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Apr

Apr
26
2017

Ambient Cybersecurity and Tiny Lasers Win Big Prizes for ECE Students at Startup Competition

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH, PA (April 26, 2017) … Two student teams from the Swanson School’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) won cash prizes at the campus-wide Randall Family Big Idea Competition. The competition, which takes place throughout March and April, awards a total of $100,000 to Pitt students with the most promising startup business ideas.Shuo Li, Aidong Yan and Ran Zou, all graduate students in the ECE Department, formed the team Airborne Laser and developed a company based on compact laser systems. Inspired by the laser system developed by NASA for space applications, the team used 3D printing to create solid state laser systems that are ultra-compact and resilient with superior thermal and mechanic properties.Airborne Laser took one of three second place awards and received $15,000. All three students are researchers under the direction of Kevin P. Chen, the Paul E. Lego Professor in Electrical Engineering at Pitt. Undergraduate students Kevin Householder, Christopher Colucci and Matthew Yurko won a $1,000 award for Best Video promoting their product. They originally developed Root—a novel method of defending against cyber-attacks—for their senior design project. The system generates numbers randomly based on ambient information collected from sensors, making it very difficult to predict the outcome. Samuel Dickerson, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, advised the students during their senior design work. The Randall Family Big Idea Competition is open to undergraduate students, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows from all schools within the University of Pittsburgh. The competition began in 2009, and former participants have often seen their ideas accepted into startup accelerators and turn into independent businesses. Robert P. Randall was president and chief executive officer of the Three Rivers Aluminum Company (TRACO), a prominent regional door and window company, which was acquired by Alcoa and is now a division of Kawneer. Randall continues to give back to the community through his position on the Board of Trustees at the University of Pittsburgh, his work with the United States Chamber of Commerce and as a board member of both the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance. ### Image above (from left to right): Shuo Li, Ran Zou and Aidong Yan accept the first prize award at the Randall Family Big Idea Competition.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Apr
25
2017

The ‘Can’-Do Spirit

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH, PA (April 25, 2017) … A team of students from the University of Pittsburgh won $10,000 and second place at Princeton University’s TigerLaunch Finals competition for entrepreneurship. The team founded the company Aeronics, which designs and develops improved methods of storing oxygen in lightweight, low-pressure tanks.One of Aeronics’ innovations, Medipod, is about the size of a soda can and contains a porous lining to increase internal surface area. Because gases concentrate on surfaces, Medipod can store more oxygen while decreasing the tanks internal pressure. The technology is particularly appealing for people who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and currently lug around large oxygen tanks on a daily basis.The Aeronics team comprises Pitt students Alec Kaija, Blake Dube and Mark Spitz. Christopher Wilmer, assistant professor in the Swanson School’s Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, is an adviser to the team. Aeronics qualified for participation in the TigerLaunch national competition after presenting at the TigerLaunch X NYC competition at New York University. A total of 18 teams, selected from three regional competitions, received invitations to the finals.Last December, Aeronics took first place at Pitt Blast Furnace’s Demo Day. Like TigerLaunch, Demo Day provides student startups the opportunity to pitch their ideas and win cash prizes. The Aeronics team also won several other competitions supported by the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute including the Randall Family Big Idea Competition, the Michael G. Wells Competition and the Kuzneski Innovation Cup.Dube, CEO of Aeronics, worked with Dr. Wilmer in the Wilmer Lab investigating theoretical limits of oxygen storage in porous materials while pursuing his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. Spitz, who serves as COO, is majoring in exercise science in the School of Education. Both students will graduate this May and begin working full-time at Aeronics. Kaija, currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, will continue to develop Aeronics technology while completing his studies. ### Image above (from left to right): Spitz, Dube and Kaija at the TigerLaunch Finals.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Apr
25
2017

IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu Welcomes New Inductees, Celebrates 80 Years

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH, PA (April 25, 2017) … Each year, the University of Pittsburgh Beta Delta Chapter of the IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu honor society sends out invitations to students in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department who have demonstrated academic excellence. New members rank in the upper one-fourth of their Sophomore and Junior classes, or in the upper one-third of their Senior class. This past February, they held their annual ceremony and inducted the following 14 new members:Ryan BeckerShane BenningLiam BertiKevin GilboyBenjamin HarperZachary MattisBrendan SchusterDavid SkrovanekToby SunRobert TaylorDominic TranchitellaLong VoCorey WeimannRoger XueThroughout the month of March, the chapter participated in service activities including the annual Hands-On Science activity with students in the Swanson School’s college-preparatory outreach program INVESTING NOW. The activity involved the construction, troubleshooting and testing of a digital circuit model for a simple traffic sign. The 19 high school students, representing 12 schools in the Greater Pittsburgh Area, built miniature traffic lights using integrated circuits on breadboards, which are special boards designed for making experimental models of electrical circuits. The students spent the afternoon under the supervision of Beta Delta chapter members learning the basics of using oscilloscopes and wiring resistors and capacitors. Several members of the Beta Delta chapter also served as judges for the Covestro Science Fair on March 31 at Heinz Field. The competition was open to students in grades 6-12 from 21 counties in Western Pennsylvania and Garrett County in Maryland. The University of Pittsburgh Beta Delta chapter, which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, began with a petition from the family of founding member William Erickson in 1937. Eta Kappa Nu is the international electrical and computer engineering honor society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The society has about 200 chapters and thousands of members worldwide.Students interested in volunteering with the University of Pittsburgh chapter of IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu for this and/or other mentoring events, please email pitt.ieee.hkn@gmail.com. ### Shown in Induction Ceremony Photo: Back row: Dr. Stephen Jacobs (faculty advisor), Toby Sun, Liam Berti, David Skrovanek, Benjamin Harper, Brendan Schuster, Zachary Mattis, Kevin Gilboy, Shane BenningMiddle row: Jennifer Fang (vice president), Katherine Coronado (secretary), Matthew Yurko (web master sergeant), Sharif Abdelbaky (president), Christopher Colucci (treasurer), Betsalel "Saul" Williamson (web correspondent)Front row: Roger Xue, Dominic Tranchitella, Long Vo, Robert Taylor, Corey Weimann…Second Photo: High School students from Pitt’s INVESTING NOW program show off the integrated circuits they built under the supervision of students from the Beta Delta chapter.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Apr
25
2017

ALung Submits IDE Application to FDA Seeking Approval to Conduct Pivotal Study of the Hemolung RAS

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (April 25, 2017) - ALung Technologies, Inc., announced today the submission of its Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seeking approval to conduct a pivotal clinical study of the Hemolung Respiratory Assist System for the treatment of adults with severe acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD affects 30 million Americans1 and is the third leading cause of death in the United States behind cancer and heart disease.2 Acute exacerbations, defined as a sudden worsening of COPD symptoms, are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in COPD patients. For patients with severe exacerbations, high levels of carbon dioxide can result in respiratory failure and the need for intubation and mechanical ventilation as life saving measures. Unfortunately, mechanical ventilation is associated with many side effects, and in-hospital mortality remains as high as 30%. The Hemolung technology aims to avoid or reduce the need for intubation and ventilator support by directly removing carbon dioxide from the blood. ALung has been working with the FDA under the Expedited Access Pathway (EAP) program to complete pre-clinical testing and finalize its clinical study protocol. “Submission of our IDE is a significant milestone, made possible only through the hard work of our team in close collaboration with the FDA,” said Peter DeComo, Chairman and CEO of ALung. “We look forward to completing the IDE review and beginning the study later this year.” ALung’s recently announced $36 million Series C financing, led by Philips and UPMC Enterprises, will support the clinical study program. About ALung Technologies ALung Technologies, Inc. is a privately-held Pittsburgh-based developer and manufacturer of innovative lung assist devices. Founded in 1997 as a spin-out of the University of Pittsburgh, ALung has developed the Hemolung RAS as a dialysis-like alternative or supplement to mechanical ventilation. ALung is backed by Philips, UPMC Enterprises, Abiomed, The Accelerator Fund, Allos Ventures, Birchmere Ventures, Blue Tree Ventures, Eagle Ventures, Riverfront Ventures, West Capital Advisors, and other individual investors. For more information about ALung and the Hemolung RAS, visit www.alung.com. This press release may contain forward-looking statements, which, if not based on historical facts, involve current assumptions and forecasts as well as risks and uncertainties. Our actual results may differ materially from the results or events stated in the forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, certain events not within the Company’s control. Events that could cause results to differ include failure to meet ongoing developmental and manufacturing timelines, changing GMP requirements, the need for additional capital requirements, risks associated with regulatory approval processes, adverse changes to reimbursement for the Company’s products/services, and delays with respect to market acceptance of new products/services and technologies. Other risks may be detailed from time to time, but the Company does not attempt to revise or update its forward-looking statements even if future experience or changes make it evident that any projected events or results expressed or implied therein will not be realized. ### References 1. https://www.copdfoundation.org/What-is-COPD/COPD-Facts/Statistics.aspx2. http://www.lung.org/assets/documents/research/copd-trend-report.pdf
ALung Technologies News Release
Apr
18
2017

“Rescue Stent” Wins Another Award from Society For Biomaterials

Bioengineering

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (April 18, 2017) … The “Rescue Stent,” a medical device designed at the University of Pittsburgh to help manage large vessel hemorrhaging after a chest trauma, won the Audience Award at the 3rd Society For Biomaterials (SFB) 2017 Business Plan Competition. Puneeth Shridhar, MD MS, who is pursuing second doctoral degree in Bioengineering at Pitt, presented the Rescue Stent during the SFB Annual Meeting & Exposition in Minneapolis. The audience members voted for his presentation to receive the $1,000 prize and Audience Award recognition.The SFB Business Plan Competition evaluates biomaterials-based research innovations from all over the world that have the potential to succeed in the medical device industry. Participants submit abstracts containing an information about the technology, market research and a commercialization strategy. They then present their ideas in the form of a 10-minute pitch followed by a question and answer session from judges and audience members.Dr. Shridhar was attending the conference to accept another award he won earlier this year: the Honorable Mention Student Travel Achievement (STAR) Award. The SFB Education and Professional Development Committee recognized Dr. Shridhar with the STAR Award for his outstanding student paper titled “The Rescue Stent for Non Compressible Traumatic Hemorrhage.” The paper outlined the development, design and future business strategy for the Rescue Stent.In 2016, the United States Department of Defense granted $2.5 million in funds for a four-year research collaboration between the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering and UPMC Division of Vascular Surgery to develop the Rescue Stent. The research team is working to make the Rescue Stent the first removable, collapsible and biocompatible trauma stent to prevent internal bleeding from the aorta. The Rescue Stent will have both military and civilian applications and could greatly reduce fatalities caused by gunshot wounds, stabbings and other related torso injuries.Dr. Bryan Tillman, assistant professor of vascular surgery at the School of Medicine, serves as principal investigator on the study that received funding to develop the Rescue Stent. Joining Dr. Tillman are three engineering professors: Youngjae Chun, assistant professor in the Departments of Industrial Engineering and Bioengineering; Sung Kwon Cho, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science; and William Clark, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Apr
14
2017

BioE’s Jaeyeon Choi Awarded $45,000 to Develop New Treatment for Metastatic Melanoma

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH, PA (April 14, 2017) … The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) awarded Jaeyeon Choi, a graduate student in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, a two-year, $45,000 research grant for her proposal to use targeted radionuclides in the treatment of metastatic melanoma, also known as Stage IV melanoma. Radionuclide therapy is a rapidly growing branch of nuclear medicine, according to SNMMI. The treatment uses radioactive drugs called radiopharmaceuticals to target and eliminate cancer cells, often directly and with limited damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. Researchers have already developed targeted radionuclide therapies to treat certain diseases such as prostate cancer, and organizations like SNMMI are looking to expand the treatments to a variety of other cancers. In her proposal “Improving VLA-4 targeted radio nuclide therapy for metastatic melanoma with 177Lu-labeled albumin-binding LLP2A,” Choi outlined a new method of using radionuclides to treat metastatic melanoma and a new imaging strategy to better determine how patients are responding to the therapy. “Metastatic melanoma is a highly challenging disease to treat, and treatment approaches are very limited,” said Choi. “The five-year survival rate for patients is only 15-20 percent. I think my proposal was chosen because of the critical need to improve therapies and increase the overall survival of patients with metastatic melanoma.” At the University of Pittsburgh, Choi studies radionuclide therapies and diagnostics for the treatment of human diseases under the supervision of Carolyn Anderson, co-director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute In Vivo Imaging Facility. Dr. Anderson is also a professor of radiology with a secondary appointment in the Swanson School of Engineering Department of Bioengineering. Choi’s research focuses on developing novel molecular imaging probes using radionuclides to target specific immune cells, which can be used to diagnose human inflammatory diseases such as tuberculosis. She is also working on a project developing novel targeted radionuclide therapeutics for the treatment of different types of cancers.  “The bioengineering program at Pitt has given me great opportunities to incorporate different approaches to research from multiple engineering fields including tissue engineering, biomaterials and medical imaging,” said Choi. “I think technology is improving by becoming more multidisciplinary, and Dr. Anderson has really helped me take advantage of the University’s resources while designing and executing my research projects.” The SNMMI awards the Pre-doctoral Molecular Imaging Scholar Program grant to only one recipient every two years. The research scholar must be working in an established molecular imaging lab and must be a full-time student working toward a PhD or MD in an educational institution during the award period. The objective of the grant is “to encourage the integration of imaging approaches in the research of molecular pathways of disease.” Choi began studying at the University of Pittsburgh in 2015 and is on track to receive her PhD in 2019. She would like to continue her study in radiopharmaceutical science and work in a faculty position at a research institution after graduation. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Apr
11
2017

CDC/WHO Ebola Guidelines Could Put Sewer Workers at Risk

Civil & Environmental

PHILADELPHIA (April 11, 2017) ... Research from Drexel University and the University of Pittsburgh suggests that guidelines for safe disposal of liquid waste from patients being treated for the Ebola virus might not go far enough to protect water treatment workers from being exposed. In a study recently published in the journal Water Environment Research, a group of environmental engineering researchers reports that sewer workers downstream of hospitals and treatment centers could contract Ebola via inhalation — a risk that is not currently accounted for in the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention or World Health Organization Ebola response protocol. The study, “ Risks from Ebolavirus Discharge From Hospitals to Sewer Workers,” authored by Charles Haas, PhD, LD Betz professor in Drexel’s College of Engineering and head of the Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering Department; and Leonard Casson, PhD, and Kyle Bibby, PhD, from Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, takes the first steps toward understanding the risk that this untreated waste poses to the people in the water treatment process who work in close proximity to it. (doi:10.2175/106143017X14839994523181) “During the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak we had our first case of Ebola treated in the U.S. and by the end 11 individuals had been treated here—so this is certainly an area of risk assessment that we need to examine more closely,” Haas said. Initial guidelines issued by the WHO during the outbreak suggested that liquid waste generated by individuals being treated for Ebola could be disposed of via sanitary sewer or pit latrine without additional treatment. Months later it issued more conservative guidelines that suggested containing the waste in a holding tank before releasing it into the water treatment system. But according to the researchers, neither of these advisories accounted for risk to the sewer workers. “While current WHO and CDC guidance for disposal of liquid waste from patients undergoing treatment for Ebola virus disease at hospitals in the U.S. is to manage patient excreta as ordinary wastewater without pretreatment. The potential for Ebolavirus transmission via liquid waste discharged into the wastewater environment is currently unknown,” the authors write. “Possible worker inhalation exposure to Ebolavirus-contaminated aerosols in the sewer continues to be a concern within the wastewater treatment community.” The team arrived at its conclusions by first talking to workers at urban wastewater treatment facilities to understand where and under what conditions they might come in contact with untreated sewage aerosols. The researchers then looked at previous Ebola data to create a model of its behavior under similar conditions — from which they conducted a standardized microbial risk assessment analysis that was developed by Haas. It took into account variables such as the amount of waste produced during a treatment period, the degree to which it is diluted, the length of time between its disposal at the hospital and when sewer workers would encounter it and the concentration of viable viruses that could be in the air at treatment facilities. A worker’s risk of exposure varies with the time spent in the contaminated area and whether or not they’re wearing properly fitting protective gear — so the team looked at what the exposure risk would be given a range of protection and viral particle concentration scenarios. “Under the least-favorable scenario, the potential risk of developing Ebola virus disease from inhalation exposure is a value higher than many risk managers may be willing to accept,” they report. “Although further data gathering efforts are necessary to improve the prevision of the risk projections, the results suggest that the potential risk that sewer workers face when operating in a wastewater collection system downstream from a hospital receiving Ebola patients warrants further attention and current authoritative guidance for Ebolavirus liquid waste disposal may be insufficiently protective of sewer worker safety.” While this study suggests that new guidelines from the leading public health authorities are likely in order, the researchers acknowledge that their work is part of the iterative process of understanding how to safely contain and treat the virus. This study builds on Haas and Bibby’s previous work, which has shaped the way experts understand Ebola risk. Their research on how long Ebola can survive outside the body raised important questions about how exposure can occur and how long patients should be quarantined. “We find this area of risk assessment to be particularly vital because of the preponderance of questions that remain about how long Ebolavirus can survive outside the body,” Haas said. “One thing we do know from previous research is that it is possible to inhale the virus to cause a risk — and it wouldn’t take much. At this point we haven’t seen a confirmed case of somebody contracting Ebola in this way, and our hope is that this work can contribute to revised guidelines that will keep it that way.” ###
Author: Britt Faulstick, Drexel University (britt.faulstick@drexel.edu, 215.895.2617)
Apr
11
2017

Third "Bamboo in the Urban Environment" symposium further develops standards for bamboo as a sustainable construction resource

