefficients”

Members: Maria Rozman, Samuel Manzolillo, Hubert Bis (Dr. Xinyu Zhao)

 

For more information on the Senior Design Program, please visit our website: https://seniordesign.engr.uconn.edu.

Author: Ten Accomplished Alumni Inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Engineers’ Class of 2018

2018 Academy of Distinguished Engineers Inductees (Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

On a Thursday night, at the end of April, 10 accomplished UConn School of Engineering alumni joined their peers during an induction ceremony of the Academy of Distinguished Engineers.

The Academy, which has inducted 165 total members since its inception in 2003, honors School of Engineering alumni whose careers are characterized by their sustained and exemplary contributions to the engineering profession through research, practice, education, policy or service. Members are individuals who bring enduring honor to their alma mater as practitioners and as citizens.

This year, the ten alumni inducted come from academia, as well as private industry in the submarine, aerospace, and biotechnology fields, among others. For 2018, the inductees are as follows:

Frank Bergonzi, UConn B.S. ’83; CEO and President of Azelis Americas, a distributor of specialty chemicals and food ingredients.

Timothy J. Bunning, UConn B.S. ’87, M.S. ’88, Ph.D. ’92; Chief Scientist of the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Adina C. Cherry, UConn M.S. ’95; Founding Partner and President of The Hypatia Group.

Terence J. Fedors, UCONN B.S. ’85; Vice President of Engineering and Design at General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut.

Richard R. Grzybowski, UCONN Ph.D. ’92; Director of Research and Development at MACOM Photonics.

Mark R. Jaworowski, UCONN B.S. ’83, M.S. ’89, Ph.D. ’98; Fellow at the United Technologies Research Center (UTRC).

James P. Keller, Jr., UCONN M.S. ’84; Vice President of International Market Development at the ECRI Institute.

Robert J. McDermott, UCONN B.S. ’77; President, Huitt-Zollars, Inc.

Eytan H. Modiano, UCONN B.S. ’86; Professor and Associate Head of the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department and Associate Director of the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems at MIT.

Randy D. Trumbower, UCONN M.S. ’02, Ph.D. ’05; Associate Professor at the MGH Institute of Health Professions and the Director of the INSPIRE Lab for Sensorimotor Rehabilitation Engineering at Harvard Medical School.

Opening up the night, Dean Kazem Kazerounian said that the ten inductees assembled were joining a very exclusive group:

“Tonight we are celebrating your achievements in science, technology, and in leadership, and celebrating those accomplishments are an honor for us,” Kazerounian said. “Over the past 15 years, less than 200 people have been inducted into this prestigious society, so you are truly the best of the best of our alumni from the past 30 years.”

One of the inductees, Bergonzi, said that he was honored to be among the ten alumni assembled, and owed everything to hisfather:

“Who I want to thank most is my Dad, because if it wasn’t for him I probably would have ended up as a biology mentor, or a dentist,” Bergonzi said. “At an early age he really emphasized going into engineering, and started his engineering firm out of the basement of our house in New Jersey, so this honor also belongs to him.”

2018 Academy of Distinguished Engineers Inductee Frank Bergonzi, UConn B.S. ’83; CEO and President of Azelis Americas, a distributor of specialty chemicals and food ingredients. (Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

Bunning, another inductee, said that this night meant the world to him, and that he is proud to be an alumnus of the UConn School of Engineering:

“That spirit of doing things correctly and for the right reasons is alive here and every time I come back I’m just truly amazed at the growth that’s gone on here,” Bunning said. “So kudos to the state, kudos to the School of Engineering, and kudos to the University for all they have done to make this place so great.”

For more information on The Academy, and its list of members, please click here

 

Author: WFSB Channel 3 Feature on Senior Design Demonstration Day

STORRS, CT (WFSB) – UConn engineering students displayed projects that they’ve been working on all year on Friday.

There’s about 230 projects, 800 seniors, in groups of 3 to 4, and they’ve been working on these projects all year long.

“Our project is to control an electric motor for that car over there. It’s very efficient for its size and weight and provides a lot of power output 80 kilowatts 107 horsepower,” said Daryl Biron, a UConn senior.

Wednesday was the UConn Senior Design Demonstration Day.

“This is a package delivery drone, it can pick up and identify boxes,” said David Kay, a UConn senior.

“These are the big ones, so they work throughout their entire four-year career here to get up to this point and they’re making incredible projects out there,” said Eli Freund, UConn School of Engineering Communications Manager.

Students have been working with over 100 private companies, municipalities, and organizations to help put together projects that will make a difference.

“Our project is a way to monitor shunt functionality,” said Caitlin Eaton-Robb, a Biomedical Engineering student.

Caitlin was recently featured in a Channel 3 story when she raised $8,000 running the Boston Marathon.

On Friday, she explained her group project to help monitor the tool that helps people with fluids that build up in their brain.

“A shunt is a way to treat hydrocephalus, which is an enlargement of the ventricles so you do an excess of cerebral spinal fluid,” Eaton-Robb said.

Click here to watch full video newscast. 

Author: UConn CSE Senior Develops Facial Recognition Security for Under $80

The device, shown here, triggers a facial recognition system on a Raspberry Pi, a popular and affordable microprocessor commonly used by college students, and takes a picture, which it checks against a database. (Photo courtesy of Trevor Phillips)

 

By: Amanda Wright, Communications Assistant, UConn School of Engineering

A UConn Computer Science & Engineering senior, Trevor Phillips, has recently developed a way to create facial recognition security for under $80, using the technology found in a handicap door opening button.

A facial recognition system is a computer application capable of identifying or verifying a person from a digital image or a video frame from a videosource. One of the ways to do this is by comparing selected facial features from the image and a face database.

It is typically used in security systems and can be compared to other biometrics such as fingerprint or eye iris recognition systems. Recently, it has also become popular as a commercial identification and marketing tool. A perfect real world example is the facial recognition used on the iPhone X, which is used to unlock the user’s phone.

The idea to integrate a facial recognition system into handicap buttons began, according to Phillips, when his friend found a wireless handicap door button and the first thought that popped into his head was, “what can I do with this?”

On his website Phillips walks through the process stating that using software-defined radio can help detect the signal from the button, which comes out at 300-390 MHz. The device signal then triggers a facial recognition system on a Raspberry Pi, a popular and affordable microprocessor commonly used by college students, and takes a picture. The photo of the user is then sent to a database, which analyzes 128 data points. If the person is in the database, then the door opens, and the user can enter the room.

Phillips said that this project could be extended and applied in multiple useful real-world scenarios, like, for example, a custom home security system which uses facial recognition to either grant or deny access to the home.

