Pitt | Swanson Engineering
News Listing

Apr

Apr
10
2018

Ultrasound Technology Could Be Applied Toward Rehab In Cases Of Partial Paralysis

MEMS

Most people associate ultrasound technology with pregnancy and the little heartbeat on the monitor. A researcher at the University of Pittsburgh has a slightly different application in mind. Nitin Sharma, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Pitt, recently received more than $500,000 from the National Science Foundation to develop algorithms that could measure muscle function in patients with partial paralysis due to spinal cord injuries — just by looking at ultrasound images of affected areas. By stimulating muscles electrically and using a sort of robotic leg brace called an exoskeleton, Sharma can already help patients with both total and partial lower-body paralysis walk a few steps. This exercise can help the patients with partial paralysis regain movement through repetition. Read the full story at WESA.
Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA
Apr
6
2018

Eleven Pitt Students Awarded 2018 National Science Foundation Fellowships

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, MEMS, Student Profiles

University of Pittsburgh News Release PITTSBURGH – Eleven University of Pittsburgh students and four alumni were awarded the 2018 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Eleven Pitt students and four alumni also received honorable mentions. The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program is designed to ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce in the United States. The program recognizes and supports outstanding students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees. Fellows receive a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 as well as a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance for tuition and fees. The fellowship program has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers. The support accorded NSF Graduate Research Fellows nurtures their ambition to become lifelong leaders who contribute significantly to both scientific innovation and teaching. Among this year's Pitt cohort, eight undergraduate and graduate students were awarded fellowships, joined by two Swanson School alumni now in graduate school. Four undergraduate and graduate students and one alumnus received honorable mentions. Mary Besterfield-Sacre, the Swanson School’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, attributed this year's increase in winners from engineering to a strategically focused mentor-mentee program. “The program diversity among this year’s Swanson School NSF fellows is thanks in great part to Bioengineering Professor Pat Loughlin for working with each department to identify strong candidates and faculty mentors to help them build winning portfolios,” Dr. Besterfield-Sacre said. “The NSF Graduate Research Program is incredibly competitive and we’re especially proud that undergraduates make up half of our fellows.” Current Pitt students who were awarded the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship are seniors from: - Swanson School of Engineering: Abraham Charles Cullom (civil and environmental engineering), Vani Hiremath Sundaram (mechanical engineering and material science), Adam Lewis Smoulder (bioengineering) and Henry Phalen (bioengineering); and graduate students Megan Routzong (bioengineering), Monica Fei Liu (bioengineering), Angelica Janina Herrera (bioengineering) and Sarah Hemler (bioengineering). - Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences: Graduate students Brett Baribault Bankson (psychology), Stefanie Lee Sequeira (psychology) and Alaina Nicole McDonnell (chemistry). Current Pitt students who received honorable mentions are from: - Swanson School of Engineering: seniors Anthony Joseph O’Brian (chemical and petroleum engineering), Anthony Louis Mercader (mechanical engineering and material science), Zachary Smith (electrical and computer engineering); and graduate student Maria Kathleen Jantz (bioengineering). - Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences: graduate students Amy Ryan (chemistry), Kathryn Mae Rothenhoefer (neuroscience), Andrea Marie Fetters (biological sciences), Mariah Denhart, (biological sciences), Timothy Stephen Coleman (statistics), Hope Elizabeth Anne Brooks (biological sciences), Mary Elizabeth Rouse Braza (geology and environmental science). Alumni who were awarded the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship include Thomas Robert Werkmeister (engineering science) and Luke Drnach (bioengineering) from the Swanson School, and Julianne Griffith (psychology and sociology) and Aleza Wallace (psychology) from the Dietrich School. Alumni who received honorable mentions include Corey Williams (bioengineering) from the Swanson School, Sarah Elise Post (biological sciences), Hannah Katherine Dollish (neuroscience and Slavik studies) and Krista Bullard (chemistry), the latter three from the Dietrich School. Visit https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/grfp/Login.do for a full list of fellows and honorable mentions and to learn more about the Graduate Research Fellowship Program. # # #
Amerigo Allegretto, University Communications
Apr
4
2018