Civil & Environmental

Following the successful Symposia held in Pittsburgh (May 2016) and Winnipeg (August 2015), the third Bamboo in the Urban Environment Symposium was held 7-9 March 2017 in Bogor Indonesia, just outside Jakarta. The Symposia series was supported as part of a US-State Department and UK British Council-funded Global Innovation Initiative (GII) project that is supporting the development of bamboo as a sustainable and engineered alternative construction material. The group focuses on the use of bamboo in third-world countries where bamboo is a more sustainable, economical and structurally-sound construction material. The Jakarta meeting, which brought together academic, private sector and civil society actors from 15 countries and territories, was jointly organized by the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, Bogor Agricultural University, Coventry University, and the International Bamboo and Rattan Organization (INBAR), a multilateral organization with 42 member states. This third engagement saw strong engagement and commitment from Indonesia, with stakeholders from eight new institutions joining the symposium series. Speaking on behalf of the Government of Indonesia in his keynote address, Prof. Bambang Prastia, Head of the Indonesian Standards Agency, stated that Indonesia is paying high attention to develop bamboo for the construction sector as part of a broader strategy to standardize and build bamboo industry. The meeting constituted five technical standards meetings and over twenty high quality technical presentations from among the approximately 55 invited delegates. The 2016 ‘Pittsburgh Declaration’ was unanimously reaffirmed at the closing section with new delegates signing on to this important global call to action.Bamboo has a critical role to play in the provision of safe and affordable housing and could be a key contributor to greener urban environments worldwide. This strategic resource combines rapidly renewable properties, strength, and cost-effectiveness – making it an ideal building material and a potential driver of sustainable development in many parts of the world, particularly those where traditional materials such as concrete, steel and wood are economically unfeasible or geographically unavailable.   The case for bamboo is outlined in the ‘Pittsburgh Declaration’ – a global call to action that seeks to increase international recognition of the benefits of bamboo, and outlines recommendations designed to more effectively harness the plant as a building material. To ensure bamboo is harnessed more effectively and becomes a viable building material for the future, the Declaration makes several recommendations. A key consideration is the development of international standards (through the International Organization for Standardization - ISO) - the plant’s use in modern structures has been previously hampered by a lack of formal standards and codes. The Bogor, Pittsburgh and Winnipeg meetings focused on issues of standardization and have already resulted in considerable progress including: Revision of ISO 22157-1 – Test Methods for Bamboo; an effort that will be concluded in 2018 and is chaired by GII coPI David Trujillo of Coventry University. Significant progress toward an ISO Bamboo Grading Standard; also led by David Trujillo. Consensus reached to submit a new proposal to ISO to revise ISO 22156 – Bamboo Structural Design in 2017; led by Prof. Kent Harries GII PI from the University of Pittsburgh. Initiation of work on a new standard proposal to establish material properties of engineered bamboo materials by 2018; co-led by Dr. Bhavna Sharma, former Pitt PhD, now University of Bath faculty; and Arjan van der Vegte, Moso International B.V. “The Pittsburgh Declaration clearly demonstrates a growing consensus among experts on the need to harness bamboo as a building material,” says Oliver Frith, INBAR’s Global Programme Director. “Bamboo is a practical, cost-effective and sustainable option that will provide affordable, and as we have seen recently in Nepal and Ecuador, resilient and secure homes. The recommendations included in the Declaration are an important milestone and offer a framework to ensure the plant plays a more significant role in construction.” “The international standardization process promulgated by the Declaration is instrumental to developing broad recognition of bamboo as an engineered construction material,” says Kent Harries, FACI, FIIFC, P.Eng., Associate Professor of Structural Engineering and Mechanics at Pitt’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, GII PI and Symposium organizer. “Our continuing research at Pitt and other institutions have shown bamboo is one of nature’s perfect building materials, and is primed for greater international use. As the global population continues to increase and the threat of natural and climate disasters threaten greater numbers of people, bamboo is especially poised to become our go-to material for emergency shelters.” ### Pittsburgh DeclarationThe Pittsburgh Declaration is a call to action to promote bamboo and initiate more strategic efforts to harness this strategic resource as a practical, affordable and sustainable building material. The Declaration was issued at the conclusion of the ‘Symposium on Bamboo in the Environment,’ held at the University of Pittsburgh, USA, May 4-6, 2016. The Symposium brought together academic, private sector and civil society actors from 14 countries and territories, and was jointly organized by the University of Pittsburgh, Coventry University, and INBAR. The Declaration can be downloaded here.  The recorded proceedings of the Symposium will be archived and made freely available through both the University of Pittsburgh and INBAR websites.The International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR)INBAR is an intergovernmental organization established in 1997 dedicated to improving the social, economic and environmental benefits of bamboo and rattan. INBAR plays a unique role in finding and demonstrating innovative ways of using bamboo and rattan to protect environments and biodiversity, alleviate poverty and facilitate fairer pro-poor trade. INBAR connects a global network of partners from the government, private, and not-for-profit sectors in over 50 countries to define and implement a global agenda for sustainable development through bamboo and rattan.  INBAR Construction TaskforceThe bamboo construction taskforce, facilitated by INBAR, coordinates the activities of international research institutes and commercial companies interested in the structural uses of bamboo. The Taskforce supports INBAR’s membership of the Global Network for Sustainable Housing – the world’s premier knowledge network on sustainable housing, hosted by UN-Habitat in Nairobi. Its overall objective is to act as the world’s premier information and knowledge center on structural uses of bamboo.

Apr
6
2017

UK’s Leverhulme Trust awards Pitt’s Dr. Kent Harries with prestigious visiting professorship to University of Bath

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (April 6, 2017) … Kent Harries, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and Bicentennial Board of Visitors Faculty Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, was awarded a Leverhulme Visiting Professorship by the Leverhulme Trust in the UK. Dr. Harries will serve as Leverhulme Visiting Professor at the University of Bath from September 2017 – August 2018.   Dr. Harries, whose research focuses on the use of nonconventional materials in construction, will utilize his professorship to develop curricula and other programs on fiber-reinforced polymers (FRP) in collaboration with Bath researchers and instructors. Commonly used in the UK and EU for structural design and repair, FRPs are relevant to UK industry and to code/standards development, with implications for other types of nonconventional materials utilized around the world. “The University of Bath is the pre-eminent institution for the study of nonconventional construction materials in the world, and so this expertise corresponds greatly with my research interests beyond FRP materials, such as the use bamboo in developing regions,” Dr. Harries said. “Both Pitt and Bath will benefit from this professorship through the exchange of our research expertise and curriculum development for students in the U.S. and UK.” Established in 1925 by the will of William Hesketh Lever, the founder of Lever Brothers, the Leverhulme Trust provides grants and scholarships for research and education, and is one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK. ###

Apr
6
2017

Civil Engineering’s Piervincenzo Rizzo recognized by ASNT for Best Paper on nondestructive testing

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (April 6, 2017) … Piervincenzo (Piero) Rizzo, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, was awarded the 2017 Outstanding Paper from the American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT), for the paper “ Fractal Analysis Applied to Laser Spot Thermography” published in the journal Materials Evaluation [Volume 74, Issue 3, pgs. 409-417, March 2016]. The ASNT Outstanding Paper in Materials Evaluation Award is presented to a person or persons for a manuscript published in Materials Evaluation, which, in the opinion of the Awards Committee, is an outstanding contribution to the advancement of nondestructive testing. Nominations may only be made by reviewers, Associate Technical Editors or Editors of the Journals, or Outstanding Paper Awards Committee Members. Dr. Rizzo will be recognized at the 2017 ASNT Annual Conference in Nashville, October 30-November 2. Dr. Rizzo’s academic and professional interests include nondestructive testing/evaluation, structural health monitoring, signal processing and automatic pattern recognition for real-time prognosis of structural and biological materials, and implementation of embedded sensor network for the health monitoring of civil, mechanical and aerospace structures. Current research is focused on the development of guided wave-based SHM methodologies for pipes, and the investigation of highly-nonlinear solitary waves for the noninvasive assessment of structural and biomaterials including structural buckling. In 2015 the International Workshop on Structural Health Monitoring recognized him as the Structural Health Monitoring Person of the Year. In 2016 he received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Junior Scholar Award, the Pitt’s most esteemed award given to young faculty.   Dr. Rizzo earned his laurea (MS) in aeronautical engineering from the University of Palermo, Italy, and his Master and PhD in structural engineering from the University of California – San Diego. About Pitt’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Founded in 1867, the Civil and Environmental Engineering program at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering is one of the oldest engineering programs in the U.S. Civil engineering students at Pitt have the opportunity to engage in undergraduate and graduate programs in a broad range of topics, including environmental engineering and water resources, geotechnical and pavements, structural engineering and mechanics, and sustainability and green design. ###

Apr
3
2017

BodyExplorer Shows Students What They’re Made of

Bioengineering

ORLANDO, FL (April 3, 2017) … Imagine you are a medical or nursing student who wants to learn how to effectively and safely anesthetize a patient prior to surgery. You walk up to the patient and are guided by a virtual instructor’s voice and hands projected onto the body. You open up viewports that enable you to see through the skin to visualize the position of the breathing tube you are inserting into the trachea. All medications you inject are measured, and you are alerted if you administer an incorrect dose—and if you make such a mistake, no one is harmed: you can “push the reset button” and try again.This is the guided learning experience provided by BodyExplorer, a next-generation medical simulator developed by a multidisciplinary team at the Simulation and Medical Technology R&D Laboratory in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. The entire system, including a highly sensorized physical model of a human body and an augmented-reality projection system, can easily fit on a table in a classroom or a nurses’ break room in a hospital unit. The system demonstrates advanced simulation-based healthcare training with automated instruction, real-time feedback and round-the-clock accessibility for trainees.  At the Serious Games and Virtual Environments (SG/VE) Showcase during the International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH) in Orlando, BodyExplorer won the “Best in Show” award in the student project category. Douglas Nelson, Jr., a PhD student in bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, presented BodyExplorer to the judges.“We’ve been developing BodyExplorer over the past five years to help students learn about medicine, nursing, pharmacy and clinical procedures,” Nelson said. “We designed the system to make simulators easier to use for students and instructors, which seemed to impress the judges looking to the future of healthcare simulation. BodyExplorer is particularly useful because its automated instruction can allow trainees to practice without supervision while still receiving feedback on proper technique. This has the potential to provide more efficient simulation-based healthcare training by reducing the workload on educators while increasing availability of such training to students.”Using BodyExplorer’s augmented-reality (AR) visualization, students can manipulate an image projected onto the mannequin torso. Trainees can use a simple, pen-like tool to open “windows” into the underlying anatomy, revealing muscles, bones and organs, including breathing lungs and a beating heart. The trainees can also see patient vital signs or other data; for example, they can pull up an electrocardiogram (ECG) graph to see how the ECG relates to the sound and motion of the heart and how it is affected by injected drug simulants.Joseph Samosky, assistant professor of bioengineering at Pitt, is the originator and principal investigator of the BodyExplorer project and faculty advisor for Nelson’s PhD research. “If a student wants to explore the effects of medications on cardiac function, the student can inject simulated drugs and the system will automatically respond with changes in heart rate that can be seen, heard and visualized on the ECG displayed directly beside the beating heart,” Samosky said. “We want to maintain a focus on the patient. In BodyExplorer, the body itself becomes a tangible user interface (TUI), sensing inputs from and displaying information back to the trainee. The system enables you to interact naturally with the simulated patient and see the internal consequences of your external actions.”BodyExplorer is highly interactive. It features a novel drug-simulant recognition system that encodes an identity, or “signature,” directly in the fluid itself, so simulated drugs can be injected in a naturalistic way and automatically recognized by the system. If the trainee administers a medication too quickly, BodyExplorer may elicit a loud, painful scream. Likewise, if the trainee administers a medication that causes the heart to beat faster, BodyExplorer’s digitally-animated heart will pulse more quickly and the pounding sound of heartbeats will also quicken.John O’Donnell, professor and chair of the Department of Nurse Anesthesia joined the BodyExplorer team in 2013 as a clinical co-investigator and faculty advisor on the project. He co-chaired the IMSH conference which had the highest attendance of any international simulation conference in the world to date with more than 3,500 healthcare educators and students. O’Donnell has been assisting with the development and validation of curriculum for the system and notes that “students in healthcare training programs want and need the chance to practice their skills and get immediate feedback. BodyExplorer has the potential to revolutionize the current model of training by offering ‘just in time’ and ‘on-demand’ access to key simulation experiences.”The broadening of access for students is another key goal of the BodyExplorer project, Nelson explained. “Current healthcare simulation training is very resource intensive, requiring technicians, instructors and often specially-designed rooms. We want to bring simulation technology and training into everyday classrooms or hospitals and make it usable by students on their own without special training in simulator operation. The current BodyExplorer prototypes fit in the trunk of my car, and we would like to make commercialized models even more compact and easy to set up as we redesign them for manufacturability.”Nelson, who will complete his PhD in April, plans after his graduation to develop a newly-founded company to bring to market a commercial version of the BodyExplorer simulation system. The development of the several technologies that have been integrated into the BodyExplorer system has been principally funded by the University of Pittsburgh Departments of Anesthesiology and Bioengineering. Additional funding has been provided by the U.S. Army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) and a Coulter Translational Research Award, as well as additional resources from the School of Nursing’s Department of Nurse Anesthesia. Follow this link to see a video of how BodyExplorer works: http://www.innovation.pitt.edu/innovations/bodyexplorer/ ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Apr
3
2017

ChemE Professor Christopher Wilmer Joins Foresight Institute’s Inaugural Class of Fellows

Chemical & Petroleum

PALO ALTO, CA (April 3, 2017) … The Foresight Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on promoting future technologies, has announced that Christopher Wilmer will be part of its inaugural class of fellows. The 10 inductees are all working on technologies with massive potential for the future, including space technology, human longevity and the interface between human minds and computers.The Foresight Institute selected Dr. Wilmer, assistant professor chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, for his work with nanostructures called “molecular machines.” As principal investigator of the Hypothetical Materials Lab at Pitt, Dr. Wilmer leads his team in the design of complex, hypothetical molecular machines capable of solving problems in fields such as energy and the environment.The Foresight Fellowship lasts for one year and provides support in the form of personal attention, exposure to new opportunities and mentorship from leaders in related fields. The Foresight Institute also invites fellows to attend special events to further connect with mentors and other fellows.“There’s nothing new in the world… is an adage that has met its match,” said Steve Burgess, president of Foresight Institute. “The Foresight Fellows are up to the challenge and we look forward to what they bring forth. The Foresight Fellowship Program is itself new, and we’re excited about working with this talented group and the prospects they bring to possible technological breakthrough for a better world for everyone.”About the Foresight InstituteSince 1993, Foresight Institute has been rewarding those who are making strides in the field of nanotechnology with the Feynman Prize. In 2016, a former Feynman Prize winner, Sir James Fraser Stoddart, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work with molecular machines. Foresight Institute recognizes that providing a strong network and knowledge base for new fellows will accelerate their missions and reflect Foresight’s goals to further support those making important strides in key fields. The early identification and support of big research ideas is where Foresight Institute creates the most impact.About Dr. WilmerDr. Wilmer’s research focuses on the use of large-scale molecular simulations to help find promising materials for energy and environmental applications. He earned his bachelor’s degree in applied science from the University of Toronto’s Engineering Science—Nanoengineering program, and his PhD in Chemical Engineering at Northwestern under the mentorship of Prof. Randall Q. Snurr. While at Northwestern he took an interest in developing new technologies through entrepreneurship and co-founded NuMat Technologies, which designs porous materials that could be used to make better natural gas fuel tanks for vehicles. In 2012 the company won the Department of Energy’s National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition, while Dr. Wilmer was named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30 in Energy.” He has authored more than 20 publications and holds more than 500 article citations. For more information visit Dr. Wilmer’s website at www.wilmerlab.com. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Apr
3
2017

MCSI Seed Grants Fund New Round of Sustainability Research

Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Industrial, MEMS

PITTSBURGH, PA (April 3, 2017) … The Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (MCSI) has announced the recipients of 2017-2018 MCSI seed grant funding. The annual seed grant program engages a core team of researchers who are passionate about sustainability. Seed grants support graduate student and post-doctoral fellows on one-year research projects. The University of Pittsburgh projects and faculty members to receive funding include:• “Protein lithograph: a sustainable technology for sub-5-nm nanomanufacturing.” Mostafa Bedewy, Assistant Professor, Department of Industrial Engineering.• “High efficiency refrigeration and cooling through additive manufactured magnetocaloric devices.” Markus Chmielus, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science.• “Toward machine learning blueprints for greener chelants.” John Keith, Assistant Professor, Inaugural Richard King Mellon Faculty Fellow in Energy, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering.• “H2P: HydroPonics to Pyrolysis: An enclosed system for the phytoremediation and destruction of perfectly persistent emerging contaminants in our water.” Carla Ng, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; David Sanchez, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.MCSI developed the research seed grant program to provide faculty with funding support to allow students to participate in high-quality research, teaching, outreach and creative endeavors. The goals of the grants are: (1) seed funding to develop ideas to the point where external funding can be obtained; (2) awards to support scholarship in areas where external funding is extremely limited; (3) resources to introduce curricular innovations into the classroom; or (4) tools or techniques to encourage community outreach and education. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

Mar

Mar
30
2017

Rapid Ready Tech Interviews Assistant Professor Wei Xiong: A Deeper Look into Metal Additive Manufacturing Material Properties

MEMS

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have been working with ANSYS to create a simulation technique that can evaluate the effects of additive manufacturing (AM) on the microstructure and material properties of parts produced for high-temperature applications. Up to this point, the only way to certify the quality of these parts has been to perform comprehensive physical tests. Unfortunately, these procedures have proven to be too costly and time-consuming. View the full article at Rapid Ready Tech.
Author: Tom Kevan, Digital Engineering
Mar
28
2017