When asked about his keys to success, Phillips cited his education and theoretical knowledge from the UConn School of Engineering, combined with his natural curiosity when approaching projects like this:

UConn has given me more theoretical knowledge and it is helping to inspire me creatively. But, this project was the first time I felt like an engineer,  able to combine existing technologies from multiple subject areas into something new.”

To find out more about Phillip’s project you can visit his website: https://trevphil.com/projects. 

Author: U.S. Senator Chris Murphy Highlights Quiet Corner Innovation Cluster As “Murphy’s Monday Manufacturer”

HARTFORD – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) recognized the Quiet Corner Innovation Cluster (QCIC) as this week’s “Murphy’s Monday Manufacturer” after meeting with members of the partnership recently. Established in 2016 at the University of Connecticut (UConn), QCIC provides research and development, financial, and other business resources to small- and medium-sized manufacturing companies in rural Tolland, Windham, and New London counties. Murphy helped secure $500,000 in federal economic development assistance grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to establish the program. Combined with investments from UConn and Connecticut Innovations, this $1.5 million partnership leverages the growth and employment potential of technology and manufacturing companies in northeastern Connecticut.

QCIC, a UConn School of Engineering program, is based in UConn’s Innovation Partnership Building. During his visit to UConn last month, Murphy heard firsthand from manufacturers about how helpful this program is to expanding their business and creating jobs, and from students about their passion for manufacturing. 

QCIC is a part of the Enterprise Solution Center, the future Proof of Concept Center, and the Connecticut Manufacturing Simulation Center (CMSC). To date, QCIC has identified fourteen Quiet Corner manufacturing companies to participate in the program, and has started leveraging UConn’s expertise and facilities to help innovate, and solve problems for, several of them since launch. QCIC, along with its sister program CMSC, are expected to help 280 small- and medium-sized manufacturing companies and add almost 2,500 jobs to the Connecticut economy. QCIC aims to aid in the creation of new startups and product lines, potentially attracting millions of dollars in private investment and revenue. 

Click here to read the full press release. 

Author: A Celebration of NSBE and the 50th Anniversary of the H. Fred Simons African American Cultural Center

(Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

By: Amanda Wright, Communications Assistant, UConn School of Engineering 

On Wednesday, April 18th the UConn chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers celebrated the 50th anniversary of the H. Fred Simons African American Cultural Center and reflected on their successful year.

The ceremony began with UConn NSBE president, Joshua Crittenden, speaking and recognizing the attending UConn alumni and graduating seniors, stating his thankfulness and appreciation for everything they did throughout the year.

After opening remarks from Crittenden, the graduating seniors were invited to the podium and recognized for their service to the school and their plans post-graduation. Some included jobs at Unilever, Pratt & Whitney, Mary Kay, and some were starting their PHD programs. Many were still waiting to hear back from prospects.

Among some of the accomplishment that the UConn NSBE received this year were: Region 1 Chapter of the Year, Chapter of the Month — December, January, and February. The UConn NSBE also won the Academic Excellence Programming of the Year award. Additionally, The UConn chapter was a nominee for the 2017-2018 National Large Chapter of the Year award, competing against Georgia Tech, University of Houston, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, and University of Southern California.

In remarks from Dr. Willena Kimpson Price, Director of the H. Fred Simons African American Cultural Center, she announced that Adriana Turkson, a junior mechanical engineering major, would be taking over after Crittenden graduates.Before handing over the mic, Price stated to Josh, “Your legacy at UConn will never ever be forgotten.”

At the close of the event, the National Chair Elect, Niasia Williams revealed that Crittenden was recently announced to be on the National Executive Board as the Engineering Diversity Chair, but before she swore him into his new role, she was able to get one last congratulatory word out to the assembled NSBE members:

“Before I begin the oath of office I want to say how immensely proud I am of you all”

For more information on the H. Fred Simons African American Cultural Center, please visit: https://aacc.uconn.edu/

Author: Submarine Engineers Simulate Real-Time Conditions to  Test Key Components

A team led by engineering professor Richard Christenson has developed a new method to test vibrating, manufactured components using a mathematical model that simulates the rest of the ship and the surrounding ocean. (Photo of the USS Louisiana by Brian Nokell, NBK Visual Information, via Wikimedia Commons)

 

By: Office of the Vice President for Research

Existing laboratory test methods don’t allow submarine engineers to test how a motor will vibrate in real-world conditions on a ship at sea, so designers take the conservative approach to prepare for the worst.

But a team of UConn engineers has developed a method to test vibrating, manufactured components, using actuators and shake tables, sensors, and mathematical formulas that can replicate the system-level, real-time conditions.

As the U.S. Navy looks to redesign existing platforms and complete designs of new submarines, this will allow ship builders to test the system-level response of physical hardware components earlier in the design process, says Richard Christenson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at UConn.

Christenson and his students have taken an existing test method used in the field of earthquake engineering, called real-time hybrid substructuring (RTHS), and advanced the existing framework so they can apply it to the mechanical applications of vibration control and structural-born acoustics.

The technical challenge they face involves combining the physical specimen – the motor, or any other component of interest – with the numerical simulation of the rest of the ship and the surrounding water.

This is done in the UConn Structures Research Laboratory, where Christenson and his colleagues place the physical specimen on a shake table that can rotate and move it in any possible direction. Every millisecond during a test, the reaction forces at the base of the specimen where it is attached to the table are measured and sent to a real-time target computer. The computer runs a mathematical model of the remainder of the structural system, including any surrounding fluid, and commands the table to move as the base of the specimen would move if it were sitting in water.

The forces are then measured again and this loop is repeated tens of thousands of times over. This research and the specialized equipment it uses were funded by the Office of Naval Research.

Click here to read more on UConn Today. 

Author: GE Night: The Annual Celebration of a Strong Public-Private Partnership

(Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

 

On a night aimed at showcasing one of UConn Engineering’s strongest public-private partnerships, 11 students presented updates on the research they have been working on, which was made possible through the $7.5 million investment from General Electric Industrial Solutions in 2012.

The research, presented at the 5th Annual GE Night, by 11 different GE fellows, ran the gamut from harnessing cyclical AMP signaling for bone regenerative engineering, to developing an open-source, multi-sensory selective laser sintering system for quality and smart additive manufacturing.

The students presenting that night were: Guleid Awale; Bryant Heimbach; Jindong Huo; Tianyu Jian; Hesaneh Kazemi; Ryan Ouimet; Maryam Pardakhti; Gyuho Song; Wimalika Thalgaspitiya; Huilin Ye; and Jingyue Zhang.

Dr. Mei Wei, the host of the night, and associate dean for research and graduate education at UConn Engineering, said that this event is one that she looks forward to every year:

“In March 2014, we had our very first ever GE Night, and since then, it has become a tradition,” Wei said. “It’s been nice to see that we have had more and more students excel in their research, which couldn’t have been accomplished without GE’s generous support.”