Swanson School’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Presents Leonard Berenfield with 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (April 4, 2018) … This year’s Distinguished Alumni from the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering have worked with lesson plans and strategic plans, cosmetics and the cosmos, brains and barrels and bridges. It’s a diverse group, but each honoree shares two things in common on their long lists of accomplishments: outstanding achievement in their fields, and of course, graduation from the University of Pittsburgh.This year’s recipient for the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science is Leonard H. Berenfield, BSME ‘64, President (retired) of Berenfield Containers, Inc.The six individuals representing each of the Swanson School’s departments and one overall honoree representing the entire school gathered at the 54th annual Distinguished Alumni Banquet at the University of Pittsburgh’s Alumni Hall to accept their awards. Gerald D. Holder, US Steel Dean of Engineering, led the banquet for the final time before his return to the faculty this fall.“Like many graduates of our Mechanical Engineering program and native Pittsburghers, Len started his career at Westinghouse Electric and the Bettis Atomic Laboratory in Dravosburg. Following a year there however, he would join the family business, Berenfield Steel Drum Company,” said Dean Holder. “The company’s steady growth in Pittsburgh necessitated a move to Cincinnati in the late 1970s where Len directed the construction of a new facility. By 1985, the company would reorganize as Berenfield Containers with Len as President.”About Leonard BerenfieldLeonard Berenfield received his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 1964. Activities while at Pitt include Pi Tau Sigma the International Honor Society for Mechanical Engineers, sports writer for The Pitt News, and intramural basketball.  After graduation, Mr. Berenfield worked for one year in the Mechanical Design Department at Westinghouse Electric/Bettis Atomic Laboratory. He left Westinghouse in 1965 and moved to Warren, Pa. to use his engineering knowledge to help grow Berenfield Steel Drum Co. – the family steel drum manufacturing business. In 1978 he moved to Cincinnati to oversee the construction and operation of the company’s new facility in Mason, Ohio. The firm’s continued growth led to reorganization as Berenfield Containers, Inc. in 1985 with Mr. Berenfield assuming the role of President. A range of industries utilized Berenfield products including food, lubricants, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. Further expansions of existing plants over the years and the acquisition of plants in Harrisburg, N.C. and Pine Bluff, Ark. as well as new factories to diversify the product line into fibre drums established the company’s legacy. Mauser USA purchased Berenfield Containers in 2016.Mr. Berenfield is an active volunteer and has held posts in several nonprofit and industry boards including the American Heart Association, the United Way, the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, Hebrew Union College, the Steel Shipping Container Institute, the International Fibre Drum Institute, and the Industrial Steel Drum Institute. Born and raised in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty/Highland Park neighborhoods, Mr. Berenfield is the only child of Tillie and Isadore Berenfield. Prior to matriculating at the University of Pittsburgh, he was a pupil in the Pittsburgh Public School District and attended Fulton Grade School. He graduated from Peabody High School in 1961. Mr. Berenfield married his high school sweetheart, Barbara Gelman, shortly after graduating from Pitt in June 1964 and they were happily joined until her passing in 2012. The couple has two children: a daughter, Joy, who currently resides in Los Angeles; and a son, Greg, who lives in Durham, N.C. Mr. Berenfield’s four grandsons range in age from six to 23 and reside in North Carolina. In 2015 Mr. Berenfield married Ann Gelke Berenfield, MD, a child psychiatrist. In the union he gained a step-daughter, Giuliana; step-grandson, Luca; and step-son, Allesandro. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Apr
3
2018

Using Ultrasound to Help People Walk Again

Bioengineering, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (April 3, 2017) … Spinal cord injuries impact more than 17,000 Americans each year, and although those with incomplete injuries may regain control of their limbs, overall muscle strength and mobility is weakened. Neurorehabilitation using robotic exoskeletons or electrical stimulation devices can help a person regain movement through repeated exercise. The amount of assistance through these devices during neurorehabilitation is based on the measurement of the user’s remaining muscle function. However, current sensing techniques are often unable to correctly measure voluntary muscle function in these individuals. Any discrepancies in the measurement can cause the robot to provide inadequate assistance or over-assistance. Improper robotic assistance slows recovery from the injury, and can potentially lead to falls during robot-assisted walking. To reduce this risk and provide therapists and patients with a more efficient rehabilitation tool, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering is utilizing ultrasound imaging to develop a more precise interface between exoskeletons and individual muscles.Nitin Sharma, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, received a $509,060 CAREER award from the National Science Foundation for “Ultrasound-based Intent Modeling and Control Framework for Neurorehabilitation and Educating Children with Disabilities and High School Students.” The NSF CAREER award is the organization’s most competitive research prize for junior faculty.Current noninvasive rehabilitation devices measure electrical signals from muscle activity, also known as electromyography to predict remaining muscle function and subsequent assistance. However, Dr. Sharma explained that correctly measuring how much assistance the device should provide is a challenge with electromyography, and also its use is limited to large muscle groups. Dr. Sharma says, “In very complex muscle groups that provide a range of motions, we need to measure individual muscle activity, rather than measuring the entire muscle group at once via electromyography, because it is susceptible to interference from adjacent muscles. Ultrasound can reduce the interference from surrounding muscle groups so that we can collect, monitor and control muscle activity of individual muscle fibers.” Dr. Sharma’s lab group will specifically focus on the human ankle for both its range of complex movements and its role in providing stability and balance when walking or standing. Ultrasound will provide precise imaging of the ankle muscles responsible for specific movements, which in turn will allow for optimization of electrode placement and correct modulation of robotic assistance to initiate movement. Ultimately, Dr. Sharma intends to build an ankle exoskeleton that patients and therapists can use in clinical rehabilitation. “Rather than randomly stimulating the entire ankle area to create movement in one direction, a wearable ultrasound-based exoskeleton can better monitor and control movement so that persons with incomplete spinal cord injury can more safely and quickly walk on the road to recovery,” Dr. Sharma said. “The technology also has the potential to help patients with other walking disorders better control their gait and balance.” ### Learn more at Dr. Sharma's lab site.

Apr
2
2018

Swanson School students capture top prize and more at tenth annual Randall Family Big Idea Competition

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Electrical & Computer, Industrial, MEMS, Student Profiles