Pitt IE Professor Lisa Maillart Awarded Fulbright Scholarship to the Netherlands

Industrial

PITTSBURGH, PA (March 28, 2017) … Lisa Maillart, associate professor of industrial engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, was named a Fulbright Scholar to Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in the Netherlands. Through her Fulbright award, Dr. Maillart will collaborate with researchers at TU/e on multiple projects related to maintenance optimization in healthcare, and she will teach a graduate course on Markov Decision Processes (MDPs). Dr. Maillart’s focus in applied probability as well as MDPs and Partially Observable MDPs (POMDPs) influences her research in maintenance optimization, healthcare operations and medical decision-making. “Dr. Maillart’s expertise on MDPs and in particular POMDPs will be a great benefit for us,” said Geert-Jan van Houtum, professor of maintenance, reliability and quality at TU/e. “We aim to work together on multiple joint papers, and the ambition will be to get them published in top journals in our field. With Dr. Maillart in our team, we will increase our possibilities to realize such top publications.” Dr. Maillart’s research at TU/e will be heavily driven by data supplied by the multinational Dutch electronics corporation Philips, which has a research facility headquartered in Eindhoven, Netherlands. She will collaborate with personnel from Philips Research and the faculty and students of Eindhoven University to gain a better understanding of smart maintenance approaches for healthcare systems and personalized health. Many healthcare settings require sequential decision making to manage systems that deteriorate randomly over time—for example, large-scale medical equipment or a chronically ill individual. Dr. Maillart will examine how new types of data can be analyzed to improve the decision making process for these complex problems. The new course on Markov Decision Processes will potentially expand into a permanent course at TU/e. Dr. Maillart will be instrumental in helping the faculty design the curriculum. She will also be involved in the supervision of PhD and master thesis research projects while visiting TU/e. About Lisa MaillartLisa Maillart is an Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Stochastic Modeling, Analysis and Control (SMAC) Laboratory in the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to joining the faculty at Pitt, she served on the faculty of the Department of Operations in the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. She received her MS and BS in industrial and systems engineering from Virginia Tech, and her PhD in industrial and operations engineering from the University of Michigan. Her primary research interest is in sequential decision making under uncertainty, with applications in medical decision-making, healthcare operations, healthcare policy and maintenance optimization. She is a member of INFORMS, SMDM and IIE, and was recently named a Fulbright U.S. Scholar. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
27
2017

Pitt ChemE Students Turn Class Project into $5,000 InnoCentive Award

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH, PA (March 27, 2017) … InnoCentive, a crowdsourcing platform for problem-solving and innovation, awarded $5,000 to a team of students from the University of Pittsburgh for designing a solution for shipping polymers that expand too much when they’re cold and become too sticky when they’re hot. The students solved the problem for a chemical engineering class at the Swanson School and submitted their proposal to the InnoCentive Challenge Center after receiving an “A” on the assignment.Hydrogenated styrene diene block copolymer is used to make cosmetics and tough synthetic rubbers. An anonymous company submitted a challenge to the crowdsourcing website InnoCentive to see if anyone could find a way to improve its method of baling the polymers for shipment. The company had been using heat to compress the polymers and save space on the trucks; however, the heat also caused the polymer to stick to the surface of the conveyor system that led to the baler. The four Pitt students devised a solution that involved adding a vertical conveyor to the baling process. This particular type of spiral-shaped conveyor, commonly used in the food industry, looks like a giant metal spring. It can simultaneously heat the polymer while transporting it to the entrance of a top-loading baler. It also moves the polymer with vibration, preventing any chance of the compressed rubber sticking to the surface.“When we came up with this solution, we knew it was right,” said Devin Ulam, an undergraduate student and member of the Pitt team. “The vertical conveyor only takes up a little bit of space, and the polymer crumb is heated at the last moment before it enters the baler, so there is no risk of clogging.”The other team members were Travis La Fleur, Stephen Provencher and Timothy Shearer. All four students are majoring in chemical engineering at Pitt and enrolled in “Taking Products to Market – Next Step in Chemical Product Design” (ChE314) in the fall of 2016.The course emphasizes entrepreneurial approaches to chemical engineering product development. Christopher Wilmer, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at Pitt, taught the course last fall and directed the Pitt team to the InnoCentive challenge to gain experience with real-world problem solving.“We are teaching engineers in this course to consider the values and needs of the customer throughout the design process,” said Wilmer. “These students did an excellent job of finding a solution that didn’t make any drastic changes to the company’s product or processes. It will be very easy to implement their solution, and I think that is why they deserved to win the award.” InnoCentive is a network of more than 375,000 problem solvers. The platform connects corporations, government organizations and nonprofit companies with experts in the fields of computer science, math, chemistry, life sciences, physical sciences and business. When an organization submits a “challenge problem” to InnoCentive, the competition is open to the InnoCentive community. The organization that submitted the challenge ultimately determines the winning solution. ### Image Above: (from left to right) Devin Ulam, Timothy Shearer, Travis La Fleur and Stephen Provencher.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
22
2017

Swanson School of Engineering announces 2017 Distinguished Alumni at annual banquet



PITTSBURGH (March 22, 2017) … Collectively they are professors, researchers and authors; inventors, builders and producers; business leaders, entrepreneurs and industry pioneers. The 53rd annual Distinguished Alumni Banquet brought together honorees from each of the Swanson School of Engineering’s six departments and one overall honoree to represent the entire school. The banquet took place at the University of Pittsburgh's Alumni Hall, and Gerald D. Holder, US Steel Dean of Engineering, presented the awards. Dr. Wanda M. Austin, a graduate from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and retired president and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation, received recognition as Distinguished Alumna and represented the Swanson School. “The Swanson School Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes past recipients of the departmental awards who have excelled in their careers, who have been an inspiration to faculty and students at the Swanson School and who through their accomplishments and capacity have had an impact on the next generation of Pitt engineers,” said Dean Holder. “Wanda, for your incredible engineering career, and your dedication, not only to your employees but future engineers and scientists, we are proud to honor you as our 2017 Distinguished Alumna of the Swanson School of Engineering.” This year’s recipients include: Swanson School of Engineering  Wanda M. Austin, PhD, MSCE '77, MS Math ‘77  Retired, President & CEO, The Aerospace CorporationDepartment of Bioengineering  Mark DiSilvestro, MSBEG ’99, PhD BIOE ‘00  COO, Cases By Source; President, Vista Management Consulting LLC Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering  Donna G. Blackmond, PhD, BSCHE ’80, MSCHE ‘81  Professor of Chemistry, Scripps Research InstituteDepartment of Civil and Environmental Engineering  Michael Flowers, MSCE ‘78 Retired, President & CEO, American Bridge CompanyDepartment of Electrical and Computer Engineering  Vibha Rustagi, BSEE ‘87 CEO, itaas, a Cognizant CompanyDepartment of Industrial Engineering  John Richter, BSIE ‘75 Retired, Vice President of Operations, PPG Coatings  Asia Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science  Jay Nunamaker, Jr., PhD, BSME ’60, MSIE ‘66 Regents and Soldwedel Professor of MIS, Computer Science and Communications, University of ArizonaThis year’s sponsors included: Gold Level: i+icon USA  Blue Level: PPG Coatings Asia, Pittsburgh BiomechanicsFriends: Caliber Contracting Services, SAI Consulting Engineers, Ellwood Quality Steels, The Aerospace Corporation ### Pictured above from left: Mark DiSilvestro, Donna Blackmond, Michael Flowers, Wanda Austin, Vibha Rustagi, John Richter and Jay Nunamaker
Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
22
2017

The Swanson School Presents Alumnus Mark DiSilvestro with 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award for Bioengineering

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (March 22, 2017) … Collectively they are professors, researchers and authors; inventors, builders and producers; business leaders, entrepreneurs and industry pioneers. The 53rd annual Distinguished Alumni Banquet brought together honorees from each of the Swanson School of Engineering’s six departments and one overall honoree to represent the entire school. The banquet took place at the University of Pittsburgh's Alumni Hall, and Gerald D. Holder, US Steel Dean of Engineering, presented the awards. This year’s recipient for the Department of Bioengineering was Mark DiSilvestro, MSBEG ’99, PhD BIOE ’00, COO of Cases By Source and President of Vista Management Consulting LLC. “Despite Bioengineering being our newest department, its alumni have had truly outstanding successes,” said Dean Holder. “Mark earned both his master’s and PhD in bioengineering from Pitt and since then has established himself in the medical device industry, first at the startup Tissue-Informatics, and later as an R&D specialist. His career has truly been interdisciplinary and is an example how an engineer can play a critical role in translational research, operations and business development.”About Mark DiSilvestroDr. Mark DiSilvestro earned both an MS and a PhD in bioengineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 1999 and 2000, respectively. He was a member of the Musculoskeletal Research Center where he was a Whitaker Research Fellow. He earned his BS in biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University in 1996. DiSilvestro has built a career in the medical device industry as a technical contributor in R&D and product development, as a manager of projects and teams and as an executive responsible for all business operations. He began by working at a startup company, TissueInformatics, as a principal scientist. He worked with a team that developed a high speed imaging device for scanning histology slides and creating digital montages of tissue sections that were characterized using novel algorithms. DePuy Orthopaedics, a Johnson & Johnson company, recruited DiSilvestro in 2001. He began with DePuy as a senior engineer in sensors and electronic technologies and was promoted first to staff engineer and then to Manager of Global Concept Development. After leaving Depuy, he went to Becton Dickinson where he developed a global project prioritization process integrated with the company’s change management process which achieved $3 million in annualized cost reductions in its first year. He continued his management role when he left Becton Dickinson to join Medin Corporation in 2008. By 2013, DiSilvestro was promoted to COO and was responsible for all operations of the business.In 2009, DiSilvestro started his own consulting company, Vista Management Consulting LLC. As president, he oversees projects ranging from performing mechanical analysis of structures for design optimization to organizational assessments and recommendations for hiring and process improvements. He was recruited to Cases By Source in 2016, and he is currently the COO. ### Photo Above: Dean Holder (left) with Mark DiSilvestro and BioE Department Chair Sanjeev Shroff.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
22
2017

The Swanson School Presents Alumnus Michael Flowers with 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award for Civil and Environmental Engineering

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (March 22, 2017) … Collectively they are professors, researchers and authors; inventors, builders and producers; business leaders, entrepreneurs and industry pioneers. The 53rd annual Distinguished Alumni Banquet brought together honorees from each of the Swanson School of Engineering’s six departments and one overall honoree to represent the entire school. The banquet took place at the University of Pittsburgh's Alumni Hall, and Gerald D. Holder, US Steel Dean of Engineering, presented the awards.This year’s recipient for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering was Michael Flowers, MSCE ’78, retired, President and CEO, American Bridge Company.“Civil engineering was the first engineering program established at Pitt 150 years ago, and so our civil engineering alumni have influenced the field for generations,” said Dean Holder. “Of course, one of civil engineering’s most important, historic accomplishments and contributions to society has been building bridges to connect one land mass to another. Michael Flowers, represents that strong tradition.”About Michael FlowersMichael Flowers received his MS in civil engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 1978 and his BS in civil engineering from West Virginia University in 1974. He joined American Bridge Company in 1975 as a design engineer in the Pittsburgh Regional Engineering office. In the early years of his career, he worked on the repair and maintenance of a variety of steelmaking facilities for American Bridge’s parent United States Steel Corporation. In 1978, Flowers was assigned to a business unit in American Bridge responsible for major commercial construction projects in the United States, working on both high-rise buildings and bridges. His projects included Phase II of the Renaissance Center in Detroit, MI, One Mellon Bank Center, PPG Place and Fifth Avenue Place buildings in Pittsburgh, PA; and a total reconstruction of the Riverside Drive Viaduct in New York City. In 2006, Flowers became the project director for the American Bridge-led joint venture building the new $1.9 billion San Francisco-Oakland Bay Self-Anchored-Suspension Bridge in California. There he oversaw all aspects of the construction of this one-of-a kind suspension bridge project in the highly seismic Bay Area.Flowers assumed CEO responsibilities of American Bridge in January of 2011. In his capacity as CEO, he led the company’s participation in joint venture wins for the new Queensferry Crossing, a three-tower cable stayed bridge over of the Firth of Forth in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the new Tappan Zee Hudson River Bridge in Tarrytown, NY. In June of 2016 he retired as president and CEO of American Bridge. ### Photo Above: Dean Holder (left) with Michael Flowers and CEE Department Chair Radisav Vidic.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
22
2017

The Swanson School Presents Alumna Donna Blackmond with 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award for Chemical and Petroleum Engineering

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (March 22, 2017) … Collectively they are professors, researchers and authors; inventors, builders and producers; business leaders, entrepreneurs and industry pioneers. The 53rd annual Distinguished Alumni Banquet brought together honorees from each of the Swanson School of Engineering’s six departments and one overall honoree to represent the entire school. The banquet took place at the University of Pittsburgh's Alumni Hall, and Gerald D. Holder, US Steel Dean of Engineering, presented the awards.This year’s recipient for the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering was Donna G. Blackmond, PhD, BSCHE ’80, MSCHE ’81, Professor of Chemistry, Scripps Research Institute.“Many of us here tonight, myself included, remember Donna as an outstanding student and researcher, and have followed her many accomplishments while making a major impact with her research,” said Dean Holder. “She is a pioneer of Reaction Progress Kinetic Analysis, and her research into prebiotic chemistry and asymmetric catalytic reactions is recognized worldwide.”About Donna BlackmondDonna G. Blackmond received BS and MS degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 1980 and 1981, respectively. She received a PhD degree in chemical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 1984. Blackmond started her career as an assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh in 1984 and was promoted to associate professor in 1989. She has held professorships in chemical engineering and in organic, physical, and technical chemistry in the US, Germany and the UK, and she has worked in the pharmaceutical industry as an associate director at Merck & Co., Inc. In 2010 she moved from a joint research chair in chemistry and chemical engineering at Imperial College London to her present position as professor of chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. Blackmond’s research focuses on kinetic, mechanistic and reaction engineering studies of organic reactions for pharmaceutical applications, including asymmetric catalysis. She has been invited to give her short course on Kinetics of Organic Catalytic Reactions in academia (including Harvard, Berkeley, Zürich, Nagoya) and at major pharmaceutical companies around the world. Blackmond also carries out fundamental studies probing the origin of the single chirality of biological molecules. She was invited by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to speak at a Nobel Workshop “On the Origin of Life” in Stockholm (2006). In 2012 she was named a Simons Investigator in the Simons Foundation Collaboration on the Origins of Life. ### Photo Above: Dean Holder (left) with Donna Blackmond and ChemE Department Chair Steven Little.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
22
2017

The Swanson School Presents Alumnus John Richter with 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award for Industrial Engineering

Industrial

PITTSBURGH (March 22, 2017) … Collectively they are professors, researchers and authors; inventors, builders and producers; business leaders, entrepreneurs and industry pioneers. The 53rd annual Distinguished Alumni Banquet brought together honorees from each of the Swanson School of Engineering’s six departments and one overall honoree to represent the entire school. The banquet took place at the University of Pittsburgh's Alumni Hall, and Gerald D. Holder, US Steel Dean of Engineering, presented the awards.This year’s recipient for the Department of Industrial Engineering was John Richter, BSIE ’75, retired, Vice President of Operation, PPG Coatings Asia.“After earning his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Pitt, John would embark upon a successful and global career at PPG Industries,” Dean Holder said. “Like the quintessential engineer who continually builds upon his knowledge, John started in coatings and resins, supply chain and process engineering, leading toward his jump to Valspar Highpoint Plant Manager. From there, his expertise would have an impact throughout PPG’s coatings divisions, first in the U.S. and later, around the globe at 42 plants as well as warehouses and distribution chains.”About John RichterJohn Richter graduated with his BS in industrial engineering in 1975. He became a manufacturing professional with extensive global experience in organizational structures, plant operations and supply chains, with a strong emphasis on environment, health and safety. He served as PPG Vice President, Asia Pacific Coatings Operations from 2011 to 2016. He was responsible for the supply chains and manufacturing plants for the seven coatings businesses through Asia Pacific and India.Richter became Valspar Highpoint plant manager in 1993, where he was responsible for the daily operation of a coatings manufacturing plant. In 1995 he was appointed PPG sr. engineering consultant and then PPG Springdale Plant Manager, Industrial Coatings. This plant remains the primary production site for Harley Davidson, Titleist, JEG lifts and steel and aluminum coil coatings. Richter quickly became the PPG Manufacturing Director, Industrial Coatings in Pittsburgh, PA, responsible for the seven manufacturing plants that produced industrial coatings products in North America, Europe, Australia and China. He was appointed PPG Global Operations Director, OEM Coatings in 2003, responsible for the 42 plants around the world, the warehouses that support the plants and the distribution of finished goods. ### Photo Above: Dean Holder (left) with John Richter and IE Department Chair Bopaya Bidanda.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
22
2017

The Swanson School Presents Alumnus Jay Nunamaker with 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award for Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (March 22, 2017) … Collectively they are professors, researchers and authors; inventors, builders and producers; business leaders, entrepreneurs and industry pioneers. The 53rd annual Distinguished Alumni Banquet brought together honorees from each of the Swanson School of Engineering’s six departments and one overall honoree to represent the entire school. The banquet took place at the University of Pittsburgh's Alumni Hall, and Gerald D. Holder, US Steel Dean of Engineering, presented the awards.This year’s recipient for the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science was Jay Nunamaker, Jr., PhD, BSME ’60, MSIE ’66, Regents and Soldwedel Professor of MIS Computer Science and Communications, University of Arizona.“Jay’s expertise in information technology is recognized around the world, and he has been named by Forbes Magazine as one of eight key innovators in information technology,” said Dean Holder. “To call his research production and citations ‘impressive’ would be a disservice, especially since this January, he was named the most prolific author of the past half-century by the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. He has over 25,000 citations and 400 publications. I also might add that he had over $100 million in research funding.”About Jay NunamakerDr. Jay Nunamaker, Jr. received his BS degree in mechanical engineering and MS degree in industrial engineering from the University of Pittsburgh. After graduating as a mechanical engineer, he worked at the Shippingport Atomic Power Station as a test and design engineer for 3.5 years. He received a BS from Carnegie Mellon University and his PhD in operations research and systems engineering from Case Institute of Technology of Case Western Research University. He continued his academic career as a research assistant on the ISDOS project at the University of Michigan and then became an associate professor of computer science and industrial administration at Purdue University. Nunamaker is currently the Regents and Soldwedel Professor of MIS, Computer Science and Communication and the Director of the Center for the Management of Information at the University of Arizona. He founded the MIS department at the University of Arizona in 1974 and served as department head for 18 years. He received his professional engineer’s license in 1965.Forbes Magazine featured Nunamaker in the July 1997 issue as one of eight key innovators in information technology. He is widely published with more than 25,000 citations to his research. He has produced more than 400 journal articles, book chapters, books and refereed proceedings. The Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences recognized Nunamaker in January 2017 as the most prolific author over the past fifty years. ### Photo Above: Dean Holder (left) with Jay Nunamaker and MEMS Department Chair Brian Gleeson.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
22
2017