That support, which has funded research efforts for the past six years, has also allowed the school to establish graduate student fellowships, establish a GE Professorship in Advanced Manufacturing, and open the General Electric Center of Excellence in Advanced Materials and Modeling, of which Wei oversees.

Dr. Kazem Kazerounian, dean of the School of Engineering, said at the event that this partnership hits on all three of the major metrics of success for the School:

“I’m really proud that we call this night GE Night, because, as I’ve said before, in the School of Engineering, our most important metrics for success are the success of our students, the excellence of our research, and the economic impact we have on the state,” Kazerounian said. “These kinds of partnerships achieve all three of these, and most importantly generate new knowledge, which leads to new products, new processes, and new technologies.”

Kazerounian went on to say that now, more than ever, this kind of knowledge generation is important during the “fourth industrial revolution”:

“I was in Washington yesterday, and the discussion was focused on the fact that this is a very unique time in the United States, and the world, in the sense that we are in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution,” Kazerounian said. “With new technologies related to the Internet of Things, it’s an amazing time to be an engineering student, and we are glad that we have partners like GE that help support us during this new era.”

Paul Singer, CTO/Engineering at GE Industrial Solutions, said that having a relationship like this with UConn is not just important for their business, but has a deeper meaning for many of the employees who work for GE Industrial Solutions:

“Most of us here have close ties to the state and UConn. I went to UConn, my son went to UConn, our division is based in the state, and because of that, so many of us understand that the close relationship we share with the school has a profound effect on our day-to-day business,” Singer said. “Some of the projects that we’re working on with UConn are really cutting-edge product concepts for the next generation of electrical systems that are going to be a huge part of our future.”

To learn more about the partnership between GE Industrial Solutions and UConn, please visit: https://today.uconn.edu/2012/10/ge-collaborates-with-uconn-on-7-5-million-advanced-technology-initiative/

Author: Remembering Dr. John Enderle, The Educator and The Nurturer

Dr. John Enderle and his wife, Laurie Enderle. (photo courtesy of Laurie Enderle)

 

By: Heidi Douglas, Director of Alumni Relations, UConn School of Engineering 

Professor Emeritus John D. Enderle, 65, of Ashford, CT passed away on April 2, 2018 after a long and courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.  A loving husband, father, brother, friend, colleague and mentor, Dr. Enderle enjoyed a long and illustrious career as a professor and inspirational leader, admired for his unfailing dedication and support for students, a legacy honored by his family establishing the John Enderle Fund memorial scholarship.

UConn Electrical and Computer Engineering department head from 1995-1997, John was founding director of the undergraduate Biomedical Engineering program in 1997. His passion for research and advising his students are storied with commendations describing him as “the greatest professor,” having a “major influence in my life over the past 20 years,” and “always had patience to help me pursue my goals.”

John earned his B.S., M.E., and Ph.D. degrees in Biomedical Engineering, and an M.E. degree in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He worked at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and was as a professor at North Dakota State University (NDSU) prior to joining UConn.

In addition to his teaching and research, John also served in many capacities for several professional societies, was a member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, a former Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) Program Evaluator for Bioengineering Programs and member of the Engineering Accreditation Commission. He was Editor of the NSF Book Series on NSF Engineering Senior Design Projects to Aid Persons with Disabilities. At the time of his death, John was working on a fourth edition of his seminal undergraduate textbook for biomedical engineering, Introduction to Biomedical Engineering.

A particularly metaphorical tribute to John celebrates his passion for gardening. A painting by former student Dr. G. Alexander Korentis depicts an espalier apple tree with John’s name followed by all his Ph.D. students’ names in an upward succession of branches. The frame bears a plaque with a quote from Warren Buffett, “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

John Enderle planted a tree for all of his students.

 Donations may be made in memory of John Enderle to the “John Enderle Fund” in the UConn School of Engineering. Please make checks payable to: The UConn Foundation, Inc. and forward to the following address: 2390 Alumni Drive Unit 3206, Storrs, Connecticut 06269.

Author: Senior Design: Using Vibrational Therapy to Change the Outlook for Cerebral Palsy Patients (Part 2)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

This article is part of a multi-part series on engineering students, and their journey through senior design. Click here to read part 1 of this article series.

Entering the final stretch of their Senior Design journey, the biomedical engineering team of Brianna Perry, Morgan DaSilva, Brittany Morgan, and Katie Bradley are realizing the crushing realities of real-world results versus perfect-world expectations.

In a perfect world, the team of four would be running trials with their cerebral palsy rehabilitation device on multiple CP patients, and all their equipment would be running perfectly. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case, according to Perry:

“After a long process, the Institutional Review Board finally approved our human trials, allowing us to get some participants,” Perry said. “Unfortunately, due to time constraints, and our inability to compensate participants, we were only able to enroll one CP patient in our trials.”

Even though the stars haven’t aligned completely, getting that one patient was a bright spot and a boon for the team, because it has allowed them to get real-time results from an actual CP patient. While the initial responses were mixed, Morgan said that they were a great start for the team:

“We have done extensive analysis using root mean square functions and we have come up with inconsistent data, showing both positive and negative results for each muscle/action performed,” Morgan said. “We’re looking forward to the last week of testing and adjusting some parameters for analyzing the data, to see if we can get a more positive result. But we’re still really excited that we’ve been able to even sort through the data enough to see results, and it is a great stride in our design process.”

And if they don’t get a complete picture in the next round of trials, Morgan said that the group is excited about the future of the treatment:

“Even if we’re not getting completely positive data we’re still hopeful that someday our project, with more time, could be very successful in treatment.”

In the United States, there are nearly 800,000 children and adults that manifest one or more symptoms of Cerebral Palsy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10,000 new-born babies will develop Cerebral Palsy every year. One of the biggest symptoms is loss of motor function, taking away the ability to walk with ease and creating difficulty in feeding. There have been several advancements in devices that aid individuals with Cerebral Palsy, but not enough devices that rehabilitate the patient.

The four students involved in the project, are working on a brace, which would go on the hand and wrist of a Cerebral Palsy patient, and would use vibration therapy to treat and strengthen the muscles in the hand. Their project is being advised by BME Professor Krystyna Gielo-Perczak.

More specifically, their device uses localized vibrational stimuli, to target four of the muscles in the right wrist, which will hopefully lead to more strength and control. The device targets one of the biggest types of Cerebral Palsy, Spastic, which results in involuntary movements, stiffness, and mobility impairments. Patients would use this for less than 20 minutes a day, three days a week, for a few months at a time.