Innovation Institute News Release With a blast of confetti falling from above the stage at the Charity Randall Theater, the participants in the 2018 Randall Family Big Idea Competition celebrated the culmination of two months of extra-curricular work on ideas for new products ranging from a software platform to connect hunters to landowners to a new insulin pump for diabetics, to a wearable earbud for helping disabled people control devices with eye movement. And 13 of the 40 finalist teams celebrated sharing the $100,000 in prize money. This year’s competition was the largest yet, with more than 300 students of all levels, from freshman to doctoral, participating in the initial round comprising more than 100 teams. Teams led by Swanson School of Engineering students captured at least one win in every place. The winner of the $25,000 top prize was Four Growers, an interdisciplinary group of students led by Dan Chi of the Swanson School of Engineering. They are developing a robotic system for harvesting tomatoes in commercial greenhouses. Next up for Four Growers will be representing Pitt as its entrant in the ACC InVenture Prize competition April 4-6, 2018, at Georgia Tech University, where each university in the Atlantic Coast Conference competes against each other in an innovation pitch competition. Four Growers is one of two Pitt teams that have been accepted into the prestigious Rice Business Plan Competition the same weekend, meaning they will have to split the team to compete both in Atlanta and Houston. The other Pitt entrant is FRED, which has developed a flexible platform for dynamic social science modeling. “This is the first time Pitt has had a team accepted in the Rice competition in its 17-year history, so having not one but the maximum allowed of two teams from the university accepted is a big deal,” said Babs Carryer, Director of Education and Outreach for the Innovation Institute, who oversees the Big Idea Competition. This years’ competition marked the 10th anniversary and it included the announcement that Pitt trustee Bob Randall and his family are donating $2 million to establish the Big Idea Center at the Innovation Institute to support student entrepreneurship. See that full story here. Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher credited Bob Randall’s vision for embedding entrepreneurship into the fabric of the university with bringing about a culture change that has witnessed a dramatic increase in the experiential learning opportunities in entrepreneurship that have been built around the Big Idea Competition in the past four years. “Bob’s vision has transformed this campus in so many powerful ways. We thank you and your family for not only being a great friend and a generous benefactor but for being a catalyst for change,” he said. Chancellor Gallagher said the crucible of the Big Idea competition will serve the participants well in whatever career route they take, whether it’s launching a startup or leading new initiatives in a larger organization. “If you think about the experience of being an entrepreneur, there’s almost nothing like it. Conversion of a thought into something that’s tangible and real and of value is the magic of entrepreneurship, and to do it is a seminal learning experience,” he said. The Big Idea prize winners will proceed into the Blast Furnace student accelerator beginning in May to further develop their ideas with the goal for some of creating startup companies around their ideas. The winning Swanson School of Engineering teams include: 1st place: $25,000Four GrowersTeam: Brandon Contino (ECE), Daniel Chi (MEMS), Daniel Garcia (Neuroscience), Jiangzi Li (Katz), Rahul Ramakrishnan (CMU)Idea: Automation of tomato harvesting in commercial greenhouses 2nd place: $15,000 (1 out of 3 winners)Re-VisionTeam: Yolandi van der Merwe (BioE), Mark Murdock (Pathology/Badylak Lab)Idea: Therapeutic platform to promote ocular tissue healing after injury 3rd place: $5,000 (2 out of 4 winners) Aqua Bio-Chem DiamondTeam: Mohan Wang (ECE), Jingyu Wu (ECE)Idea: Environmentally friendly removal of pollutants from contaminated waste water PCA BuddyTeam: Akhil Aniff (BioE), Patrick Haggerty (BioE), Sarah Cummings (Nursing), Tyler Martin (BioE)Idea:  Pump that gives children the ability to self-administer medication 4th place: $2,000 (2 out of 4 winners) Steeltown RetractorTeam: Chris Dumm (MEMS), Jack Bartley (MEMS)Idea: Allows surgeons to operate more efficiently and naturally by simplifying surgical tool placement and adjustment GlucaglinTeam: Shane Taylor (ChemE), Evan Sparks (ChemE), Jake Muldowney (ChemE)Idea: Multifunctional pump for diabetics Best Video Award EXG H+TechnologiesTeam: Ker Jiun Wang (BioE), Nicolina Nanni (IE), Yu Liu, Yiqiu Ren (ECE), Kaiwen You (ECE), Xiangyu Liao (ECE), Quanbo Liu (ECE)Idea: System to use eye movement for control of a powered wheelchair, cell phone, or other Internet of Things (IoT) devices
Michael C. Yeomans, Marketing and Special Events Manager, Innovation Institute

Mar

Mar
19
2018

Swanson School faculty and STEM program among 2018 Carnegie Science Award honorees

Electrical & Computer, MEMS, Diversity

PITTSBURGH (March 19, 2018) – Two professors and a long-standing STEM program at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering are among the 2018 Carnegie Science Award honorees, presented by Carnegie Science Center. The recipients are among honorees in 17 categories announced at a reception on March 13 at Carnegie Science Center on the North Shore. Winners and honorable mentions will be honored May 4 during the Carnegie Science Awards Celebration at Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland.  Albert To, PhD, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, is the recipient of the Advanced Manufacturing and Materials Award. Dr. To was recognized for his research in design optimization for additive manufacturing, multiscale methods, and computational mechanics. He is actively working on developing “Lattice Structure Design Optimization” software for generating optimal lightweight design for 3D printing. Gregory Reed, PhD, professor of electrical and computer engineering and Director of Pitt’s Center for Energy and the Energy GRID Institute, was one of two honorable mention recipients in the Innovation in Energy category. Dr. Reed is recognized internationally for his research in advanced electric power grid and energy generation, transmission, and distribution system technologies; micro-grids and DC infrastructure development, renewable energy systems and integration; and smart grid technologies and applications. The Swanson School’s Investing Now program received an honorable mention in the Leadership in STEM Education category. Created in 1988, Investing Now a college preparatory program created to stimulate, support, and recognize the high academic performance of pre-college students from historically underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors and careers. (Pictured from left: Justyce Hill, Kayla Ray, Nara Hernandez and Charlie Partlow) The Carnegie Science Awards champion efforts to strengthen science and technology in our region. This year’s winners range from a culinary arts teacher whose coursework extends beyond the conventional kitchen into food-science research and career exploration, to a tech start-up that secured $1 billion from Ford Motor Company. A committee of peers— past awardees and industry leaders— who rigorously reviewed nominations and selected the most deserving winners, selected winners. For more information about the awards celebration, go to CarnegieScienceCenter.org/Awards.“The Carnegie Science Awards applaud some of the most exciting leaders and innovators in our region’s science community,” said Ron Baillie, Henry Buhl, Jr., Co-Director of Carnegie Science Center. “They helped make Pittsburgh the technology hub it has become and inspire the young people who will become the next generation of professionals in the STEM fields of science, engineering, technology, and math.”Ann Metzger, Henry Buhl, Jr., Co-Director of Carnegie Science Center, said the awards are an integral part of the mission of promoting STEM education, which will be energized later this year when the Science Center’s PPG Science Pavilion opens in June and provides additional state-of-the-art classroom space. “Winners of the Carnegie Science Awards represent the pinnacle of excellence in STEM fields and STEM education,” Metzger said. “We are thrilled to recognize our amazing awardees and expect them to continue to do us proud with their accomplishments in the future.”Through the support of committed sponsors, the Carnegie Science Awards program has honored the accomplishments of more than 550 individuals and organizations. Eaton is the presenting sponsor for the Carnegie Science Awards. Chevron is the prime sponsor. ### About Carnegie Science Center Carnegie Science Center is dedicated to inspiring learning and curiosity by connecting science and technology with everyday life. By making science both relevant and fun, the Science Center’s goal is to increase science literacy in the region and motivate young people to seek careers in science and technology. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, the Science Center is Pittsburgh’s premier science exploration destination, reaching more than 700,000 people annually through its hands-on exhibits, camps, classes, and off-site education programs.