Chemical Engineering PhD Candidate Natalie Austin Invited to 67th Nobel Laureate Meeting on Chemistry

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH, PA (March 22, 2017) … Natalie Austin, a PhD candidate in the Swanson School of Engineering’s Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, will participate in the 67th Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany this June. Austin will join an elite group of 400 – 500 international undergraduates, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers, who qualified for attendance after a multistage selection process.Between 30 – 40 Nobel Laureates will also attend the meeting and interact with the next generation of scientists primed to make significant contributions to their fields. Each year the meeting focuses on one of the three natural sciences eligible for a Nobel Prize: chemistry, physics and physiology/medicine. This year’s topic of chemistry will be addressed and analyzed through lectures, discussion, master classes and panels.Austin, who works in the Computer-Aided Nano and Energy Lab (CANELA) at Pitt, was one of two Pitt students selected to apply to the program. She qualified nationally as part of the Oak Ridge Associates Universities team and then passed through an international selection pool ranging from undergraduate to post-doctoral students below the age of 35.“Attending the meeting held at Lindau is important to me,” said Austin. “I will have the opportunity to meet with the most successful and respected researchers in my field and beyond. More so, I believe that the interactions and networking opportunities provided at Lindau will be enriching to me, as well as inspire and motivate me as I move towards completing my graduate education and research.”  Austin’s research at CANELA focuses on the computational design of bimetallic nanoparticles, which can absorb, activate and convert carbon dioxide into useful chemicals and fuels. Monometallic copper is commonly used as a catalyst for carbon dioxide conversion, but studies have shown enhanced activity on copper-based bimetallic catalysts. Austin is currently investigating both the physicochemical properties of the catalysts and the mechanism of carbon dioxide conversion to methanol, an alternative fuel source to gasoline in internal combustion engines.Austin received her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering/bioengineering from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 2013 and will defend her doctoral thesis in May 2018. After graduation, Austin said she would like to begin a career in energy and environmental research for the government or in an industrial setting. “I am personally very proud of Natalie and of what she has accomplished so far,” said Giannis Mpourmpakis, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at Pitt and principal investigator at CANELA. “Having participated in this meeting in the past, I know how competitive the selection process is and how beneficial this experience will be for her future career.” ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
22
2017

Society for Biomaterials Awards Bioengineering Graduate Student with Honorable Mention for Outstanding Paper

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH, PA (March 22, 2017) … The Society for Biomaterials has selected Puneeth Shridhar, a bioengineering graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, as the recipient of an Honorable Mention Student Travel Achievement Recognition (STAR) Award. The Society’s Education and Professional Development Committee chose to recognize Shridhar for his work titled “The Rescue Stent for Non-Compressible Traumatic Hemorrhage.”The Rescue Stent is a medical device designed to manage firearm trauma in a battlefield or civilian environment. Currently, patients suffering from large vessel hemorrhaging after a chest trauma must be transported to a hybrid operating room for treatment. The process usually takes about 20 minutes. Early intervention greatly improves the outcome of the treatment, and often a matter of seconds can largely impact the patient’s health. The Rescue Stent can be placed in only four minutes. It stops the life-threatening bleeding and allows blood to continue to circulate to the patient’s organs.Shridhar is currently pursuing a second doctoral degree in the Department of Bioengineering and is advised by Youngjae Chun, assistant professor in the Departments of Industrial Engineering and Bioengineering at Pitt. He previously earned his MD from Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences in Karnataka, India, and he works with Chun in the Medical Device Manufacturing Lab at Pitt. “In the past year, Puneeth and I have authored more than 20 research papers focused on various medical devices with critical applications to many different parts of the body,” said Chun. “He is very passionate about next-gen devices, and the STAR recognition is a very positive sign that Puneeth will be a future leader in the biomaterial arena.”The United States Department of Defense recently awarded a team from Pitt $2.5 million to develop the Rescue Stent technology. Bryan Tillman, assistant professor of vascular surgery at Pitt’s School of Medicine, serves as principal investigator on the project. Three professors from the Swanson School of Engineering have joined Tillman: William Clark, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science; Sung Kwon Cho, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science; and Chun.    Shridhar will receive the award at the Society for Biomaterials 2017 Annual Meeting this April in Minneapolis, MN. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
20
2017

Penn biointerface researcher and entrepreneur Tagbo Niepa to join Pitt’s Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (March 20, 2017) … Further strengthening its focus on interdisciplinary research and entrepreneurship, the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering has hired Tagbo H.R. Niepa, PhD as assistant professor. Dr. Niepa, currently the Postdoctoral Fellow for Academic Diversity at the University of Pennsylvania Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering with Professors Daeyeon Lee and Kathleen Stebe, will join Pitt in July 2017.“Tagbo’s expertise in biofilms, microfluidics and interfacial science is an outstanding addition to our department,” said Steven R. Little, PhD, Department Chair and William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. “He is young researcher who is gaining a national reputation for his bacterial research, and his experience as an entrepreneur with his own successful startup will be a tremendous asset and inspiration to our students.”“Many lifesaving medical innovations have emerged from the University of Pittsburgh,” added Dr. Niepa. “I am very excited to join Pitt’s Department Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. The multidisciplinary environment at Pitt is conducive for me to make unique contributions to diverse fields ranging from biomedical, to food and environmental sciences. "I envision developing microbial-based methods of oil recovery, and technologies having applications for biotechnology and personalized therapeutics. My hope is to share my vision of entrepreneurship as an alternative approach to disseminating research results with students as they explore opportunities outside of academia or industry.”Dr. Niepa currently focuses on interfacial phenomena associated with bacterial films and is developing artificial microniches to model microbiome dynamics as well as microbial communities relevant to antibiotic discovery. His research also seeks to understand how beneficial microbes could be used to better clean the environment after an oil spill and how pathogens could be prevented from causing disease. He earned an associate degree in food science at the Food Industry College (Ivory Coast) and worked at the Pasteur Institute as a research associate, before transferring to University of Dortmund (Germany) to study bioengineering. He later earned a BS in biomedical engineering and PhD in chemical engineering from Syracuse University. His doctoral research on the electrochemical control of bacterial persister cells revealed new means to control the electrophysiology of highly drug-tolerant bacterial cells and sensitize pathogenic persister and biofilm cells to antibiotics. His technology was tested successfully for safety on human cells and for efficacy in curing a rabbit model of sinusitis, and was awarded two U.S. patents and recognized by Syracuse University with the All-University Doctoral Prize. Dr. Niepa is a co-founder of Helios Innovative Technologies Inc. (now PurpleSun Inc.), a medical device company that develops automated sterilization systems to fight bacterial cross-contamination.About the Department of Chemical and Petroleum EngineeringThe Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering serves undergraduate and graduate engineering students, the University and our industry, through education, research, and participation in professional organizations and regional/national initiatives. Our commitment to the future of the chemical process industry drives the development of educational and research programs. The Department has a tradition of excellence in education and research, evidenced by recent national awards including numerous NSF CAREER Awards (including three in Q1 2017), a Beckman Young Investigator Award, an NIH Director's New Innovator Award, and the DOE Hydrogen Program R&D Award, among others. Active areas of research in the Department include Biological and Biomedical Systems; Energy and Sustainability; and Materials Modeling and Design. The faculty has a record of success in obtaining research funding such that the Department ranks within the top 25 U.S. chemical engineering departments for federal R&D spending in recent years with annual research expenditures exceeding $7 million. The vibrant research culture within the Department includes active collaboration with the adjacent University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the Center for Simulation and Modeling, the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, the Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering and the U.S. DOE-affiliated Institute for Advanced Energy Solutions. ###

Mar
14
2017

Pitt’s Bioengineering and Industrial Engineering programs move up in 2018 U.S. News and World Report Graduate School Rankings

All SSoE News, Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, Industrial, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (March 14, 2017) … The University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering has moved up one slot among engineering programs in the 2018 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Graduate Schools,” which will be available on newsstands April 11. The Swanson School is tied 42nd overall among university engineering programs, and 21st among all Association of American Universities (AAU) members. Two of its programs, bioengineering and industrial engineering, made significant gains over 2017. Bioengineering jumped from 18th in the nation to 12th overall, and remains at 6th among public AAU university programs. Industrial moved from 23rd to 17th overall, and from 13th to 10th among AAU publics. Other department rankings include: Chemical engineering: 33rd overall, 18th among AAU publics Civil engineering: 60th overall, 27th among AAU publics Computer engineering: 43rd overall, 20th among AAU publics Electrical engineering: 55th overall, 26th among AAU publics Materials science: 43rd overall, 22nd among AAU publics Mechanical engineering: 57th overall, 26th among AAU publics Complete rankings and information about the process can be found online in the U.S. News Grad Compass. ###

Mar
13
2017

Pitt Civil Engineering Students Take First and Third Place at Constructors Association of WPa Student Estimating Competition

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH, PA (March 13, 2017) … A team of students from the University of Pittsburgh finished in the top spot at the inaugural Constructors Association of Western Pennsylvania (CAWP) Student Estimating Competition. They beat out nine other teams and received a $1,500 award for their victory. The Panther Estimators, led by Civil and Environmental Engineering student Thomas Tresky, won the competition with a total of 208 points, securing a narrow victory over the second place team from the Pennsylvania State University, which scored 207.2 points. Team Abbey, also from the University of Pittsburgh and led by Civil and Environmental Engineering student Jon Abbey, came in third place with a score of 193.5 points. The full team rosters were: Panther Estimators • Thomas Tresky (captain) • Lee Anderson • Matt Lane • Janet D’Anna • Hannah Schell Team Abbey • Jon Abbey (captain) • Katelyn McEneaney • Andrew James • Phillip Paulone • Charles Riddle • Matt Eastburn Five universities participated in the CAWP competition: University of Pittsburgh main campus, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Pennsylvania State University, Pennsylvania State University Harrisburg and Carnegie Mellon University. The competition required students to assemble bid packages based on pre-job documents and a pre-bid meeting on a highway construction project. The students had to prepare their bids and schedules by a 6:00 p.m. deadline and then present an explanation of how they arrived at their final bid to judges the next day. Plum Contracting, Inc. provided one of its jobs to serve as the subject of the students’ bids, and Bill Woodford, recently retired chief estimator from Trumbull Corporation, developed the structure of the competition. Representatives from local construction companies served as the judges. Participating companies included: Mosites Construction Company; Swank Construction Company; Michael Facchiano Contracting, Inc.; Plum Contracting, Inc.; The Lane Construction Corporation; Brayman Construction Corporation; and Joseph B. Fay Co. Kurt Karanovich and Brian Westrom, also from Joseph B. Fay Co., mentored the two teams from the University of Pittsburgh main campus. The two-day competition took place at the Regional Learning Alliance in Cranberry Township. On the second day, students also participated in a career fair showcasing the region’s employers and potential job opportunities. The CAWP developed the Student Estimating Competition to encourage students to understand the benefits and opportunities the heavy-highway construction industry has to offer. CAWP, established in 1934, is a non-profit organization that assists workers in the heavy, highway and utility construction industry and improves relationships between contractors, their employees and the general public. ###
Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
9
2017

University of Pittsburgh Wins Prestigious Senator Paul Simon Award for Its International Education Programs

All SSoE News

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh was honored today with a national award recognizing its commitment to international education and the strength of its global programs. It is one of only four institutions nationwide to receive the 2017 Senator Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization. The awards were given by NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Named for the late Senator Paul Simon of Illinois, the award recognizes colleges and universities that are making significant, well-planned, well-executed and well-documented progress toward integrating international education throughout all facets of a university campus. “We truly believe that teaching and learning know no boundaries, and that the University of Pittsburgh’s robust international platform benefits students, faculty members and society at large,” says Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “Our mission—to improve the world through knowledge—is one that we support through a rich catalog of study abroad opportunities, a vibrant community of international scholars and a deep commitment to tackling issues affecting people and communities across the world.” Pitt’s University Center for International Studies (UCIS) is the “nerve center” coordinating the implementation of the University’s global plan. It is home to the Office of International Services, Study Abroad Office, Nationality Rooms Program and six area and thematic studies centers, four of which have been designated National Resource Centers by the U.S. Department of Education. All of the centers—the African Studies Program, Asian Studies Center, Center for Latin American Studies, Center for Russian and East European Studies, European Studies Center and the Global Studies Center—explore those regions through interdisciplinary academic programs and community engagement activities ranging from projects with local businesses to K-16 teacher training workshops, student competitions and art exhibitions. Overall, Pitt’s international education achievements also include the following: • Embracing the World: A Global Plan for Pitt, which serves as a road map for the entire University and coordinates international efforts. It sets up a global ambassadors program, enriches the student experience with cross-cultural programming, provides resources for faculty working on key global issues and much more. • A joint institute, the Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute, that allows Chinese students to complete their engineering degree in both Chengdu, China and Pittsburgh. • Pillar agreements for Pitt’s health sciences in Italy, Ireland, China and Kazakhstan for teaching opportunities as well as medical, nursing and pharmacy rotations. • More than 100 research collaborations across Pitt that link faculty with colleagues abroad. These partnerships have advanced research on cybersecurity, sustainability and human rights, among other areas. • A thriving study abroad program, in which more than 1,800 students a year participate. Pitt Study Abroad works with more than 80 faculty members to facilitate close to 100 study abroad programs, including such unique and popular options as the multicountry offering PittMAP, Pitt in the Himalayas, Pitt in Cuba, Pitt in London and Pitt in Florence. • Twenty-five Living Learning Communities structured within student residences, of which more than half are dedicated to global themes or mandate global programming. These students are exposed to programming on regional themes, global issues and language learning. • Attracting close to 6,000 international students, faculty, staff and visiting scholars from more than 100 countries to a world-class institution. • Robust platforms to support global operations including partnerships with international universities and organizations and faculty in-country research and collaborative projects. • Home to three international academic associations with worldwide memberships: the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies; Latin American Studies Association and European Union Studies Association. “Receiving the prestigious Simon Award is a reflection of the priority that Pitt places on educating our students to be global citizens,” says Ariel Armony, senior director of International Programs and director of UCIS. “Internationalization and global engagement are not choices at Pitt. They are imperatives that ensure we participate in a healthy exchange of ideas and values worldwide.” The other institutions receiving the Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization are Florida State University, University of Iowa and Santa Monica College. Institutions selected for the Simon Awards will be featured in NAFSA’s 2017 version of its annual report Internationalizing the Campus: Profiles of Success at Colleges and Universities to be published later this year and honored at an event in Washington, D.C., during International Education Week in November. To learn more about NAFSA’s Senator Paul Simon Awards, visit www.nafsa.org/SimonAward. ### Photo above: Industrial Engineering undergraduate Veronica Radin visits the Great Wall during the Pitt INNOVATE study abroad experience to China in 2017.
Author: Sharon Blake, Senior News Representative, University Communications
Mar
8
2017

Civil Engineering Alumna Wanda Austin Receives 2017 Swanson School’s Distinguished Alumni Award

Civil & Environmental, Diversity

PITTSBURGH (March 8, 2017) … Collectively they are professors, researchers and authors; inventors, builders and producers; business leaders, entrepreneurs and industry pioneers. The 53rd annual Distinguished Alumni Banquet brought together honorees from each of the Swanson School of Engineering’s six departments and one overall honoree to represent the entire school. The banquet took place at the University of Pittsburgh's Alumni Hall, and Gerald D. Holder, US Steel Dean of Engineering, presented the awards.The distinguished alumna chosen to represent the Swanson School of Engineering overall in 2017 was Wanda M. Austin, PhD, MSCE ’77, MS Math ’77, retired president and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation.“The Swanson School Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes past recipients of the departmental awards who have excelled in their careers, who have been an inspiration to faculty and students at the Swanson School and who through their accomplishments and capacity have had an impact on the next generation of Pitt engineers,” said Dean Holder. “Wanda, for your incredible engineering career, and your dedication, not only to your employees but future engineers and scientists, we are proud to honor you as our 2017 Distinguished Alumna of the Swanson School of Engineering.”About Wanda AustinDr. Wanda M. Austin earned a BS in mathematics from Franklin & Marshall College, MS degrees in systems engineering and mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh and a PhD in systems engineering from the University of Southern California (USC). She is the former president and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation, an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to the application of science and technology toward critical issues affecting the nation’s space program. From January 2008 until her retirement in October 2016, Austin managed The Aerospace Corporation’s 3,600 employees and annual revenues of $917 million. She was the sixth president and first female president of the organization and is internationally recognized for her work in satellite and payload system acquisition, systems engineering and system simulation.Austin served on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and she was appointed to the Defense Science Board in 2010 and the NASA Advisory Council in 2014. She is an honorary fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), a Councilor of the National Academy of Engineering and a member of the International Academy of Arts and Sciences. She also serves on the Board of Trustees for USC and the Board of Directors for the Chevron Corporation.Austin is committed to inspiring the next generation to study the STEM disciplines and to make science and engineering preferred career choices. Under her guidance, The Aerospace Corporation undertook a number of initiatives in support of this goal, including participations in MATHCOUNTS, US FIRST Robotics and Change the Equation. She is the author of Making Space: Strategic Leadership for a Complex World, which explores the leadership principles she learned during her decades-long journey as an engineer and executive in the space industry. ###
Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
8
2017