Since their early success in the beginning of the spring semester, the team has also run into some other roadblocks, including, interestingly enough, sewing:

“This project required some sewing on the glove, and I’ve only sewn a couple of times in my life,” Bradley said. “I’m a huge perfectionist, and while I was making this glove, I wanted it to look awesome, but going into the sewing process, with my lack of experience, I should have lowered my expectations.”

Bradley said that they even had trouble finding a sewing machine to use, but eventually found one in the Peter J. Werth Residence Tower, which was a stroke of good luck.

Perry also had luck on her side when she was creating the plastic cast for the device. The cast, which holds the glove in place, took specialized materials and skill, which were both available at the prosthetics clinic she volunteers for:

“I volunteer at a prosthetics clinic, so I had them help me out and they let me use their equipment, which was a lucky break for us,” Perry said. “I had to cast my own arm in plaster, wait for that to dry, then I took a sheet of Duraflex, put it in the oven, and then I had to vacuum seal it around my plastered arm, praying I didn’t burn myself.”

The finished cast, seen here next to the vibrational therapy glove (Eli Freund/UConn Photo)

 

This development allowed them to complete their device, and be ready in time before the first human trials in early April.

Asked whether the team will be 100 percent ready for Senior Design Demonstration Day, Morgan commented that even though the four of them consider themselves perfectionists, the time restraints put upon them, combined with the myriad of other work senior engineering students have to do, makes this project a tough one to be 100 percent perfect on:

“I think we all want this project to be perfect, but obviously time is fighting against us. But, I think very few teams will be 100% done–that’s just the nature of Senior Design.”

DaSilva echoed that comment, and explained that an important project like this takes patience and a strong focus on priorities:

“We’ve just realized that a great project doesn’t come easily,” DaSilva said. “There’s always going to be one thing that you need to fix, or an additional data point that you need to gather, and you just don’t have the time for it, so it’s important to just focus on the big picture”

Perry, Morgan, DaSilva, and Bradley’s final results will be presented on Senior Design Day, April 27, from 1-4 p.m. in Gampel Pavillion. To attend the event, please RSVP by clicking this link.

Author: UConn Mechanical Engineering Student Accepted into NASA Program

Ghellai (first row, first on the right), who just recently transferred to UConn from Manchester Community College, is pictured here with his fellow NCAS Scholars.

 

This past semester, Marwan Ghellai transferred to the University of Connecticut from Manchester Community College. But, even though he’s brand new, he’s already had experience beyond the classroom, and beyond our world.

Gellai, a sophomore in Mechanical Engineering, when he was still a student at MCC, was accepted into the NCAS (NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars) program, which is a program aimed at getting engineering students aware of what NASA does and how they do it, and the future of the government body. The program encourages community college STEM students near the end of their Associate’s Degree to either finish a 2-year degree or transfer to a 4-year university, and later pursue a NASA-related field or career.

After he was officially accepted in the program, Gellai had to complete a five week online course, which had him and the other Scholars take quizzes, participate in discussions, and attend webinars with NASA engineers and scientists.

After completion of that course, Gellai was eligible to take a trip the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. During his trip to the Space Center, Gellai received tours around NASA, met engineers, scientists, and directors of the Space Center, and participated in a hands-on project against four other teams, where they had to program, design and build a mini rover to retrieve rocks and toy astronauts. Because of his leadership, Gellai was made project manager of his team, and was later named MVP.

Reflecting on his experience, Gellai said he is inspired more than ever to be successful at the UConn School of Engineering, and is excited to get the same education that multiple alumni, who are now NASA astronauts, have received:

“UConn is widely known for its competitiveness and high-quality education,” he said. “Ever since joining UConn I walk out each week more excited than the next. For me, it is a different environment and I am a little nervous, because now I have to do much more to prove myself—but that is what makes UConn great.”

For more information on the NCAS program, please visit: https://nas.okstate.edu/ncas/index.html

Author: Senior Design: Building The “Heart and Soul” of an Electric Car (Part 2)

The three ECE team members work on the Emsiso emDrive300H Controller in the Castleman Machine Shop (Amanda Wright/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

This article is part of a multi-part series on engineering students, and their journey through senior design. Click here to read part 1 of this article series.

With good intentions in mind, the Electrical and Computer Engineering Senior Design team of Daryl Biron, Ernesto Ortega-Hernandez, and Alain Tshipamba set out to build not only the powertrain of an electric car, but also realize their dream of seeing it race in the summer.

The portion of the car that Biron, Ortega-Hernandez, and Tshipamba are working on is the “heart and soul” of the vehicle—the powertrain. The sponsor of the project, the UConn Electric Motorsports Club, was originally formed in the spring of 2017, with the intention of getting like-minded students together to build a car that could compete in Formula North, a collegiate competition taking place during in the summer of 2018. The advisor of the team is Professor Ali Bazzi. 

Unfortunately, due to multiple factors, Biron said that the car will not be ready for Formula North this summer:

“There’s a lot that has gone into this car, and funding has been an issue, so even this upcoming summer, when Senior Design finishes, the club probably won’t be closing in on finishing the car, but will be thinking about the overall design, and how we can make it better,” Biron said. “So, odds are it won’t be fully built until January 2019.”

When the car is officially completed, it will have a chassis made of inch-thick aluminum honeycomb sheets, which will make it one of the lightest and most torsionally rigid chassis seen in competition, according to the UCEM website. The car will also use pieces and materials that will make the car extremely flexible and ergonomic, with components like adjustable pedals and a removable seat.

The permanent magnet motor, which the group only received in February, after a wait of a few months, was designed by EMRAX, and provides 80 kilowatts of power, equivalent to 107 horsepower.

Biron holds the EMRAX motor, which sits next to the Emsiso emDrive300H Controller. (Amanda Wright/UConn Photo)

 

The rest of the powertrain consists of an emDrive300H Controller from Emsiso, and several other components, which will connect to a battery apparatus being constructed by another ECE team. Unlike the ordering of the motor, which was long and drawn out, Biron said the ordering of the controller was extremely easy:

“The ordering of the motor controller was much smoother, and it actually came in a couple of weeks earlier than we anticipated,” Biron said. “The only problem we encountered was that on the website, it said we would be able to use any USB-to-CAN adapter to connect to our computer to program it, but after we ordered it we found out that we needed to order a special adapter from the company.”

Biron said if they used a standard adapter, then they wouldn’t have been able to see any of the real-time graphs or data logging, so they attempted to jerry-rig it, but, unfortunately, they found out that they ultimately need to buy the special adapter.  

But the powertrain, which was the team’s focus for Senior Design, will absolutely be ready to go for Senior Design Demonstration Day on April 27, according to Biron:

“We’re going to put all the parts completely together into one system before Senior Design Day, and then we’ll begin testing,” Biron said. “Then, since I don’t think we’ll be able to integrate the system into the car, we’ll have to work on a test demo for Senior Design Day, showing how we control the motor and get it to spin correctly.”