Mar
5
2018

The Final Frontier’s Final Frontier

Electrical & Computer, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (March 5, 2018) … In T minus 8,760 hours, or roughly one year, the Space Test Program-Houston 6 (STP-H6) hybrid and reconfigurable space supercomputer will board the International Space Station. The newest mission to the ISS featuring research and technology from the University of Pittsburgh’s NSF Center for Space, High-performance, and Resilient Computing (SHREC) will bring an unprecedented amount of computing power into space and invaluable research opportunities from the ground station on Pitt’s Oakland campus. “Computer engineering for space is the ultimate challenge,” says Alan George, SHREC founder and the Mickle Chair Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. “Space computing has become a principal challenge in all spacecraft, since remote sensing and autonomous operation are the main purposes of spacecraft and both demand high-performance computing.” This new mission experiment is the work of an outstanding team of graduate and undergraduate students studying at Pitt, led by Chris Wilson.Earlier this month, the Pitt system for STP-H6 completed its 1,400-mile earth journey from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. to NASA Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston. Its next much shorter trip is scheduled for February 2019 when it will travel 240 miles skyward from NASA Kennedy to the ISS. The new space supercomputer is nearly three times more powerful than its predecessor launched last year and contains dual high-resolution cameras capable of snapping 2.5K by 2K pixel images of Earth.“Our new system has a similar goal to perform in space and evaluate our new kind of space computer featuring an unprecedented combo of high performance and reliability with low power, size, weight, and cost,” Dr. George explains. “The big difference is that our STP-H6 system is more powerful in computing and sensing capability and arguably the fastest computing system ever deployed in space.” The new system for STP-H6 passed extreme environmental testing at NASA Goddard and recently completed initial integration and testing at NASA Johnson. It will remain at NASA for a year of integration and verification. When all systems are go, STP-H6 will travel to the ISS on a SpaceX rocket, marking the second time that Pitt has had a payload on SpaceX technology.“We think it’s a perfect match since SpaceX is an industry leader in launch vehicles and SHREC is the leading academic group in space computing,” says Dr. George.Another first for SHREC is collaboration with the Swanson School of Engineering’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS). Assistant Professors Dave Schmidt and Matthew Barry led the MEMS department’s contributions by designing and verifying the system chassis to meet the demands of STP-H6.“Dr. Schmidt worked on mechanical design and validation of the system so it fit the new additions to the H6, and I worked thermal modeling so the system had the capacity to dissipate heat from the electronics within,” says Dr. Barry. “An excellent group of volunteer students were fully engaged and committed to make sure the project succeeded.”Dr. George intended academic, industrial, and governmental collaborations like the one between the ECE and MEMS departments when he brought the NSF Center for High-Performance Reconfigurable Computing (CHREC) from the University of Florida to Pitt in 2017 and later reorganized it as SHREC. It is the first interdepartmental partnership on a space mission in Swanson School history.“Our first ISS experiment entirely focuses upon R&D topics in computer and electrical engineering, so it was handled entirely in SHREC and ECE. However, our second mission brought additional challenges in mechanical design, thermal analysis, and safety analysis – challenges that we as electrical and computer engineers couldn’t tackle alone – so we reached out to colleagues in the mechanical engineering department,” says Dr. George.The full name of the new payload is the STP-H6/SSIVP or the Space Test Program – Houston 6, Spacecraft Supercomputing for Image and Video Processing. Its predecessor on STP-H5 is the CHREC Space Processor or STP-H5/CSP. The H5 system will remain on the ISS, working separately and together with the H6 system on a dynamic set of space technology experiments. “After one year in space, the H5 system is proving highly successful in the harsh environment of space, and researchers are using it as a sandbox for a growing list of experiments uploaded from the Pitt campus. When a new technology is deployed in space, the first and biggest question is whether it will operate well there, and ours continues to impress,” says Dr. George. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
1
2018