Five Pitt engineering faculty set university and school record by receiving competitive NSF CAREER awards in first months of 2017

Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (March 8, 2017) … The National Science Foundation CAREER award is the organization’s most coveted and competitive research prize for junior faculty, and in the first few months of 2017, the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering has been awarded five CAREER grants totaling more than $2.5 million in research funding. The CAREER program “recognizes faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.” The five awards – three in Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, and one each in Civil and Environmental and Electrical and Computer – are the most received by Pitt and Swanson School faculty in a single NSF CAREER funding announcement. The three Chemical and Petroleum Engineering CAREER awards also represent the most received by a single department within the Swanson School. The faculty applied for the awards during the NSF’s 2016 solicitation period.“This is a tremendous accomplishment for our faculty, and will greatly assist them in establishing their research at this early stage of their academic careers,” noted Gerald D. Holder, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering and Distinguished Service Professor at Pitt. “This is the first time that five individuals at the Swanson School received CAREER awards in one year, which speaks to the caliber of their research.” David Vorp, the Swanson School’s Associate Dean for Research and John A. Swanson Professor of Bioengineering, added, “Research funding at the federal level grows tighter and more competitive each year, and so we’re very proud that these five outstanding faculty members developed such strong proposals. Most importantly, the CAREER awards include a community engagement component which is critical to inspiring future STEM careers in children and young adults.” The award recipients include: Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering John Keith, Inaugural R.K. Mellon Faculty Fellow in Energy and Assistant Professor ($500,000)Title: SusChEM: Unlocking local solvation environments for energetically efficient hydrogenations with quantum chemistry (#1653392)Summary: This project will address the production of carbon-neutral liquid fuels via electrocatalytic reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) to methanol.  Its focus will integrate high-level electronic structure theory, molecular dynamics, and machine learning to understand how interactions between solvent molecules, salts, and co-solutes regulate CO2 reduction from greenhouse gas into fuels. The graduate and undergraduate students in Dr. Keith's lab group will also develop educational modules to engage and excite students in the Pittsburgh Public School District about opportunities in STEM fields, with an emphasis on renewable energy and computational chemistry. Giannis (Yanni) Mpourmpakis, Assistant Professor ($500,000)Title: Designing synthesizable, ligand-protected bimetallic nanoparticles and modernizing engineering curriculum through computational nanoscience (#1652694)Summary: Although scientists can chemically synthesize metal nanoparticles (NPs) of different shapes and sizes, understanding of NP growth mechanisms affecting their final morphology and associated properties is limited. With the potential for NPs to impact fields from energy to medicine and the environment, determining with computer simulations the NP growth mechanisms and morphologies that can be synthesized in the lab is critical to advance NP application. Because this is a relatively new field, traditional core courses in science and engineering lack examples from the nanotechnology arena. In addition to improving the research, the award will enable Dr. Mpourmpakis and his lab group to modernize the traditional course of Chemical Thermodynamics by introducing animation material based on cutting-edge nanotechnology examples, and developing a nanoscale-inspired interactive computer game. Christopher Wilmer, Assistant Professor ($500,000)Title: Fundamental limits of physical adsorption in porous materials (#1653375)Summary: The development of new porous materials is critical to improving important gas storage and separations applications, and will have a positive impact on reducing greenhouse gases. This includes the deployment of methane and/or hydrogen gases as alternative fuels, development of new filters for removing trace gaseous contaminants from air, and separation of carbon dioxide from flue gas to mitigate greenhouse emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Dr. Wilmer’s grant will enable his lab to utilize computational methods to probe the limits of material performance for physical adsorption to porous materials. Although past computational screening has suggested physical limits of adsorption capacity for metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), this project will explore the novel use of so-called “pseudomaterials,” which represent all potential atomistic arrangements of matter in a porous material. As part of community outreach, Dr. Wilmer’s research group will develop educational movies on the fundamental science of gas adsorption, including those relevant to carbon capture to mitigate climate change. Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringKyle J. Bibby, Assistant Professor ($500,000)Title: Quantitative viral metagenomics for water quality assessment (#1653356)Summary: U.S. beaches and waterways often are closed to human contact when tests indicate an increase in E. coli, usually after heavy rains overwhelm sewage systems. However, the concentration of these common bacteria is not a reliable indicator of viruses in the water, which present a greater danger of causing illness in humans. Dr. Bibby’s research will focus on developing new DNA sequencing methods to directly measure viral loads in water and better indicate potential threats to human health. Dr. Bibby’s group, which previously studied persistence of the Ebola virus in the environment and has worked to develop novel indicators of viral contamination, will utilize quantitative viral metagenomics for viral water quality assessment. The CAREER Award includes an outreach component that allows Dr. Bibby to engage with students at the Pittsburgh Public School’s Science & Technology Academy (SciTech) next to the Swanson School, leading to development of a hands-on educational module for high school students to characterize microbial water quality. Dr. Bibby will also utilize the research to expand the H2Oh! interactive exhibit he developed with the Carnegie Science Center, enabling children to better understand the impact of water quality on everyday life. Department of Electrical & Computer EngineeringErvin Sejdić, Assistant Professor and 2016 PECASE Recipient ($549,139)Title: Advanced data analytics and high-resolution cervical auscultation can accurately predict dysphagia (#1652203)Summary: Dysphagia, or swallowing disorders, affects nearly one in 25 adults, especially the elderly and those who have suffered a stroke or neurological disease, and results in approximately 150,000 hospitalizations annually. A patient’s risk for dysphagia is diagnosed first by screening, and may require an endoscopy or fluoroscopy for further evaluation. However, some patients who aspirate do so silently, causing doctors to misdiagnose. Dr. Sejdić will utilize high-resolution vibration and sound recordings to develop a new screening technology to help doctors diagnose dysphagia and patients to learn how to properly swallow while eating or drinking. Dr. Sejdić and his lab group will also collaborate with speech language pathologists to develop an online learning module to further education and outreach throughout the U.S. ###

Mar
7
2017

The Swanson School Presents Alumna Vibha Rustagi with 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award for Electrical and Computer Engineering

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (March 7, 2017) … Collectively they are professors, researchers and authors; inventors, builders and producers; business leaders, entrepreneurs and industry pioneers. The 53rd annual Distinguished Alumni Banquet brought together honorees from each of the Swanson School of Engineering’s six departments and one overall honoree to represent the entire school. The banquet took place at the University of Pittsburgh's Alumni Hall, and Gerald D. Holder, US Steel Dean of Engineering, presented the awards. This year’s recipient for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering was Vibha Rustagi, BSEE ’87, CEO of itaas, a Cognizant Company.“Engineers often have the ability to extend their expertise and abilities into other diverse fields, and Vibha is an example of how that translates into innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Dean Holder. “She co-founded her consulting firm, itaas, which was a startup poised for growth in the nascent digital communication industry. Vibha’s success is also reflected in the many patents she has been awarded, as well as recognition throughout our now-ubiquitous digital communications industry, including being named one of the most powerful women in cable, receiving the Vanguard Award from the Internet and TV Expo, the 2015 Women in Technology Award, and induction into the Cable TV Pioneers. About Vibha RustagiVibha Rustagi earned a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from the Mark Robinson School of Business at Georgia State University. Rustagi has been involved in the telecommunications and cable industries for over 20 years and started her career at Scientific-Atlanta, now Cisco, where she was integrally involved in the design and launch of the first digital networks and was awarded seven patents.In 1999, Rustagi co-founded itaas, a consulting firm focusing on the digital video delivery ecosystem where she served as itaas’ CEO and president. Under her leadership, itaas grew from a three-person start-up to a globally successful company, helping cutting-edge technology and telecommunications companies deliver a broad range of services to consumer devices. In 2014, itaas was acquired by Cognizant, one of the world’s leading professional services companies, transforming clients’ business, operating and technology models for the digital era, with over 260,000 employees worldwide.At Cognizant, Rustagi served as the CEO of itaas, a Cognizant Company, and is now the Head of Technology Ventures, Strategic Growth Areas and M&A for Cognizant’s Communications, Media and Technology Practice. Over the years, Rustagi has been honored by the cable industry as one of 12 cable executives in Communications Technology Cable Hall of Fame. At the 2014 National Cable TV Conference, Rustagi was inducted into the Cable TV Pioneers. And, at the 2015 Internet and TV Expo, she was awarded the most prestigious award in the industry – The Vanguard Award for Associates and Affiliates. Later in 2015, she was awarded the 2015 Women in Technology award by Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers, Women in Cable Telecommunications and Cablefax. ### Photo above: Dean Holder (left) with Vibha Rustagi and ECE Department Chair Alan George.
Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
7
2017

One Step at a Time: Pitt engineering and medical programs receive NSF award to develop ultrasonic sensors for a hybrid exoskeleton

Bioengineering, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (March 7, 2017) … The promise of exoskeleton technology that would allow individuals with motor impairment to walk has been a challenge for decades. A major difficulty to overcome is that even though a patient is unable to control leg muscles, a powered exoskeleton could still cause muscle fatigue and potential injury. However, an award from the National Science Foundation’s Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) program will enable researchers at the University of Pittsburgh to develop an ultrasound sensor system at the heart of a hybrid exoskeleton that utilizes both electrical nerve stimulation and external motors. Principal investigator of the three year, $400,000 award is Nitin Sharma, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. Co-PI is Kang Kim, associate professor of medicine and bioengineering. The Pitt team is collaborating with researchers led by Siddhartha Sikdar, associate professor of bioengineering and electrical and computer engineering at George Mason University, who also received a $400,000 award for the CPS proposal, “Synergy: Collaborative Research: Closed-loop Hybrid Exoskeleton utilizing Wearable Ultrasound Imaging Sensors for Measuring Fatigue.”This latest funding furthers Dr. Sharma’s development of hybrid exoskeletons that combine functional electrical stimulation (FES), which uses low-level electrical currents to activate leg muscles, with powered exoskeletons, which use electric motors mounted on an external frame to move the wearer’s joints. “One of the most serious impediments to developing a human exoskeleton is determining how a person who has lost gait function knows whether his or her muscles are fatigued. An exoskeleton has no interface with a human neuromuscular system, and the patient doesn’t necessarily know if the leg muscles are tired, and that can lead to injury,” Dr. Sharma explained. “Electromyography (EMG), the current method to measure muscle fatigue, is not reliable because there is a great deal of electrical “cross-talk” between muscles and so differentiating signals in the forearm or thigh is a challenge.” To overcome the low signal-to-noise ratio of traditional EMG, Dr. Sharma partnered with Dr. Kim, whose research in ultrasound focuses on analyzing muscle fatigue. “An exoskeleton biosensor needs to be noninvasive, but systems like EMG aren’t sensitive enough to distinguish signals in complex muscle groups,” Dr. Kim said. “Ultrasound provides image-based, real-time sensing of complex physical phenomena like neuromuscular activity and fatigue. This allows Nitin’s hybrid exoskeleton to switch between joint actuators and FES, depending upon the patient’s muscle fatigue.” In addition to mating Dr. Sharma’s hybrid exoskeleton to Dr. Kim’s ultrasound sensors, the research group will develop computational algorithms for real-time sensing of muscle function and fatigue. Human subjects using a leg-extension machine will enable detailed measurement of strain rates, transition to fatigue, and full fatigue to create a novel muscle-fatigue prediction model. Future phases will allow the Pitt and George Mason researchers to develop a wearable device for patients with motor impairment. “Right now an exoskeleton combined with ultrasound sensors is just a big machine, and you don’t want to weigh down a patient with a backpack of computer systems and batteries,” Dr. Sharma said. “The translational research with George Mason will enable us to integrate a wearable ultrasound sensor with a hybrid exoskeleton, and develop a fully functional system that will aid in rehabilitation and mobility for individuals who have suffered spinal cord injuries or strokes.” ### Photo above: Dr. Kim (left) with Dr. Sharma and a hybrid exoskeleton prototype in the Neuromuscular Control and Robotics Laboratory at the Swanson School of Engineering.

Mar
1
2017

NSF recognizes three Pitt junior chemical engineering faculty with prestigious CAREER awards

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (March 1, 2017) … For the first time in a funding cycle, three researchers from one University of Pittsburgh department were recognized with the National Science Foundation’s most significant award in support of junior faculty. John Keith, Giannis Mpourmpakis and Christopher Wilmer, all assistant professors of chemical and petroleum engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering received individual NSF CAREER awards, which “recognize faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.” The three professors received $500,000 each in funding for the five-year awards. “Receiving an NSF CAREER Award can be one of the most tremendous highlights for any junior faculty member, but it is a true honor for a university to receive three awards within one department,” noted Steven R. Little, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor and Department Chair of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. “What’s more, these three researchers are focused on dynamic energy research, and these grants will not only benefit their labs, but also the students they teach and mentor. As an additional component, the grants will enable our students to engage in community outreach and encourage young adults to consider careers in STEM.” The Pitt Chemical and Petroleum Engineering CAREER Awards include: John A. Keith, Assistant Professor and Inaugural R.K. Mellon Faculty Fellow in Energy  SusChEM: Unlocking local solvation environments for energetically efficient hydrogenations with quantum chemistry (#1653392) Summary: This project will address the production of carbon-neutral liquid fuels via electrocatalytic reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) to methanol.  Its focus will integrate high-level electronic structure theory, molecular dynamics, and machine learning to understand how interactions between solvent molecules, salts, and co-solutes regulate CO2 reduction from greenhouse gas into fuels. Dr. Keith’s graduate and undergraduate students will develop educational modules to engage and excite students in the Pittsburgh Public School District about opportunities in STEM fields, with an emphasis on renewable energy and computational chemistry. Giannis (Yanni) Mpourmpakis, Assistant ProfessorDesigning synthesizable, ligand-protected bimetallic nanoparticles and modernizing engineering curriculum through computational nanoscience (#1652694)Summary: Although scientists can chemically synthesize metal nanoparticles (NPs) of different shapes and sizes, understanding of NP growth mechanisms affecting their final morphology and associated properties is limited. With the potential for NPs to impact fields from energy to medicine and the environment, determining with computer simulations the NP growth mechanisms and morphologies that can be synthesized in the lab is critical to advance NP application. Because this is a relatively new field, traditional core courses in science and engineering lack examples from the nanotechnology arena. In addition to improving the research, the award will enable Dr. Mpourmpakis and his students to modernize the traditional course of Chemical Thermodynamics by introducing animation material based on cutting-edge nanotechnology examples, and developing a nanoscale-inspired interactive computer game. Christopher Wilmer, Assistant Professor Fundamental limits of physical adsorption in porous materials (#1653375) Summary: The development of new porous materials is critical to improving important gas storage and separations applications, and will have a positive impact on reducing greenhouse gases. This includes the deployment of methane and/or hydrogen gases as alternative fuels, development of new filters for removing trace gaseous contaminants from air, and separation of carbon dioxide from flue gas to mitigate greenhouse emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Dr. Wilmer’s grant will enable his lab to utilize computational methods to probe the limits of material performance for physical adsorption to porous materials. Although past computational screening has suggested physical limits of adsorption capacity for metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), this project will explore the novel use of so-called “pseudomaterials,” which represent all potential atomistic arrangements of matter in a porous material. As part of community outreach, Dr. Wilmer’s research group to develop educational movies on the fundamental science of gas adsorption, including those relevant to carbon capture to mitigate climate change. ###

Feb

Feb
27
2017

What's Really in the Water

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (February 27, 2017) … U.S. beaches and waterways are often closed to human contact when tests indicate an increase in E. coli, usually after heavy rains overwhelm sewage systems. However, the concentration of these common bacteria is not a reliable indicator of viruses in the water, which present a greater danger of causing illness in humans. Through a five-year, $500,000 CAREEER Award from the National Science Foundation, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering will be developing new DNA sequencing methods to directly measure viral loads in water and better indicate potential threats to human health. “Quantitative Viral Metagenomics for Water Quality Assessment,” funded through the NSF’s Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems, is being led by Kyle J. Bibby, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Swanson School. The CAREER program is the NSF’s most prestigious award for junior faculty who exemplify outstanding research, teaching, and their integration. Dr. Bibby’s expertise in genomics tools to study, understand, and solve environmental challenges influenced this latest research, which will capitalize on new genetic sequencing tools used in medicine. “Viruses can persist in water longer than E.coli, and are an important component of disease caused by contaminated water,” Dr. Bibby said. “Although viruses don’t often appear in greater concentrations than bacteria, they still present a danger especially when waterways are contaminated by human waste.” According to Dr. Bibby, conventional methods used to detect viral pathogens in the environment are limited because of viral diversity. However, advances in medicine, specifically in DNA sequencing, have increased the ability to detect even the slightest viral load. Dr. Bibby’s group, which previously studied the persistence of the Ebola virus in the environment and has worked to develop novel indicators of viral contamination, will utilize quantitative viral metagenomics for viral water quality assessment. “There’s actually very little known about viral pathogen diversity and dynamics in wastewater-impacted systems because in the past, viruses were difficult to detect. New DNA sequencing methods and methods to concentrate the virus and analyze the data rapidly and accurately are necessary for this method applicable and economical. In addition, we need to demonstrate the efficiency and accuracy across several sources in the U.S.,” Dr. Bibby said. The CAREER Award includes an outreach component that allows Dr. Bibby to engage with students at the Pittsburgh Public School’s Science & Technology Academy (SciTech) next to the Swanson School, leading to development of a hands-on educational module for high school students to characterize microbial water quality. Dr. Bibby will also utilize the research to expand the H2Oh! interactive exhibit he developed with the Carnegie Science Center, enabling children to better understand the impact of water quality on everyday life. “Applying quantitative viral metagenomics to these DNA/RNA sequencing techniques has the potential to advance water quality monitoring not only in developing countries, but also in U.S. municipal systems that currently rely on fecal indicator bacteria such as E. coli to determine water quality,” Dr. Bibby said. “In the future, viral pathogen detection would be greatly beneficial in many other settings, such as sudden viral outbreaks, food production safety, and viral epidemiology.” ###