Asked about the whole year-long process, Ortega-Hernandez said that it’s definitely been a long road, but has also been a great experience:

“I think I’ll feel accomplished when I actually see that motor spin, and we confirm that we’re seeing the correct speed and torque,” Ortega-Hernandez said. “It’s been a frustrating and tough process, but we’re definitely proud of the work we’ve put in and the final result.”

The team’s final product will be presented on Senior Design Day, April 27, from 1-4 p.m., in Gampel Pavillion. To attend the event, please RSVP by clicking this link.

Author: Navy STEM Program Hosts Speaker Dr. Robert Koch

 

The Navy STEM Program hosted distinguished speaker Dr. Robert Koch, P.E., U.S. Navy Senior Technologist in Undersea Tactical Stealth Systems at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC), on Wednesday, February 28. Prior to his current assignment, Bob was the Head of the NUWC Division Newport Solid Mechanics and Design Branch, and also a Chief Research Scientist in Applied Mechanics. Dr. Koch is an internationally recognized and widely published researcher in structural- and hydro-acoustics noise propagation and control, advanced mathematical analysis of transient dynamic high-energy shock events, and general theoretical and applied mechanics formulations.

Students enrolled in Spring Semester 2018 ENGR 3109, Navy STEM Professional Development Seminar course, were fortunate to hear Dr. Koch’s presentation, “Navy Undersea Vehicle Structural Acoustics and Stealth.” He discussed a broad array of technologies involved in allowing the U.S. Navy’s undersea vehicles to operate in a covert and stealthy manner and live up to their apt name as the ‘Silent Service.’

He emphasized that this technological edge in a chaotic and ever-changing world involves both the fundamental understanding of the physics of structural acoustics and structural vibrations as well as the application of these and other engineering technologies to the acoustic and non-acoustic silencing of advanced undersea vehicles. His seminar included both an examination of the definition and importance of vibro-acoustics physics and how it is applied by scientists and engineers to both manned and unmanned Navy undersea vehicles and associated systems.

Additionally, Lauren Knapp, Mechanical Engineering major enrolled in the course, Engineering Ambassador, and member of the new Navy STEM Crew, commented,

“We also learned about NUWC Newport. It is a nonprofit company with both military and civilian leadership. They include an enormous amount of different STEM fields and the day-to- day environment includes such tasks as desk/office, computer laboratories, testing laboratories, navy bases/defense contractors for fleet support, and other national/international travel.”

If you would like more information regarding the new Navy STEM program, contact the program administrator, Stephanie Wanne at stephanie.wanne@uconn.edu. 

Author: UConn Students Learn about NUWC Newport’s Cutting-Edge Programs During Tour

 

University of Rhode Island and University of Connecticut students in the ONR STEM Outreach Workforce Development Program listen to Capt. Michael Coughlin (right) in Chafee Auditorium on March 23 during a tour of NUWC Division Newport. Seated on the stage are Rebecca Chhim (from left), Dr. Christin Murphy, Dr. Joshua Liberty and Elena Gaudette. (US Navy Photos by Rich Allen, ICI Services)

 

Amid a few humorous anecdotes and movie references, Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport Commanding Officer Capt. Michael Coughlin had some sage advice for the 30 or so University of Rhode Island and University of Connecticut engineering students who visited the Division on March 23.

“Wherever you go to work, make sure the quality of the people around you is important,” Coughlin said. “Our quality of people [at NUWC Division Newport] is amazing.”

The brief meeting with Coughlin was the first stop on a tour of some of the facilities at NUWC Newport for the group of students and a few of their professors and advisors who are a part of the Office of Naval Research (ONR) STEM Outreach Workforce Development Program.

In addition to the welcome from Coughlin, the day featured a panel discussion with four engineers and scientists, a virtual worlds demonstration, a visit to the anechoic chamber and water and wind tunnels, and a tour of the Narragansett Bay Test Facility at Stillwater Basin.

“I had no idea really what they would show us, but they did a real good job of keeping me interested,” said Sofia Ricciardi, 20, a sophomore electrical engineering student at UConn. “Everything that they talked about, in some way, intrigued me.”

Students in the ONR STEM Outreach Workforce Development Program and ONR STEM Program Administrator Stephanie Wanne (second from left), with the UConn School of Engineering, listen to a presentation by Dr. Elizabeth Magliula (center) in the anechoic chamber at NUWC Division Newport. (US Navy Photos by Rich Allen, ICI Services)

 

After fielding a few questions from the audience, Coughlin turned things over to a panel that explored the wide variety of engineering work underway at the center.

“It was definitely interesting to see the people that actually work here,” Kevin Supino, 20, a second-year URI mechanical engineering student said. “They’re all really smart and very well-spoken.“They all seem very likeable and very knowledgeable, and they seem like they would be good to
work with.”

Members of the panel each spoke about their responsibilities at NUWC, which gave those in attendance perspective on the wide array of talents possessed by NUWC Newport employees.

Elena Gaudette from the NUWC Chief Technology Office discussed opportunities available to work with cutting-edge technology while also highlighting her work as director of the Advanced Naval Technology Exercise (ANTX) 2018.

“The Navy’s primary concern is to maintain superiority, and there are some formidable opponents out there,” Gaudette said.

Dr. Joshua Liberty, one of NUWC Newport’s physicists, talked about his work on the theoretical side of troubleshooting navigation issues on unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs). He also spoke of one of the aspects he enjoys about working at NUWC, comparing it to a college campus in the sense of its structure with various departments and the building layout of NUWC Newport.

“They’re really good about moving you around and finding a good fit for you,” Liberty informed the crowd.

He further elaborated that his personal experience is that, once you get into NUWC, if you feel like you are not happy in your designated area of work, your superiors are more than willing to help you find your place. Everyone at NUWC wants to see their fellow colleagues reach their full potential, Liberty added.

Dr. Christin Murphy, a research biologist, focused on her experience looking to nature for biologically inspired technology. Her current project has her working with seal whiskers, and she emphasized the importance of collaboration in her area of expertise.

“Cross-disciplinary work is really essential in the biomimetic field,” Murphy said. “You really have to have a strong understanding of the natural world.”

Rebecca Chhim, who specializes in cybersecurity, discussed her field’s ever-increasing importance in a world where cyberattacks are becoming more frequent. She also referenced one of her “most humbling experiences,” when she was part of a team that put one of the first cybersecurity tool sets on a Virginia-class submarine. In theory, the design worked, yet logistically it impacted the daily lives of the Sailors, and she and her team had to re-evaluate their approach.