Pitt Alumnus and Veteran Energy Research Leader Named Acting Director of NETL

Chemical & Petroleum, Electrical & Computer, MEMS

NETL News Release. Posted with permission. Pittsburgh, Pa. – Sean I. Plasynski, Ph.D., a 28-year veteran of federal fossil energy research, has been named acting director of the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). Plasynski was named to the leadership post by U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg following the retirement of Grace Bochenek, Ph.D., who served as director for three years. “This Laboratory has a long history of helping to provide energy security for the people of the United States,” he said. “It is a history accentuated by bold research and solid contributions that have had long-lasting impacts. It is an honor to have the privilege of working with a roster of talented researchers and administrators who have the skills and expertise to continue moving our nation forward.” Plasynski comes to the assignment after having served as the executive director of NETL’s Technology Development and Integration Center where he was responsible for overseeing NETL’s national programs with sister DOE National Laboratories, universities and industrial partners. In the role, he led integrated technical and business teams in managing federally sponsored, extramural research in coal, oil, and gas, and energy technology development. He has held numerous management and technical positions over his NETL career, including acting deputy director and chief operating officer, director of the Strategic Center of Coal, director of the Office of Coal and Power R&D, and Sequestration Technology manager. He has been involved in a wide spectrum of energy technology development, including advanced power and environmental systems, solids transport, biomass co-firing, and carbon capture and storage. Plasynski holds a B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, and an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business. NETL, part of DOE’s national laboratory system, supports the DOE mission to advance the energy security of the United States. The Laboratory implements a broad spectrum of energy and environmental research and development programs. NETL, with research sites in Pittsburgh, Morgantown, W.Va., and Albany, Ore., has expertise in coal, natural gas, and oil technologies; contract and project management; analysis of energy systems; and international energy issues. The Laboratory had an FY 17 federal budget of $927 million with a research portfolio that includes more than 900 projects and activities in all 50 states, with a total value that exceeds $7 billion. More than 1,200 employees work at NETL. In addition to research conducted onsite, NETL’s project portfolio includes R&D conducted through partnerships, cooperative research and development agreements, financial assistance, and contractual arrangements with universities and the private sector. Together, these efforts focus a wealth of scientific and engineering talent on creating commercially viable solutions to national energy and environmental problems. NETL’s current mission is to discover, integrate, and mature technology solutions to enhance the nation’s energy foundation and protect the environment for future generations. NETL is the only national lab dedicated to fossil energy. Over the past 20 years, NETL’s scientists have earned 46 R&D 100 Awards, and 33 regional and national awards from the Federal Laboratory Consortium. These awards, along with the many other individual awards won by NETL scientists and research partners, recognize NETL’s contribution to the nation’s energy future. ###
Shelley Martin, DOE National Energy Technology Laboratory
contact.publicaffairs@netl.doe.gov

Feb

Feb
21
2018

Undergraduate mechanical engineering student places second at the AHA Research Fellows Day poster session

Bioengineering, MEMS, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (February 21, 2018) … Residents, fellows, postdocs, and medical students filed into the University Club to compete in the American Heart Association’s 26th annual Fellows Research Day poster session. Among this group of accomplished young researchers was Trevor Kickliter, a mechanical engineering sophomore in the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering. Kickliter works in the lab of David Vorp, Associate Dean for Research and the John A. Swanson Professor of Bioengineering, where he uses commercial and custom-built software to study vascular diseases. On a whim he decided to pick up some research that had been put on the back-burner, and what started as a side project in the lab turned out to yield interesting results that intrigued some of Vorp’s cardiologist collaborators. Kickliter joined a group of researchers and began to look at how to detect reductions in the coronary arteries of pediatric patients. Other members of the research team include Aneesh Ramaswamy, a bioengineering graduate student researcher in the Vorp Lab; Brian Feingold, a pediatric cardiologist at UPMC; and Justin Weinbaum, research assistant professor of bioengineering at Pitt. “Late failure remains a major cause of death after pediatric heart transplantations,” explained Kickliter. “When coronary arteries begin to narrow, it is a hint that heart failure may be imminent, and with pediatric patients, treatment is difficult when this reduction becomes severe.” Kickliter said, “Cardiologists struggle to detect this gradual reduction on angiograms so our group decided to develop a tool to quantify the progression of coronary arteriopathy, thereby mitigating human error.” Vorp added, “Machine learning tools have well-established uses in biomedical image analysis, and Trevor recognized that such a tool could be used to overcome the limitations of current human analysis in this application.” Kickliter and his team trained a convolutional neural network to automatically identify the arteries and any reductions that may be happening. “We collected 2D angiography data from pediatric patients following heart transplantation then selected and segmented individual frames to generate binary masks over the coronary arteries,” explained Kickliter. “These images and masks were used for the neural network, and the accuracy, precision, and area under the Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve -a plot of the true positive rate against the false positive rate- were used to assess its performance.” Excited by the promising results, Feingold encouraged Kickliter to submit an abstract to the AHA’s Fellows Research Day. The event’s poster session was judged by some of the region’s leading physicians and scientists. Though he faced competition from more experienced researchers, Kickliter, one of the youngest participants, won 2nd place and $250 in the clinical science category. “When Dr. Feingold suggested that we submit an abstract to the AHA Fellows Day, I was skeptical because my experience with these is that they are populated by very high-quality, polished MD residents and fellows, with an occasional post-doc,” said Vorp. “In most circumstances, I would not want one of my undergraduate researchers to be thrown to the wolves like this, but if anyone could handle the pressure, it would be Trevor. I am very proud of him and look forward to watching him continue to grow.” Kickliter and the other award winners were acknowledged at the Pittsburgh Heart Ball on Saturday, February 17, 2018 at the Pittsburgh Wyndham Grand Hotel. The group plans to continue research on this project. “This was really preliminary work, and there is still a long way to go,” said Kickliter. “We plan to improve the algorithm and train our network on a larger dataset to improve its performance. In the end, we hope that our work will help prevent heart failure in future pediatric heart transplant recipients.”