Feb
18
2017

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette features Civil Engineering Student-Athlete Zach Smith

Civil & Environmental, Student Profiles

There’s a dreamlike feeling that engulfs Lori Smith every time she and her husband enter Petersen Events Center. As they arrive at their seats, getting there early enough to see the end of Pitt’s pregame warm-up, they look for their son, Zach, a junior guard on the team. Before every game, without fail, he looks up, locks eyes with them and waves. It’s a brief moment, lasting no longer than two seconds, but it reinforces a reality that sometimes seems like anything but — her son is a Division I basketball player. “It’s not surreal once in a while; it’s every time we talk about it,” Lori said. “It’s an unbelievable opportunity he’s been given.” Read the full article by Craig Meyer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Feb
17
2017

Catalytic Conveyor Belt

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (February 17, 2017) … Capitalizing on previous studies in self-powered chemo-mechanical movement, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering and Penn State University’s Department of Chemistry have developed a novel method of transporting particles that utilizes chemical reactions to drive fluid flow within microfluidic devices. Their research, “Harnessing catalytic pumps for directional delivery of microparticles in microchambers,” was published today in the journal Nature Communications (DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14384).The computational modeling research was led by Anna C. Balazs, Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at Pitt, with post-doctoral associates Oleg E. Shklyaev and Henry Shum. Experiments at Penn State were conducted by Ayusman Sen, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and graduate students S. Das, A. Altemose, I.Ortiz-Rivera and L. Valdez. Their combined theoretical and experimental findings could enable controllable transport of particles and cells, allowing highly sensitive chemical assays to be performed more rapidly and efficiently.“One of the critical challenges in transporting microparticles within devices is delivering the particle to a specific location,” Dr. Balazs explained. “Much like a conveyor belt in a factory, you want to move the particle within a closed system without any modification to its surface or damage to its structure.”Dr. Balazs noted that in addition to successfully delivering the particles, the other challenges the researchers faced were maintaining unidirectional flow from point A to point B within a closed chamber, and ensuring that a critical concentration of these particles could be delivered to sensors, which only operate above a critical threshold. The solution was to generate a gradient of a chemical reagent by introducing the reagent at one end of the chamber, point A. Enzymes on the surface of the chamber consumed the reagent so that it was completely depleted at the point B. Since the presence of the reagent increases the fluid density, a density gradient was established between points A and B, leading to convective flow that transported particles like a conveyor belt. “Previously, to generate spontaneous propulsion of microparticles, one needed to chemically modify the surface of these particles, thus altering their inherent properties,” Dr. Balazs said. “Moreover, modifying the particle’s surface does not necessarily allow you to direct its motion within the chamber. We were able to predicate through our computational models and demonstrate in the experiments performed at Penn State that the flow generated by the catalytic chemical reaction in the chamber could effectively transport particles to a particular sensor, and could permit control over the speed and direction of the particle transport, without having to use an external pump or any modification of the cargo.”“Utilizing catalytic reactions to drive fluids to controllably transport particulates in solution is a relatively new field, even though it’s what our bodies do at any given moment when converting food to fuel. Replicating it within a synthetic system however is very difficult,” Dr. Sen added. “In our lab, we were able to design a “machine” without the need for a mechanical device that could be used many times over simply by adding fuel to the chamber, while allowing the particle to remain a passive participant along for the ride.” ### Image above: Particles transported along a channel by chemically-driven fluid flow. The flow is generated by reagent entering at one end of the channel (A) and reacting at the enzyme covered surface. The cargo is deposited at position B, which can be controlled by varying the reaction rate. (Oleg E. Shklyaev and Henry Shum)

Feb
15
2017

An Impact on Implants

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH, PA (February 15, 2017) … The National Institutes of Health recently awarded Bryan Brown, assistant professor of bioengineering in the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering, a five-year, $1.54 million R01 grant for his investigation into the immune system response to implanted medical materials.The study, “Assessing the Impact of Macrophage Polarization Upon the Success of Biomaterial Implants,” will build on Brown’s previous studies demonstrating that macrophage M1 and M2 polarization at early time points after the implantation of a biomedical material can predict long-term reactions by the host’s immune system. The information gathered by the study could significantly improve the success of biomaterial implants and minimize the negative response from the patient’s immune system, according to Brown.“Our current tests have shown that the first week of macrophage activity near the host-implant interface can predict the immune system response downstream as far as 90 days,” says Brown. “We have developed methods for modulating macrophage activity, which we will use to understand why and how these early events after implantation serve as a precursor to the lifespan of the implant. Our research is suggesting, contrary to conventional understanding of host-biomaterial interactions, macrophages can be used to encourage positive, long-term outcomes for the implant and the patient.”Macrophages are white blood cells charged with protecting the body from health threats, including foreign bodies like biomaterial implants. When an implant is placed inside the body, the macrophages recognize its presence and can exhibit either a pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory response. Brown and his team have developed methods for observing, measuring and controlling these responses. They will attempt to find optimal designs for biomaterials that not only accommodate the involvement of the immune system but promote positive interaction between the body’s natural defenses and the implanted material. A variety of medical fields rely on the use of biomaterial implants to save and improve the quality of life for patients: orthopedics for joint repair, ophthalmology to restore vision, cardiovascular surgery for heart valve and artery replacement and dentistry for tooth and gum tissue support. Biomaterial implants are also common in the healing of wounds and bone fractures. Brown believes his study will provide researchers with a framework for understanding how the host’s immune system responds to implanted materials and how to use that response to develop more successful procedures for any treatment involving biomaterial implantation. Pamela Moalli, associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Pitt and co-director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Female Pelvic Health; and Stephen Badylak, professor in the Department of Surgery and Deputy Director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, will join Brown on the study as co-investigators.About Dr. BrownDr. Bryan Brown graduated from Pitt with a BS in mechanical engineering in 2005 and a PhD in bioengineering in 2011. He completed his postdoctoral training in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Clinical Sciences at Cornell University. Brown has a secondary appointment in Pitt’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science and is a member of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. He is currently a Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health Scholar at Magee Women’s Research Institute in Pittsburgh and an adjunct assistant professor of clinical sciences at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.Brown is a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society, the Society for Biomaterials, the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS) and the American Urogynecologic Society. He received the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine Young Investigator Award, the TERMIS Educator Award and the Carnegie Science Award. Brown served as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation and for the Carnegie Science Awards. He is on the editorial board of Cells, Tissues, and Organs and Current Pathobiology Reports.The Brown Laboratory works to couple mechanistic understanding of the host inflammatory response in injury and disease with the development of context-dependent biomaterials for regenerative medicine strategies. With emphasis on clinical applications in which few effective solutions currently exist, the Brown Laboratory focuses on unmet needs in women’s health. Recent areas of significant interest are temporomandibular joint disease and pelvic organ prolapse. The Laboratory has received funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute on Aging, National Institute of General Medical Science, Office of Research on Women’s Health and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation. ###
Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Feb
14
2017

A Better Way to Swallow

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (February 14, 2017) … Dysphagia, or swallowing disorders, affects nearly one in 25 adults, especially the elderly and those who have suffered a stroke or neurological disease, and results in approximately 150,000 hospitalizations annually. A patient’s risk for dysphagia is first diagnosed by screening, and may require an endoscopy or fluoroscopy for further evaluation. However, some patients who aspirate do so silently, causing doctors to misdiagnose. To develop an improved screening method for dysphagia, the National Science Foundation awarded a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering a CAREER Award through the NSF’s Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems. Ervin Sejdić, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, received a five-year, $549,139 award to further research using high-resolution vibration and sound recordings that would help doctors diagnose dysphagia and assist patients in improving how to properly swallow while eating or drinking. The CAREER program is the NSF’s most prestigious award for junior faculty who exemplify outstanding research, teaching, and their integration.  Dr. Sejdić, who began this research while a postdoctoral associate at the University of Toronto and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Canada's largest children's rehabilitation hospital, explained that an improved, non-invasive method to detect dysphagia could help to reduce patient risk and hospitalization. “By using modern data analytics we can compare and contrast the sound and vibrations of normal swallowing against patients with dysphagia,” Dr. Sejdić explained. “This allows us to understand how the airway normally protects itself during swallowing to avoid aspiration, and how this is affected during dysphagia, without the need for surgery or intubation.”According to Dr. Sejdić, patients with silent dysphagia may pass a traditional screening, which increases the potential for choking and suffocation. Analyzing the sounds and vibrations from the neck would not only reduce the incidence of silent aspiration, but also the need for conservative recommendations that limit eating and drinking for individuals with neurological disabilities such as multiple sclerosis or ALS. In addition to developing the technology, the award will allow Dr. Sejdić to collaborate with speech language pathologists to develop an online learning module to further education and outreach throughout the U.S. He would also like to utilize the data analysis to design a mobile device that would help patients while eating, but notes that possibility is several years in the future. "Endoscopy and fluoroscopy are still the gold standard for detecting dysphagia,” Dr. Sejdić said. “For now we’re not looking at replacing them but rather enhancing and improving the screening process.” ### About Dr. Sejdić Dr. Sejdić’s research interests include biomedical signal processing, gait analysis, swallowing difficulties, advanced information systems in medicine, rehabilitation engineering, assistive technologies, and anticipatory medical devices. During his undergraduate studies at the University of Western Ontario, Dr. Sejdić specialized in wireless communications, while his PhD project focused on signal processing. These two areas would influence his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering cross-appointed at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, where he focused on rehabilitation engineering and biomedical instrumentation. He was also a research fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School cross-appointed at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he focused on cardiovascular and cerebrovascular monitoring of older diabetic adults. Dr. Sejdić has co-authored over 130 publications and is the co-holder of several patents. In 2016, he was one of four Pitt faculty and 105 researchers nationwide to receive the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Feb
6
2017

A Bridge to Breathing

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (February 6, 2017) … Acute and chronic lung diseases are the most life-threatening causes of hospitalization and death among young children. This is especially true for children suffering from cystic fibrosis. The path to recovery often leads to a lung transplant, but the wait list for pediatric patients can last for months and require lengthy hospital stays anchored to large mechanical ventilators. To safely bridge the time between diagnosis and transplant while allowing patient mobility, a research team led by the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, working with the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, is developing a compact respiratory assist device for children. The Pittsburgh Pediatric Ambulatory Lung (P-PAL) would replace traditional oxygenation methods as a bridge to transplant or recovery in children with lung failure.The proposal, “Ambulatory Assist Lung for Children,” was the recipient of a four-year, $2,357,508 R01 award from the National Institute of Health’s National Heart, Lung, And Blood Institute. Program Director/Principal Investigator is William J. Federspiel, Professor in the Swanson School’s Department of Bioengineering. Co-PIs are William R. Wagner, Director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and Professor of Surgery, Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering at Pitt; and Peter D. Wearden, congenital cardiothoracic surgeon and Department Chair, Division of Cardiovascular Surgery, Department of Cardiovascular Services at the Nemours Children's Health System, Orlando, Florida.“Standard existing therapy not only restricts children’s mobility in the hospital but can also cause lung damage and/or worsening of the child’s health,” Dr. Federspiel explains. “Our new approach allows the patient’s lungs to rest and heal, and if the child is a candidate for lung transplantation, the mobility afforded by the P-PAL will lead to better post-transplant outcomes.”One of P-PAL’s most innovative features is that it will allow young patients to remain mobile in the hospital while under treatment or awaiting transplant. “Pediatric patients can still be active children, and at young ages you don’t want to restrict them to a hospital bed,” Dr. Wagner said. “The P-PAL is a self-contained, minimally-invasive device that can provide children with mobility even while awaiting a transplant.”Co-investigators on the award include Jonathan D’Cunha, Associate Professor of Surgery in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Pitt, and Greg W. Burgreen, Associate Research Professor at the Mississippi State University Bagley College of Engineering. ### Illustration at top: Patient ambulation with the P-PAL (Randal McKenzie Illustrations)

Feb
6
2017

MEMS Advanced Manufacturing Faculty Position

MEMS, Open Positions

The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS) at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) invites applications for a tenure ­track assistant professor or associate professor position in the Advanced Manufacturing area, with a mechanical engineering and/or materials engineering focus. Successful applicants should have the ability to build an externally funded research program, as well as contribute to the teaching mission of the MEMS Department. Applicants should have a PhD or ScD in Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering or a related field. Applicants with outstanding track records at the associate professor level are encouraged to apply. We are seeking applicants who have strong interdisciplinary interests and who can collaborate across engineering disciplines. We are particularly interested in candidates with expertise in joining via techniques such as (but not limited to) laser welding, friction stir welding, ultrasonic welding, and diffusion bonding, by considering complex interactions between processing, phase change, induced stress, etc.  Also of great interest is expertise in design-manufacture-assembly of complex multi-material products through integration of process capability/modeling/control, collected metrology data, and as-manufactured materials and structural characteristics. The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science has 28 tenured or tenure-track faculty members who generate over $6 million in annual research expenditures. The Department maintains cutting-edge experimental and computational facilities in its five core research competencies: advanced manufacturing and design; materials for extreme conditions, biomechanics and medical technologies; modeling and simulation; energy system technologies; and quantitative and in situ materials characterization. The successful candidate for this position will benefit from the resources, support, and a multidisciplinary research environment fostered by the University of Pittsburgh’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (http://www.mascarocenter.pitt.edu), Center for Energy (http://www.energy.pitt.edu) and Center for Simulation and Modeling (http://www.sam.pitt.edu), as well as the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (http://www.psc.edu). Qualified applicants should submit their applications electronically to pitt-mems-search@engr.pitt.edu with AM Search as an identifier. The application should include the following materials in pdf form: a curriculum vitae, a statement of research interests together with a listing of teaching interests, and name and contact information of at least three references. Review of applications will begin on February 15, 2017, and continue until the position is filled. Candidates from groups traditionally underrepresented in engineering are strongly encouraged to apply. The candidate should be committed to high-quality teaching for a diverse student body and to assisting our Department in enhancing diversity. The University of Pittsburgh is an EEO/AA/M/F/Vets/Disabled employer.

AM Search
Feb
6
2017

MEMS High Performance Computing Faculty Position

MEMS, Open Positions

The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS) at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) invites applications for a tenure-track assistant professor or associate professor position in High Performance Computing, with a mechanical engineering focus. Successful applicants should have the ability to build an externally funded research program, as well as contribute to the teaching mission of the Mechanical Engineering programs. Applicants should have a PhD or ScD in Mechanical Engineering or a related field. Applicants with outstanding track records at the associate professor level are encouraged to apply. We are seeking applicants who have strong interdisciplinary interests and who can collaborate across disciplines of engineering. We are particularly interested in candidates with expertise in high-fidelity computational modeling, multi-scale/multi-physics simulations, high-order discretization in complex geometry, or experience in incorporating (big) data into computation with broad applications in engineering. The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science has 28 tenured or tenure-track faculty members who generate over $6 million in annual research expenditures.  The National Research Council (NRC) has recently placed Mechanical Engineering at Pitt as top 20 among public universities.  The Department maintains cutting-edge experimental and computational facilities in its five core research competencies: advanced manufacturing and design; materials for extreme conditions, biomechanics and medical technologies; modeling and simulation; energy system technologies; and quantitative and in situ materials characterization. The successful candidate for this position will benefit from the resources, support, and a multidisciplinary research environment fostered by the University of Pittsburgh’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (http://www.mascarocenter.pitt.edu), Center for Energy (http://www.energy.pitt.edu) and Center for Simulation and Modeling (http://www.sam.pitt.edu), as well as the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (http://www.psc.edu). Qualified applicants should submit their applications electronically to pitt-mems-search@engr.pitt.edu with HPC Search as an identifier. The application should include the following materials in pdf form: a curriculum vitae, a statement of research interests together with a listing of teaching interests, and name and contact information of at least three references. Review of applications will begin on February 15, 2017, and continue until the position is filled. Candidates from groups traditionally underrepresented in engineering are strongly encouraged to apply. The candidate should be committed to high-quality teaching for a diverse student body and to assisting our Department in enhancing diversity. The University of Pittsburgh is an EEO/AA/M/F/Vets/Disabled employer.