The students next moved to a demonstration on “the power of the virtual world.” “It unleashes the creativity of your workforce,” said Steve Aguiar, the head of NUWC Newport’s development of virtual worlds technologies.

In his presentation, Aguiar displayed various examples of immersive learning in which virtual worlds are utilized. He began by showing one of the first examples from a Second Life program art instructor in 2008 who used the technology to bring students inside the works of Vincent Van Gogh. From there, Aguiar showed examples specific to the Navy, including a display that demonstrated how a sonobuoy uses frequency to locate enemy submarines.

“Their virtual simulation stuff they were talking about, even though I’ve never heard of it in detail before, I thought that the way he presented it was really interesting,” Ricciardi said. “I just think it’s really cool how we’re able to ask like any question that’s on our mind, and then they answer it to the best of their ability.”

From there, students headed across the NUWC campus for tours of the center’s anechoic chamber and wind and water tunnels.

Dr. Elizabeth Magliula discussed how some people can find it “unsettling” during their first time in the anechoic chamber, which produces no echoes thanks to it being completely covered in wedges of foam. She also noted how at times people do not realize how much sound something like electronics – in this instance, the computer that was temporarily situated in the center of the room – can produce until one enters an anechoic chamber.

NUWC’s facility is designed for advanced studies in active noise and vibration cancellation, acoustic intensity, acoustic directivity, and measurements of sound and power levels. The chamber’s versatile design allows investigations into other areas such as environmental/community noise studies, hearing/active noise cancellation studies, consumer appliance, automobile noise and commercial product airborne sound certifications.

“I just thought it was really fascinating how all of the technology works, even though it’s not technology in the sense of circuits and things like that,” Ricciardi said. “It’s still something that had to be developed.”

Ricciardi’s classmate, Nikolai Serebriakov, 20, a sophomore mechanical engineering student at UConn, was equally impressed by some of the same technology that is utilized in the wind tunnel. “It’s really hard to think about how when you’re outside you can hear wind blowing, but when you’re in that room there’s a 40 mph wind blowing and you hear nothing,” Serebriakov said. Dr. Aren Hellum described some of the materials that have been tested in the wind tunnel – from objects made of felt to spinning propellers and even a Ford F150 – and also allowed members of the group to experience a 50 mph wind. The tunnel’s top speed is 128 mph, Hellum said.
At the water tunnel, Hellum described its capabilities and some of the experiments conducted there – including Murphy’s tests with seal whiskers.

The engineering students finished the day at the waterfront with a tour of the Narragansett Bay TestFacility at Stillwater Basin. There, they learned about the dive locker, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and waterfront operations. In the dive locker, Keith Bruce talked about the role the Engineering and Diving Support Unit plays in fixing submarines – specifically towed array handling systems – without dry docking the subs.

“The focus of the EDSU is to bring our engineering and technical skills to bear on problems that just happen to be underwater,” Bruce said.

Click here to read more. 

Author: Javidi Wins Prestigious Award from The Optical Society

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

The UConn School of Engineering is pleased to announce that Dr. Bahram Javidi, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been awarded the prestigious Joseph Fraunhofer Award / Robert M. Burley Prize from The Optical Society.

The award, given to one person in the country every year, was bestowed upon Javidi for his “seminal contributions to passive and active multi-dimensional imaging from nano- to micro- and macro-scales,” according to the award citation.

The award is one of a long line of accomplishments during his career, which include: Being named one of the top 160 engineers between the ages of 30-45 by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE); the Quantum Electronics and Optics Prize for Applied Aspects by the European Physical Society; the Dennis Gabor Award in Diffractive Wave Technologies from The International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE); the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship; the Alexander von Humboldt Prize for senior US Scientists in all disciplines; the SPIE Technology Achievement Award; the National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award; and the George Washington University Distinguished Alumni Scholar Award.

At UConn, he has received the American Association for University Professors (AAUP) Research Excellence Award; the University of Connecticut Board Of Trustees Distinguished Professor Award; the UConn Alumni Association Excellence in Research Award; and the Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award, among others.

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), Fellow of the Optical Society of America (OSA), Fellow of the European Optical Society (EOS), Fellow of The International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE), Fellow of the Institute of Physics (IoP), and Fellow of The Society for Imaging Science and Technology (IS&T). Javidi has over 900 publications and 19 patents, some of which have been licensed by industry.

Javidi is also the director of the MOSIS Lab (Multidimensional Optical Sensing and Imaging Systems), which is focused on advancing the science and technology of imaging, by centering on the fields of optics, photonics, and computational algorithms and systems, from nano to macro scales. MOSIS works with, and finds solutions for, partners in the defense, manufacturing, healthcare, and cybersecurity industries.

Click here to learn more about the Joseph Fraunhofer Award / Robert M. Burley Prize from The Optical Society.

Author: Reflecting on International Women’s Day

In March we celebrated International Women’s Day, a day in which we applauded the achievements and exceptional contributions of our female faculty, staff, and students who enrich, uplift, and improve UConn Engineering every day through their legacy of contributions.

While encumbered with challenges, these are exciting days for the University of Connecticut and for the School of Engineering, with momentous initiatives in education, research, and engagement underway and on the near-horizon.  Over the next decade, UConn Engineering will achieve new heights.  Growth is not without its complexities,  but there are a few easy canons. One such rule is that we cannot expect to have a fully-realized School until we have reversed the underrepresentation of women in our faculty and student population.  In that respect, I want to acknowledge the dedicated, keen efforts of the department search committees in recruiting top female engineers and scientists to UConn.  I am thrilled at the number and quality of the female engineering faculty that will be joining us next year. I am also proud of Associate Dean Dan Burkey’s leadership in significantly improving the pool of female student applicants to the School for Fall 2018 (and therefore expected female enrollment). 

Progress on this front is a triumph for all of us in the School of Engineering and will translate into a more diverse and vibrant UConn Engineering community.  As we continue to strive toward that goal, I wish to continue honoring our UConn Engineering women on that day, as well as every day, with pride and appreciation. Please join me in thanking our female engineering faculty, staff and students for their commitment and important contributions.

-Kazem Kazerounian, Dean, UConn School of Engineering

Author: Alumni News for March 2018

Janet Callahan ( B.S. Chemical Engineering, ‘83; M.S. Metallurgy, ‘86; Ph.D. Material Science, ‘90) has been named a 2017 Woman of the Year by Idaho Business Review. Chair of Boise State University’s Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering, Callahan came to Boise State in 2004 after serving as an assistant and associate professor at Georgia Institute of Technology. After graduating from UConn, she worked as a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow in Australia for two years, then in the private sector before moving into academia. Callahan is a member of the UConn Academy of Distinguished Engineers.