Feb
16
2018

Undergraduate Students Awarded at the Engineers’ Society of Western PA Annual Banquet

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Electrical & Computer, MEMS, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (February 16, 2018) … Last night as engineers from across the region gathered to attend the 134th Annual Engineering Awards Banquet of the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania (ESWP), the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering announced its recipients of the George Washington Prize. This year’s recipient is Le Huang, an undergraduate student in bioengineering and an active member of the Swanson School community during her time at Pitt. Huang works as a research assistant in the Cardiovascular Systems Laboratory where she is developing a MATLAB-based mathematical model of the human cardiovascular system. Prior to that, she worked in the Cognition and Sensorimotor Integration Laboratory and has been a teaching assistant for several bioengineering and chemistry courses. Additionally, Huang is involved in Pitt’s Society of Women Engineers (SWE) where she serves on the executive board, co-chairs the Women in STEM Conference, and acts as an outreach activity leader for K-12 students. Pitt’s award-winning SWE chapter organizes events around the city of Pittsburgh to young women to explore STEM opportunities. Finalists for the George Washington Prize are Isaac Mastalski (Chemical Engineering) and Adam Smoulder (Bioengineering). Semi-finalists are Jennifer Cashman (Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science) and Sean Justice (Electrical and Computer Engineering). “The Swanson School is proud to recognize Le and the other finalists for their outstanding accomplishments at Pitt,” said Gerald D. Holder, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering at Pitt. “Le and her colleagues are very deserving of this competitive award, and we think they will be successful Pitt Engineering alumni.” The George Washington Prize, founded in 2008, honors the first President of the United States and the country’s first engineer. Its mission is to reinforce the importance of engineering and technology in society, and the enhance the visibility of the profession across the Swanson School’s engineering disciplines. The annual award recognizes Pitt seniors who display outstanding leadership, scholarship and performance as determined by a committee of eight professional engineers and Swanson School faculty. Winners receive a $2500 Dean’s Fellowship and award plaque. An additional $7,500 is awarded to the winner if he or she attends graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh. Founded in 1880, ESWP is a nonprofit association of more than 850 members and 30 affiliated technical societies engaged in a full spectrum of engineering and applied science disciplines. Now in its 134th year, the annual Engineering Awards Banquet is the oldest award event in the world - predating the Nobel Prize (1901), the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal (1907), and the Pulitzer Prize (1917).

Feb
13
2018

NEW RESEARCH FINDS CAUSE OF ALLOY WEAKNESS

Chemical & Petroleum, MEMS

Reprinted with the permission of Binghamton University By Rachael FloresNovember 27, 2017Sometimes calculations don’t match reality. That’s the problem faced by materials scientists for years when trying to determine the strength of alloys, resolving the disconnect between the theoretical strength of alloys and how strong they actually are. So, what has been missing?New research has found the answer with a collaboration between researchers at Binghamton University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Michigan and Brookhaven National Laboratory. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science also supported the work.Researchers used advanced technology to look at alloys on an atomic level in order to understand what has been affecting the strength and other properties. Binghamton University materials science and engineering professor Guangwen Zhou was one of the scientists working on the project. The Pitt team included Jörg Wiezorek and Guofeng Wang from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, and Judith Yang in Chemical and Petroleum Engineering.Zhou and his team used a Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) for the study, a tool that has been around since 1935 and has evolved dramatically in recent years with the incorporation of aberration correction techniques and environmental capabilities. It’s powerful enough to look deep into the structure of atoms.“We were able to observe that the changes in alloys from surface segregation were accompanied by the formation of dislocations in the subsurface,” explained Zhou. “Atoms typically make patterns, but when there’s a dislocation, that means the pattern has been interrupted.”Dislocations are what make the alloys weaker than the theoretical calculations predict and Zhou’s research found that surface segregation is what leads to those dislocations.“By understanding how the dislocation forms, we can start to control it,” said Zhou.This could lead to strengthening a variety of alloys that are valued specifically for their strength and light weight.According to Zhou, this groundbreaking research provides insight into what needs to change in order to strengthen the variety of alloys used in airplanes, jewelry, medical tools, bridges, cookware and other common objects.The study, “Dislocation nucleation facilitated by atomic segregation,” was recently published in Nature Materials.https://www.binghamton.edu/news/story/904/new-research-finds-cause-of-alloy-weakness ### Jörg Wiezorek, professor of mechanical engineering and materials scienceDr. Wiezorek was involved in the inception stage, the drafting, and writing of the manuscript. He provided continuum elasticity-based dislocation theory calculations. His contributions helped evaluate the energetic feasibility of the apparently observed dislocation nucleation events, which were initiated by solute atom segregation and surface phase formation-related local crystal lattice strain build-up. The calculations also facilitated distinction between the numerous possible scenarios for their mutual strain field interaction to identify the most likely ones that control the dislocation motion after formation. Dr. Wiezorek also contributed to the Burgers vector and dislocation core character determination and interpretation of the atomic resolution transmission electron microscopy images and movies. Guofeng Wang, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials scienceDr. Wang’s group participated in this project right from the beginning when the collaborators at SUNY Binghamton observed some interesting phenomena in CuAu thin films but not in pure Cu thin films. The researchers hypothesized that the Au surface segregation process is responsible for the observed dislocation nucleation. To examine this hypothesis and complement the experimental study, Yinkai Lei and Zhenyu Liu—two PhD students from Dr. Wang’s group who have since graduated—performed extensive atomistic simulations to predict the dislocation core structure, the slip plane of the 1/2[110] dislocation, and the equilibrium structure of the Au segregated CuAu alloy surfaces. The theoretical predictions agreed excellently with the HRTEM images. Hence, these simulations provide much insight into and good explanation of the observed dislocation nucleation process at an atomic scale.Judith C. Yang, professor chemical and petroleum engineeringDr. Yang’s group hosted Lianfeng Zou, a PhD student from Dr. Guangwen Zhou’s group at the University of Binghamton, for a few years at the University of Pittsburgh, where he learned transmission electron microscopy (TEM), including in situ environmental TEM, as well as creating the thin films of CuAu alloy. Lianfeng Zou used in situ environmental TEM to visualize the unusual dislocation nucleation and migration of the copper-gold alloy at the atomic scale in real time. Dr. Yang also facilitated the interactions with Drs. Wiezorek and Wang at Pitt. Before becoming a professor at SUNY Binghamton, Dr. Zhou was the first PhD in Dr. Yang’s group.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Feb
7
2018

Pitt unlocks new Security Engineering Laboratory at Benedum Hall

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (February 7, 2018) ... Mechanical and electronic locks, access control systems, and alarms often form the first defense in the protection of people, facilities assets and critical information. An in-depth understanding of the design fundamentals of these various systems and their potential design vulnerabilities is critical for engineering graduates, especially when employed by lock and security hardware manufacturers and government agencies. The integration of IT, access control, and locking systems by commercial, educational, and government facilities makes it imperative that graduate engineers have the requisite knowledge to assess the multiple issues that can affect the internal security of their organizations if they have such responsibilities. Unfortunately, most mechanical engineering programs teach students how to design different products and systems, but not how to break them. The two disciplines are interrelated and of equal importance, and one cannot exist without the other.   Investigative Law Offices recently announced the funding and development of the Pitt Security Engineering Lab and the sponsorship and co-instruction of the Product Realization and Design course at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering. Clients of Security Labs will provide real-world security projects for students to work on and develop, thereby teaching theories and practical knowledge in the design and defeat of various security systems, both cyber and physical.The lab, located in Benedum Hall of Engineering on the Pitt campus, will allow students a hands-on environment with the appropriate equipment and resources to actively work on different locking mechanisms and systems and develop solutions and products to real-world problems for lock and security hardware manufacturers. Students who participate in the course will use the lab to develop solutions for their assigned projects.“Many locks now incorporate sophisticated electronics that also utilize RFID, NFC and Bluetooth wireless technologies,” noted Marc Tobias, company founder. “Security Labs is collaborating with a digital security laboratory that specializes in IOT analysis so that their expertise can assist students to gain an in-depth understanding of the methodology of compromising interconnected and electronic credential-based devices and systems.”The Pitt Security Engineering Lab will be open to all students that participate in the elective course taught by Professor Rick Winter, Mr. Tobias, and Tobias Bluzmanis. Certain projects, because of their impact upon the security of commercial and government facilities, will require registration to access the lab, and the execution of an NDA and in some cases, an assignment of any potential IP.Investigative Law offices and its Security Lab has provided security consulting services to many of the largest lock and security hardware manufacturers in the world for more than twenty years. Messrs. Tobias and Bluzmanis are recognized as physical security experts for locks, on a global basis. Their responsibility is to analyze a variety of locks, safes, and security systems for vulnerabilities that would allow them to be attacked covertly and often opened in seconds. The development of secure hardware and software that protects every sector of society is complicated and encompasses sophisticated issues of engineering, design, manufacturing, intellectual property, regulatory, Standards, liability, and complex legal issues. Tobias and Bluzmanis have completed hundreds of investigations for their clients that resulted in the compromise of the most sophisticated locking systems. They have lectured throughout the world at universities, law enforcement agencies, and at DefCon and similar conferences. Mr. Tobias has authored seven books and has received nine U.S. patents relating to lock design and bypass, while Mr. Bluzmanis holds five patents and is co-author of the book “Open in Thirty Seconds.” He has been a practicing locksmith for thirty-five years.For more information email securitylabs@pitt.edu, or Professor Rick Winter at EWINTER@pitt.edu. ###

Jan

Jan
22
2018

Pitt’s Center for Medical Innovation awards five novel biomedical devices with $115,000 total Round-2 2017 Pilot Funding

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (January 22, 2018) … The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) awarded grants totaling $115,000 to five engineering and medicine groups through its 2017 Round-2 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development. The latest funding proposals include proposed solutions to conditions such as peripheral artery disease, pulmonary fibrosis, improving auditory pathology detection, improved wound healing and repair, and a better means to perform root canal surgery. The Center for Medical Innovation, a University Center housed in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, supports applied technology projects in the early stages of development with “kickstart” funding toward the goal of transitioning the research to clinical adoption. Proposals are evaluated on the basis of scientific merit, technical and clinical relevance, potential health care impact and significance, experience of the investigators, and potential in obtaining further financial investment to translate the particular solution to healthcare. “We have an extremely strong cohort from our 2017 Round 2 funding,” said Alan D. Hirschman, PhD, CMI Executive Director. “The collaboration between engineering and medicine at Pitt provides a fertile setting for novel medical technology, and so we’re proud to give these researchers funding to take their ideas to the next level.” AWARD 1: A structurally and mechanically tunable Biocarpet for peripheral arterial diseaseDevelopment of a prototype “Biocarpet” that is mechanically and topographically tunable and can be used to treat complex peripheral artery disease. This will help treat long lesions in peripheral arteries that have multiple stenoses. Jonathan P. Vande Geest, PhD Professor of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering Kang Kim, PhD Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; and secondary appointment in Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering William R. Wagner, PhD Professor of Surgery University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Director, McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and secondary in Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering John J. Pacella, MD, MS Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; and Vascular Medicine Institute Kenneth J. Furdella Graduate Student, Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering AWARD 2: FibroKineTM: CXCL10 Biomimetic Peptides for Treatment of Pulmonary Fibrosis Development of an inhaled aerosol delivery system will achieve target organ specificity and efficient delivery to the lung. This will specifically aid patients who suffer from Pulmonary Fibrosis. Cecelia C. Yates, PhD Assistant Professor of Health Promotion and Development, University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing Timothy E. Corcoran, PhD Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; and secondary appointments in departments of Bioengineering and Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering Zariel I. Johnson, PhD Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Health Promotion and Development, University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing Christopher Mahoney, M.S. PhD Candidate, Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering AWARD 3: Hearing for Health: Single Unit Hearing Screener and AmplifierDevelopment of a wearable product that will allow health care professionals to quickly screen individuals for hearing loss. The device would also further provide sound amplification for those individuals with difficulty hearing. Catherine V. Palmer, PhD Program Director and Associate Professor, Audiology Program, Department of Communication Science & Disorders, University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences; and Department of Otolaryngology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Jeffrey S. Vipperman, PhD Professor and Department Vice-Chair of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering AWARD 4: Gel-based reconstructive matrix for treating orbital trauma and periocular woundsDevelopment of a novel ocular trauma management system, for immediate response to injuries that occur to the areas including and surrounding the eye. Morgan Fedorchak, PhD Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology and Clinical & Translational Sciences, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; secondary appointment in Chemical Engineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering; and Louis J. Fox Center for Vision Restoration Jenny Yu, MD, FACS Assistant Professor and Vice Chair for Clinical Operations Department of Ophthalmology, UPMC Eye Center; and Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology,  University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Michael Washington, PhD Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine AWARD 5: Vital-Dent, a Revitalizing Root Canal SolutionDevelopment of a novel device to regenerate vital tooth pulp after root canal therapy. Vital pulp will help protect the tooth from future infection and injury, reducing the need for tooth extraction, implants and dentures. Juan Taboas, PhD Department of Oral Biology, University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine; secondary appointment, Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering; and Center for Craniofacial Regeneration, McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine Herbert Lee Ray Jr., DMD Assistant Professor of Endodontics and Director, Graduate Endodontic Residency Program, University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine; and Center for Craniofacial Regeneration, McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine Jingming Chen, B.S. Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering; and Center for Craniofacial Regeneration, McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine ### About the Center for Medical Innovation The Center for Medical Innovation at the Swanson School of Engineering is a collaboration among the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the Innovation Institute, and the Coulter Translational Research Partnership II (CTRP). CMI was established in 2011 to promote the application and development of innovative biomedical technologies to clinical problems; to educate the next generation of innovators in cooperation with the schools of Engineering, Health Sciences, Business, and Law; and to facilitate the translation of innovative biomedical technologies into marketable products and services. Over 50 early-stage projects have been supported by CMI with a total investment of over $1 million since inception.

Jan
16
2018

Students Address Posture in Parkinson’s

Bioengineering, MEMS, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (January 16, 2018) … Many of us have been told to stand up straight but may take for granted the ability to easily correct our posture. For those with Parkinson’s disease, postural awareness can diminish, and they often struggle with this characteristic slouched symptom. A group of Swanson School of Engineering students took a stance and addressed this medical issue with a device that promotes good posture and were recognized for their innovation at the School’s biannual Design Expo. Posture Protect was created by bioengineering juniors, Tyler Bray and Jake Meadows; bioengineering senior, Raj Madhani; mechanical engineering senior, Benji Pollock; and mechanical engineering junior, Gretchen Sun. The students developed their project in ENGR 1716 The Art of Making: A Hands-on Introduction to System Design and Engineering. "The poor posture experienced by individuals with Parkinson’s disease can limit mobility, impact gait, affect balance, and cause neck or back pain,” Meadows explained. “All of these symptoms combine to ultimately decrease independence, lower confidence, and negatively impact their quality of life by exacerbating existing challenges.” According to the team, Posture Protect is an easy-to-use, supportive posture quality detection and alert system that provides tactile feedback when bad posture persists. “The device increases postural awareness by determining the position of the user’s thoracic spine using three different sensors; when poor posture persists, vibrating motors provide gentle tactile feedback to notify the user of their change in posture,” Meadows said. Components of Posture Protect. The team performed extensive user outreach and testing, culminating in feedback from more than 60 individuals with Parkinson’s disease that indicated a need for such a device. Madhani said, “Our research found that of the people with Parkinson’s interviewed, 95 percent struggled with posture on a daily basis, and 90 percent of those people could correct their posture if they were reminded.” To further refine their device, the students took their testing to a local boxing club, Fit4Boxing, that offers strength training classes for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. “We visited the gym six times and tested five different iterations of our design, making modifications each time based on feedback received and data collected,” said Bray. With results in hand, the team presented Posture Protect at the Swanson School of Engineering Fall 2017 Design Expo, where they took first place in the “Art of Making” category and won “Best Overall Project.” The group intends to continue work on the project. “We plan to engage in longer-term user testing, incorporate Bluetooth into the device for setting customization, and code a smartphone application for posture tracking,” said Meadows. “Ultimately, the project's goal is to help patients stand straight and stand proud in the face of Parkinson’s disease.” ###