HPC Search
Feb
2
2017

Life-cycle assessment study provides detailed look at decentralized water systems

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (February 2, 2017) … The “decentralized” water system at the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, which treats all non-potable water on site, contributes to the net-zero building’s recognition as one of the greenest buildings in the world. However, research into the efficacy of these systems versus traditional treatment is practically non-existent in the literature. Thanks to a collaboration between Phipps and the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, researchers now have a greater understanding of the life cycle of water reuse systems designed for living buildings, from construction through day-to-day use.“Evaluating the Life Cycle Environmental Benefits and Trade-Offs of Water Reuse Systems for Net-Zero Buildings,” published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology (DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b03879), is the first-of-its-kind research utilizing life-cycle assessment (LCA). Co-authored by Melissa M. Bilec, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt and deputy director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (MCSI), collaborators at Phipps included Richard Piacentini, executive director; and Jason Wirick, director of facilities and sustainability management. Pitt PhD graduate student, Vaclav Hasik, and Pitt undergraduate, Naomi Anderson, were first and second authors, respectively. “As water becomes more of a precious resource around the globe, there is a greater focus on developing new methods of water efficiency and water conservation,” Dr. Bilec said. “We’ve worked closely with Richard and Phipps since the CSL was first designed, and its decentralized water system provides a unique opportunity to explore how these strategies can be an alternative to traditional systems.”According to Dr. Bilec, LCA scientifically analyzes the environmental impact of a product or process throughout the entire life cycle, from the materials used to build a system, to their transportation, construction, use, and, eventually, the estimated end of life. Although LCA has been used to compare centralized and decentralized water systems in different contexts, the Phipps CSL research is the first to consider both water supply and treatment at a comprehensive site or in the context of a net-zero energy/water building. “Using groundbreaking processes in the building of the CSL has allowed us to work with Pitt to conduct research and learn about their efficacy, and will allow others to use this knowledge to advance their own work,” said Mr. Piacentini, Phipps executive director. “The only way to make a difference is by providing the resources for others to succeed.”Dr. Bilec noted that while the research found that a decentralized water system operates well for a facility like the CSL, the environmental benefits or trade-offs for such systems are dependent upon their lifetime of use, and may not necessarily be practical or environmentally preferable.  For example, a similar system might be more environmentally and economically efficient for a development of multiple homes or buildings, rather than one structure. Conversely, the relative impact of a decentralized system built in a water-scarce region may be more beneficial than its environmental footprint. The decision of what water system to build and its scale, she says, should be evaluated within the context of the entire life of the structure or site it supports.She also noted that research such as this is valuable because of the community-minded approach shared between Pitt, MCSI and Phipps, and its impact on students. For example, PhD candidate Vaclav Hasik is utilizing the CSL study to inform his dissertation on resilient and sustainable systems, while summer undergraduate Mascaro Center researcher, Naomi E. Anderson, was a key participant, illustrating the success of MCSI’s summer program.“The CSL at Phipps is a tremendous case study because it has achieved four of the most sought-after awards in sustainable construction,” Dr. Bilec noted. “Richard, his board and employees are incredibly forward-thinking and committed to not only the concept of a living building but also supporting its evolution through research, and that makes Phipps a wonderful collaborator. Opportunities such as this not only advance research in the field, but also provide a tremendous experience and inspiration for students.” Other co-authors of “Evaluating the Life Cycle Environmental Benefits and Trade-Offs of Water Reuse Systems for Net-Zero Buildings” include William O. Collinge, postdoctoral associate, University of Pittsburgh; Vikas Khanna, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, University of Pittsburgh; Amy E. Landis, the Thomas F. Hash '69 Endowed Chair Professor, Glenn Department of Civil Engineering at Clemson University; and Cassandra L. Thiel, former postdoctoral associate, now assistant professor, New York University Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. ### Image above: The Center for Sustainable Landscapes exterior with constructed wetlands and lagoon at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Credit: Denmarsh Photography Inc. Image below: Diagram representing water circulation at the Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes. Reprinted with permission from "Evaluating the Life Cycle Environmental Benefits and Trade-Offs of Water Reuse Systems for Net-Zero Buildings," Environmental Science & Technology. Copyright 2017, American Chemical Society.
For information on Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, contact Connie George, Director of Marketing and Communications: 412-622-6915 ext. 3801 (market@phipps.conservatory.org)
Feb
1
2017

University of Pittsburgh set to launch Master of Science in Sustainable Engineering major and professional degree this summer

All SSoE News, Civil & Environmental, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (February 1, 2017) … Answering a demand for professional programs that help students find sustainable solutions to regional and global engineering issues, the University of Pittsburgh this summer has designed a new Master of Science in Sustainable Engineering (MSSE) program. The major and professional degree will utilize a systems-based approach to help students identify and address complex environmental and socioeconomic problems.Housed within the University’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (MCSI) with the degree granted from the Swanson School of Engineering, the 30-credit MSSE integrates with nine current masters’ degree programs in engineering, and provides students the opportunity to complete two M.S. degree programs with a limited time increase. The MSSE curriculum combines an engineering technical formation with the study of sustainability from multiple perspectives such as business, policy and economics. “Sustainability is integrated throughout our engineering curriculum, especially at the undergraduate level, and this new master’s program complements and builds upon this foundation,” noted Eric J. Beckman, Distinguished Service Professor and MCSI Co-Director. “Industry, government, non-profits and even the military today understand that sustainability impacts the triple bottom line of environmental, societal, and economic problems, and is much more than recycling materials or “going green.” The MSSE will give our students a distinct advantage in pursuing sustainable solutions in various professional settings.”According to Dr. Beckman, the MSSE may also integrate community-based service-learning opportunities to help students develop regional and nationally scalable sustainability solutions. This provides students with experiences that enable them to address actual issues up close while learning to communicate sustainability issues and solutions to multiple audiences.“MCSI has a proven track record in connecting faculty research with underserved populations in the Pittsburgh region, and so this degree program will not be limited to the classroom and lab, but will also reach out into the communities that Pitt serves,” Dr. Beckman said. “Sustainability is a global issue, but its strength lies in community engagement and helping the average person understand how sustainability impacts daily life.” For more information, contact David Sanchez, Assistant Professor Civil and Environmental Engineering and MCSI Assistant Director for Education and Outreach at davidsanchez@pitt.edu or 412-624-9793. ###

Feb
1
2017

CEE’s Leanne Gilbertson Wins 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH, PA (February 1, 2017) … Leanne Gilbertson, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, is a recipient of the 2017 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award, which recognizes outstanding faculty on the basis of research, experience and academic leadership.“I am honored and grateful for the support from 3M, which comes at a critical point in my early career,” Gilbertson says. In addition to the recognition, the award provides financial support of $15,000 annually, for a total of three years, and includes an invitation to 3M’s Science & Engineering Faculty Day in June. Funds may be used for any purpose related to basic research. The 3M company established the Non-Tenured Faculty Award to encourage the pursuit of new ideas among non-tenured university professors and gives them the opportunity to interact with their peers and 3M researchers.Dr. Gilbertson’s research group is engaged in projects aimed at informing sustainable design of existing and novel materials to avoid potential unintended environmental and human health consequences while maintaining functional performance goals. Her research includes both experimental and life cycle modeling thrusts. The 3M award will support a new research direction focused on ‘Leveraging Nanomaterial Design for Next Generation Antimicrobials.’   Dr. Gilbertson earned her PhD in environmental engineering from Yale University in 2014 with support from a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and an Environmental Protection Agency Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Fellowship. She joined Pitt in 2015 after completing her postdoctoral research in Yale’s Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering and the Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering. Dr. Gilbertson received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Hamilton College in 2007 and was a secondary school teacher for several years before going to graduate school. ###
Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Feb
1
2017

ASCE Pittsburgh Names Andrew Bunger 2016 Professor of the Year

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH, PA (February 1, 2017) … The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has chosen Andrew Bunger, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, as the 2016 Professor of the Year for the Pittsburgh Section. Bunger will receive the award at the Pittsburgh Section’s Engineer’s Week Banquet on February 18 at the Engineer’s Society of Western Pennsylvania.The ASCE Section Award Committee stated it selected Bunger for his continual excellence in teaching, contribution to professional guidance and the development of civil engineering students by reinvigorating the geotechnical engineering program at the University of Pittsburgh, among other criteria.Bunger’s research interests include the mechanics of hydraulic fractures, interaction between shale formations and drilling fluids, the emplacement dynamics of magma intrusions, core discing and poroelasticity. His experience includes research for the oil and gas industry, geothermal industry, mining industries and carbon sequestration.The National Science Foundation also recognized Bunger earlier this year by awarding him a $310,000 grant to study how naturally-occurring dikes swarms can lead to improved methods of oil and gas reservoir stimulation. The study will look at the 1,900-mile-long Mackenzie Dike Swarm and other ancient geological features to determine the mechanics of the self-organizing behavior within swarms. Bunger will investigate why naturally occurring dike swarms organize themselves uniformly across great distances, but man-made cracks associated with hydraulic fracturing tend to localize to one or two dominant strands.Bunger received his PhD and MSc in geological engineering from the University of Minnesota. He also received a bachelor’s degree in geological engineering from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor of arts degree in physics/engineering science from Bethel University. He has a second appointment in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at Pitt. ###
Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

Jan

Jan
30
2017

Wearing a New Coat: Forbes Names Two Pitt Engineering Alumni “30 Under 30” in Manufacturing & Industry

Bioengineering, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH, PA (January 30, 2017) … With the new year comes a new class of honorees for Forbes’ 30 Under 30 ranking of young innovators and visionaries, and this year University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering alumni Noah Snyder and Kasey Catt were recognized for their work as founders of a coating and surface treatment startup. However, as with most entrepreneurs, they found that the trials and tribulations to bring one idea to fruition would actually serve as a lesson to bring a more successful product to market. The idea for their company, Interphase Materials, started while Snyder and Catt were doctoral candidates in Pitt’s bioengineering program. They worked in the Neural Tissue Engineering Lab (NTE Lab) under advisor Tracy Cui, William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Bioengineering at Pitt. “At the NTE Lab we investigate interactions between neural tissue and smart biomaterials,” explains Cui. “We research new tools to improve the performance of neural recording devices when implanted in tissue. Noah and Kasey, who we are proud to have as lab alumni, had a great impact on our research, but they had aspirations to take concepts from the lab and apply them directly to patients or other people in need.”After participation in Pitt’s Coulter Translational Research Partners II Program, Snyder caught the entrepreneurial bug. He invited Catt to join him in the Innovation Institute’s Startup Pittblitz—a weekend-long dash for Pitt students to take a new business or product and make it ready to pitch to investors by Sunday afternoon. The two came up with an idea to apply a technology from their lab to the development of anti-microbial brain implants.“The scientific approach of collecting lots of data and analyzing every detail differs greatly from the entrepreneurial mentality,” says Snyder. “When I started participating in some of the entrepreneurial programs offered at Pitt, I knew I wanted to take what we were working on in the lab and find a way to make it marketable, even if it meant making a lot of assumptions and discovering new things along the way.”Their experience with Pittblitz encouraged them to enter the Randall Family Big Idea Competition, an annual startup competition helping Pitt students commercialize their ideas. Snyder and Catt tweaked their business plan to focus on dental implants and won the competition’s $25,000 top prize. They then entered Blast Furnace, a business accelerator for Pitt students, and won another first prize at the Wells Competition, both of which are offered by the Innovation Institute. At this time, they decided to make a critical pivot to the business. “We realized registering dental implants with the Food and Drug Administration would be a long and difficult process. We also didn’t want to give away parts of the company to investors, so we knew we had to come up with something that would be self-sustaining in a short period of time. We wanted to make an impact on the world in two years, not 20,” says Snyder.Snyder and Catt believed the technology behind the anti-microbial implants could also be used to develop a biochemical additive to prevent things like algae, mold and fungus from contaminating a wide variety of surfaces. They turned their eyes toward industry solutions and were accepted into Alphalab Gear, an early-stage seed investment fund supported by the state. They officially launched Interphase Materials with Snyder serving as CEO and president and Catt as the CTO.From Inside the Brain to Outside the BoxInterphase Materials began promoting an industrial coating that protected pipelines, bridges and boats from contamination by marine life. According to Snyder, they quickly found a large potential market in tube and pipe coatings used for cooling power plants. They attracted the attention of construction and manufacturing companies, but their reputation didn’t stop there. The United States Navy offered them a contract to develop coating solutions for nuclear submarines. Although they are trying to balance all of the possibilities for Interphase Materials with a focused business model, Snyder says he’s happy where the business is right now—in terms of both growth and geographical location.“Kasey and I both have roots in western Pennsylvania, and we wanted to keep the company in the region,” explains Snyder. “Pittsburgh is one of the best places to be for the coating industry. PPG Industries, the largest coating company in the world, is headquartered here. Four of the top five largest coating companies internationally are located in Pennsylvania and Ohio. There is a huge talent pool. It’s like the Silicon Valley of advanced materials.”The Forbes 30 Under 30 list comprises 20 industries, ranging from science and technology to art and entertainment, and seeks to “embrace the optimism, inventiveness and boldness of youth.” Tasked with investigating more than 15,000 applicants, a team of 80 judges and 50 staff reporters and editors made the final decisions about the honorees. “After submitting the application to Forbes, I noticed my LinkedIn profile was getting a lot more views by people associated with the magazine,” Snyder says. “I think they were initially interested in us because we started out with brain implants and ended up working on nuclear subs, but all of the information about our business online helped. The University did a good job of supporting us and showcasing us along the way, which also helped us to realize that we could succeed. A lot of people were counting on us at Pitt. Now we have a whole new set of expectations we want to live up to.”Snyder and Catt continue to collaborate with researchers at the University of Pittsburgh on the development of medical implants that are more compatible with the body and the immune system; however, their primary focus, Snyder admits, is the success of Interphase Materials. ### Photo above: Noah Snyder (left) and Kasey Catt.
Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jan
30
2017

Swanson School well-represented among recipients of 2017 Chancellor’s Innovation Commercialization Funds from the Innovation Institute

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (January 30, 2017) ... The University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute has awarded $140,000 to four Pitt Innovator teams to help them move their discoveries towards commercialization, where they can make a positive impact on society. The Chancellor’s Innovation Commercialization Funds were established to provide support for promising early-stage Pitt innovations to assist in reducing the technical and/or market risk associated with the innovations and make them more attractive to investors or potential licensees. One of the paths for identifying funding opportunities is through a request for proposal program that was launched in November of 2016 and recently culminated in these awards. “We are thrilled to be able to provide these funds to entrepreneurial Pitt faculty and graduate students to help expedite their commercialization journey,” said Marc Malandro, Founding Director of the Innovation Institute. “Often the most difficult hurdle to climb for commercializing University research is providing so-called ‘gap’ funding that can bridge the space between a promising idea and a marketable product.” The teams were selected by a panel of judges from a pool of two dozen applicants that was narrowed into a group of 10 finalists. The judges included several members of the region’s innovation and entrepreneurship community. They included: Nehal Bhojak – Director of Innovation, Idea Foundry Malcolm Handelsman – President, Pittsburgh Chapter, Keiretsu Forum Jim Jordan – President, Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse Andy Kuzneski – President, Kuzneski Financial Group Rich Lunak – President & CEO, InnovationWorks Mike Stubler — Managing Director, Draper Triangle Ventures “There were an impressive array of technologies presented by the finalists for the Chancellor’s Innovation Commercialization Funds. The business applications ranged from novel technologies for cancer therapy and biosensors for congestive heart failure to next generation LED displays and water desalination solutions.  The projects demonstrate not only the breadth of the University of Pittsburgh’s research prowess, but also the excellent coaching and preparation the innovators received from Pitt’s Innovation Institute,” Lunak said. Two awards of $35,000 each were made for innovations with a one-to-one matching partner: Thermoresponsive Hydrogel for Orbital Volume Augmentation Morgan Fedorchak, Assistant Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, Chemical Engineering and Clinical and Translational Science and Jenny Yu, Assistant Professor and Vice Chair, Clinical Operations Department of Ophthalmology, have discovered a non-degradable hydrogel material that can be injected into the orbit of the eye following ocular trauma or as a treatment for genetic eye disorders. The material can also be used to administer anti-inflammatory or antibiotic medications. The funding will be used to provide proof-of-concept studies. Data from the successful completion of the studies will better position the innovation for application to the Department of Defense for funding to explore the therapeutic potential of the technology. Matching funds will come from the University of Pittsburgh Center for Military Medicine Research, whose mission is to address combat-related injuries. Body Explorer: Autonomous Simulated Patient Douglas Nelson Jr. doctoral candidate in the Department of Bioengineering, John O’Donnell, Professor & Chair Department of Nurse Anesthesia, and Joseph Samosky, Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering have developed a mannequin medical simulator with projected augmented reality for training medical professionals in anatomy, physiology and clinical procedures. The team has previously participated in the Coulter Translational Partners II program and the Idea Foundry’s Science Accelerator to advance prototype development and usability testing. The new funding will assist in improving the user interface and expanding the BodyExplorer curriculum modules. Click here to see a video describing their invention. Idea Foundry is providing 1:1 matching cash support, in addition to $25,000 of additional in-kind support to assist in securing additional investment. Two projects received $35,000 awards without a matching requirement. Nano-LED Technology for Microdisplays Hong Koo Kim, Bell of PA/Bell Atlantic Professor, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and doctoral student Daud Hasan Emon have developed nano LED structures that have lower energy costs and longer battery life than existing LED technology. Applications include mobile device displays and other micro-display devices. The new funding will support the advancement of prototypes to demonstrate the breadth of the optimal applications. Reactive Extraction of Water: Desalination Without Membranes or Distillation Eric Beckman, Distinguished Service Professor of Chemical Engineering, has developed a chemical method for desalinating water that requires less energy than the longstanding existing methods such as reverse osmosis or flash distillation. The award will fund testing to validate the technology. Malandro said the Innovation Institute is working with those teams not chosen in this funding round to receive other education and funding opportunities to advance their discoveries. The Pitt Ventures Gear Program is an NSF I-Corps Site participant that provides an initial grant of $3,000 for teams to conduct customer discovery and value proposition activities. At the conclusion of each six-week First Gear cohort, teams pitch their ideas for the opportunity to receive from $5,000 to $20,000 from the Chancellor’s Innovation Commercialization Funds program. The teams are also eligible to apply for a second round of NSF funding of up to $50,000 from the national I-Corps program. The next First Gear cohort begins February 14, 2017. Applications are due February 1. Click here to learn more and apply. ###
Mike Yeomans, Marketing & Special Events Manager, Innovation Institute
Jan
19
2017