 

Thomas Gaal (B.S. Electrical Engineering, ’89) been named a director of Digital Transformation, Operations, at Radio Frequency Systems (RFS) in Munich, Germany. Prior to joining RFS he served in Supply Chain Innovation, Global Operations in the Venture Group at Nokia. A member of the APICS Research, Innovation, and Strategy Committee (RISC), he chairs the RISC Sensing Subcommittee. Gaal earned an executive education from IMD Business School in Switzerland and has worked in the U.S., Germany, and the Netherlands.

 

Amy Jagaczewski, P.E. (M.S Civil Engineering, ‘17) has been promoted to associate at GNCB Consulting Engineers, P.C. in Old Saybrook, CT. Jagaczewski specializes in the investigation, analysis, and rehabilitation of historic structures. Recent projects include the adaptive reuse of Holdredge Garage in Westerly, RI, and the reconstruction of St. Michael Church in Pawcatuck, CT. She is an active member of the Association for Preservation Technology International.

 

Roy Maddocks, Jr. (B.S. Electrical Engineering, ‘89) has retired as Fleet Master Chief following a distinguished 36-year career in the US Navy that began in the post-Vietnam era when the military was in a state of disarray. As a SEAL, Maddocks was involved in operational missions stretching from Afghanistan and Iraq to Bosnia and Kosovo. His awards consist of the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Joint Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (two awards), Army Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal (two awards), and numerous Campaign medals. Maddocks earned an M.A. in national Security and Strategic Studies at the U.S. Naval War College.

 

Aislinn Walters (B.S. Computer Science & Engineering, ’12) was a UConn junior raising money for HuskyTHON when she co-founded FOX-A-Thon at Plantsville School where her mom and co-founder Sandy Chavez teaches. This year’s eighth Fox-A-Thon raised $3,528 for the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, contributing to HuskyTHON’s annual $1m target. Walters, a software engineer at FM Global in Johnston, RI also teaches Computer Science at a Providence high school through the TEALS volunteer program. She attends FOX-A-Thon every year to support her mom and the students.

 

David Works (M.S. Mechanical Engineering, ‘96) has joined US Foods Holding Corp. as Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer. Works joined US Foods from Hackensack Meridian Health, where he served as chief human resources officer. Previously, he led HR organizations at Windstream and Sears Holdings. Works began his career as an officer in the U.S. Navy. He earned his MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Stay in touch with the School of  Engineering.  Join our LinkedIn alumni group to share your latest activities and learn what your fellow graduates are doing.  You may also send your news directly to Heidi Douglas, Director of Engineering Alumni Relations.  We love hearing from you

Author: Giving Back to the Future of Engineering

For 36 hours, on April 4-5, all of UConn Nation will come together like never before during UConn Gives to show their support for the University they love and the programs they are passionate about. Gifts can be made between 12 a.m. on April 4 and 12 p.m. on April 5.

This year, the School of Engineering will be focusing on three specific initiatives, which are as follows:

-Buy a Rasberry Pi: Raspberry Pi, a palm-size circuit board, is for students to learn basic computer science principles during Freshman Year Experience.

-Connecticut Brownfields Initiative: Support students in this new program, where they will be assisting municipalities in turning polluted pieces of undevelopable land into marketable properties, primed for economic development.

-3-D Equipment for MSE: 3-D visualization equipment to completely transform how students learn about materials science and engineering

These three initiatives are needed and important to fund, because of our recent explosive growth. That growth—a 70% increase in our undergraduate population over the last five years—means that we are projected to graduate a record number of students. These students will go on to be the next generation of educators and engineering leaders, and your donation helps us provide them with the best tools available.

Thank you for giving back to our students, as well as our school. Your donation is truly an investment in the future of engineering, the state, and the University.

To donate to our three causes from April 4-5, please visit: goo.gl/zQXS7r

Author: Dr. Keith Barker Receives Faculty of the Year Award

The UConn chapter of the Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society recently awarded Dr. Keith Barker, professor of computer science & engineering, the 2017-2018 Faculty of the Year Award. Every year, members are asked to nominate a professor that had a profound impact on their career at UConn. 

Professor Barker, commonly referred to as KB, was nominated by a student whose nomination letters reads as follows:

“KB was truly the best professor I have ever had at the University of Connecticut. I took the online Digital Logic Design course with him. All of the videos were accompanied by a short introduction by KB guiding us on how to approach the material. He presented the difficult subject in such a way that it was fun, easy and interesting. I have never enjoyed studying anything as much as I did in this course. KB related each of the subjects we were studying to a song and it made things much easier to remember. During our weekly labs, not only was KB present at each of them throughout the semester, but he also went to every one of the lab sections (and there were quite a few of them). KB came up to each student – helping, giving advice, explaining or just saying something nice. Thanks to KB I went from ‘why am I even taking this class, I cannot understand a single word’ to ‘I love what I am doing and I want to know more’. I have never seen a professor who participated and cared about his students’ success more than KB.”

A CSE alum received KB’s mentorship and is following his example today helping other students in the field of Computer Science:

“Dr. Keith Barker was caring, available, and his door was always open. He was perceived as an honest grader, though the early lab projects were not easy. When you had a problem, he was never far away to explain the technical aspect and use the time to mentor his students.   Thanks to KB I got involved early with Special Projects, university industry partnerships. These were real life assignments, and I had the privilege of doing three of them. I remember presenting one of these in front a huge panel audience and was admittedly scared. KB came to me right before the presentation and said, ‘don’t worry, you know this subject better than any of the judges do.’ It was in moments like this when KB switched from teaching to mentoring and coaching, going that extra mile for his students.”

Dr. Barker’s career of over 50 years in higher education covers 18 years at the University of Sheffield in England teaching electrical engineering before he came to the University of Connecticut CSE Department in 1983. When asked about his experience teaching, KB stated “My life has been devoted to the education of both undergraduate and graduate students and to the betterment of the teaching faculty.” This statement exemplifies how dedicated Professor Barker is to sharing his vast knowledge with others to help them succeed in business and in life.

Author: The United Illuminating Company Joins CBI as a Founding Partner

The Connecticut Brownfields Initiative (CBI) is pleased to announce the addition of The United Illuminating Company (UI) as a founding sponsor and partner. The partnership, which was finalized earlier this month, will bring financial, as well as experiential support to the students and faculty involved with the program.

United Illuminating (UI), a subsidiary of AVANGRID, Inc., is involved in the purchase, transmission, distribution and sale of electricity and related services to 325,000 residential, industrial, and commercial customers in the greater New Haven and Bridgeport area.

By joining CBI, UI will be one of twelve major industry sponsors supporting the $225 million push by the state of Connecticut to remediate brownfield sites, which lay abandoned and tainted with industrial waste and toxic chemicals. The state currently has hundreds of these sites, which impede economic development and negatively affect the surrounding environment.

According to Al Carbone, Manager, Government and Community Relations, joining CBI and the University of Connecticut in its mission to help municipalities, as well as train the next generation of remediation experts, is a cause that’s important to the long-term health of the state:

“United Illuminating is very proud to be a founding sponsor and partner in launching the Connecticut Brownfields Initiative (CBI). This initiative will serve as a catalyst for converting these sites into tax generating properties, both for municipalities, especially smaller communities, which have fewer resources to devote to site-ready development. This sponsorship continues our overall engagement with UConn, which has included support for other economic development programs, working with UConn faculty on storm prediction modeling, and supporting UConn students through the endowment of the Connecticut Energy Foundation Scholarship.”

CBI, which is starting up in the Fall 2018 semester, will develop a top-notch program for education on brownfields remediation and redevelopment, and provide networking opportunities for students, municipalities, and industry partners. The ultimate goal of the initiative will be to create a skilled remediation workforce and provide needed assistance to Connecticut towns and cities.

According to the director of the CBI, Dr. Maria Chrysochoou, UI is the perfect partner for the program, as they add a complementary level of expertise to the current group of sponsors:

“With over 100 years of history, UI has institutional and engineering knowledge that is unmatched,” Chrysochoou said. “Combined with its commitment to community involvement, and environmental stewardship, I believe that UI will play a huge role in our future success.”

To learn more about The United Illuminating Company, please visit their website at www.uinet.com.  

Author: New Advanced Manufacturing Program Aims to Develop The Next Generation of Engineering Leaders

Dr. Ugur Pasaogullari stands in one of the several labs located in the Center for Clean Energy Engineering.

 

In a nationally-competitive proposal process, UConn School of Engineering was one of only two schools in the country to receive funds to train the next generation of advanced manufacturing leaders.

The grant, which came from the federal Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, awarded $3.75 million combined to UConn and Georgia Tech, with UConn receiving $1.25 million over five years. As a result of this funding, the School of Engineering will start a master’s-level Advanced Manufacturing for Energy Systems (AMES) program, with classes commencing in the fall 2018 semester.

The proposal was led by Mechanical Engineering Professor Ugur Pasaogullari
, and had several Co-PI’s, including: Michael Accorsi, senior associate dean of the School of Engineering; Avinash Dongare, materials science and engineering; Ioulia Valla, chemical and biomolecular engineering; Liang Zheng, electrical and computer engineering; Peter Luh, electrical and computer engineering; Michael T. Pettes, mechanical engineering; and Ali Bazzi, electrical and computer engineering.

According to the DOE, the traineeship program will focus on advancing critical science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines and competencies specifically relevant to the Advanced Manufacturing Office’s (AMO) mission, where other U.S. government or academic workforce development programs either do not exist or where Department of Energy (DOE)-relevant, early-stage technology areas are not being leveraged to support the DOE mission.

In the full proposal, Pasaogullari, along with his co-PI’s, pitched the DOE on a program which would feature a true interdisciplinary learning experience, with four different departments offering teaching and research expertise. Additionally, students would be interacting directly with industry, with Cabot Corporation; Proton On Site; Sustainable Innovations; United Technologies Research Center; Applied Power Systems; AzTrong; Quantum BioPower; Doosan Fuel Cells; Giner, Inc; and CT GreenBank signed on as partners for the proposal, with more companies expected to join as the program develops.

Students in the program will have the option of choosing either a traditional M.S. or a Master’s in Engineering (MENG) degree, which is structured towards full-time working professionals, and then they would choose a track in either advanced materials, processing, or sensing and `controls. Near the end of the program, students would tie all their learning together and participate in an internship with one of the industry partners, as well as perform thesis research or complete a capstone project related to a real-world problem, in conjunction with industry.  

The first cohort of 5-6 students will begin their degree in the fall 2018 semester.

 

Those aspects, along with the introduction of soft skill courses, like engineering communications, were the differentiators for UConn, according to Pasaogullari:

“The typical master’s degree in engineering is very technical,” Pasaogullari said. “You take technical courses, analysis courses, and other courses related to your discipline and your research. But in this degree, in addition to the technical aspects, the students will be gaining communications skills, skills in project management, and will also interface directly with industry, which is what DOE was looking to establish.”

With the grant in hand, Pasaogullari and his co-PI’s will get to work recruiting the first cohort of students, who will begin their studies in the fall 2018 semester. The first class of students will total about 5-6, with more added every year.

Pasaogullari said that he is excited to start, and is looking forward to building a program that could have a large impact on the state manufacturing workforce and beyond:

“There is so much demand for skilled workers in current technologies like solar power and batteries, and new technologies like additive manufacturing,” Pasaogullari said. “With an advanced-level degree, the hope is that our graduates will be the managers and leaders of engineering teams that integrate these technologies, a few short years after they graduate—or sooner.” 

To learn more about the program, or to express interest in the program, please contact Professor Ugur Pasaogullari at ugur.pasaogullari@uconn.edu.

Author: Eight UConn Researchers Elected to Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering

By: Jessica McBride, Office of the Vice President for Research

Eight researchers from UConn and UConn Health have been recognized by the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE) as some of Connecticut’s leading experts in science, engineering and technology. The nonprofit, public-service institution patterned after the National Academy of Sciences elected a total of 24 new members from various institutions of higher education and from industry, including UConn, Yale University and United Technologies Corporation.

Election to the Academy is based on scientific and engineering distinction achieved through significant contributions in theory or applications, as demonstrated by original published books and papers, patents, the pioneering of new and developing fields and innovative products, outstanding leadership of nationally recognized technical teams, and external professional awards in recognition of scientific and engineering excellence.

“The fact that UConn and UConn Health researchers make up a third of the 2018 CASE electees speaks to the preeminence and innovative nature of their work,” says Radenka Maric, vice president for research at UConn and UConn Health. “From scientific breakthroughs, to longstanding collaborations with industry, to being dedicated educators – these faculty are truly remarkable, and we are thrilled that they are being recognized for their accomplishments.”

The new UConn and UConn Health members come from the College of Liberal Arts and Science, the School of Engineering, and the School of Medicine, including;

  • Gordon Carmichael, Professor, Genetics and Genome Sciences, UConn Health
  • Richard Christenson, Professor, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, School of Engineering, UConn
  • Horea T. Ilies, Department Head, Mechanical Engineering and Professor of Mechanical Engineering and of Computer Science, School of Engineering, UConn
  • Yu Lei, Professor, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, School of Engineering, UConn
  • Laurent D. Michel, Professor, Computer Science & Engineering, and Co-Director, Voting Technology Research Center, School of Engineering, UConn
  • Akiko Nishiyama, Professor, Physiology and Neurobiology, UConn
  • Ranjan Srivastava, Professo