Geosciences-Inspired Engineering

Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (January 19, 2017) … The Mackenzie Dike Swarm, an ancient geological feature covering an area more than 300 miles wide and 1,900 miles long beneath Canada from the Arctic to the Great Lakes, is the largest dike swarm on Earth. Formed more than one billion years ago, the swarm’s geology discloses insights into major magmatic events and continental breakup. The Mackenzie Dike Swarm and the roughly 120 other known giant dike swarms located across the planet may also provide useful information about efficient extraction of oil and natural gas in today’s modern world. To explore how naturally-occurring dike swarms can lead to improved methods of oil and gas reservoir stimulation, the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Earth Sciences awarded a $310,000 award to Andrew Bunger, assistant professor in the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering. Dike swarms are the result of molten rock (magma) rising from depth and then driving cracks through the Earth’s crust. Dike swarms exhibit a self-organizing behavior that allows hundreds of individual dikes to fan out across large distances. Although petroleum engineers desire to achieve the same effect when creating hydraulic fractures for stimulation of oil and gas production, the industrial hydraulic fractures appear far more likely to localize to only one or two dominant strands. This localization leaves 30-40 percent of most reservoirs in an unproductive state, representing an inefficient use of resources and leading to unnecessary intensity of oil and gas development. In the study, “Self-Organization Mechanisms within Magma-Driven Dyke and Hydraulic Fracture Swarms,” Bunger will take a novel approach to understanding the mechanics of fluid-driven cracks, which he refers to as “geosciences-inspired engineering.” Like the growing field of biologically-inspired engineering, Bunger will be looking to processes in the natural world to better understand the constructed or engineered world. “I would like to challenge myself and the geoscience community to look at naturally occurring morphologies with the eye of an engineer,” says Bunger. “The first part of the study will involve developing a mechanical model to explain the behavior of the dike swarms. We are borrowing from a theoretical framework developed in biology called ‘swarm theory,’ which explains the self-organizing behavior of groups of animals.” Swarm theory, or swarm intelligence, refers to naturally and artificially occurring complex systems with no centralized control structure. The individual agents in the system exhibit simple or even random behavior, but collectively the group achieves emergent, or “intelligent,” behavior. “One of the hallmarks of self-organizing behavior within swarms was recognized by swarm theory’s earliest proponents, who were actually motivated by developing algorithms to simulate flocks and herds in computer animation,” Bunger explains. “They proposed that all swarming behavior can be tied to the presence of three basic forces. One of these leads to alignment of the members with each other – it is what makes a flocking bird fly in the same direction as its neighbors. A second force is associated with repulsion – it keeps birds within a flock from running into each other and knocking each other out of the air. The third force is attraction – an often instinctive desire of certain animals to be near other animals of their own species, typically for protection from predators.” “If you look at dike swarms,” Bunger continues, “They have been called ‘swarms’ for decades, but there has never been an effort to identify the mechanical origins of the three forces that are known to be present any place that swarming morphology is observed. When we view dikes in this way, we see that the alignment and repulsive forces have been recognized for years, although never placed in the broader context of their role in swarming. However, the origin of the attractive force is problematic. Why do all these dikes have any mechanical impetus to grow near each other? Because the mechanical origin of the attractive force has not been known, it is unclear why natural fluid-driven cracks – dikes – tend to exhibit swarming behavior while such an outcome is far less commonly observed in man-made fluid-driven cracks associated with hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas reservoirs.” “We will use computational models and analogue experiments, which use artificial materials to simulate the Earth’s processes, to develop a new theory of fluid-driven crack swarms,” says Bunger. “Through this advance, we would like to improve the stimulation methods used for oil and gas production. This will be a win-win for both industry and our society that depends upon the energy resources they produce. Industry will benefit from more efficient methods, and society will benefit from lower energy costs and a decreased environmental footprint associated with resource extraction.” In addition to a deeper understanding of the geological process that occur throughout Earth’s history, Bunger also sees his research impacting planetary research of Mars and Venus. Both rocky planets contain a large number of giant dike swarms. Understanding how the geometry of dike swarms relates to the conditions in the Earth’s crust at the time of emplacement will lead to a new method for ascertaining the little-known geological structure and history of Mars and Venus though analysis of the geometry of their many giant dike swarms. ### Photo above: Dr. Bunger in his Benedum Hall lab with the newly-installed compression frame he uses to simulate the high-stress environment deep inside the Earth.
Author: Matthew Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jan
17
2017

“Geosciences-Inspired Engineering”

Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH, PA (January 17, 2017) … The Mackenzie Dike Swarm, an ancient geological feature covering an area more than 300 miles wide and 1,900 miles long beneath Canada from the Arctic to the Great Lakes, is the largest dike swarm on Earth. Formed more than one billion years ago, the swarm’s geology discloses insights into major magmatic events and continental breakup. The Mackenzie Dike Swarm and the roughly 120 other known giant dike swarms located across the planet may also provide useful information about efficient extraction of oil and natural gas in today’s modern world. To explore how naturally-occurring dike swarms can lead to improved methods of oil and gas reservoir stimulation, the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Earth Sciences awarded a $310,000 award to Andrew Bunger, assistant professor in the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering. Dike swarms are the result of molten rock (magma) rising from depth and then driving cracks through the Earth’s crust. Dike swarms exhibit a self-organizing behavior that allows hundreds of individual dikes to fan out across large distances. Although petroleum engineers desire to achieve the same effect when creating hydraulic fractures for stimulation of oil and gas production, the industrial hydraulic fractures appear far more likely to localize to only one or two dominant strands. This localization leaves 30-40 percent of most reservoirs in an unproductive state, representing an inefficient use of resources and leading to unnecessary intensity of oil and gas development. In the study, “Self-Organization Mechanisms within Magma-Driven Dyke and Hydraulic Fracture Swarms,” Bunger will take a novel approach to understanding the mechanics of fluid-driven cracks, which he refers to as “geosciences-inspired engineering.” Like the growing field of biologically-inspired engineering, Bunger will be looking to processes in the natural world to better understand the constructed or engineered world.“I would like to challenge myself and the geoscience community to look at naturally occurring morphologies with the eye of an engineer,” says Bunger. “The first part of the study will involve developing a mechanical model to explain the behavior of the dike swarms. We are borrowing from a theoretical framework developed in biology called ‘swarm theory,’ which explains the self-organizing behavior of groups of animals.” Swarm theory, or swarm intelligence, refers to naturally and artificially occurring complex systems with no centralized control structure. The individual agents in the system exhibit simple or even random behavior, but collectively the group achieves emergent, or “intelligent,” behavior.“One of the hallmarks of self-organizing behavior within swarms was recognized by swarm theory’s earliest proponents, who were actually motivated by developing algorithms to simulate flocks and herds in computer animation,” Bunger explains. “They proposed that all swarming behavior can be tied to the presence of three basic forces. One of these leads to alignment of the members with each other – it is what makes a flocking bird fly in the same direction as its neighbors. A second force is associated with repulsion – it keeps birds within a flock from running into each other and knocking each other out of the air. The third force is attraction – an often instinctive desire of certain animals to be near other animals of their own species, typically for protection from predators.”“If you look at dike swarms,” Bunger continues, “They have been called ‘swarms’ for decades, but there has never been an effort to identify the mechanical origins of the three forces that are known to be present any place that swarming morphology is observed. When we view dikes in this way, we see that the alignment and repulsive forces have been recognized for years, although never placed in the broader context of their role in swarming. However, the origin of the attractive force is problematic. Why do all these dikes have any mechanical impetus to grow near each other? Because the mechanical origin of the attractive force has not been known, it is unclear why natural fluid-driven cracks – dikes – tend to exhibit swarming behavior while such an outcome is far less commonly observed in man-made fluid-driven cracks associated with hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas reservoirs.”“We will use computational models and analogue experiments, which use artificial materials to simulate the Earth’s processes, to develop a new theory of fluid-driven crack swarms,” says Bunger. “Through this advance, we would like to improve the stimulation methods used for oil and gas production. This will be a win-win for both industry and our society that depends upon the energy resources they produce. Industry will benefit from more efficient methods, and society will benefit from lower energy costs and a decreased environmental footprint associated with resource extraction.”In addition to a deeper understanding of the geological process that occur throughout Earth’s history, Bunger also sees his research impacting planetary research of Mars and Venus. Both rocky planets contain a large number of giant dike swarms. Understanding how the geometry of dike swarms relates to the conditions in the Earth’s crust at the time of emplacement will lead to a new method for ascertaining the little-known geological structure and history of Mars and Venus though analysis of the geometry of their many giant dike swarms. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jan
10
2017

Pitt’s Center for Medical Innovation awards four novel biomedical devices with $77,500 total Round-2 2016 Pilot Funding

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Industrial

PITTSBURGH (January 10, 2017) … The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) awarded grants totaling $77,500 to four research groups through its 2016 Round-2 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development. The latest funding proposals include a new technology for treatment of diabetes, a medical device for emergency intubation, an innovative method for bone regeneration, and a novel approach for implementing vascular bypass grafts. CMI, a University Center housed in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering (SSOE), supports applied technology projects in the early stages of development with “kickstart” funding toward the goal of transitioning the research to clinical adoption. CMI leadership evaluates proposals based on 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. “This is our fifth year of pilot funding, and our leadership team could not be more excited with the breadth and depth of this round’s awardees,” said Alan D. Hirschman, PhD, CMI Executive Director. “This early-stage interdisciplinary research helps to develop highly specific biomedical technologies through a proven strategy of linking UPMC’s clinicians and surgeons with the Swanson School’s engineering faculty.” AWARD 1: Intrapancreatic Lipid Nanoparticles to Treat DiabetesAward for further development and testing of use of lipid nanoparticle technology for the induction of α-to-β-cell transdifferentiation to treat diabetes. George Gittes, MDDepartment of Surgery University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Kathryn Whitehead, PhDDepartment of Chemical Engineering Carnegie Mellon University (Secondary appointment at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine) AWARD 2: The Esophocclude - Medical Device for temporary occlusion of the esophagus in patients requiring emergent intubationContinuation award for further refinement of the Esophocclude Medical Device using human cadaver testing to simulate emergency intubation.Philip Carullo, MDResident, PGY-1 Department of Anesthesiology University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Youngjae Chun, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Industrial Engineering Department of Bioengineering (Secondary) University of Pittsburgh AWARD 3: RegenMatrix - Collagen-mimetic Bioactive Hydrogels for Bone RegenerationContinuation award for fully automating the hydrogel fabrication process, for animal studies and for fine-tuning related innovations. Shilpa Sant, PhDAssistant Professor Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences Department of Bioengineering University of Pittsburgh Akhil Patel, MS Graduate Student Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences University of Pittsburgh Yadong Wang, PhD Professor Department of Bioengineering University of Pittsburgh Sachin Velankar, PhDAssociate Professor Department of Chemical Engineering University of Pittsburgh Charles Sfeir, DDS, PhD Associate Professor Department of Oral Biology University of Pittsburgh AWARD 4: TopoGraft 2.0 - Anti-platelet surfaces for bypass grafts and artificial hearts using topo-graphic surface actuationContinuation award for in-vivo validating of results and developing a new approach for topographic actuation of the inner lumen of synthetic bypass grafts. Sachin Velankar, PhD Department of Chemical Engineering University of Pittsburgh Luka Pocivavsak, MD, PhD Department of Surgery University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Edith Tzeng, MD Department of Surgery University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Robert Kormos, MD Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery University of Pittsburgh Medical Center 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 $900,000 since inception. ###
Author: Yash P. Mokashi, Fellow, Center for Medical Innovation
Jan
9
2017

PITT BIOE WELCOMES THREE NEW FACULTY MEMBERS

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (January 9, 2017) … The University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering has announced that Jonathan Vande Geest, Mark Gartner and Warren Ruder have joined its faculty in the Department of Bioengineering. Vande Geest formerly taught at the University of Arizona, and Ruder taught at Virginia Tech. Gartner will be moving from part-time to full-time status within Pitt.“All three of our new faculty members in the Bioengineering Department have proven to be outstanding educators with an excellent mix of experiences inside and outside of the classroom to aid them in teaching our students,” said Sanjeev Shroff, Distinguished Professor and Gerald McGinnis Chair of Bioengineering at Pitt. Jonathan Vande GeestDr. Vande Geest received his BS in biomedical engineering from the University of Iowa in 2000 and his PhD in bioengineering from Pitt in 2005. After graduation, Vande Geest began his career at the University of Arizona in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering and joined the Department of Biomedical Engineering in 2009. Vande Geest held positions as an assistant and associate professor while at the University of Arizona.In Arizona, Vande Geest led the Soft Tissue Biomechanics Laboratory (STBL), which aims to develop and utilize novel experimental computational bioengineering approaches to study the structure function relationships of soft tissues in human growth, remodeling and disease. The STBL has also devoted significant effort to the development of novel endovascular medical devices. Advances in bioengineering are established in the STBL by seamlessly bringing together state of the art techniques in tissue fabrication, nonlinear optical microscopy, finite element modeling and cell mechanobiology. Current projects in the STBL are focused on neurodegenerative diseases, including primary open angle glaucoma and vocal fold paralysis, as well as the development of a compliance matched tissue engineered vascular graft.Vande Geest is a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the Association of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Physiological Society. Vande Geest’s prior National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award focused on the development of a novel smart polymer based patient specific endovascular device for treating abdominal aortic aneurysms. His laboratory has been funded by more than $4 million in extramural grants from the National Institutes of Health, NSF, AHA and various industrial partners. In 2013, Vande Geest was awarded the Y. C. Fung Young Investigator Award—a society wide medal awarded by the Bioengineering Division of ASME to recognize those demonstrating significant potential to make substantial contributions to the field of bioengineering. In 2015, he became chair of the ASME Bioengineering Division Solids Technical Committee and was selected as a member of the Western States Affiliates Research Committee for AHA. He also currently serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Biomechanical Engineering.Mark GartnerDr. Gartner received his PhD in bioengineering and his ME degree in mechanical and biomedical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. He also earned an MBA in finance and entrepreneurship and his BS in mechanical engineering from Pitt. Beginning his career in medical product design and development, Gartner worked as a clinical bioengineer in the mechanical circulatory support program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. His work included clinical care of patients supported by various types of mechanical circulatory support devices, including total artificial heart and ventricular assist devices. He later designed several types of integrated pump-oxygenator devices and became the director of the Pittsburgh chronic artificial lung program. Gartner’s direct clinical experiences with advanced medical technologies encouraged his interest in the unique design requirements of medical products, and he co-founded Ension, Inc., in 2001. He oversees several medical product development initiatives at Ension, including serving as principal investigator on grants and contracts, most notably, the National Institute of Health’s recent Pumps for Kids, Neonate and Infants (PumpKIN) effort.Gartner developed, and has since taught, the Senior Design course in Pitt’s Department of Bioengineering. The two-semester capstone course requires bioengineering students to synthesize and extend principles from prior coursework toward the design or redesign of medical products. He remains particularly interested in cross disciplinary, non-traditional engineering education opportunities. Gartner received the Outstanding Teaching award from the Department of Bioengineering in 2011 and the Outstanding Part-time Instructor award from the Swanson School in 2015. He has more than 20 years of teaching experience.Warren RuderDr. Ruder graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a BS in civil and environmental engineering in 2002. He completed his MS in mechanical engineering and his PhD in biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Ruder was also part of the inaugural “Biomechanics in Regenerative Medicine” class, which is a joint program between Pitt and CMU that receives funding from the National Institutes of Health and aims to provide training in biomechanical engineering principles and biology to students pursuing doctoral degrees in bioengineering.His work focuses on merging biomechanical systems and the microscale and nanoscale with engineering living cells and smart material systems, the latter of which involves synthetic biology. Over the years his research has included: two years of research on mammalian cell signal transduction in the laboratory of Professor Aldebaran Hofer at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Surgery; one month in the field in Antarctica studying organismal biomechanics and responses to ice encapsulation (a field of ecological mechanics); and two and a half years as a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Professor James Collins, at Boston University, Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Ruder left his position as an assistant professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech to teach at Pitt as a Bioengineering Assistant Professor. For the past four years at Virginia Tech, Ruder directed the “Engineered Living Systems Laboratory,” a group focused on merging synthetic biology with biomimetic systems. He has published 20 archival papers in journals such as Science, PNAS, Lab-on-a-Chip and Scientific Reports, and his group’s work has been highlighted in Popular Science, Popular Mechanics and Wired (UK). The student honor society in his department at Virginia Tech selected Ruder as his department’s “Faculty Member of the Year” in 2014. While at Pitt, Ruder will be applying his work to medical technologies and cures for disease. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jan
4
2017

CEE Graduate Student Lisa Stabryla Inducted into Carson Scholarship Fund Hall of Fame

Civil & Environmental

BALTIMORE, MD (January 4, 2017) … The Carson Scholars Fund (CSF) has announced Lisa Stabryla, graduate researcher and teaching assistant in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, will enter its second class of inductees to the Carson Scholars Hall of Fame. Stabryla will join four other Carson Scholar Alumni at the Maryland Awards Banquet in spring 2017 for recognition of their success and excellence in professional, academic and community efforts.The CSF has an alumni network of more than 4,000 members and introduced the Hall of Fame with 20 inductees last year in celebration of its 20th anniversary. Stabryla received a $1,000 college scholarship from CSF in 2010 for academic excellence and her dedication to serving the community. She earned a B.S. in engineering science from Pitt and is currently pursuing a PhD in environmental engineering under the advisory of Dr. Leanne Gilbertson, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering.“We are very proud of Lisa and delighted that her dedication as a student, researcher, teacher, mentor and leader continues to be recognized by the Carson Scholars Fund,” said Gilbertson.About Lisa StabrylaStabryla joined Dr. Gilbertson’s lab in 2016 as a graduate researcher and teaching assistant. Previously she worked as an undergraduate student researcher in the Bibby Lab and the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (MCSI). During a co-operative education position with Cardno ChemRisk in Pittsburgh, PA, she co-authored a scientific publication published in Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. She has also interned with the Allegheny County Office of the Medical Examiner and the McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine at Pitt.In addition to her many academic accomplishments, Stabryla volunteered for the Fund for Advancement of Minorities through Education as a MATHCOUNTS instructor. In this role, she developed creative methods for teaching inner city African American middle school students in Pittsburgh. She volunteered with the INVESTING NOW Summer Enrichment Program at Pitt and helped introduce underrepresented high school students to sustainability concepts through building miniature wind turbines and solar cells. Stabryla also participated in the MCSI Teach-the-Teacher Workshop to help engage middle school teachers to adopt sustainability and engineering practices into the classroom. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer