Pitt | Swanson Engineering
News Listing

Sep

Sep
22
2017

NAMEPA Recognizes Swanson School’s Commitment to Diversity in Engineering

Diversity

Blacksburg, Va. (September 22, 2017) … The National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates (NAMEPA) awarded both the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering’s Simeon Saunders and the INVESTING NOW program for outstanding contributions to the recruitment and retention of historically underrepresented groups pursuing education in engineering. Saunders received the NAMEPA Wings to Succeed Award, and INVESTING NOW received the NAMEPA Recruitment Award at the 38th Annual NAMEPA National Conference, which took place from Sept. 10 – 13 on the Virginia Tech campus.Simeon M. Saunders is an academic counselor and Coordinator for Diversity Outreach for the Pitt EXCEL Program, which annually provides more than 250 students—particularly historically underrepresented groups in engineering—with academic counseling, peer mentoring, tutoring, engineering research opportunities, graduate school preparation, and career development workshops. NAMEPA grants the Wings to Succeed Award to people who have helped students overcome historic barriers for minority groups or who have met the challenges of their positions and committed extraordinary effort to fulfilling their job responsibilities. The award usually goes to non-traditional diversity roles, such as faculty, corporate representatives, community organizers, and other university administrators.Saunders received his bachelor’s degree in political science and master’s degree in higher education management from Pitt. He is currently working toward his doctorate in social and comparative analysis in education. In 2010, Saunders joined the Pitt EXCEL team and created the male mentoring group B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. (Brothers Respecting Open Thought Helping Every-Man Realize His Own Original Dream). The group offers opportunities for upperclassmen and alumni to participate in local community service activities, workshops, seminars, social outings, and peer to peer mentoring opportunities.Since 1988, INVESTING NOW has prepared pre-college students from historically underrepresented groups for matriculation at selective colleges and universities, such as the University of Pittsburgh, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors. Approximately 175 students participate annually in INVESTING NOW activities, which include advising sessions, tutoring, hands-on science and engineering workshops, college planning sessions, and career awareness activities. The primary goals are:1. Create a pipeline for well-prepared students to enter college and pursue science, technology, engineering, and math majors.2. Encourage and support students’ enrollment and achievement in advanced mathematics and science courses.3. Ensure that the participants make informed college choices.4. Support and encourage parents in their role as advocates for their children.5. Coordinate partnerships between the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering and local schools.NAMEPA grants the Recruitment Program Award to programs that have engaged minority student populations in engineering. Over the past three decades, not only has 100 percent of INVESTING NOW students graduated from high school, but a minimum of 94 percent of INVESTING NOW graduates have made the transition to college, including 100 percent in 2016 and 97 percent in 2017 – with more than 50 percent of both groups entering college as STEM majors. The INVESTING NOW team at Pitt includes: Dr. Alaine M. Allen, Director of INVESTING NOW, pre-college STEM diversity program and Pitt EXCEL, undergraduate engineering diversity program; Linda Demoise, Academic Support Coordinator for INVESTING NOW and Pitt EXCEL; Emiola Jay Oriola, Associate Director for INVESTING NOW; Heather Mordecki, Office Coordinator for INVESTING NOW and Pitt EXCEL; Patience Stanicar, Program Coordinator for INVESTING NOW; and C. Elyse Okwu, Female Empowerment Mission (FEM) Coordinator. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Sep
22
2017

2018 CEE Faculty Positions

Civil & Environmental, Open Positions

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at the University of Pittsburgh invites applications for tenure-track faculty positions effective September 1, 2018.  These positions are part of the strategic expansion intended to support research and teaching activities in the area of Sustainable and Environmental Engineering (SEE) with a specific focus on environmental engineering. For these tenure-track positions in environmental engineering, we seek candidates with fundamental expertise and research interests in the areas of environmental microbiology and biological processes, environmental aquatic chemistry, and urban infrastructure systems (e.g., water and transportation). We encourage applicants with research that addresses multiple scales and/or at the intersection of food, energy and water.  Additional research areas will be considered. Preference will be given to appointees at the Assistant Professor level but applicants with outstanding credentials will be considered at other levels. Candidates interested in collaborative and interdisciplinary research and teaching within the Department and/or related focus areas in the Swanson School of Engineering, such as the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (http://www.engineering.pitt.edu/MCSI) and the Center for Energy (http://www.engineering.pitt.edu/cfe), are encouraged to apply. Candidates will have the opportunity to join our vibrant, diverse and growing department of 19 faculty members, 300 undergraduates and 160 full-time graduate students (60 of which are PhD students). Successful applicants will be expected to develop and sustain a strong, externally funded research program within their area of expertise and contribute to the teaching mission of our graduate and undergraduate programs. We strongly encourage candidates from underrepresented US minority groups and women to apply for this position.  The University of Pittsburgh is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, marital status, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status. An earned doctorate in civil engineering, environmental engineering and science, earth science or a closely related field is required.  Interested applicants should submit: (1) cover letter, (2) CV, (3) teaching statement, (4) research interests and future plans, (5) copies of three representative publications, and (6) the names and contact information for at least three references.  We are highly motivated to continue growing the diversity of our department, and strongly encourage applicants to include a 1-2 page statement of diversity as a part of their application package.  Please submit the application in a single pdf file to CEE17SEE@pitt.edu. Review of applications will begin November 15, 2017 and will continue until the position is filled.

CEE17SEE@pitt.edu
Sep
18
2017

Scratching Below the Surface

Chemical & Petroleum

Posted with permission of Pittwire. View the original article here. Many people have suffered through an itchy skin rash after a brush with poison oak, wearing jewelry containing nickel or using latex gloves. That rash is one of the several symptoms caused by allergic contact dermatitis (ACD), a common skin condition that also causes blistering, ulcers and cracking skin, among other ailments. Topical creams and ointments can relieve symptoms, but they do not treat the underlying causes. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh may have hit upon a better treatment. In a paper recently published in the Journal of Controlled Release, Steven Little and colleagues propose that the underlying causes of ACD can be remedied by manipulating T cells, which control inflammation. “The technology here coaxes the body’s own cells to address inflammation that leads to these kinds of diseases,” said Little, chair of Pitt’s Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. “We are essentially using strategies like this to convince the immune system into not attacking something that it would normally attack. When we administer our treatment at the same time as the allergen, it teaches the body to not become inflamed to that specific thing.” The researchers manipulated cells to release proteins, immune system molecules and other compounds to suppress destructive hypersensitivity responses to allergens that cause skin rashes, effectively preventing or reversing ACD in previously sensitized mice. Little said other researchers are trying to solve this problem by administering drugs that suppress the immune system, but side effects are a concern. Another treatment method under investigation takes cells out of the body, manipulates them and then reinjects them. “This is really tough, because it is inefficient and we don’t know what happens to the cells when you put them back into the body,” Little said. “The FDA is wary of these kinds of things.” The difference between these methods and the one proposed by Little and his colleagues is that it appears possible to induce the body’s own cells to treat the disease by manipulating cells inside the body with proteins that promote T cells to divide and react to allergens more quickly and aggressively to better control inflammation. Researchers also said this approach to what is known as in vivo T cell induction could also aid in the development of new therapies for transplant rejection and autoimmune diseases. “It has the potential to do all of this without the side effects you’d normally see,” Little said. ###
Amerigo Allegretto, Communications Specialist, University of Pittsburgh
Sep
18
2017

In Search of a Greener Cleaner

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (September 18, 2017) … Molecular chelating agents are used in many areas ranging from laundry detergents to paper pulp processing to precious metal refining. However, some chelating agents, especially the most effective ones, do not degrade in nature and may pollute the environment. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering are developing machine learning procedures to discover new chelating agents that are both effective and degradable.Dr. John Keith, a Richard King Mellon Faculty Fellow in Energy and assistant professor of chemical engineering at Pitt, is principal investigator; and Dr. Eric Beckman, Distinguished Service Professor of chemical engineering and co-director of Pitt’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, is co-PI. Their project titled “SusChEM: Machine learning blueprints for greener chelants” will receive $299,999 from the NSF.“Chelating agents are molecules that bind to and isolate metal ions dissolved in water,” explains Dr. Keith. “Cleaning detergents normally don't work well in hard water because of metal ions like magnesium and calcium interfering. That’s why commercial detergents typically include some chelating agents to hold up those metal ions so the rest of the detergent can focus on cleaning.”While chelating agents are valued for their ability to bind strongly to different metal ions, researchers are also factoring how long it takes them to degrade in the environment and their probabilities of being toxic when searching for more effective chelate structures. “Many of the widely used chelating agents we use end up in water runoffs, where they can be somewhat toxic to wildlife and sometimes to people as well,” says Dr. Beckman.Developing new chelating agents so far has relied on trial and error experimentation. Dr. Beckman continues, “In the past, folks have tried to create better chelating agents by tweaking existing structures, but whenever that produces something less toxic, the chelating agent winds up being much less effective too. We’re trying a new approach that uses machine learning to look through much larger and more diverse pools of candidate molecules to find those that would be the most useful.” The Pitt research team will use quantum chemistry calculations to develop machine learning methods that can predict new molecules that would be more effective and greener than existing chelating agents. While computational quantum chemistry can be used to screen through a thousand hypothetical chelating agents in a year, machine learning methods based on quantum chemistry could be used to screen through 100,000s of candidates per week. Once the researchers identify promising candidates, they will synthesize and test them in their labs to validate the efficacy of the machine learning process for designing greener chemicals.The results of the research will have a significant impact on a range of topics relevant to environmentally-safe engineering and the control of metals in the environment, including computer-aided design of greener chelating agents used in detergents, treatments of heavy metal poisoning, metal extractions for soil treatments, waste remediation, handling normally occurring radioactive materials from hydraulic fracturing sites, and water purification.“Chelating agents are used in such a wide range of industries, so even a small improvement can have a big impact on sustainability as a whole,” said Dr. Keith. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Sep
1
2017

American Health Council Names Bioengineeirng's Dr. William Federspiel to Education Board

Bioengineering

AHC NEWS RELEASE - William Federspiel, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, has been selected to join the Education Board at the American Health Council. He will be sharing his knowledge and expertise in Healthcare Education, Workforce Development, Business, Leadership, Management, Chemistry, Biology, Biomedical Engineering, and Medical Devices. Dr. Federspiel has been active in the healthcare industry for the last 28 years. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1978 and his PhD in Chemical Engineering in 1983 from the University of Rochester. Inspired to pursue his profession by a desire to help people, Dr. Federspiel has now been a bioengineering professor at the University of Pittsburgh for 21 years. His day-to-day responsibilities include teaching and mentoring, administrative duties, and research grants. Dr. Federspiel attributes his success to hard work and dedication. He has been published in over 100 peer-reviewed journals and has held academic positions in biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University and Boston University. Awards and honors he has received include Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), Certificate of Appreciation for Distinguished Service to the Rehabilitation Research and Development Service Scientific Merit Review Board from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and an Honorable Mention in the Start-Up Entrepreneur category of the 2014 Carnegie Science Awards. Dr. Federspiel is also a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biomedical Engineering (AIMBE) and member of the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs (ASAIO). His long-term professional goals include helping his start-up company be successful and seeing his respiratory assist devices treating patients. Among his many achievements, Dr. Federspiel is most proud to be a founder of ALung Technologies, a Pittsburgh-based medical start-up company, for which he serves as the head of the scientific advisory board. ###
American Health Council

Aug

Aug
31
2017

Safer Carbon Nanomaterials, by Design

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (August 31, 2017) … Carbon nanomaterials (CNMs) are a class of engineered nanomaterials that can be used for many environmental applications, including water treatment and contaminant sensing and remediation. While they are prized for their ability to detect, remove, or degrade contaminants in the environment, CNMs don’t just disappear after they are used.“Like any chemical that persists in the environment, there is concern about impacts on organisms and systems that results from the inherent hazard of the material, its degradation products, and its potential to bioaccumulate—or build up in the bodies of living things,” explains Leanne Gilbertson, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering.Dr. Gilbertson and her research team are studying the inner workings of CNMs to develop the best design practices that result in environmentally sustainable CNMs, enhancing the ability to control their desirable and undesirable impacts. To support her research, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Dr. Gilbertson $285,670 for the project titled “SusChEM: Decoupling Structure and Surface Chemistry Impacts of Carbon Nanomaterials on Environmentally Relevant Electrochemical and Biological Activity.”“The conventional pursuit of research focuses on either the potential risks posed by a given nanomaterial or the development of beneficial applications,” says Dr. Gilbertson. “Our goal is to outline a rational approach to CNM design that considers potential risks and benefits simultaneously, to sustainably advance nanotechnologies. This means uncovering ways to control the inherent hazard of a material and the desired functional properties it provides.”Dr. Gilbertson believes the two primary concerns about CNMs are human exposure and the unknown consequences of CNMs released into the environment. The greatest risk of human exposure occurs while handling during processing, product manufacture, and at the end of the products useful lifetimes. Despite the danger, CNMs have one of the highest production volumes of any class of engineered nanomaterials and account for more than a quarter of the nanomaterial market, according to a report by Reports & Markets. “There are many examples where a chemical was used to advance technology and later determined to cause adverse consequences to humans or the environment: tetraethyl lead in gasoline, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as a refrigerant, and asbestos for electrical and thermal insulation, to name a few,” adds Dr. Gilbertson.Dr. Gilbertson and her team will develop a framework to inform design of CNMs in a way that minimizes the potential for future unintended consequences. This work is being pursued through controlled manipulation of surface chemistry coupled with biological and electrochemical activity testing. Once they have characterized their physiochemical properties, electrochemical properties, and the biological reactivity, they will apply statistical methods to identify correlations between specific CNM properties, function, and hazard. These correlations will be the key to unlocking new relationships that optimize the future design of CNMs. Dr. Gilbertson has been leveraging surface chemistry as a design handle to manipulate CNM properties since she was a graduate student. Her dissertation research proposed mechanisms for the influence of surface chemistry on the cytotoxicity of single- and multi-walled carbon nanotubes: Impact of Surface Functionalization on Bacterial Cytotoxicity of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes Realizing Comparable Oxidative and Cytotoxic Potential of Single- and Multiwalled Carbon Nanotubes through Annealing Toward Tailored Functional Design of Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes (MWNTs): Electrochemical and Antimicrobial Activity Enhancement via Oxidation and Selective Reduction Toward safer multi-walled carbon nanotube design: Establishing a statistical model that relates surface charge and embryonic zebrafish mortality She was also involved in collaborative work exploring the impacts of surface functionalization on conductive properties of carbon nanotube thin films: Enhanced dispersion and electronic performance of single-walled carbon nanotube thin films without surfactant: A comprehensive study of various treatment processes Highly Conductive Single-Walled Carbon Nanotube Thin Film Preparation by Direct Alignment on Substrates from Water Dispersions In March of this year, Dr. Gilbertson published a paper in a special “Rising Stars” issue of the Royal Society of Chemistry Journal Green Chemistry about her research suggesting the underlying structure of a material plays and important role in relation to the surface chemistry of graphene oxide and reduced graphene oxide, which will be the CNMs at the focus of her research funded by the NSF grant.“These recent findings are exciting for the proposed research, which not only allows for exploration of inherent material properties as a function of structure and surface chemistry, but in collaboration with Arizona State University, we will also expand our CNM hazard evaluation to include a complete range of environmental trophic levels, including biomolecules, bacteria, algae, and aquatic organisms,” says Dr. Gilbertson. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Aug
31
2017

Building the Sound Barrier

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (August 31, 2017) … Although it may not fit the traditional definition, acoustic noise is a form of pollution because of its negative impact on human health. Indoor-generated noise is especially a problem in the workplace, where noise can cause minor distractions or even mental stress. Thanks to an award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are exploring fundamental new research that may lead to new sound barriers that mitigate acoustic noise.Piervincenzo (Piero) Rizzo, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, is principal investigator for a two-year, $200,000 NSF-EAGER grant for the project “EAGER: Acoustic Diode as Architectural Material (ADAM).” EAGER awards support exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches.“Engineers and architects strive to create effective and fine solutions to mitigate indoor- and outdoor- generated noise in order to enhance the comfort of the occupants, improve personnel efficiency in the workplace, guarantee privacy, and to provide distraction-free spaces. However, traditional building materials have limits, whether structurally or economically,” Dr. Rizzo said. “Through this award we’ll explore a new architectural system based on the concept of acoustic diodes acting as a sound barrier that impedes unwanted noise in an environment.”According to Dr. Rizzo, acoustic diodes offer low resistance to sound in one direction and high resistance in the opposite direction, which cancels out sound transmission along one direction. His hypothesis is that a diode, embedded in novel architectural material, can be scaled at multiple lengths to shield indoor noise and eventually transit-generated noise.“Our research will explore “trapping” acoustic noise in building materials via acoustic diodes, where they would reflect and decay,” Dr. Rizzo said. “By integrating several disciplines including acoustics, nonlinear dynamics, and architectural engineering, we hope to determine the feasibility of this potential technology.” ### About Dr. RizzoDr. 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's and PhD in structural engineering from the University of California – San Diego.About Pitt’s Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringFounded 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.

Aug
29
2017

MEMS Students Bring the Heat at International Research Competitions

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (August 29, 2017) … Two students in the University of Pittsburgh Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science won Best Poster Awards at competitions over the summer. Emily Kistler, a PhD student, won for her research based on a metal degradation process called hot corrosion; and Laura Fulton, an undergraduate student, won for her research into heat transfer in thermoelectric devices.Kistler, a member of MEMS Chair Brian Gleeson’s research group at Pitt, received the Best Poster Award at the Gordon Research Seminar on High Temperature Corrosion in New London, N.H. Her poster was titled “Impact of S02 Content and Temperature on the Early-Stage Hot Corrosion Behavior of a Current Generation Nickel-Based Superalloy.” The research presented in the poster was in collaboration with Pratt & Whitney, a manufacturer of aircraft engines, and supported by the United States Office of Naval Research and a fellowship from Pitt’s Center for Energy. The study addressed how variation in SO2 content in the atmosphere impacts the mechanism and extent of a particularly aggressive form of degradation known as hot corrosion.“Hot corrosion is an accelerated form of attack due to the presence of a sulfate containing deposit, such as sodium sulfate (Na2SO4),” explained Kistler. “Sodium dioxide, or SO2, is present in fuel as well as a constituent in the atmosphere. SO2 reacts with O2, creating SO3, which stabilizes liquid formation below the melting point of Na2SO4 leading to hot corrosion, and both above and below the melting point of Na2SO4 higher concentration of SO2 leads to a greater extent of attack. In the future, I will study potential mitigation strategies such as homogenizing the alloy, because the current heat treatment of the alloy the composition is not completely uniform (dendritic structure). I will also test how varying the percent of certain elements, such as Cr, may protect again hot corrosion below the melting point of Na2SO4.”About 60 young researchers from around the world participated in the GRS. Kistler’s poster won first place out of a field of 54 posters. Her research has both scientific and practical relevance to the performance of aero turbines.Fulton, a member of Assistant Professor Matthew M. Barry’s research group at Pitt, received the Best Poster Award at the International Conference on Thermoelectrics in Pasadena, Calif. Her poster titled “Numerically Resolved Radiation View Factors for Single and Multi-Junction Thermoelectric Devices” was based on research in collaboration with Texas A&M University that focused on developing methods to quickly and accurately determine radiation view factors within complex three-dimensional structures considering ray collisions.“My project is concerned with thermoelectric devices which take thermal heat and convert it into electrical energy,” said Fulton. “What I looked at was modeling the heat exchange between the surfaces of a device. I examined the surface orientation and geometry since these factors influence heat transfer. View factors are the proportion of radiation which leave one surface and strike another, and I focused on creating coding program that mathematically calculated these factors based on a thermoelectric device’s surface geometry and orientation.”Fulton’s poster was one of 338 presented. More than 550 researchers and scientists participated in the conference. Her work has impact on the modeling of thermoelectric devices applied to high-temperature waste heat recovery applications, radioisotope generators used within space applications, and many implications with respect to the nuclear industry. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Aug
28
2017

Building a Pump without Parts

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (August 28, 2017) … Controlling fluid flow at the micro- and nano-level can enable the development of self-operating microfluidic devices and even small-scale factories that perform chemical synthesis and biomedical assays, as well as drive robotic systems operating in harsh environments. The stumbling block, however, is devising effective ways to regulate the movement of the fluids at such small, confined levels. To find solutions to this challenge, the National Science Foundation has awarded $1.8 million to the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, establishing the NSF Center for Chemo-Mechanical Assembly (CCMA). Principal investigator is Anna Balazs, Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and the John A. Swanson Chair of Engineering. The CCMA is established through the Centers for Chemical Innovation (CCI) Program, which supports research centers focused on major, long-term fundamental chemical research challenges. Dr. Balazs explained that while mechanical pumps are traditionally used to drive fluid flow, such systems are not useful when designing micro- and nano-fluidic devices that could operate without external controls or power supplies. Catalytic reactions, however, can serve as “chemical pumps” by creating gradients in chemical concentrations and fluid densities that spontaneously give rise to net flows.“Just as a river current carries a pebble, fluid flows can carry particulates such as nanoparticles and microcapsules. Building upon our previous research at Pitt and partner institutions, we have developed novel tools to enable unprecedented control over fluid flow and particle organization in confined, small-scale environments,” she said. “These “catalytic conveyor belts” enable the design of self-powered, self-sustaining systems that organize particles and are capable of performing complex functions, such as delivering significant amounts of particulates to sensors on surfaces and, thus, allowing highly sensitive studies to be performed both efficiently and rapidly, or fabricating complex microstructures and patterned surfaces in solution. “Most importantly, our research shows that we can do this without the need for mechanical devices, and instead create micro- and nano-systems that harness chemical reactions to drive their performance. In essence, our systems convert chemical energy into mechanical motion, much as our bodies harness nutrients to drive our actions. The CCMA will host an interdisciplinary team with expertise in catalysis, synthetic chemistry, physical chemistry, fluid flow, and modeling.”Potential applications for this research includes the creation of stand-alone microfluidic devices that autonomously perform multi-stage chemical reactions and assays for biomedical applications; automated materials assembly in harsh environments; and small-scale factories that can operate autonomously to build microscale components for use in fine instrumentation and robotic systems. Also as part of the national center program, the NSF award enables Dr. Balazs to engage in STEM workforce development and public outreach. Funding will support graduate and postdoctoral students, especially those from underrepresented populations, as well as public lectures, hands-on traveling exhibits, and museum and science center projects. Dr. Balazs' co-investigators include Todd Emrick, Professor of Polymer Science & Engineering and Director of the NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) on Polymers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst; Ayusman Sen, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at The Pennsylvania State University; and Howard Stone, the Donald R. Dixon ’69 and Elizabeth W. Dixon Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University.CCMA is the Swanson School’s third national NSF center, and one of only five Phase I CCIs awarded this year through a combination of a research grant and a center planning grant. In FY 2020, CCMA and other Phase I CCI’s will compete for Phase II funding at $4 million per year for five years, with a competitive renewal for five additional years. “This center will work on exciting chemistry at the forefront of the field. Researchers will utilize novel approaches to manipulate the behavior of particles using catalytic chemical reactions to drive the self-organization of particles and form useful micro-devices,” said Dr. Angela Wilson, Division Director for the NSF Division of Chemistry. “The fundamental research conducted by this new CCI could enable a new generation of portable biomedical devices, automated materials assembly in harsh environments, and even small-scale ‘factories’ for building microscale instrumentation and robotics components. We look forward to the developments that will ensue from this CCI.” ###

Aug
23
2017

An Eye towards Islets

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (August 23, 2017) … Tiny packets of cells called islets throughout the pancreas allow the organ to produce insulin. Type 1 diabetes – also known as juvenile diabetes – tricks the immune system into destroying these islets. Patients must take insulin daily to maintain blood sugar, or too much sugar will build up in the blood stream and lead to hyperglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis, and, if left untreated, death. Patients must self-regulate their blood sugar for their entire lives, unless there were some way to restore the pancreatic islets. To explore that potential, the National Science Foundation has funded a multi-university study led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering who are investigating the use of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) to engineer pancreatic islets in the lab. A major goal of the research is to develop a method of vascularizing islets in vitro—literally “in glass”—which studies suggest will result in higher viability and enhanced function after the transplant. “This the first attempt to generate in vitro vascularized pancreatic islet organoids from hPSCs,” explains Ipsita Banerjee , associate professor of chemical engineering at Pitt and principal investigator of the study. “Through collaborative efforts, we have developed a method of implanting blood vessel fragments into the islets. By vascularizing the islets before they are transplanted to the body, they are more likely to survive and can begin regulating blood glucose more quickly.” Pancreatic islets have a very high oxygen demand. Once inside the body, they need to connect to the host vessels quickly, otherwise they start dying and lose their ability to regulate blood glucose levels. Researchers began looking for new techniques to speed up vascularization after tests began to show high vascularity ultimately improved the transplantation outcome. In addition to developing vascularized islets inside the lab, the study - “Engineering a functional 3D vascularized islet organoid from pluripotent stem cells” - will use a novel hydrogel system to create a three-dimensional cell culture configuration that mimics the way the body forms pancreatic cells naturally. “The hydrogel is like a scaffold, and it helps to configure the cells in a 3D space,” says Dr. Banerjee. “The status quo is hPSCs randomly arranged in uncontrolled configurations with varying size and structure; however, by using the hydrogel developed by our collaborator at Arizona State, we can create a precise, multicellular architecture called ‘spheroids.’ Unlike a 2D culture grown in a petri dish, islet spheroids grown on the hydrogel look the same as the ones made by the body.” Although Dr. Banerjee’s research will most directly impact cell therapy for diabetics, creating a procedure for developing working islets outside of the body could also serve as a valuable tool for testing the efficacy and toxicity of new drug compounds for pancreatic disease. The general implications of in vitro vascularization of cells show even more promise. “The principles behind pre-designing vascularization before transplantation apply to any type of tissue, not just pancreatic,” Dr. Banerjee says. “Even when donor islets are used for a transplant, a fraction of the islets survive the procedure. We expect the advanced measures we are taking in the lab, before the new cells enter the patient’s body, to have tremendous application to the next generation of regenerative medicine.” Dr. Banerjee’s team of researchers includes Prashant Kumta , professor of bioengineering at Pitt; Kaushal Rege , professor of chemical engineering at Arizona State University; and James Hoying , professor of surgery at the University of Louisville. ### Photo: Dr. Banerjee (right) with PhD Candidate Thomas Richardson
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Aug
14
2017

Pitt Students’ Autonomous Drone ‘Flies High’ at International Robotics Competition

Electrical & Computer

ATLANTA (August 14, 2017) … Two decades ago, the Georgia Tech Campus Recreation Center served as a swimming venue for the 1996 Summer Olympics. This past summer, the competitors weren’t battling with backstrokes or synchronized dives; instead they were waiting anxiously on the sidelines to see if their autonomous robot drones could herd a group of randomly-moving Roombas to one side of the floor while avoiding obstacles.At the International Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC) Mission 7 at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Pittsburgh Robotics and Automation Society (RAS) won Best System Design award and had the highest overall score out of 13 international teams present. The Best System Design award recognizes the overall design of the drone and its fitness for the mission, while points are awarded for flight performance and several static judging categories including a symposium presentation and a technical paper.“We were able to demonstrate autonomous flight, takeoff, and landing,” says Andrew Saba, Pitt RAS Director of Outreach and a member of the Pitt RAS team. “A lot of the aspects of the mission work in simulation but have not been integrated and tested on actual hardware. We are proud of how far we have come, but we know there is much more left to go.”The IARC Missions competition began in 1991, and each mission is repeated annually until it is successfully completed. Tsinghua University completed Mission 6 in 2013, prompting the creation of Mission 7.Mission 7 challenges teams to design and build a fully autonomous aerial vehicle capable of navigating through an indoor environment without landmarks. As the drone flies through the environment, ground robots move randomly around the floor. The main objective is for the drone to “herd” the ground robots across one side of an arena by touching them, while also avoiding moving obstacles.“Mission 7 is difficult because it requires the integration of many complex behaviors including localization without external landmarks, fast movement, target identification, obstacle avoidance, and artificial intelligence. Each of these is a research area in itself,” says Levi Burner, an electrical engineering undergraduate who led the Pitt RAS team at IARC alongside physics and computer science undergraduate Aaron Miller.In addition to the American Venue, an identical competition takes place annually at the Asia/Pacific Venue at Beihang University in Beijing, China. American judges and Asian judges confer, and representatives from both regions are present at each venue. The American Venue competition took place on July 26, and the Asia/Pacific Venue competition will take place in late August.“This mission could be completed at the Asia-Pacific Venue this year, or maybe never. We just do not know,” says Saba. “We have a lot of work to do and are hoping to beat the mission. This is its fourth year, and we have only been working on it for one.”“Competition allowed us to validate our design decisions, and this year the team will focus on higher level concepts such as interacting with ground robots and improving obstacle detection,” adds Burner. “While we did not interact with ground robots in 2017, we did lay a solid foundation and expect to have ground robot interaction completed in time for next year.”The IARC intentionally designs the mission to be impossible based on commercially available technology. If the mission is not completed by a team at the Asia/Pacific Venue this year, the mission will be repeated in 2018. No team was able to complete the full mission at the American Venue, and only four teams were capable of flying autonomously during the competition, including the Pitt team.“I was very impressed by what they were able to accomplish, especially in an international competition,” says Sam Dickerson, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Pitt. “The project was totally student driven. Their workshop is next door to my office, and they worked every day on their design. There were many occasions I heard them working late in the evening. It’s really a great student group, not only are they active, they are very welcoming and make concerted efforts to include anyone and everyone who is interested in robotics.”About the Robotics and Automation SocietyPitt’s Robotics and Automation Society is a cross-discipline, student-run organization that focuses on emerging technologies in robotics, automation, and autonomous systems. Anyone interested in learning more about the Robotics and Automation Society and the IARC should visit their headquarters in 1212 Benedum Hall, email ras@pitt.edu, or check out the website at pittras.org. Pitt RAS also invites anyone to join their Slack at pittras.slack.com. ### Image above (from left to right):  Pitt RAS team members Andrew Saba, Ritesh Misra, Aaron Miller (back), Garret Sultzbach (holding plaque), Levi Burner, and Elliot Miller.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Aug
14
2017

Pitt's ECE Department Welcomes Four New Faculty Members This Fall

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (August 14, 2017) … Four new faculty members will join the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering beginning September 1. Ahmed Dallal and Jingtong Hu will join the department as Assistant Professors; Wei Gao will join as an Associate Professor; and Heng Huang will join as the John A. Jurenko Endowed Professor. “We are very excited to announce and welcome these four new ECE faculty members,” said Alan George , Department Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Pitt. “This group is truly exceptional and brings diverse interests and strengths, educational backgrounds, and experiences in academia that will be crucial in our on-going efforts and progress to broaden and deepen our academic and research programs in computer and electrical engineering.” Ahmed Dallal, Assistant ProfessorDr. Dallal received his BS and MS degrees in systems and biomedical engineering from Cairo University in Egypt. He received his PhD in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 2017. His PhD work focused on human-machine interaction and networked control applications for air traffic management. His research interests include biomedical signal processing, biomedical image analysis, and computer vision, as well as machine learning, networked control systems, and human-machine learning. Dr. Dallal received the Duquesne Light Fellowship in 2013 and 2014. He also received the Dean Fellowship from the University of Pittsburgh in 2015. He was the winner of the Young Innovator Award of Nahdet el Mahrouse in Egypt in 2009. Jingtong Hu, Assistant ProfessorDr. Hu was an assistant professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Oklahoma State University from 2013-2017. He received his PhD degree in computer science from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2013. He received his BE degree from the School of Computer Science and Technology, Shandong University, China in 2007. His research interests include embedded systems, Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) technology, and emerging memory technology. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Air Force Research Laboratory, and Intel/Altera. He has published more than 50 papers for premier journals and conferences. Dr. Hu has served on the Technical Program Committee for many international conferences such as ASP-SAC, DATE, DAC, ESWEEK, RTSS, and others. He is also the recipient of OSU CEAT Outstanding New Faculty Award, Women’s Faculty Council Research Award, and Air Force Summer Faculty Fellowship. Wei Gao, Associate ProfessorBefore joining Pitt, Dr. Gao was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Dr. Gao received his PhD degree in computer science from Pennsylvania State University in 2012. His research interests include mobile and embedded computing systems, cyber-physical systems, Internet of Things, wireless networking, and big data. Dr. Gao has published more than 60 research papers at various top-tier journals and conference proceedings. He has attracted more than $2.5 million of external research funding from various federal agencies including NSF, Army Research Office, and Department of Energy. He is the winner of an NSF CAREER award in 2016. Heng Huang, John A. Jurenko Endowed ProfessorBefore joining Pitt, Dr. Huang was a Distinguished University Professor in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington. He was also an adjunct professor of clinical sciences at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Dr. Huang received his PhD degree in computer science at Dartmouth College and then joined UTA as an assistant professor. His research areas include machine learning, big data mining, imaging genomics, medical image analysis, bioinformatics, health informatics, computational neuroscience, and precision medicine. He has published more than 130 papers in top-tier conferences and many papers in premium journals such as NIPS, ICML, KDD, RECOMB, ISMB, IJCAI, AAAI, CVPR, ICCV, SIGIR, Bioinformatics, IEEE Trans. On Medical Imaging, Medical Image Analysis, IEEE TKDE, and others. As principal investigator, Dr. Huang is leading a National Institutes of Health-funded $2 million R01 project on imaging genomics based complex brain disorder study, multiple NSF-funded projects on precision medicine, biomedical data science, big data mining, electronic medical record data mining and privacy-preserving, computational biology, smart healthcare, cyber physical systems, and also industry-funded projects on computational sustainability, smart metering, and smart grids. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Aug
9
2017

Chancellor Gallagher appoints Chemical Engineering Distinguished Professor Anna Balazs to the John A. Swanson Endowed Chair of Engineering

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (August 9, 2017) … Recognizing her contributions to the fields of chemical engineering and computational modeling, the University of Pittsburgh has appointed Anna C. Balazs as the John A. Swanson Chair in Engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering. Chancellor Patrick D. Gallagher made the appointment on the recommendation of Provost Patricia E. Beeson and U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering Gerald D. Holder.“Anna’s appointment to the John A. Swanson Chair in Engineering in the Swanson School of Engineering recognizes and rewards the quality and impact of her work to date, which has earned deep and widespread respect,” said Gallagher. “This designation is well deserved—and one of the highest honors that any university can bestow upon a member of its faculty.” “Anna’s award-winning contributions to her field have been tremendous, and she is one of the most valued and respected members of our faculty,” Dean Holder added. “But most importantly, she has been and continues to be a mentor to so many students and post-doctoral researchers who have been impacted by her innovative research, creativity, and wonderful personality.” Dr. Balazs is also the Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and previously held the Robert v.d. Luft Professor at the Swanson School. She received her B.A. in physics from Bryn Mawr College in 1975 and PhD in materials science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981. Her research involves developing theoretical and computational models to capture the behavior of polymeric materials, nanocomposites and multi-component fluids, with funding awarded by the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Department of Defense, and the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation.She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the Materials Research Society, and was a Visiting Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Oxford University. She has served on a number of editorial boards including Macromolecules, Langmuir, Accounts of Chemical Research, and Soft Matter, and currently serves as an Associate Editor for the journal Science Advances. She was Chair of the American Physical Society Division of Polymer Physics in 1999-2000, and received a Special Creativity Award from the National Science Foundation. Her other awards include the Maurice Huggins Memorial Award of the Gordon Research Conference for outstanding contributions to Polymer Science (2003), the Mines Medal from the South Dakota School of Mines (2013), the American Chemical Society Langmuir Lecture Award (2014), and the Royal Society of Chemistry S F Boys-A Rahman Award (2015). Most recently, she was the first woman to receive the prestigious American Physical Society Polymer Physics Prize (2016). ###

Aug
9
2017

Roc-ettes Have Fun, Gain Real-World Experience at Red Bull Flugtag Event

All SSoE News, Student Profiles

For a Pitt team, competing in the Red Bull Flugtag — a traveling competition for teams and their homemade aircraft — wasn’t just about winning.The group of students and a recent alumnus of the Swanson School of Engineering, dubbed the Roc-ettes — a play on the name of Pitt's panther mascot Roc — challenged themselves, learned a lot and came away with an experience unlike any other.More Fun With Flugtag“We learned helpful information on designing and building such a massive object,” said Ryan Blair, a mechanical engineering alumnus, of the 24-foot machine. “We researched, designed and built a craft using our technical knowledge. We applied what we learned in school. Read the original article by Kevin Zwick on Pittwire. Photo above: The Roc-ettes pose with their aircraft in the staging area at the Red Bull Flugtag on Aug. 5. The team of Swanson School of Engineering students and one recent graduate competed with 37 teams. From left, Paul Gatto, Nick Bertani, Rina Zhang, Chad Foster, Ryan Blair and Theo Schwarz. (Pittwire)
Kevin Zwick, University Communications
Aug
9
2017

Nanoparticle Research by ChemE's Giannis Mpourmpakis Could Take the Guesswork Out of Creating New Metals

Chemical & Petroleum

The steel beams that make up bridges and skyscrapers, the gold used for jewelry and the brass that forms musical instruments can be traced back to tiny building blocks invisible to the naked eye called metal nanoparticles — materials around 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.Scientists have been able to synthesize metal nanoparticles for years, but have not been able to figure out why they formed at specific sizes. This meant they had to rely on trial-and-error methods to make new kinds of metals needed for the aforementioned examples. In addition, no one is quite sure what makes these particles stable.Giannis Mpourmpakis' work is supported by the American Chemical Society and the National Science Foundation.A new study in Nature Communications, co-authored by Pitt’s Giannis Mpourmpakis, an assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, and PhD candidate Michael Taylor, offers a possible way to unravel these mysteries, with the help of computer simulations. Read the full story by Amerigo Allegretto in Pittwire. Image above: The gold used in jewelry can be traced back to microscopic building blocks invisible to the naked eye called metal nanoparticles. University of Pittsburgh assistant professor Giannis Mpourmpakis and PhD candidate Michael Taylor have been researching how metal nanoparticles are synthesized to create more efficient production processes. (Pittwire)
Amerigo Allegretto, University Communications
Aug
8
2017

Pitt’s ChemE Department Recruits NETL Researcher Hseen Baled

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (August 8, 2017) … The University of Pittsburgh Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering announced that Hseen Baled will join its faculty as an Assistant Professor on August 28.“Hseen was our number one choice in the hiring pool and brings not only ability to teach practically any course in our chemical engineering curriculum, but our petroleum engineering curriculum as well,” said Steven Little, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor and chair of the department of chemical and petroleum engineering.Dr. Baled received his PhD degree in chemical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 2012. He graduated from Rheinisch-Westfälishce Technische Hochschule (RWTH) Aachen University in Germany with a diploma (a combined BSc and MSc) in chemical engineering. He has extensive research experience in high-pressure fluid thermodynamic and transport properties and phase equilibria. Beginning in 2015, Dr. Baled worked at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) as an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Research Associate. He studied the viscosity and phase behavior of crude oil components at deepwater conditions of extreme temperatures and pressures, as well as pre-combustion carbon dioxide capture using physical solvents.Dr. Baled is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and he received the Coull Award for Outstanding ChE PhD Student at the University of Pittsburgh in 2012. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Aug
7
2017

Pitt Engineering Students Find Sustainable Solutions through Summer Research

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (August 7, 2017) … At the 14th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium (URP) hosted by the Swanson School’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, students presented the results of their multidisciplinary approaches to sustainable engineering. Research for the 17 student projects took place during the 12-week URP summer program. The students worked independently on their projects but received guidance from University of Pittsburgh faculty mentors.Angela Leo and Kendra LaVallee, both majoring in chemical engineering, received first and second place, respectively. As a Covestro Scholar, Leo was supported by the high-tech polymer company Covestro; and as a Mascaro Scholar, LaVallee was supported by Civil Engineering alumnus, John C. Mascaro.Leo’s project titled “Unlocking Energy Efficient Water Oxidation for Ozone Disinfectants” examined the electrochemical production of ozone through extreme water oxidation and its overpotential – a measurement of a reaction’s optimal value compared to what is experimentally observed. Using advanced computational methods, Leo was able to model and observe a reduction in the overpotential, indicating progression towards efficient ozone catalysis. Ozone has the potential to offer a more sustainable alternative to water sterilization when compared to traditional methods such as chlorine or chloramine.LaVallee’s project titled “Fueling a Growing World: Nanoparticle Catalyzed Synthesis of Ethylene” focused on developing a novel synthesis method for ethylene production from ethane. Ethylene, an important commodity chemical that serves as a precursor for most plastics, is currently manufactured in an energy-intensive process that releases harmful air pollutants to the atmosphere. LaVallee’s research explored a process called oxidative dehydrogenation, which permits gentler reaction conditions.About Angela LeoLeo will graduate in fall 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. Since this past January, she has been an undergraduate researcher in the research group of John Keith, Assistant Professor and the Inaugural Richard King Mellon Faculty Fellow in Energy. In the group, she has learned how to utilize Python and the software CP2K to investigate chemistry computationally.Leo is currently a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Society of Women Engineers, and the University of Pittsburgh Varsity Marching Band, in which she plays the bass (tuba). She is also a former member of the photography club. About Kendra LaValleeLaVallee will graduate in the fall 2017 and will receive her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. She is pursuing a certificate in Supply Chain Management in the joint program between the Swanson School and the University of Pittsburgh College of Business Administration. After completing a yearlong co-op in the technical operations department at Johnson & Johnson, LaVallee received the National Co-op of the Year Award from the American Society of Engineering Education at the Conference for Industry and Education Collaboration.This summer, she worked under the guidance of graduate student Yahui Yang in the catalytic reaction engineering laboratory of Goetz Veser, professor of chemical and petroleum engineering.An active participant in PittServes, LaVallee traveled to Ecuador during her spring break to volunteer to help build a sustainable marketplace. She is in the Honors Chemical Engineering Society, Omega Chi Epsilon, and she is also the Women’s Engineering Conference Publicity Chair for the Society of Women Engineers. ### Above image: Kendra LaVallee (left) and Angela Leo (right)
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Aug
7
2017

Pitt’s Coulter Program awards $650,000 to six teams developing novel biomedical technology

Bioengineering

ul { line-height: 20px; margin-bottom:40px; } PITTSBURGH (August 7, 2017) …The University of Pittsburgh Coulter Translational Research Partners II Program awarded grants totaling $650,000 to six translational research teams through its most recent funding cycle. The new funded projects include a biomarker for identifying intracranial hemorrhage, a biosensor platform for detecting cardiac events, a drug delivery platform for preventing sexually transmitted infections, a device to improve viability of donor livers for transplantation, a novel peripheral IV placement catheter, and a significantly improved surgical retractor. “The six winning teams met our rigorous business oriented criteria and were among the best we have seen. They were also among the most diverse, as a result of a broader field of applicants,” said Max Fedor, Coulter Program Director. “In addition to direct funding for translational research, teams receive significant coaching from our experienced staff and from external business and clinical experts, who have partnered with us. We are extremely pleased with the success of this year’s program and look forward to expanding further funding collaborations across the University community in the upcoming competitive grant cycle this fall.” The Coulter Program, housed within Pitt’s Department of Bioengineering, is a partnership between the Swanson School of Engineering, the Schools of the Health Sciences and the Innovation Institute. The Program aims to identify, select, and develop promising late-stage biomedical projects that address significant unmet clinical needs and have the potential for positive clinical and economic impacts. The 2017 Coulter funding cycle was unique from previous years, in that applications were accepted in collaboration with the Center for Commercial Applications of Healthcare Data and SciVelo, the Department of Dermatology, the Department of Plastic Surgery, the Magee-Womens Research Institute, the Pittsburgh Liver Research Center, the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, and the Vascular Medicine Institute. Each partner agreed to provide financial support jointly with Coulter for winning projects within their category.  Details on the six funded technologies and their scientific and clinical teams include: Biomarkers for Infant Brain Injury Score (BIBIS): A serum biomarker panel for improving identification of intracranial hemorrhage in infants and young children. Rachel Berger, MD, MPH, Professor, Department of Pediatrics Brian Pak, PhD, Director of Assay Development and Paul Smith, President and CEO of Axela, Inc. CardioSense: A universal biosensor platform for detection and monitoring of congestive heart failure and myocardial infarction. Prashant Kumta, PhD, Professor, Swanson School of Engineering and School of Dental Medicine Robert Kormos, MD, Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Bioengineering Mitali Patil, MS, and PhD Candidate, Department of Bioengineering Prashanth Jampani Hanumantha, PhD, Department of Bioengineering HerShield: A quick dissolving vaginal film for on-demand drug delivery platform for protection against sexually transmitted infections. Lisa C. Rohan, PhD, Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences Katherine Bunge, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences Sravan Kumar Patel, PhD, Post-Doctoral Associate, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences OrganEvac: A whole-organ sonothrombolysis device to increase the number of livers available for transplantation from donors after cardiac death Christopher Hughes, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery and Surgical Director, Liver Transplantation Paulo Fontes, MD, Professor of Surgery and Director, Machine Perfusion Program, Starzl Transplantation Institute ThreadRite IV: A novel resistance-sensing catheter with guidewire to expedite peripheral IV placement on the first attempt. William (Buddy) Clark, PhD, Professor Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Cameron Dezfulian, MD, Assistant Professor Adult & Pediatric Critical Care Medicine Ehsan Quaim, Graduate Student, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Dennis Wist, CEO Nicholas Krehel, Research Assistant, Critical Care Medicine Steeltown Retractor: A flexible arm surgical tool holder that gives surgeons unprecedented fast, precise tool positioning capabilities while minimizing operating room (OR) costs for the hospital Jeffrey Vipperman, PhD, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Pete Allen, MD, UPMC Mercy Dept. of General Surgery Garth Elias, MD, UPMC Mercy Dept. of General Surgery Joe Marcanio, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Innovation Institute Christopher Dumm, PhD Candidate, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science About the Coulter Translational Research Partners II ProgramThe Coulter Translational Research Partners II Program is a University based accelerator, designed to help faculty researchers translate their innovations to commercialization. By way of a competitive grant program, training processes, and collaborative services, our goal is to de-risk University technology and identify viable commercial pathways through the complex healthcare industry landscape. Further, we engage extensively with business partners, mentors and clinical experts to bring industry perspectives to translational research. In 6 years, the Coulter Program has attracted almost 200 applications, funded 31 projects leading to eight license agreements, four optioned technologies and eight start-up companies. ###

Aug
7
2017

Multiscale Thermophysics Researcher Heng Ban Joins the MEMS Faculty

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (August 7, 2017) … Expanding its impact in energy research, the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering has recruited thermal science researcher Heng Ban to the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS) as the R. K. Mellon Professor in Energy. “Heng has already had a successful career at Utah State University, exploring new research topics in thermal science and publishing his results in top journals,” said Brian Gleeson, the Harry S. Tack Chair Professor and Chair of MEMS. “We look forward to seeing those talents put to use at the University of Pittsburgh.”Dr. Ban’s research interests covers topics in thermal and energy sciences. His focus has been to understand the relationship between material microstructural change and its thermal performance, with research covering experimental and computational material thermophysical properties and measurement technique development. His research can be applied to a better understanding of nuclear fuels and materials, micro-scale measurements, and the development of hot-cell or in-pile sensors and instrumentations.“Many impressive and highly-qualified candidates were considered for this position, but Professor Ban’s particular research interests and expertise make him the perfect addition to our faculty and to the Center of Energy’s research portfolio,” said Greg Reed, professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering, and Director of the Center For Energy at Pitt.Before coming to the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Ban was a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Utah State University and the founding Director of the Center for Thermohydraulics and Material Properties. He is also a former associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Ban received his PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Kentucky; his MS in engineering thermal sciences from the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, China; and his BS in engineering mechanics from Tsinghua University in Beijing. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Aug
4
2017

Bioengineering Faculty tenured/tenure-stream

Bioengineering, Open Positions

The Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering ( engineering.pitt.edu/bioengineering ) invites applications from accomplished individuals with an earned PhD or equivalent degree in bioengineering or closely related disciplines for a faculty position in Synthetic Biology or Systems Biology. This is a tenured/tenure-stream, open-rank position and we wish to recruit an individual with strong research accomplishments in synthetic or systems biology, with a focus on engineering of living systems and potential to complement our current strengths in biomechanics, neural engineering, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, medical device engineering, and bioimaging. In addition, candidates must be committed to contributing to high quality education of a diverse student body at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Located in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, the University of Pittsburgh is a top-five institution in terms of NIH funding, and provides a rich environment for interdisciplinary research, strengthened through its affiliation with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). The Department of Bioengineering, consistently ranked among the top programs in the country, has outstanding research and educational programs, offering undergraduate (~270 students, sophomore-to-senior years) and graduate (~150 PhD or MD/PhD and ~50 MS students) degrees. The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine ( mirm.pitt.edu ), the Vascular Medicine Institute ( vmi.pitt.edu ), the Brain Institute ( braininstitute.pitt.edu ), Center for Neuroscience ( neurobio.pitt.edu ), and the Drug Discovery Institute ( upddi.pitt.edu ) offer many collaborative research opportunities. The Coulter Translational Partnership II Program ( engineering.pitt.edu/coulter ) and the Center for Commercial Applications of Healthcare Data ( healthdataalliance.com/university-of-pittsburgh ) provide biomedical innovation and translation opportunities. Interested individuals should send the following as a single, self-contained PDF attachment via email to bioeapp@pitt.edu ( include AY18 PITT BIOE POSITION in the subject line ): (1) cover letter, (2) complete CV (including funding record, if applicable), (3) research statement, (4) teaching statement, (5) three representative publications, and (6) names and complete contact information of at least four references. To ensure full consideration, applications must be received by November 30, 2017. However, applications will be reviewed as they are received. Early submission is highly encouraged. The Department of Bioengineering is strongly committed to a diverse academic environment and places high priority on attracting female and underrepresented minority candidates. We strongly encourage candidates from these groups to apply for the position. The University affirms and actively promotes the rights of all individuals to equal opportunity in education and employment without regard to race, color, sex, national origin, age, religion, marital status, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or any other protected class.

bioeapp@pitt.edu
Aug
4
2017

MEMS MMCL Postdoc

MEMS, Open Positions

We invite applications for a postdoctoral position in the Materials Micro-Characterization Laboratory (MMCL) of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Pittsburgh. The MMCL offers shared-user access to electron-, ion- and x-ray-based micro-analysis resources, and serves the diverse needs of a growing community of academic and industry users. The MMCL instruments include field-emission transmission and scanning electron microscopes (TEM and SEM), which are equipped for composition and crystal orientation analyses, as well as x-ray-diffraction (XRD), atomic force microscopy and nano-mechanical testing equipment, and features a suite of state-of-the-art instruments for advanced electron microscopy specimen preparation. The position is available for a micro-characterization specialist for materials science applications. With a focus on metals, ceramics and composites, the successful candidate will directly work with users to initiate and execute materials research primarily with EM and XRD methods. This includes sample preparation and interpretation of the results, preparation of reports and publications in peer-reviewed journals, as well as participation in technical and scientific meetings to disseminate research results. Also, he/she will conduct user training, co-manage day-to-day MMCL operations, ensure peak performance and improvement of instruments, work with department and laboratory leadership in strategic build-out of the MMCL, promote its service capabilities on and off campus, and engage in outreach and limited teaching activities. A PhD in materials science, physics, chemistry, or a related field, and at least two years of documented hands-on experience with modern SEM, TEM and XRD instrumentation in high-level research of crystalline materials are required. Apart from good communication and interpersonal skills, the qualified candidate will have acquired superior competency with the relevant theoretical knowledge. Familiarity with modern computer programming and optimization techniques, simulations of EM and XRD data, and post-acquisition data processing and analyses using popular software is desirable. Candidates with experience operating user facilities and expertise with advanced EM techniques are of particular interest. The position is available as early as September 1, 2017, with an initial appointment for one year and the possibility of extension for subsequent years, depending on performance and availability of funding. Applicants should submit a cover letter, CV and contact information for at least two (2) references electronically to the attention of Professor Wiezorek at Wiezorek@pitt.edu. The University affirms and actively promotes the rights of all individuals to equal opportunity in education and employment without regard to race, color, sex, national origin, age, religion, marital status, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or any other protected class.

Aug
3
2017

Sending the Right Signals

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (August 3, 2017) … Through a process called cell signaling, cells collaborate on necessary functions such as responding to changes in the environment, fighting off threats to the body, or regulating the basic processes that keep the body alive. Cells work much like computers carrying out functions and use cell signaling over a vast network. Also much like computers, cells can be reprogrammed to change their behavior.Warren Ruder, assistant professor in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, is developing microparticles that carry engineered bacteria known as ‘smart biomaterials.’ As the basis of a study recently supported by the National Science Foundation, Dr. Ruder will use the biomaterials to reprogram mammalian cell signaling. The goal of the study is to use these hybrid, living-nonliving biomaterials to better understand how cell signaling works and influence cell behavior when a problem occurs.“Fundamentally, many diseases result from incorrect cell signaling,” explains Dr. Ruder, “which causes the body’s natural control systems to fail to maintain normal function, or homeostasis. New tools that allow cell signaling to be rewired therefore can affect many diseases. This project is geared toward developing new tools for exploring and rewiring cell signaling.”Dr. Ruder will serve as principal investigator of the project titled “Creating Smart Biomaterials Using Engineered Bacteria that Cooperatively Reprogram Mammalian Cells.” The research will focus on delivering synthetic genetic components to mammalian cells and reprogramming their calcium signaling processes, specifically. Calcium signaling occurs in many cells, and it controls both slow and fast cellular processes.“Calcium signaling is one of the most important cell signals,” Dr. Ruder says. “It is the signature of muscle contraction, relevant to many forms of cardiac or musculoskeletal disease, but also a master regulator of processes ranging from neuron firing and brain function to fertilization.” Once Dr. Ruder introduces the smart biomaterials, they will be able to collaborate and collectively determine when to transmit genetic components to mammalian cells. Dr. Ruder will then use mathematical modeling and computation simulation to explore the processes behind calcium signaling in mammalian cells and which genetic alterations will cause the most significant changes in cell signaling dynamics.“The bacteria will be genetically engineered to invade mammalian cells. Once inside, they will genetically engineer the mammalian cells in a process distinctly different from viral genetic delivery. We will engineer two different types of bacteria that will signal each other and thus work as a team to invade after they monitor the environment,” says Dr. Ruder.The project will receive $338,414 in NSF funding and will cover the award period from August 1, 2017 to July 31, 2020.About Dr. 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). Dr. 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 (now at MIT) and Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.Dr. 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, he directed the “Engineered Living Systems Laboratory,” a group focused on merging synthetic biology with biomimetic systems. He has authored 23 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 Dr. Ruder as his department’s “Faculty Member of the Year” in 2014. While at Pitt, Dr. Ruder will be applying his work to medical technologies and cures for disease. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Aug
3
2017

Erosion triggers most bridge collapses, so a Pitt engineer buried an alarm

Electrical & Computer, Student Profiles

Michael Rothfuss buried 15 PVC tubes packed with batteries and radios around a remote bridge that spans a small creek in Armstrong County more than two years ago. He hasn't heard from them since. Rothfuss, who has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, placed the tubes as part of a Pitt RFID Center of Excellence project. It was to help PennDOT improve erosion monitoring around underwater support structures of remote, rural bridges. Read the full story by Aaron Aupperlee in the Tribune-Review. Photo: Michael Rothfuss in the RFID Center of Excellence. (Aaron Aupperlee/Tribune-Review)
Aaron Aupperlee, Tribune-Review staff writer

Jul

Jul
27
2017

CEE’s Eddy Hasis Named 2017 Peter J. Mascaro Fellow in Construction Management

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (July 27, 2017) … Edwin Hasis, a graduate student in the Swanson School of Engineering’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is the recipient of the 2017 Peter J. Mascaro Fellow in Construction Management. As part of the yearlong fellowship, Hasis will receive full tuition reimbursement for his graduate studies, enabling him to better focus on his first year of graduate school.“During his first year as a graduate student, Eddy has shown outstanding commitment to understanding all the steps of the construction process and has the potential to become an excellent leader in the construction industry,” said John Sebastian, LEED, AP, the McKamish Director of the Construction Management Program at the Swanson School. “The first year of graduate school can be a challenge as students adapt to a different learning environment, and so it is important that funding programs such as the Mascaro Fellowship help ease some of that pressure and allow students to focus on coursework.”John C. “Jack” Mascaro (ENGR ’66, ‘80G), founder and chair of Mascaro Construction Company L.P., established the Peter J. Mascaro Endowed Fund in 1996 to provide tuition assistance each year to a graduate student with a focus on Construction Management and who plans to receive a master’s degree at the University of Pittsburgh.In addition to meeting Pitt academic standards, candidates for the Mascaro Fellowship must have a desire to stay within the Western Pennsylvania region following graduation. As part of the selection process, candidates interview with an advisory group who helps to assess their construction knowledge and interest and their business acumen.“During his interview, Eddy was very thoughtful and he listened, showing great emotional intelligence,” said Mascaro. “He is a hard worker, but more important is that he can integrate theoretic and pragmatic concepts for the construction industry.” Hasis, a native of Jefferson Hills, Pa., graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 2010. He attended West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, W. Va. and began working as a field engineer for an oil and gas service company after graduation. He enrolled in the Construction Management Master’s Program at the University of Pittsburgh in 2016.After completing his degree, Hasis said he would like to work in the construction industry as a project engineer and eventually a project manager. He is currently working on site for Mascaro Construction during the summer. About the Construction Management Program at PittPitt’s Construction Management and Sustainability Program Concentration encompasses public and private sector perspectives, building and engineering construction, and the roles played by all the participants on the construction team (owners, contractors, design professionals, and other supporting professionals). The program emphasizes managerial decision-making in an engineering context and teaches students decision-making skills that are important to the successful completion of construction projects as measured by time, cost, and quality objectives. In addition, the program develops in the students those professional qualities that will make them effective managers - communication skills, computer applications, ethical standards, and leadership attributes. ### Photo above (from left to right): Eddy Hasis, Jack Mascaro, and John Sebastian
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jul
27
2017

Raising the Bar

Electrical & Computer, Student Profiles

The next time the barcode on your box of cereal or bag of lettuce won't scan, it could be on its way to a lab at the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt partners with GS1 , the international association responsible for regulating barcodes and setting barcode standards, to improve on the decades-old technology. Read the full story by Aaron Aupperlee in the Tribune-Review.
Aaron Aupperlee, Tribune-Review staff writer
Jul
26
2017

Pitt’s Center for Medical Innovation awards three novel biomedical devices with $65,000 total Round-1 2017 Pilot Funding

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Industrial

PITTSBURGH (July 26, 2017) … The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) awarded grants totaling $65,000 to three research groups through its 2017 Round-1 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development. The latest funding proposals include a new technology for reducing risk of post-partum uterine hemorrhage, a thermal device for inducing nerve block in pain control, and a system to improve transplanted organ viability.CMI, a University Center housed in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, supports applied technology projects in the early stages of development with “kickstart” funding toward the goal of transitioning the research to clinical adoption. Proposals are evaluated on the basis of scientific merit, technical and clinical relevance, potential health care impact and significance, experience of the investigators, and potential in obtaining further financial investment to translate the particular solution to healthcare.“This is our sixth year of pilot funding,” said Alan D. Hirschman, PhD, CMI Executive Director. “Since our inception, more than $1 million from external funding sources and from the Swanson School of Engineering has been invested in early stage medical technologies. Many of these technologies have the potential to significantly improve the delivery of health care and several new companies have resulted from the program, which has successfully partnered UPMC’s clinicians and surgeons with the Swanson School’s engineering faculty.”AWARD 1: Objective Postpartum Uterine Tone MonitoringFunds development of a new prototype uterine tone measurement device for eventual testing in the clinical setting. The device would evaluate intra-uterine muscle tone for detection of and control of postpartum bleeding.Gerhardt Konig, MDDepartment of Anesthesiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Jason Shoemaker, PhDAssistant Professor of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of EngineeringAWARD 2: Novel Thermal Block Technology to Block Nerve ConductionFor development and preclinical testing of a thermal nerve block device for anesthesia and pain control. Early research in mice shows that the effect can be useful in controlling production and communication of nerve impulses. The award will demonstrate proof of concept to attract additional funding from external competitive grants. Development of a small implantable, wireless controlled, wireless chargeable device to control the electrodes will be a primary goal. The prototype device will then test the pudendal nerve to confirm the nerve block effects. Changfeng Tai, PhD Associate Professor of Urology, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineAssociate Professor of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering Christopher Chermansky, MDAssistant Professor of Urology, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineAssistant Professor of Industrial Engineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering Bo Zeng, PhD Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering AWARD 3: OrganEvac/Whole Organ Sonothrombolysis DeviceThis award is an equal participation between the Center for Medical Innovation and the Coulter Translational Research Partners II Program at Pitt. The early stage seed grant will demonstrate proof of concept that sonothrombolysis technology can greatly enhance viability of transplanted liver tissue through evaluation of thromboemboli in excised, non-transplantable human liver tissue. Paulo Fontes, MDAssociate Professor of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineDirector of the Machine Perfusion Program, University of Pittsburgh Medical CenterJohn Pacella, MD, MSAssistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineUniversity of Pittsburgh Medical Center Heart and Vascular InstituteFlordeliza Villaneuva, MDVice Chair for Pre-Clinical Research, Department of Medicine and Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineDirector, Center for Ultrasound Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics, University of Pittsburgh Medical CenterAbout the Center for Medical InnovationThe 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). Established in 2011, CMI promotes the application and development of innovative biomedical technologies to clinical problems; educates the next generation of innovators in cooperation with the schools of Engineering, Health Sciences, Business, and Law; and facilitates the translation of innovative biomedical technologies into marketable products and services. CMI has supported more than 50 early-stage projects through more than $1 million in funding since inception. ###

Jul
25
2017

We Have a Quorum

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (July 25, 2017) … From the smallest cell to humans, most organisms can sense their local population density and change behavior in crowded environments. For bacteria and social insects, this behavior is referred to as “quorum sensing.” Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering have utilized computational modeling to mimic such quorum sensing behavior in synthetic materials, which could lead to devices with the ability for self-recognition and self-regulation. The findings are based on research into biomimetic synthetic materials by Anna C. Balazs, Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, and post-doctoral associate Henry Shum, who is now an assistant professor of applied mathematics at the University of Waterloo. The article, “Synthetic quorum sensing in model microcapsule colonies,” is published this week in the journal PNAS (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1702288114).“Quorum sensing (QS) is a distinctive behavior of living organisms that allows them to initiate a specific behavior only when a critical threshold in population size and density are exceeded,” Dr. Balazs explained. “This tunable self-awareness is apparent in macro systems such as bees selecting a site for a new hive, but is vital to cellular systems like bacteria, which produce and secrete signaling molecules that act as “autoinducers” once a specific population is reached. Creating a biomimetic response can allow synthetic materials to effectively “count”; this is, to sense and adapt to their environment once a preprogrammed threshold is reached.”  In a biological system, autoinducers in low concentrations diffuse away and therefore do not trigger response. Hence, the system is in a type of “off” state. However, when the cells reach a specific number or quorum, the production of autoinducers leads to a detection and response. This “on” state increases the production of the signaling molecule and activates further metabolic pathways that are triggered by QS, coordinating the colony behavior. “However, autoinducers tend to maintain the “on” state once activated so the system is less sensitive to subsequent decreases in the population,” Dr. Shum said. “For self-regulating materials to unambiguously determine their present density, we modeled a colony of immobile microcapsules that release signaling chemicals in a “repressilator” network, which does not exhibit the same “memory” effect. Instead, we found that chemical oscillations emerge in the microcapsule colony under conditions that are analogous to achieving a quorum in biological systems.”The researchers note that their findings could inspire new mechano-responsive materials, such as polymer gels with embedded QS elements that would activate a certain chemical behavior when compressed, and then switch off when stretched, or when a specific temperature is reached. “For example, you could have a robotic skin that solidifies to protect itself at a certain temperature, and then becomes “squishy” again when the temperature drops to a nominal level,” Dr. Balazs adds. “Although our work is computational, the results show that the creation of self-recognizing and self-regulating synthetic materials is possible.”This research was supported as part of the Center for Bio-Inspired Energy Science, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences under Award DE-SC0000989. ### Image (above) and animated gif (below): Modeled microcapsules (image: grey spheres/gif: small circles) demonstrate “quorum sensing” behavior. A small collection of microcapsules remains dormant (left) whereas a large, crowded population exhibits oscillations in chemical activity (right), represented by circular waves of color (image)/cyclic color changes (gif).

Jul
16
2017

How secure is the nation's power grid?

Electrical & Computer

Gregory Reed, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of Pitt's Center for Energy, joined PJM President and CEO Andy Ott with KDKA's Jon Delano on the Sunday Business Page to discuss the security of the nation's power grid. (Original airdate: July 16, 2017) View the Sunday Business Page at KDKA TV.

Jul
12
2017

From Schenley Place to Outer Space

Electrical & Computer

Reposted with permission of Pittwire. Space is not a welcoming environment for computers. Cosmic radiation, solar winds and the vacuum of space itself all threaten the reliability of space computers and can even kill their processes entirely.Yet computing is deeply intertwined with space technology. Vast distances, perpetual orbits and conditions unsuitable for humans all suggest the future of space technology lies in computing. The question that remains is how to make a better space computer.In January 2017, the National Science Foundation Center for High-Performance Reconfigurable Computing — CHREC, pronounced “shreck” — and its founder Alan George found a new home at the University of Pittsburgh. The lab researches reconfigurable, high-performance space computing. Picture these processors like Legos — super durable and able to break apart and reassemble into many different shapes. The lab's aim is to develop advanced computers that can remain reliable even amidst a harsh, extraterrestrial environment.“Computers are the future astronauts and at the heart and soul of anything you do in space,” said George, who also became the Mickle Chair Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering when he came to Pitt. “At CHREC, we develop and test ways to increase performance, reduce power consumption and meet the demands of space computing.” Operational since 2007, CHREC comprises more than 30 industrial, governmental and academic partners, including Lockheed Martin SSC, BAE Systems and Harris Corporation; the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Office of Naval Research and NASA; and a four-university collaboration of Brigham Young University, Virginia Tech and the University of Florida — with Pitt serving as the lead institution. George said he hopes CHREC can partner with more local and national organizations as well.“We realize that we need a broad group of people to succeed,” he said. “We can really take the initiative in a place like Pittsburgh and stick our neck out to help the community, particularly those interested in new, esoteric space technology.”This past March, the U.S. Department of Defense deployed a payload to the International Space Station with two experimental CHREC space processors and a high-resolution camera. The CHREC processors are the basis for a variety of studies in resilient, reconfigurable computing in orbit. They are remotely operated from the new facility at Pitt located in Schenley Place, an office building less than a half of a mile from the Cathedral of Learning.Christopher Wilson, a PhD student and visiting scholar in the CHREC lab, operates the ground station controlling the processors from Schenley Place when the space station schedule permits. He and the other members of his team are reconfiguring the computers, which means they are using a technology called switching fabric to actually restructure the computer’s hardware.Wilson specializes in space systems research and balances his own dissertation research with his responsibilities as a CHREC group leader. Organizing his schedule based on NASA’s timetable can be demanding, he said, but the opportunity is well worth the hassle.“Our research at CHREC never needs to be some intangible, theoretical project that will never have any practical use because we have the opportunities to put our research to use in space,” said Wilson. “I can wake up in the morning and send commands to space computers on the International Space Station that we developed in our lab.”Wilson is one of four doctoral students who came to Pitt to finish their studies under George. They will graduate with degrees from the University of Florida, CHREC’s first home. Ten other graduate students came as well, and they will graduate with degrees from the University of Pittsburgh. One of these students, Bradley Shea, is pursuing his master's degree in electrical and computer engineering and is the hardware lead at CHREC. Shea works on high-speed, printed-circuit-board design for space flight, particularly for missions involving a small box-shaped satellite called CubeSat. Universities, companies and governments use the standardized CubeSat design to explore new applications for space technology.“Our lab is defining the future of scientific and payload processing for CubeSat missions with lower cost and power,” Shea said. “With our scalable designs, we can potentially save millions of dollars by doing real science processing with a small CubeSat rather than with a much larger satellite payload.”CHREC’s move to Pitt also has introduced space computing to undergraduate students curious about applying their education to topics in space. The inaugural class of the Summer Space Group launched on May 12, 2017. The group includes 17 students majoring in a variety of engineering fields as well as computer science, physics and economics.“Space technology applies to most of the engineering disciplines, so we are looking to be accessible to anyone interested in learning more about the field, from our own undergraduate students to the broader Pittsburgh community,” said George.The Summer Space Group will spend all summer working with Pitt faculty and CHREC graduate student mentors to explore topics in space technology firsthand. Their work will have a significant impact on the next International Space Station processor project, called STP-H6, which CHREC will deliver to the station in 2018. The Spacecraft Supercomputing for Image and Video Processing mission on STP-H6 will increase the number of space computer processors commanded from Pitt on the space station from two to eight and explore more advanced processes in the hybrid computing system. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jul
10
2017

Pitt ASCE Student Chapter Wins Back-to-Back Distinguished Chapter Awards

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (July 10, 2017) … For the second consecutive year, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has chosen the University of Pittsburgh student chapter as recipient of the Distinguished Chapter Award for Region 2. The Pitt chapter was also a returning finalist for the Robert Ridgway Student Chapter Award, which is awarded annually to the single most outstanding student chapter nationwide.“They’re a spirited group and very inclusive of anyone who wants to get involved,” said Anthony Iannacchione, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and faculty advisor to ASCE. “We’ve had a great string of presidents and active leadership from the board members. They’re always trying to bring along the younger students for the next year, and I think that’s why our success continues to build.”The ASCE Distinguished Chapter awards are based on information from the chapters’ 2016 annual reports. The Pitt chapter’s annual report outlined strategies for growing the chapter, events and activities, and plans for 2017.In 2016, the chapter increased first-year membership by 40 percent compared to the previous year. Fundraising increased around 200 percent, and 24 companies attended the Civil Engineering-specific Fall Career Fair at Pitt. The chapter also invited members of other professional chapters to give presentations at the October ASCE meeting. Attendees included Associated General Contractors, Institute of Transportation Engineers, American Society of Highway Engineers, and the American Institute of Architecture Students.One particular highlight from the Pitt chapter’s past year was the Ohio Valley Student Conference. This meeting of more than 350 civil engineering students and professionals representing 15 schools from Ohio, Kentucky, and western Pennsylvania challenged students with competitions such as building a steel bridge, writing and presenting a technical paper, and constructing a concrete canoe and racing it.Pitt ASCE came in 3rd Place Overall out of 14 universities at the 2016 Ohio Valley Student Conference. They took first place overall in the environmental category, the surveying category, and the most sustainable apparatus category of the environmental competition. Other awards included third place in four categories: most creative apparatus (environmental), best poster/display (environmental), civil site design, and best technical review paper.“We had a very successful year last year, and I think earning the Distinguished Chapter Award is a testament to the members and faculty of ASCE,” noted Chaz Donnelly, 2017-18 ASCE Pitt Student Chapter President and upcoming senior in civil engineering. “Our chapter takes pride in every event we are involved with, because our members genuinely enjoy Civil Engineering. This is reflected in the way our school is represented at career fairs, professional events, and OVSC.”Throughout 2016, 60 percent of the Pitt chapter’s members participated in at least one volunteer day, with events including: Pitt ASCE joined 3,500 Pitt students during the university-wide Pitt Make a Difference Day, helping with service projects around the city Pittsburgh. Presenting the fundamentals of civil engineering to younger students during the Middle School Engineering Day. Ten ASCE members brought samples of concrete and steel for the students to examine and used balsa wood bridges to demonstrate how forces work. Looking ahead to 2017, the Pitt ASCE chapter will host the annual Region 2 assembly, which will bring members of ASCE to Pittsburgh from Washington, DC, parts of northern Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. The assembly will provide professional development opportunities through presentations on current engineering design practices as well as chances for students, professors, and practitioners to meet and interact. ### Image above (from left to right): Pitt ASCE chapter members Chaz Donnelly, Pete Eyre, Anna Thomas, Cameron Schmidt, and Connor Bassett.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jul
10
2017

Working the [Immune] System

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (July 10, 2017) … As a rule, implants and the immune system don’t get along. The human body recognizes these materials as foreign substances and tries to fight them like a virus or bacteria. Although this response can cause trouble for doctors and patients, new research at the University of Pittsburgh suggests the immune system can actually assist the body in accepting implanted biomaterials. The National Institute on Aging, one of the 27 Institutes and Centers of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded Bryan Brown, assistant professor of bioengineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, a five-year, $1.57 million R01 grant to examine how aging affects implantable medical devices. This is the second R01 grant from the NIH Dr. Brown has received this year to support his research of implantable materials. His study, “Assessing the Impacts of Aging upon the Macrophage Response to Implantable Materials,” will specifically address reactions to implantable medical devices by the aged body, including immunosenescence (a deterioration of the immune system brought on by aging), dysregulation of white blood cell function and polarization, and delayed resolution of acute immune responses.“The impacts of aging on individuals with implants have never been investigated,” said Dr. Brown. “As Baby Boomers in particular age, the number of people over 65 will grow, and more than 75 percent of these individuals have at least one chronic condition, usually associated with inflammation. We need therefore a better understanding of how aging affects the immune system’s responses to implants.”Dr. Brown will build upon earlier research in which he demonstrated that the host inflammatory response is critical to the success and function of implants. His study found that the first week of macrophage activity (a type of white blood cell) at the implant site could predict immune system response as far as 90 days down the road. By controlling the immune system response, Dr. Brown and his team are looking for the best way to lengthen the lifespan of implants and minimize the negative effects of implanting a foreign object into the body.“Really, the challenges are not fully known,” explained Dr. Brown. “Many implants are used primarily in older individuals, so there is not always a point of comparison. However, in our previous work, we have demonstrated that the host inflammatory response is critical to success and function of implants. Therefore, we are trying to define changes in aged individuals to develop informed approaches to improving implant function in this population. With a projected two billion individuals over the age of 65 by 2050, optimizing the success of implants that can treat a wide range of illnesses could result in significant benefits for patients in their golden years.” ### Image above: Dr. Brown (middle) in the lab with Pitt BioE graduate students Alexis Nolfi (left) and Samuel LoPresti (right).
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jul
10
2017

How do you build a metal nanoparticle?

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (July 10, 2017) … Although scientists have for decades been able to synthesize nanoparticles in the lab, the process is mostly trial and error, and how the formation actually takes place is obscure. However, a study recently published in Nature Communications by chemical engineers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering explains how metal nanoparticles form. “Thermodynamic Stability of Ligand-Protected Metal Nanoclusters” (DOI: 10.1038/ncomms15988) was co-authored by Giannis Mpourmpakis, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering, and PhD candidate Michael G. Taylor. The research, completed in Mpourmpakis’ Computer-Aided Nano and Energy Lab (C.A.N.E.LA.), is funded through a National Science Foundation CAREER award and bridges previous research focused on designing nanoparticles for catalytic applications.“Even though there is extensive research into metal nanoparticle synthesis, there really isn’t a rational explanation why a nanoparticle is formed,” Dr. Mpourmpakis said. “We wanted to investigate not just the catalytic applications of nanoparticles, but to make a step further and understand nanoparticle stability and formation. This new thermodynamic stability theory explains why ligand-protected metal nanoclusters are stabilized at specific sizes.”A ligand is a molecule that binds to metal atoms to form metal cores that are stabilized by a shell of ligands, and so understanding how they contribute to nanoparticle stabilization is essential to any process of nanoparticle application. Dr. Mpourmpakis explained that previous theories describing why nanoclusters stabilized at specific sizes were based on empirical electron counting rules – the number of electrons that form a closed shell electronic structure, but show limitations since there have been metal nanoclusters experimentally synthesized that do not necessarily follow these rules. “The novelty of our contribution is that we revealed that for experimentally synthesizable nanoclusters there has to be a fine balance between the average bond strength of the nanocluster’s metal core, and the binding strength of the ligands to the metal core,” he said. “We could then relate this to the structural and compositional characteristic of the nanoclusters, like size, number of metal atoms, and number of ligands.“Now that we have a more complete understanding of this stability, we can better tailor the nanoparticle morphologies and in turn properties, to applications from biolabeling of individual cells and targeted drug delivery to catalytic reactions, thereby creating more efficient and sustainable production processes.” ### Image above: Structure of a ligand-protected Au25 nanocluster (credit: C.A.N.E.LA.)

Jul
6
2017

Keeping the Beat: NIH continues Pitt’s Cardiovascular Bioengineering Training Program with Five-Year, $1.9 Million Award

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (July 6, 2017) … The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has renewed funding for the University of Pittsburgh Department of Bioengineering’s Cardiovascular Bioengineering Training Program (CBTP). The program - which educates students who are interested in cardiovascular research and pursuing a PhD in bioengineering - will receive nearly $1.9 million over the next five years.Sanjeev Shroff, the Distinguished Professor of and Gerald McGinnis Chair in Bioengineering at Pitt, established the CBTP in 2005 to train bioengineering doctoral students for careers in basic and/or translational cardiovascular research. By renewing the grant, the NIH has guaranteed funding until 2022.“A unique feature of the program is that students are exposed first-hand to real-world clinical problems requiring bioengineering input for their solution,” said Dr. Shroff, who serves as principal investigator for the program. “The program is designed to provide students both breadth and depth in engineering and biological sciences and also includes a formal exposure to biostatistics, bioethics, and professional and career development issues. Upon completion, students are well-versed in both basic and clinical aspects of cardiovascular engineering and are well prepared for rewarding careers in a growing field.”Student research within Pitt’s CBTP has focused on a variety of problems, ranging from basic science to novel biomedical technologies for the diagnosis and/or treatment of critical cardiovascular health issues. Examples of these research projects include: Regulation of cardiac muscle contraction by cardiac troponin-I phosphorylation Mechanical processes and pathways that underlie heart morphogenesis Molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying vaso-occlusion in Sickle Cell Disease Role of Profilin-1 in angiogenesis Externally regulated synthetic capillary system for promoting angiogenesis Rapidly degrading synthetic materials for tissue-engineered vascular grafts Extracellular matrix (ECM) scaffolds for heart tissue regeneration Adipose stem cell-based treatments for abdominal aortic aneurysms Improved biocompatibility of implanted cardiovascular devices to reduce rejection Coacervate-based controlled delivery of growth factors for cardiac repair Thermal strain imaging for non-invasive identification of vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques The NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides funding for the program and has designated the grant a National Research Service Award. These awards are granted to training programs in disciplines that address the nation’s biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research needs with an emphasis on producing diverse pool of highly trained scientists. Each student in the CBTP receives a monthly stipend, tuition scholarship, health insurance, and a travel budget.About the Cardiovascular Bioengineering Training ProgramThe goal of the Cardiovascular Bioengineering Training Program (CBTP) is to provide a solid foundation upon which to build a productive independent career in cardiovascular bioengineering. This is accomplished via a highly coordinated and mentored interdisciplinary training program with a combination of core and elective courses, clinical internships, research activities, and specialized training opportunities to enhance professional and career development. There are three focus areas of this program: (1) Basic understanding and quantitative characterization of native (normal and pathological conditions) and perturbed (i.e., with deployment of man-made devices or constructs) cardiovascular function at various levels of organization (cell, tissue, whole organ), (2) Imaging for functional assessment at various levels of organization (cell, tissue, whole organ), and (3) Design and optimization of artificial devices and constructs (mechanical, tissue-engineered, and hybrid).About Dr. ShroffDr. Sanjeev Shroff is the Distinguished Professor of and Gerald E. McGinnis Chair in Bioengineering and Professor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and Chair of the Department of Bioengineering. Prior to joining the faculty at Pitt, Dr. Shroff was a faculty member at the University of Chicago for 17 years in the Department of Medicine (Cardiology Section). Trained as an electrical engineer (Bachelor of Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India, and Master of Engineering from McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada), Dr. Shroff obtained his doctoral degree in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania and completed his Postdoctoral Fellowship within the Cardiovascular-Pulmonary Division of the University of Pennsylvania Department of Medicine. Dr. Shroff is widely recognized as a distinguished scholar in the cardiovascular arena. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

Jun

Jun
28
2017

Improving Nuclear Sensor Tech

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (June 28, 2017) … The United States Department of Energy (DOE) announced the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering will receive $1.275 million for collaborative research that includes the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Reactor Laboratory, Westinghouse Electric Corporation, and the National Energy Technology Laboratory. The award is part of $66 million awarded by DOE to advance innovative nuclear technologies.Kevin Chen, the Paul E. Lego Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Pitt, will lead the collaborative study to develop radiation-hard, multi-functional, distributed fiber sensors, and sensor-fused components that can be placed in a nuclear reactor core to improve safety and efficiency. The grant is from the Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies (NEET) program, part of the DOE’s Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP).“This NEET grant will allow our lab to continue its partnerships with leading technological companies and national laboratories to develop solutions to some of the most pressing issues affecting nuclear energy production,” said Dr. Chen. “Advances in sensor technology can greatly enhance the sensitivity and resolution of data in harsh environments like a nuclear reaction, thereby improving safety operations.”The research will focus on the fabrication of the optic sensors using additive manufacturing and advanced laser fabrication techniques. The group will develop both high-temperature stable point sensors and distributed fiber sensors for high spatial resolution measurements in radiation-hardened silica and sapphire fibers, according to the funding report by the DOE.In 2014, Dr. Chen received a $987,000 grant from the NEET program to study high sensitivity, high accuracy sensor networks. These fiber optical sensor networks allow nuclear engineers to be much more responsive to problems in the nuclear power reactors and fuel cycle systems, increasing safety and reducing operating cost.“The networks we developed contain up to 100 sensors per meter and can be placed in critical locations to quickly relay information to the plant operators and isolate problems before they spread to other areas,” Dr. Chen explained.In addition to the NEET grants, the University of Pittsburgh has received $2.8 million in funding from the DOE NEUP program between 2009 and 2016:• General Scientific Infrastructure funding: $300,000• Two research and development projects: $1,676,422• Five fellowships: $770,000• 11 scholarships: $70,000Dr. Chen’s research into fiber optical sensing technology also earned him a 2017 Carnegie Science Award. The “Innovation in Energy Award” recognized Dr. Chen’s contributions to improving efficiency of energy production and safety of transportation infrastructures in the energy industry. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jun
27
2017

US DOD selects Civil and Environmental Engineering graduate researcher Lisa Stabryla for competitive NDSEG Fellowship

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (June 27, 2017) … Lisa Stabryla, graduate researcher and teaching assistant in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has received a 2017 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship from the United States Department of Defense equal to full tuition and $153,000 in stipend funds.Stabryla is the third student from the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering to receive the NDSEG Fellowship in 2017 along with the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science’s Emily Cimino and Erica Stevens.“The NDSEG Fellowship offers the freedom and opportunity for me to engage in interdisciplinary collaborative research on a topic that I find fascinating and that aims to improve global public health,” said Stabryla. “The fellowship not only provides me with the financial stability to pursue my research endeavors but is also an honor to become a member of a distinguished network, and it inspires confidence as I launch my research career.”Stabryla 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. Stabryla 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).As a PhD student in Dr. Gilbertson’s lab, Stabryla is pursuing research questions related to the sustainable design of nanomaterials. In particular, she focuses on design of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) aimed at combatting antimicrobial resistance (AMR) - the ability of bacteria to resist toxic effects of chemical agents. AMR has become one of the biggest threats to global public health and poses a problem to numerous industries including health care, agriculture, water treatment, and drinking water distribution. The relevance to NDSEG stakeholders includes the potential future need to defend against intentional use of resistant organisms to cause harm. ENMs offer the potential to serve as a next-generation solution to combat AMR because of the ability to tailor high efficacy and their multiple modes of inactivation. The goal of Stabryla’s research is to discover the underlying mechanisms of inactivation and the evolution of these mechanisms with changes in ENM physicochemical properties. Emerging evidence that demonstrates the potential for bacteria to resist certain ENMs (e.g., silver nanoparticles) further motivates her work to inform design of effective antimicrobial agents that preclude (or at least prolong) emergence of resistance.The NDSEG Fellowship is sponsored and funded by the United States Department of Defense (DoD). NDSEG selections are made by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and the Army Research Office (ARO). The American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) administers the NDSEG Fellowship. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jun
22
2017

Christopher Wilmer Wins AIChE Young Investigator Award for Modeling and Simulation

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (June 22, 2017) … The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) selected Christopher Wilmer , assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, as its 2017 recipient of the Young Investigator Award for Modeling and Simulation. The AIChE Computational Molecular Science and Engineering Forum (CoMSEF) presents the award annually to one individual who received his/her highest degree within the past seven years. “In the three years since Chris came to Pitt, I have watched him pursue research topics with the potential to have a profound impact on energy, the environment, and society as a whole,” said Steven Little , the William Kepler Whiteford Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at Pitt. “By reaching so high, he has been able to accomplish so much during the very early stages of what promises to be an extraordinary career. The CoMSEF Young Investigator Award is one of the most prestigious honors in chemical engineering simulation and modeling, and truly reflects the breadth and depth of Chris’ career over such a short period.” The AIChE CoMSEF Young Investigator Award for Modeling and Simulation accepts applicants throughout academia, industry, or government laboratories. According to AIChE, the award recognizes “outstanding research in computational molecular science and engineering, encompassing both methods and applications." In addition to the award, Dr. Wilmer will receive a plaque, honorarium, and invitation to give a talk within the CoMSEF Plenary session at the AIChE Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, Minn., this October. Dr. Wilmer is the fifth recipient of this award since its establishment in 2013. About Dr. Wilmer Dr. Wilmer’s research focuses on the use of large-scale molecular simulations to help find promising materials for energy and environmental applications. He is the principal investigator of the Hypothetical Materials Lab at Pitt and leads his team in solving energy and environmental challenges with complex, hypothetical nanostructures called “molecular machines.” 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, Dr. Wilmer 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
Jun
20
2017

ECE Department Names 2017 Outstanding Seniors

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH, PA (June 20, 2017) … The Swanson School’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering chose recent University of Pittsburgh graduates Brandon Contino and Daniel Bednarczyk as its Outstanding Seniors for 2017. Contino represents the electrical engineering (EE) discipline, and Bednarczyk represents computer engineering (COE).“Brandon and Daniel excelled at balancing their engineering interests outside of the classroom with truly exceptional academic performances,” said Alan George, the Mickle Chair Professor and Department Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Pitt. “As the department continues to grow and explore new ways to provide our students with a comprehensive academic experience, these two outstanding seniors set the tone for student performance.” Assistant Professor and EE Undergraduate Program Director Irvin R. Jones Jr. and other faculty members are responsible for electing the Outstanding Senior in Electrical Engineering. Selection criteria are based on students’ academic standing; demonstration of character and leadership; and service to the EE discipline, ECE department, School of Engineering, and the community.A small committee consisting of undergraduate program leaders and chairs selects the Outstanding Senior in Computer Engineering. The committee evaluates students on the basis of their technical and professional accomplishments as well as their contributions to the discipline of computer engineering.About Brandon ContinoContino graduated this spring with a BS in Electrical Engineering and a minor in economics. He was president of the Robotics and Automation Society, the Engineering Student Council, and the Panther Amateur Radio Club. He also represented Pitt, Carnegie Mellon University, Point Park University, and West Virginia University students as Student Representative Chair of the Pittsburgh Section of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.While pursuing his degree, Contino had several positions at Pitt as an Undergraduate Researcher working alongside Electrical and Computer Engineering Associate Professor Guangyong Li; Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor David Sanchez; and Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS) Department’s Professor William Clark and Professor and Vice Chair Jeffrey Viperman. He also took a position as Power Systems Automation Engineering Intern at Eaton Corporation during the summer of 2015.For his senior design project, Contino worked with three mechanical engineering students to design an autonomous laundry folding robot. “Foldie” won first place at the MEMS Symposium and both second in MEMS and second in ECE at the Pitt Design Expo in Fall 2016. Along with classmate and friend Dan Chi, Contino is now pursuing a venture applying technological innovation to greenhouse farming, beginning with the development of a tomato harvesting robot for greenhouse tomato production.“The ECE Department has assisted me as a student immensely through not only providing the courses to learn the required knowledge to function as an electrical engineer, but it has also provided numerous opportunities and outside the classroom learning,” said Contino. “The faculty and staff have been incredibly helpful in assisting in projects. A lot of the work and hands on learning I acquired would not have been possible without Jim Lyle and Bill McGahey in SERC (Student Electronics Resource Center).”About Daniel BednarczykBednarczyk graduated this spring with a BS in Computer Engineering. He interned with The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation and Bentley Systems, where he now works full-time as a Software Engineer. He recently received second place in his department at the Pitt Design Expo for his senior project ‘Augmented Reality Dashboard,’ an Android application sponsored by Eaton. He also received the Best Computer Engineering Paper award at the Freshmen Engineering Conference. Bednarczyk received the Buick Engineering Achievers Scholarship and the Pittsburgh Italian Scholarship in 2013.During his time as a student, Bednarczyk joined many clubs, including Engineers for a Sustainable World Hydroponics Team, Engineering Student Council, and the Music Engineering Laboratory. He was also involved in non-engineering clubs such as WPTS Radio, the Pitt Program Council, and Residence Life.Bednarczyk is a first-generation college student, which he was able to afford through a combination of scholarships, paid internships, and service as a Resident Assistant in the First-Year Engineering Living Learning Community. An avid singer/songwriter, Bednarczyk frequented the Swanson School’s new Music Engineering Laboratory and recording studio. He has also done graphic design work for both the university and Swanson School.“The ECE Department has dedicated, personable staff who worked with me closely in many courses. I was encouraged to develop challenging projects and experiment with new technologies,” said Bednarczyk. “It allowed me to have a flexible curriculum built around my particular interests in both hardware and software, and the department continues to offer new courses on exciting topics.” ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jun
19
2017

Minking Chyu Appointed Distinguished Service Professor

MEMS

PITTSBURGH, PA (June 19, 2017) … In honor of significant contributions to the University of Pittsburgh, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher has appointed Minking Chyu as Distinguished Service Professor, effective September 1, 2017. Dr. Chyu is currently the Leighton and Mary Orr Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Associate Dean of International Initiatives, and the inaugural Dean of the Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute (SCUPI) in China. After officially opening its doors in fall 2015, SCUPI has already grown freshman enrollment from 100 to 160 students this past year. There are currently 22 faculty and staff members and a new 300,000 square-foot building is currently under construction.“Dr. Chyu conceived the idea of creating a joint institute that would offer three University of Pittsburgh engineering degrees in China, led a team from the Swanson School to find a suitable partner, convinced the leadership of Sichuan University—a top 10 Chinese institution—to partner with Pitt, and persuaded the Pitt administration and the Chinese Ministry of Education of the merits of the joint venture. Dr. Chyu’s vision will have an immeasurable impact on future engineers for generations to come,” said Gerald Holder, US Steel Dean of Engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering.Dr. Chyu received his PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota. Before joining the University of Pittsburgh in 2000, he was a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University for 13 years. His primary research interests are in thermal and material issues relating to energy, power, and aero propulsion systems. Dr. Chyu is a recipient of four NASA Certificates of Recognition for his contributions on the US space shuttle main engineer program. He has served as an Air Force Summer Research Fellow, Department of Energy Oak Ridge Research Fellow, and DOE Advanced-Turbine-System Faculty Fellow. He is also a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Associate Fellow of American Institute of Aerospace and Aeronautics (AIAA), and a member of the Scientific Council of the International Center of Heat and Mass Transfer (ISHMT). Dr. Chyu has published more than 300 technical papers in archived journals, books, and conference proceedings. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jun
16
2017

ChemE Department Appoints Two New Vice Chairs

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH, PA (June 16, 2017) … In response to increasing enrollment and curricular evolution, two Vice Chair positions for faculty have been established in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering. Taryn Bayles will become the Vice Chair for Undergraduate Education, and Robert Parker will become the Vice Chair for Graduate Education.“Taryn’s and Bob’s shared commitment to our students is very moving to me, and I am quite impressed with the visions that they set forth,” said Steven Little, William Kepler Whiteford Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. “They have the Department’s full support in achieving those visions, and I could not be more excited to serve alongside them.”Joseph McCarthy, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor in the Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Department, will leave his current role in the Department as Vice Chair for Education to become the University of Pittsburgh Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies on August 1, 2017.As Vice Chair for Undergraduate Education, Dr. Bayles will be responsible for the academic experience of students through the Pillars program, a National Science Foundation-funded grant designed to reform the undergraduate Chemical Engineering curriculum at Pitt. Her focus will be on increasing diversity, inclusion, and student satisfaction.Dr. Parker served as the Department’s graduate program coordinator from 2006 – 2012. He will be responsible for building the graduate program quality and diversity, with a focus on engaging the post-graduate community.About Dr. BaylesPrior to joining Pitt, Dr. Bayles was the Undergraduate Program Director in Chemical, Biochemical and Environmental Engineering at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Under her leadership, the program enrollment more than quadrupled and the percentage of female and underrepresented minority students increased. She has served as the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on $6.6 million in NSF awards that focus on support and mentoring for undergraduate students, outreach, and hands-on design experiences. She has developed and led more than 100 workshops with more than 5,000 participants for K-12 students, K-12 teachers, college students, and faculty members.   Dr. Bayles was awarded the University System of Maryland Regents Award for Collaboration in Public Service and the University System of Maryland Regents Award for Excellence in Mentoring. These are the highest awards given for faculty achievement in the University of Maryland system. To increase diversity at Pitt, she will draw upon her experience with the Meyerhoff program, in which she developed and led engineering workshops for the summer bridge program and received the Mentor of the Year Award. Since joining Pitt, Dr. Bayles has incorporated a hands-on design project in the CHE 0100 course, which was to design, build, test, and analyze a hemodialysis system. She serves as the faculty advisor of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) student chapter and the ChemE Car team. Dr. Bayles also serves as Chair of the Education Division of AIChE and the Publications Board of Chemical Engineering Education.About Dr. ParkerDr. Parker joined the University of Pittsburgh faculty as an Assistant Professor in 2000 and was promoted to Professor in 2014. His research program focuses on systems medicine and the use of mathematical models in the design of clinical decision support systems. He has been recognized for excellence in education through awards such as the Carnegie Science Center Excellence in Higher Education Award, the David L. Himmelblau Award from the Computing and Systems Technology (CAST) Division of AIChE, and most recently the 2017 Swanson School of Engineering Outstanding Educator Award. His commitment to a collaborative future in graduate education formed the basis of two funded Department of Education Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) training programs, as well as the Systems Medicine Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. In addition to developing graduate-level training programs to support PhD students, Dr. Parker will lead graduate admissions, manage PhD timelines including qualifying examinations, support graduate recruiting, work with the Swanson School Office of Diversity to continue building a diverse graduate program, serve as the faculty advisor of the Department's Graduate Student Association, and manage faculty teaching assignments. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jun
16
2017

Pitt to recognize engineering alumna Elayne Arrington at 2017 AAAC Distinguished Alumnus Awards

MEMS, Diversity

University of Pittsburgh News Release PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh African American Alumni Council (AAAC) will honor five Pitt alumni at a ceremony at 3 p.m. June 17 at the Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center, 100 Lytton Ave., Oakland. The AAAC Distinguished Alumnus Awards are given to outstanding African American Pitt alumni for their professional accomplishments as well as their community stature.Elayne Arrington (ENGR ’61) cleared many hurdles in her quest to become an aeronautical engineer. She earned the second-highest SAT score in mathematics the year she graduated from Homestead High School as class valedictorian. But that year, for the first time in school history, the valedictorian did not deliver the address. Instead, it was given by the class president. Pitt recommended that Arrington receive the Mesta Machine Co. scholarship for employees’ top performing children to study mechanical engineering. But Mesta refused to give the scholarship to a woman. Despite that, in 1961 Arrington became the first Black female to graduate from Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. She worked as an aerospace engineer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s Foreign Technology Division. She earned a PhD in math in 1974, the 17th Black woman in the country to do so, and returned to Pitt to teach mathematics for the next 40 years.Martha Richards Conley (LAW ’71) was Pitt Law's first Black female graduate and the first Black female lawyer admitted to practice in Allegheny County. She was employed by the U.S. Steel Corporation for 27 years and retired from there as senior general attorney. A longtime opponent of the death penalty, she was chair of the Pittsburgh chapter of Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. She is a longtime member of the historic Aurora Reading Club in Pittsburgh. She is an official visitor with the Pennsylvania Prison Society and escorted Cape Town Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on a prison visit in 2007.Robert “Bobby” Grier (BUS ’57) broke the color barrier when the Pitt Panthers fullback became the first African American college football player to play in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 2, 1956, when Pitt faced Georgia Tech. The governor of Georgia strongly opposed Grier’s participation in the game, as did the Georgia Tech Board of Trustees, whose members said Georgia Tech would forfeit the game if Grier was not benched. But Grier had strong support of his teammates and Pitt, who vowed “No Grier, no game.” Support for Grier also came from students and football players from Georgia Tech, who strongly protested against a forfeit. Pitt lost the game, 7-0, on a controversial pass interference call on Grier. Later, evidence appeared to show it was a bad call. Pitt won a major victory off the field that year, thanks to Bobby Grier and his Pitt teammates. DAME Vivian Hewitt (SIS ’44) received her library science degree from Pitt’s School of Library and Information Sciences. She began her career as the first Black librarian for the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh. Later, she became the first Black chief librarian at the Rockefeller Foundation, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Council on Foreign Relations. Hewitt and her husband began buying works of Haitian and African American art while still a young couple, and now the Hewitt Collection is regarded to be one of the finest collections of its type in the world. It was purchased by Bank of America and gifted to the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Art + Culture in Charlotte, North Carolina. The collection is on display at Pittsburgh’s August Wilson Center through June 30.Cecile M. Springer (GSPIA ’71) holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at Pitt. She achieved professional distinction in a number of fields throughout her diverse career, which has included positions as a research chemist for Bristol Myers Laboratories in New York, a principal planner for the Southwest Regional Planning Commission, president of the Westinghouse Foundation and founder of her own firm, Springer Associates, which provided comprehensive strategic planning. She has been recognized as a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania, a Carlow University Woman of Spirit and a Legacy Laureate of the University of Pittsburgh — the highest honor for an alumnus. Springer is a past president of the Pitt Alumni Association. ### Pictured above: Dr. Arrington (center) is recognized by the Swanson School "for exemplary leadership and resilience as the University of Pittsburgh's first African American female engineering graduate" during Black History Month on February 28, 2017. With her are (left) Sylvanus Wosu, Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Diversity; and Gerald D. Holder, Distinguished Service Professor and U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering.
Joe Miksch, News Director, University of Pittsburgh News Services
Jun
13
2017

Man(ufacturing) of Steel

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (June 13, 2017) … The advantages of additive manufacturing (AM) – from building complex structures for specific environments to repairing damaged components – continue to be grow as the technology matures. However, there has been limited research in developing new metals and alloys that would further enhance AM processes. Thanks to a three year, $449,000 award from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering will explore next-generation metals, especially steel, for use in additive manufacturing. The research, “Integrated Computational Materials Design for Additive Manufacturing of High-Strength Steels used in Naval Environments,” is led by Wei Xiong, PhD, assistant professor in the Swanson School’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. The research team also includes Esta Abelev, PhD and Susheng Tan, PhD as the senior personnel supporting materials microstructure characterization and corrosion tests. Funding is provided by the ONR Additive Manufacturing Alloys for Naval Environments (AMANE) program to design, develop and optimize new metallic alloy compositions for AM that are resistant to the effects of the Naval/maritime environment. “There are several metals, from nickel alloys to aluminum and titanium, which are the foundation for AM production of complex parts with properties that could not be developed via traditional, or subtractive, manufacturing. However, many of these materials are not as strong or reliable in the harsh environment of the sea, and that’s a disadvantage for the Navy and other maritime agencies,” Dr. Xiong said. “Steel and its alloys are still the best, most versatile and structurally sound metals for naval construction and repair, and so our research will focus on developing new toolkits to leverage the use of new steel prototypes in AM that will benefit the U.S. Navy." In particular, the Physical Metallurgy and Materials Design Laboratory led by Dr. Xiong will design a new type of high-strength low-alloy steel, which can be widely used in naval construction. The ONR proposal’s objective is for the Pitt researchers to apply the Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) tools to design both the composition of these allows and the direct metal laser sintering process, which is used in AM to fuse the metal powders into components. The research will also focus on post-process optimization, which can further improve the mechanical properties and corrosion resistance of these specialty steels. “Additive manufacturing presents a transformative opportunity for the Navy and Department of Defense to develop complex structures that are stronger, more reliable and yet cost-effective,” Dr. Xiong said. “Through the integrated computational materials design, from metal development to production and final optimization, we believe we will design new types of steel that will greatly benefit the Navy and the women and men who serve.” ### Photo above: Dr. Xiong in the Swanson School's ANSYS Additive Manufacturing Laboratory. About Wei Xiong Dr. Wei Xiong is assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. He serves as the associate editor of the journal STAM: Science and Technology of Advanced Materials. His research interests include advanced materials and processing design based on methodologies of Materials by Design and Accelerated Insertion of Materials; predictive-science based model development for process-structure-property relation in advanced manufacturing; and additive manufacturing of high performance alloys using Laser Engineered Net Shaping (LENS) and Selective Laser Melting (SLM) techniques. Previously a research associate in materials science at Northwestern University, Dr. Xiong earned his PhD from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, and Doctor of Engineering from the State Key Laboratory of Powder Metallurgy at the Central South University, China.

Jun
12
2017

Pitt Senior Vice Chancellor Rob A. Rutenbar to continue his computational research in Swanson School of Engineering

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (June 12, 2017) … To continue his research in computational engineering, Rob A. Rutenbar, the University of Pittsburgh’s new senior vice chancellor for research, has accepted a research position in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. According to an announcement by Alan D. George, Department Chair and R&H Mickle Endowed Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the appointment will enable Dr. Rutenbar to expand his computational problem research while contributing to the breadth and depth of the Department’s expertise. “Rob’s research in developing solutions for challenging computational problems is a perfect fit for our computer engineering program in particular, as well as laboratories such as our NSF Center for High-Performance Reconfigurable Computing,” Dr. George said. “We’re proud to have him as a member of the Department and look forward to his contributions to our research portfolio.” Dr. Rutenbar’s research focuses on custom hardware accelerator architectures in both reconfigurable logic and directly in silicon, and his recent work targets machine learning (ML) tasks and their unique computational and memory requirements.“I am hoping to extend these efforts to problems at the intersection of ML and bioinformatics, leveraging Pitt’s unique strengths in the biomedical domain, and especially the strong partnership between its schools of Engineering and Medicine,” Dr. Rutenbar said. “I’m looking forward to recruiting new students and partnering with my colleagues on the Computer Engineering faculty to work on very tough computational problems, as well as to collaborate with Alan on the Department’s research initiatives.” Dr. Rutenbar is a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, and has twice won the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ coveted Donald O. Pedersen Best Paper Award. In 2002, he was named Carnegie Mellon’s Stephen J. Jatras Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering, an endowed professorship position he held until leaving that university in 2010. He earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Wayne State University and master’s and doctorate degrees in computer, information and control engineering at the University of Michigan, and is a Distinguished Alumnus of both institutions. ###

Jun
8
2017

Royal Society of Chemistry Journal Names ChemE’s John Keith One of Materials Chemistry’s “Rising Stars”

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH, PA (June 8, 2017) … The Journal of Materials Chemistry A, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, included University of Pittsburgh researcher John Keith in its list of Emerging Investigators in 2017. The journal’s themed issue highlighted “rising stars” of materials chemistry research recommended by experts in the field.Dr. Keith, assistant professor and the inaugural Richard King Mellon Faculty Fellow in Energy in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, was included in the journal for his work on “Computational investigation of CO2 electroreduction on tin oxide and predictions of Ti, V, Nb and Zr dopants for improved catalysis” (DOI: 10.1039/C7TA00405B).The paper outlines the work of Dr. Keith and his team on improving the performance of tin electrocatalysts for CO2 reduction. By using computational quantum chemistry modeling, the researchers studied reaction mechanisms on partially-reduced tin oxide surfaces and which elemental dopant additives can be added to make the CO2 conversion more energy efficient.“Some of the dopants we modeled were already known to improve CO2 conversion energy efficiencies, and since our models could predict those cases we’re confident the other dopants we predicted as improving efficiencies are very promising for future work,” said Dr. Keith. “Our work demonstrates how we can modify tin-based oxide materials to make them better at converting CO2 into useful chemicals and fuels.”As Principal Investigator and Founder of the Keith Lab in Computational Chemistry at Pitt, Dr. Keith studies atomic scale reaction mechanisms to understand how to design better catalysts whether the goal is a commodity chemical made from CO2 or an anticorrosion coating for the US Navy.Joining Dr. Keith on the study were PhD students Karthikeyan Saravanan and Yasemin Basdogan as well as James Dean, a former undergraduate researcher that was supported by Pitt’s NSF-sponsored Particle-based Functional Materials Research Experience for Undergraduates program.About Dr. KeithJohn Keith is a tenure-track assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Energy and affiliated with Pitt’s Center for Energy as its R. K. Mellon Faculty Fellow in Energy. After obtaining his PhD from Caltech, he was an Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellow at the University of Ulm and then an Associate Research Scholar at Princeton University. He began his appointment at Pitt in September 2013. His group uses first-principles based computational chemistry modeling to study chemical reaction mechanisms and design materials and catalysts for energy storage and conversion. Current research activities focus on atomic scale mechanisms for CO2 conversion, computer-aided design of molecular chelants, and tuning oxide materials for catalysis via doping. In 2017, Dr. Keith received a prestigious CAREER award from the National Science Foundation.About Journal of Materials Chemistry AThe Journal of Materials Chemistry A publishes research related to “high impact applications, properties, and synthesis of exciting new materials for energy and sustainability.” The journal has an impact factor of 8.262, and there are 48 issues per year in addition to its themed collections. The Royal Society of Chemistry has more than 54,000 members internationally and publishes 43 peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Materials Chemistry A and its two sister publications: Journal of Materials Chemistry B and Journal of Materials Chemistry C. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jun
6
2017

IE’s Joel Haight Receives ASSE 2016-17 President’s Award for Contributions to Safety Engineering

Industrial

PITTSBURGH, PA (June 6, 2017) … Thomas Cecich, the president of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), named the University of Pittsburgh’s Joel Haight one of five recipients of the 2016-2017 President’s Award. The annual award recognizes occupational safety and health (OSH) professionals for their “exceptional service and dedication to workplace safety and the OSH profession.”Dr. Haight, associate professor of industrial engineering at Pitt, received the President’s Award for his leadership and commitment to advancing OSH research. As the chair of the research committee for the ASSE Foundation, Dr. Haight developed a research program to help safety professionals stay current with new ideas and emerging technologies. The Foundation recently awarded its first grant totaling $300,000 for a three-year study to a group of researchers at the University of Buffalo. Dr. Haight also received the 2016 ASSE Safety Professional of the Year award for the Engineering Practice Specialty. In addition to his faculty position, he is the director of the safety engineering program at Pitt.About Dr. HaightJoel M. Haight joined the Industrial Engineering Department at the University of Pittsburgh in 2013. In the previous 33 years he served four years as Chief of the Human Factors Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) at their Pittsburgh Office of Mine Safety and Health Research, where he managed a research branch of 35-40 researchers in the areas of ergonomics, cognitive engineering, human behavior, and training. Dr. Haight also served for nearly 10 years, as an Associate Professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Haight worked as a manager and engineer for the Chevron Corporation for 18 years prior to joining the faculty at Penn State. His research interests include health and safety management systems intervention effectiveness measurement and optimization and human performance measurement in automated control system design.He is the editor in chief and contributing author of Handbook of Loss Prevention Engineering published by J.W. Wiley and Sons in 2013 and the Safety Professionals Handbook published by the American Society of Safety Engineers in 2012. In addition, he has published nearly 60 refereed journal articles and conference proceedings.  Dr. Haight is an active member of ASSE, HFES, IISE, and AIHA. He serves as the chair of the research committee for the American Society of Safety Engineers foundation and Board of Trustees member. He is a licensed professional engineer in Pennsylvania and Alabama and certified by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals and the American Board of Industrial Hygienists.About ASSEFounded in 1911, the American Society of Safety Engineers is the world’s oldest professional safety society. ASSE promotes the expertise, leadership, and commitment of its members, while providing them with professional development, advocacy, and standards development. The organization also sets the occupational safety, health, and environmental community’s standards for excellence and ethics. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jun
6
2017

Swanson School’s Gilbertson and Bedewy Win ORAU Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards

Civil & Environmental, Industrial

PITTSBURGH, PA (June 6, 2017) … Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) selected University of Pittsburgh professors Mostafa Bedewy and Leanne Gilbertson as two of the 36 nationwide recipients of the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award. The $5,000 awards will be matched by an equal amount from Pitt and enable both researchers to engage in research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee.ORAU is a consortium of 121-member universities whose mission is to form partnerships that enhance the national scientific research and education enterprise. The Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards serve as new funding opportunities to enrich the research and professional growth of young faculty.Dr. Bedewy, assistant professor of industrial engineering, is developing processes for controlling the growth of vertically-aligned carbon nanotubes to tailor their properties for specific energy applications such as battery electrodes, thermal interfaces for high power density electronics, materials for tuned mechanical energy absorption, and electrical interconnects for 3D nanoelectronics.“When we synthesize vertically-aligned carbon nanotubes, or what we call ‘CNT forests,’ by chemical vapor deposition, billions of individual nanotubes grow simultaneously from substrate-bound catalyst nanoparticles. The size of each nanotube is one-ten-thousandth of the size of a human hair,” explained Dr. Bedewy. “Hence, controlling their interactions and population dynamics is crucial for tailoring their spatially varying properties. To advance our research on this topic, we are looking forward to using the pulsed chemical vapor deposition and in situ laser measurement capabilities at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences.”Pitt’s NanoProduct Lab, established and directed by Dr. Bedewy, conducts fundamental research combining experiments with modeling at the interface between nanoscience, biotechnology, and manufacturing engineering.  “Our research in the broad area of advanced manufacturing at multiple length scales aims at impacting our societal needs in the crucial areas of energy, healthcare, and the environment,” Dr. Bedewy added.Dr. Gilbertson, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, received an award for her research proposal titled, “Simultaneous In Situ Characterization of Multiple Carbon Nanomaterial Properties Using Liquid Cell TEM-STEM at ORNL.” Building on her previous work on the importance of surface chemistry and the potential to manipulate reactivity of carbon nanomaterials (CNMs), she will aim to characterize CNMs in an experimental aqueous phase using in situ liquid and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) as well as scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM).“Comprehensive nanomaterial characterization is essential to uncover nano-bio interactions in a way that can inform rational design. The current approach to characterization utilizes independent methods and oftentimes, the material is characterized under conditions different from the biological assay. Equipment at the ORNL facility will enable simultaneous multi-property characterization under experimental aqueous phase exposure conditions to capture the true nature of engineered nanomaterials and nano-bio interactions at high resolution,” explained Dr. Gilbertson.Dr. Gilbertson’s research group at the University of Pittsburgh aims to inform sustainable design of existing and novel materials with an emphasis on precluding unintended consequences to the environment and human health while maintaining functional performance goals.“I am honored to be recognized by ORAU for this award and am excited for the opportunity to visit ORNL. The funding will also support an invaluable experience for one of my graduate students to work with state of the art equipment at a national lab,” Gilbertson added.About Dr. BedewyDr. Bedewy became an Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering and established the NanoProduct Lab at the University of Pittsburgh in the Fall of 2016. He was a Postdoctoral Associate at MIT in the area of bionanofabrication. Before that, he was a Postdoc at the MIT Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity, working on in situ environmental TEM characterization of catalytic nanostructure synthesis and interactions from 2013-2014. In 2013, Dr. Bedewy completed his PhD at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he worked on studying the population dynamics and the collective mechanochemical factors governing the growth and self-organization of nanofilaments. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Design and Production Engineering and a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, both from Cairo University. About Dr. GilbertsonDr. Gilbertson became an Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh in 2015. She was a Postdoctoral Associate at Yale University in Chemical and Environmental Engineering at the Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering from 2014 – 2015. In 2014, Dr. Gilbertson completed her PhD at Yale University, where she also received Master of Philosophy and Master of Science degrees in Chemical and Environmental Engineering. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hamilton College in Clinton, NY with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Education. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jun
4
2017

ECE's Dr. Greg Reed discusses potential closure of Three Mile Island on KDKA's "Sunday Business Page"

Electrical & Computer

Gregory Reed, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of Pitt's Center for Energy, joined KDKA's Jon Delano on the Sunday Business Page to discuss the potential closing of Three Mile Island and the future of nuclear power in the U.S. (Original airdate: June 4, 2017) View the Sunday Business Page at KDKA TV.

Jun
2
2017

Pitt’s Industrial Engineering program recognized at IISE Conference in Pittsburgh

Industrial

PITTSBURGH, PA (June 2, 2017) …  The Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) presented multiple awards and scholarships to students, faculty, and alumni of the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering’s Department of Industrial Engineering at its Annual Conference and Expo.The annual conference took place at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh from May 20 – 23.• The IISE awarded Harvey Wolfe, professor emeritus of industrial engineering at Pitt, with the Frank and Lillian Gilbreth Award Industrial Engineering Award. The award celebrates individuals who have contributed to the welfare of humankind in the field of industrial engineering, and is the “highest and most esteemed honor bestowed by IISE.” Dr. Wolfe joined the University of Pittsburgh faculty in 1964 and served as chair of the department of industrial engineering from 1985 to 2000 before retiring in 2006. Dr. Wolfe along with Larry Shuman, the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Pitt, pioneered the field of Health Systems Engineering by applying operations research to hospitals. • Yuval Cohen, who graduated with a PhD in industrial engineering from Pitt in 1998, won the IISE/Joint Publishers Book-of-the-Year Award with co-author Avraham Shtub for Introduction to Industrial Engineering, 2nd Edition (2017, CRC Press, ISBN 9781138747852). The Book-of-the-Year award honors the author of a published book that focuses on topics in industrial engineering, improves education, or contributes to furthering the profession. Dr. Cohen is currently a Senior Lecturer at Afeka Tel-Aviv College of Engineering and The Open University of Israel.• The Captains of Industry Award was awarded to Francis Kramer, president and CEO of II-VI, a laser optics and infrared optical material manufacturing company based in Saxonburg, Pa. The award honors “leaders in business, industry, and government such as presidents, CEOs, senior vice presides, and directors of organizations with substantial sales, assets, employment, or other resources.” Kramer is a member of the board of advisors for the Swanson School of Engineering and an alumnus with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. • The University of Pittsburgh’s Lisa Maillart received a Best Paper award for “Optimal pinging frequencies in the search for an immobile beacon,” which was published in IIE Transactions (DOI: 10.1080/0740817X.2015.1110270). Dr. Maillart co-authored the paper with former Pitt faculty member Andrew Schaefer and former Pitt graduate student David Eckman. Dr. Maillart is currently visiting faculty at Eindhoven University of Technology in The Netherlands. She will return to her position as professor at the University of Pittsburgh in January 2018.• IISE named Bopaya Bidanda, the Ernst Roth Professor and IE Department Chair at Pitt, “Outstanding Faculty Advisor” for the Northeast Region, which includes New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The award recognizes individuals who serve their IISE chapter and its members as teachers, advisors, and mentors. One of seven U.S. regions for IISE, the Northeast is home to 25 percent of the U.S. professional chapters and 16 percent of the U.S. student chapters.• Douglas Rabeneck, a director of Operations Excellence practice at West Monroe Partners, won the Fred C. Crane Distinguished Service Award for “long and arduous service” to IISE. Rabeneck is a member of the Department of Industrial Engineering Visiting Committee at Pitt. He earned his BS and MS degrees and a graduate certificate in Engineering Management and Technology at the University of Pittsburgh.• Undergraduate students Victoria Portier and Jennifer Lundahl both received $1,000 scholarships from IISE. Portier received the Henry and Elisabeth Kroeze Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded to students who demonstrate an interest in metrication, engineering, and computer science. Lundahl received the Harold and Inge Marcus Scholarship, which is awarded to students who display academic excellence and contribute to the development of the industrial engineering profession.• The Material Handling Education Foundation, Inc. also awarded two scholarships to Pitt undergraduates. The Howard Bernstein Scholarship went to Julie Shields. The $5,000 award is reserved for students interested in material handling, industrial distribution, engineering, logistics, and supply chain industries. Noah Kaib received the Hanel Storage Systems Honor Scholarship worth $2,000. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jun
2
2017

Article by ECE's Kevin Chen highlighted by Nature Physics' "News and Views"

Electrical & Computer

Reprinted with permission of Pittsburgh Quantum Institute. PITTSBURGH (June 2, 2017) ... Kevin Chen's article Experimental observation of optical Weyl points and Fermi arc-like surface states (DOI: 10.1038/nphys4072), published in Nature Physics, was the subject of a "News and Views" article entitled " Topological Photonics: Come to Light." The physics idea leading to this paper originated from Penn State collaborator Mikael Rechtsman. Dr. Chen is the Paul E. Lego Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering. Topological states of matter can exhibit a range of unique quantum phenomena that are of interest to various fields of classical physics, such as acoustics, mechanics or photonics. Although a number of these topological states have been successfully emulated in photonics, their application has been restricted to certain frequencies. Most topological properties have been demonstrated in two-dimensional (2D) systems; however, a variety of new topological properties have been predicted for three-dimensional (3D) systems. The study published in Nature Physics marks an important step by emulating Weyl points, which constitute the simplest possible topologically nontrivial band structure, in three dimensions. Weyl fermions are massless spin-1/2 particles that arise in the form of quasiparticle excitations. The band structure of Weyl materials exhibits conical valence and conduction bands that touch at a single Weyl point, which carries a topological charge. Weyl points are surprisingly robust with respect to perturbations, which, whether global or local, can only shift the Weyl point and not lift the degeneracy between the bands, implying that the conical dispersion will persist. Such materials also have exotic topological excitations on the surface, with a dispersion referred to as a Fermi arc due to its distinct shape. Such arcs interconnect a pair of Weyl points of opposite charges in reciprocal space. To realize the optical equivalent of Weyl points and Fermi arcs, the authors exploited a platform that has already been proven to be extremely versatile and fruitful for topological photonics in the context of Floquet topological insulators. The system comprises a periodic array of optical waveguides, fabricated by direct laser writing inside a glass slab. The hopping between different waveguides can be controlled by tuning their separation. A helical shape provides an additional modulation in the z-direction, making the structure truly three-dimensional. The Weyl dispersion thus engineered could be probed by coupling an optical field to the system and imaging lateral field distributions along the xy-cuts of the structure near the frequency of one of the Weyl points. To confirm the topological properties the authors had to look for signatures of the type-II Weyl dispersion in the 2D field profiles: type-II Weyl points significantly modifies the diffraction pattern of light, rendering it conical in shape. Even more exciting is that, in addition to this bulk signature, the Weyl dispersion is expected to give rise to the emergence of optical surface states — photonic analogues of topological excitations forming the arc-shaped dispersion connecting two Weyl points. The observation of Weyl points and the associated surface states at optical frequencies is an important advance for two reasons. First, it shows that these exotic systems can be emulated in the optical domain, which offers the opportunity to probe other complex physical systems in photonic crystals and metamaterials. Second, it brings the concept of topological photonics one step closer to practical applications in optics. The properties unique to this class of system can now be exploited to the full extent, controlling light not only classically, but also in quantum regimes. The synthetic gauge fields produced by Weyl charges open a new opportunity for engineering and controlling entangled states of photons, and may become indispensable for quantum computing. Says Dr. Chen, "For engineer researchers, it is absolutely intriguing that manufacturing technology developed in an engineering laboratory can advance our fundamental understanding of Quantum mechanics. It has been a wonderful learning experience. But our research also has inversion symmetry. Next step, we will explore how cutting-edge quantum mechanics research can benefit manufacturing technology leading to better products and services." ### Image above: Theoretical and numerical demonstration of topological phase transition associated with type-II Weyl points. a, Microscope image of the output facet of structure, representing a two-dimensional cut of the waveguide array for fixed z. b, Numerically determined phase diagram of the structure, as a function of lattice constant a and wavelength λ. Type-II Weyl points reside along the red curves, and Fermi arc-like surface states exist between these two curves (yellow region). c, Bulk band structure for the two relevant bands plotted as a function of kz (in the kx = ky = 0–plane, using the extended-zone scheme). Type-II Weyl points arise at their intersection. d–f, Isofrequency surfaces for the topologically trivial case (no Fermi arc-like states), at the Weyl point (WP), and the topological (with Fermi arc-like states) case, at a = 29,27 and 25 μm, at wavelengths 1,450 nm, 1,525 nm and 1,600 nm, respectively. The open circles in the phase diagram shown in b correspond to the band structures in d–f. All results in b–f are calculated numerically 28, using experimental parameters. (License #4120910778162)

May

May
31
2017

Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation Awards $100,000 to BioE’s Abhijit Roy

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH, PA (May 31, 2017) … The Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation (MTF) has chosen Dr. Abhijit Roy, a Research Assistant Professor in the University of Pittsburgh Department of Bioengineering, as a recipient of its Junior Investigator Award to help fund his research into a novel bone grafts with the potential for complete bone generation in areas with defects.“The grant is aimed at providing a revolutionary concept representing a paradigm shift in the arena of degradable materials for craniomaxillofacial bone regeneration,” said Dr. Roy. “Success of this project will establish a revolutionary technology possessing unique benefits not proffered by existing synthetic bone grafts, including complete resorption, osteoconductivity, mechanical stability throughout the complete bone healing process, and biocompatibility and safety.” Beginning in July 2017, Dr. Roy will receive $100,000 over one year for his study “Novel Mg Alloy Based Biodegradable Porous Scaffolds for Bone Regeneration of Critical Sized Cranial Bone Defects.” The research will be carried out in the group of Dr. Prashant N. Kumta, the Edward R. Weidlein Chair Professor in the Swanson School of Engineering and School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Kumta will serve as coinvestigator on the study along with Dr. Vijay S. Gorantla, assistant professor of plastic surgery at Pitt, and Dr. MaCalus V. Hogan, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at Pitt.The MTF Junior Investigator Award is for researchers attempting to advance allografts, the science of transplantation, and the biological reconstruction of musculoskeletal tissues. Allografts, a type of non-synthetic graft, come from donors other than the patient. They can lead to complications from adverse immune response and the risk of disease transmission. Autografts, non-synthetic grafts taken from the patient’s own tissue, usually require a second surgical site and can increase the risk for infection, require extended operating room and recovery times, and increase healthcare expenditures. According to MTF, many doctors prefer allografts over autografts because of their availability, safety, and readiness for use. However, in both allografts and autografts, the amount of tissue that can be harvested is limited. Synthetic bone graft substitutes offer new therapy options for the treatment of bone defects without the complications associated with non-synthetic grafts. “Unfortunately, the majority of synthetic bone grafts developed to date are inert and non-degradable which lead to insufficient bone formation, poor integration to the surrounding tissue, long term complications and the need for prolonged treatment with antibiotics and immunosuppressive therapies,” explained Dr. Roy. “This project will test the use of a novel degradable magnesium metal alloy-based bone graft that will lead to complete bone regeneration in a rat calvarial [or skullcap] defect.” ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
May
31
2017

Swanson School Research Partner PITT OHIO Receives Gold LEED Certification for Cheswick Terminal

Electrical & Computer

News release reposted with permission of PITT OHIO PITTSBURGH (May 31, 2017) - A PITT OHIO Terminal, located at 1 Rich Hill Road, Cheswick PA, 15024, has received enough points to officially certify the location as LEED Gold. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Certification requires a building to meet certain sustainability standards in water, energy, and material usage efficiency, all of which the terminal has met and surpassed.The terminal received points to achieve the Gold Level Certification in six of the eight LEED categories including, Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation & Design. Out of a possible 60 points needed to obtain a Gold ranking, the terminal received 63 on the LEED scale.The 55,000 square foot terminal, responsible for servicing the Pittsburgh region, utilizes a low-emitting Energy Star roof positioned to reflect the highest percentage of the sun’s rays, cooling the surrounding area and lowering air conditioning costs. 150 LED lights are used in replacement of incandescent, saving about $2,000 a year in electricity. A geothermal well was put in place to utilize the Earth’s temperature as a heat source in the winter and a heat sink in the summer. The project also uses renewable solar and wind energy with a 60kw photovoltaic array and a WindStax Turbine. The energy cost savings, when all forms of innovation are taken into account, are over 45% when compared to a conventional building. The Pittsburgh terminal is the company's second LEED Gold certified building.  The 22,000 square foot Maintenance Shop Building located on the same campus received Gold distinction in late 2016.The entire site uses sustainable landscaping including bioswales, or man-made elements placed to remove pollutants and dirt from runoff, and drought tolerant native plants to cut down on water usage and prevent flooding. Low-flow appliances and fixtures are also projected to save over 30% of the water that conventional fixtures would use in the same buildings. PITT OHIO secured help from EvolveEA; an organization dedicated to the advancement of environmentally sustainable systems and solutions through design and thought leadership. Marc Mondor, an American Institute-Architect, LEED Fellow, and a USGBC Faculty at EvolveEA, and his team assisted PITT OIHO with the application process and submittals of all necessary documentation.“We are pleased and proud to have been a part of this project, from early goal setting sessions to this milestone of multiple LEED certifications,” said Mondor. “This makes PITT OHIO the first trucking terminal in the country with two LEED Gold projects.  PITT OHIO has raised the bar, with a terminal that employs solar energy, wind energy, energy storage, stormwater retention, as well as a design that benefits all interior occupants.”     “PITT OHIO is proud to provide its customers and employees with one of the most innovative, sustainable, LEED Gold certified facilities found anywhere in this country,” stated Jim Fields, Chief Operating Officer at PITT OHIO. “This flexible facility and world class vehicle maintenance shop have state-of-the-art features which help us attract and retain some of the most talented drivers and mechanics in the region.  It clearly represents our commitment to Pittsburgh and Allegheny County and to the western Pennsylvania region.  It also demonstrates how incredibly talented people from the academic and business communities can team-up to solve complex business problems.”Following consideration of the importance of environmental sustainability and a commitment to be a leader in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions, PITT OHIO is dedicated to doing its best to achieve environmental and social responsibility.  The company actively tries to reduce its carbon footprint on the road and at their facilities and their commitment to sustainability will be evident in future construction projects. ### Photo above: 180 rooftop solar panels atop the PITT OHIO Cheswick facility, along with a WindStax Turbine (background)  helped the company achieve LEED Gold. Photo below: At the LEED ceremony, from left: Michael Rooney, Bob Hurley, Jim Fields, Chuck Hammel, Rich Fitzgerald, Dr. Brandon Grainger, Dr. Gregory Reed, Dr. Katrina Kelly and Jennifer Liptak.    Rich Fitzgerald, County Executive, Allegheny County    Bob Hurley, Director, Allegheny County Economic Development    Jennifer Liptak, Chief of Staff, County Executive    Dr. Gregory Reed, Director, University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Energy    Dr. Brandon Grainger, Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Energy    Dr. Katrina Kelly, Manager of Strategy and Business Development, University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Energy    Michael Rooney, Manager of District Energy Initiatives, University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Energy    Chuck Hammel, President, PITT OHIO    Jim Fields, Chief Operating Officer, PITT OHIO    Jim Maug, Director of Building Maintenance and Property Management ABOUT PITT OHIOIn adhering to their “We’re Always There For You” signature commitment, PITT OHIO is dedicated to providing their customers with the best value in its SUPPLY CHAIN, GROUND, Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) and TRUCKLOAD services.  Headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, PITT OHIO services the entire Mid-Atlantic and Mid-West regions and the remainder of the United States and Canada with North American service providers. To contact PITT OHIO, please visit their website at www.pittohio.com.ABOUT LEADERSHIP IN ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN (LEED)LEED certification ensures electricity cost savings, lower carbon emissions and healthier environments for the places we live, work, learn, play and worship. LEED’s global sustainability agenda is designed to achieve high performance in key areas of human and environmental health, acting on the triple bottom line - putting people, planet, and profit first. LEED projects earn points by adhering to prerequisites and credits across nine measurements for building excellence from integrative process to indoor environmental quality.ABOUT EVOLVE ENVIRONMENT AND ARCHITECTUREEvolve environment and architecture (EvolveEA) is a nimble multidisciplinary practice situated at the intersection of sustainability and the built environment. The team of designers, architects, environmental scientists and sustainable business experts look through three lenses of sustainability: People, Process, and Place.
Candi Cybator, Manager Marketing/Public Relations, PITT OHIO
May
30
2017

Carborane research by ChemE researcher Giannis Mpourmpakis lands cover of Catalysis Science & Technology

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (May 30, 2017) … Research at the University of Pittsburgh into a more energy-efficient catalytic process to produce olefins, the building blocks for polymer production, was recently featured on the inside front cover of the Royal Society of Chemistry journal, Catalysis Science & Technology (21 May 2017, Issue 10). The team’s investigations could impact potential applications in diverse technology areas from green energy and sustainable chemistry to materials engineering and catalysis. “Carboranes: the strongest Brønsted acids in alcohol dehydration” (DOI: 10.1039/C7CY00458C) was authored by Giannis Mpourmpakis, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering. PhD candidate Pavlo Kostetskyy and undergraduate student Nicholas A. Zervoudis, part of Mpourmpakis’ Computer-Aided Nano and Energy Lab (C.A.N.E.LA.), are co-authors. Pitt’s Center for Simulation and Modeling provided computational support. “Carboranes are one of the strongest known acids, but little is known about how these molecular catalysts can dehydrate biomass-derived alcohols,” Dr. Mpourmpakis explained. “Our computational research not only detailed the mechanism under which alcohols dehydrate on these catalysts, but most importantly we developed linear relationships between the energy input needed to observe dehydration of alcohols and the alcohol characteristics.” According to the paper, “these obtained relationships are especially relevant to the field of solid acid catalysis, a widely studied area with a vast range of industrial applications, including the formation of olefins (polymer building blocks) from biomass-derived alcohols as well as fuels and chemicals from sugars and polyols.” The group’s research focused on primary, secondary and tertiary alcohols, and revealed the slope of linear relationships depending on the reaction mechanism. “This research is important because now experimentalists have a way to identify the reaction followed when different alcohols dehydrate,” Mpourmpakis said. “Because this process involves biomass-based production of polymers, we can potentially create a more sustainable and energy-efficient process.” ### Image above: Inside front cover of Catalysis Science & Technology. Catal. Sci. Technol., 2017, 7, 1974-1974 - Reproduced by permission of The Royal Society of Chemistry.

May
22
2017

Swanson School’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering appoints Amro El-Jaroudi as Associate Chair

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (May 22, 2017) … Recognizing his significant career experience at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, Amro El-Jaroudi has been named Associate Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. An associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Pitt since 1988, Dr. El-Jaroudi’s appointment was announced by Alan George, PhD, department chair. In his role, Dr. El-Jaroudi will support the academic and research initiatives in the department, as well as help manage staff, programs, and resources. “Amro brings the knowledge, wisdom, and experience to serve in this key role for our department,” Dr. George said. “He is well respected by his peers, colleagues, and students throughout the Swanson School and will contribute significantly to the operation and growth of our department.” Dr. El-Jaroudi’s research interests include digital signal processing, and neural net algorithms, specifically with applications in speech analysis and recognition, spectral estimation, and filter design, which in all have attracted more than $3.9 million in research funding. He has authored or co-authored several dozen journal publications and book chapters. At the Swanson School, he has developed courses in modern spectral estimation and digital filter design, and established the Real-Time Signal Processing Laboratory, which is dedicated to improving the design and problem solving experience in signal processing for juniors and senior undergraduates in electrical engineering. He is a recipient of the Swanson School’s Outstanding Educator Award (previously the Beitle-Veltri Memorial Award), and was named Outstanding Teacher in Electrical Engineering. Prior to his career at Pitt, he earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD in electrical engineering from Northeastern University. ### Pictured above from left: Dr. Alan George with Dr. Amro El Jaroudi.

May
19
2017

Fueling the Future

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (May 19, 2017) … Numerous studies have raised critical concerns about the promise of corn ethanol’s ability to mitigate climate change and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Some of the studies have suggested that after a full life cycle assessment—meaning an analysis of environmental impact throughout all stages of a product’s life—biofuels like corn ethanol may not offer any greenhouse gas emissions reductions relative to petroleum fuels. The Royal Society of Chemistry journal Energy & Environmental Science recently published research by a team from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Oklahoma investigating the full life cycle impact of one promising “second-generation biofuel” produced from short-rotation oak. The study found that second-generation biofuels made from managed trees and perennial grasses may provide a sustainable fuel resource.  “Multistage torrefaction and in situ catalytic upgrading to hydrocarbon biofuels: analysis of life cycle energy use and greenhouse gas emissions” (DOI: 10.1039/C7EE00682A) took a novel approach to the production of second-generation biofuel while also comprehensively accounting for all of the steps involved in the full supply chain. “Corn ethanol environmental impacts weren’t really studied until after its commercialization,” explained Vikas Khanna, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh and corresponding author of the study. “The great thing about this project is it addresses full life cycle sustainability questions of new fuel sources before they come up later down the road.” In 2007, the United Nations called for a five-year moratorium on food-based (or first-generation) biofuels because of concerns that they would consume farmland and lead to worldwide food shortage. Dr. Khanna and his team’s study used wood from oak trees, as they can be harvested year-round and reduce the need for large-scale storage infrastructure. “Second-generation biofuels differ from first generation biofuels because they don’t come directly from food crops like corn and soy,” said Dr. Khanna. “They include woody crops, perennial grasses, agricultural and forest residues, and industrial wastes.” A significant metric for determining the efficacy of fuel is the Energy Return on Investment (EROI) ratio. The EROI of petroleum crude production remains high at about 11:1, meaning an investment of one unit of energy will yield 11 units of energy. However, the EROI has been steadily decreasing since 1986 and will continue to worsen as fossil fuels become more scarce and difficult to access. When researchers study potentially promising energy sources, they look for a ratio greater than 1:1. Corn derived ethanol, for example, has a EROI of 1.3:1. The study found the median EROI for multistage second-generation biofuel systems ranges from 1.32:1 to 3.76:1.  The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 states that cellulosic biofuels, like the ones used in the study, must outperform the greenhouse gas emissions of fossil fuels by reducing relative emissions by 60 percent to receive economic incentives from the government. The study surpassed minimum requirements and showed an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions relative to baseline petroleum diesel. Additionally, there was a 40 percent reduction in hydrogen consumption relative to a single-stage pyrolysis system. “Pyrolysis is the process of heating biomass to high temperatures in the absence of oxygen to and create biofuel,” said Dr. Khanna. “If it’s done quickly, in one stage, a lot of carbon will be lost. Our research showed that a multistage, lower temperature system of pyrolysis can increase the carbon chain length, create more liquid fuel and improve the energy output of the entire process.” Co-authors of the study included: George G. Zaimes, senior engineer at KeyLogic and former PhD advisee under Dr. Khanna; Andrew W. Beck, graduate research assistant at the University of Pittsburgh; Rajiv R. Janupala, research assistant at the University of Oklahoma; and University of Oklahoma faculty members Daniel E. Resasco, Steven P. Crossley and Lance L. Lobban. About E&ES Energy & Environmental Science is an international, monthly journal covering chemical, physical and biotechnological sciences relating to energy conversion and storage, alternative fuel technologies and environmental science. It has an impact factor of 25.427, and its rejection rate is more than 90 percent. ### Image above: Schematic showing the stages modeled in the biomass-to-fuel life cycle assessment. This image first appeared in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Energy & Environmental Science, Issue 5, 2017  http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2017/ee/c7ee00682a#!divAbstract
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
May
17
2017

NSF Grant Provides Research Opportunities for Undergraduates at Pitt

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH, PA (May 17, 2017) … According to the National Science Foundation (NSF), research experience is one of the most effective avenues for attracting students to and retaining them in science and engineering, as well as to preparing them for careers in these fields. Thanks to NSF, an engineering program at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering will once again be able to better prepare undergraduates for academia, research, and industry. The NSF awarded a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) grant to provide undergraduate students with research opportunities in the Swanson School’s Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. The three-year, $425,000 grant will fund a 10-week summer research program for students and provide them with a stipend and financial assistance for food, housing, and travel.Principal Investigator Joseph McCarthy, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor and Vice Chair for Education in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, will lead the REU program. Dr. McCarthy co-authored the grant proposal “REU Site: Enhancing Knowledge Integration Through Undergraduate Research – Particle-based Functional Materials for Energy, Sustainability, and Biomedicine.” Co-Principal Investigator Taryn M. Bayles, also a professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, will assist with the REU program.As a Particle-based Functional Materials (PFM) REU grant, the student research will comprise computational and experimental studies of materials that fulfill a specific function either because of their particulate nature or the influence of particles on structure. The program will admit 12 students each year beginning in 2017 and take place between May and August. “The impact of this program for these young students cannot be overstated,” said Steven Little, William Kepler Whiteford Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. “My own story goes all the way back to 1998 when I came to the University of Pittsburgh as an undergraduate student that applied to the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering through an REU program. That experience is likely a major part of why I went to graduate school in the first place.”The PFM REU program is in its third round of funding and is the second funded grant for the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering to help provide research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students focused on this topic. For more than a decade, this REU program combined with a similar program called the PFM Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) fellowships have provided both undergraduate and graduate students with research opportunities at Pitt. By the end of this funding cycle, these combined programs will have sponsored over 100 students to pursue their research goals.In addition to working with Pitt graduate students and faculty, undergraduate students accepted in the REU program will work in teams on a “cross-training” internship. They will complete a mini-project in a different area of particle-based functional materials. They can also attend weekly seminars on topics such as laboratory safety, research integrity and oral presentation skills. Students will have the opportunity to participate in social, recreational and cultural activities. The program will include an Ethics Forum in the middle of the ten weeks and will conclude with a Research Symposium.Dr. McCarthy is recognized for his impact on undergraduate engineering education. He is the primary architect of the Pillars curriculum in Chemical Engineering, an award winning block-scheduled curriculum for chemical engineering undergraduates that is the first fully integrated engineering curriculum. Additionally, he oversees both of Pitt’s undergraduate and graduate programs in chemical and petroleum engineering, and is the recipient of a Carnegie Science Award for Higher Education (2008), the Swanson School of Engineering Outstanding Educator award (2012), and the Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award (2015). For more information visit: http://granular.che.pitt.edu/PFM/PFM-REU/ ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
May
15
2017

Pitt PhD Student Lin Cheng captures first place in poster competition at international additive manufacturing conference

MEMS, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (May 15, 2017) … With its growing research focus in additive manufacturing, the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering made an impact at RAPID + TCT, the international additive manufacturing and 3D printing event held in Pittsburgh, May 8-11. Lin Cheng, a PhD student in the Swanson School’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, won first place for at the conference poster session for his research, “Efficient Design of additive manufacturing lattice structures by integrating micromechanics modeling and topology optimization.”The RAPID + TCT Competition featured projects or research in the areas of 3D printing, additive manufacturing, and 3D imaging from Pitt, Carnegie Mellon University, York College, and The Pennsylvania State University. “This was an incredibly competitive event, and I couldn’t be more proud of Lin’s success,” said Albert To, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, CNG Faculty Fellow, and Mr. Cheng’s advisor. “Our students are making an impact in additive manufacturing research, especially related to topology optimization and process-microstructure-property relationship, and so it’s an honor for one of our students to be recognized at this international gathering.”Mr. Cheng’s research interests include AM cellular structure, artificial intelligence, computational fluid mechanics, heat transfer and topology optimization. He earned a bachelor’s in power and energy engineering from Xi'an Jiao Tong University, and master’s degree in turbomachinery engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. ### Photo above: Mr. Cheng with his poster and the EOS M290 in the Swanson School's ANSYS Additive Manufacturing Lab.

May
12
2017

Pitt IEEE Students Win Big at Student Activities Conference

Electrical & Computer

GLASSBORO, NJ (May 12, 2017) … Students from the University of Pittsburgh chapter of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) placed in three competitions at the 2017 Region 2 IEEE Student Activities Conference at Rowan University. The Pitt teams won first place in the Pico Conference Paper Competition and the Micromouse Competition and third place in the Brown Bag Circuit Design Competition. “We are very proud of how these students represented the ECE department at this conference,” said Samuel Dickerson, assistant professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and faculty advisor for Pitt IEEE. “The IEEE is not just the largest association for electrical and computer engineering professions, it is the world's largest association among all technical professions, so all of the major universities in the region participated. We are all delighted to see how our students’ performance reflects the quality of our SSOE ECE students and their ability to apply what they've learned to challenges outside of the classroom.” Kendra Farrell, a junior majoring in computer engineering at Pitt, took home first place for writing and presenting her technical paper titled “The James Webb Telescope and Its Search through Time.” For the competition, Farrell explored technical aspects of the James Webb Telescope—NASA’s next generation, infrared telescope scheduled to be launched in October 2018. A team consisting of Pitt undergraduates Ryan Matthews, Andrew Saba, Alex Glyde, and Michael Hermenault also won first place for their design of an autonomous robot mouse in the Micromouse Competition. The mouse was able to solve an eight-square-meter maze in the shortest amount of time. The four team members belong to the Robotics and Automation Society at Pitt. In the Brown Bag Circuit Competition, students completed challenges using various electrical components provided in a brown bag. The components included voltage dividers, clock signals, inverters, and XOR gates. Pitt students Brandon Contino, Jenna Delozier, and Demetri Khoury won third place. The Pitt students competed against 27 other universities in the Atlantic Region of IEEE, which covers parts of Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, and West Virginia. There were a total of 10 activities, and students could also attend leadership workshops and an awards banquet during the conference. ### Image above: Members from Pitt ECE attending the 2017 Student Activities Conference at Rowan University.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
May
12
2017

Three Swanson School faculty recognized at 2017 Carnegie Science Awards

Electrical & Computer, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (May 12, 2017) … Three faculty members of the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering were among those recognized at the Carnegie Science Center’s 2017 Carnegie Science Awards, sponsored by Eaton. The program honors awardees from more than 20 categories, including Corporate Innovation, Emerging Female Scientist, Entrepreneur, Leadership in STEM Education, and others. According to the Science Center, “these individuals and companies have distinguished themselves by making unparalleled contributions to science and technology in various disciplines.” Carnegie Science Center established the Carnegie Science Awards program in 1997 to recognize and promote outstanding science and technology achievements in western Pennsylvania. “There’s a common thread among our award winners this year: They’re all problem-solvers who are dreaming big dreams,” said Ann Metzger, the Henry Buhl, Jr. Co-Director of Carnegie Science Center. “They’re using critical thinking skills to solve real-world problems and to make a difference. Those are crucial skills for all 21st –century learners, and that’s why problem-solving skills are a hallmark of all our Science Center programming.” Recipients from the Swanson School include: Information Technology AwardAlex Jones, PhDAssociate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Swanson School of EngineeringDirector of the Computer Engineering ProgramDr. Jones is internationally known for his research in “green computing.” His research led to the creation of GreenChip, a tool that provides detailed estimates about manufacturing and operational-phase metrics, such as energy consumption and carbon emissions. Innovation in Energy Award Kevin Chen, PhD The Paul E. Lego Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Swanson School of EngineeringDr. Chen is driving innovation with his research on fiber optical sensing technology. The innovations and technologies developed by Dr. Chen's team have critical applications to improve efficiency of energy production and safety of transportation infrastructures across all aspects of the energy industry. Advanced Manufacturing and Materials Award Paul Ohodnicki, PhD, and the Materials Science and Functional Materials Team, National Energy Technology Laboratory University of Pittsburgh Team Members: Kevin Chen, PhD, Aidong Yan, Sheng Huang The extreme environments of power generation systems and advanced manufacturing processes are too harsh for traditional sensors, limiting the ability to optimize efficiency and minimize environmental impacts. This team demonstrated a cutting-edge sensor technology capable of measuring temperature and gas composition inside solid oxide fuel cell systems, holding promise for commercialization and job growth. Honorable Mention - University/Post-Secondary Educator Peyman Givi, PhD Distinguished Professor and the James T. MacLeod Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Swanson School of EngineeringCo-Director of the PhD Program in Computational Modeling and SimulationDirector of the Laboratory for Computational Transport Phenomena Known as a modern-day “Rocket Scientist,” Dr. Givi is widely recognized as the leader and a first ranked researcher in the field of high-performance computing for propulsion, combustion, rockets, and energetic fluids simulation. He is also highly regarded for his effective mentoring of students. He has made a remarkable impact in engineering & computing education by training the next generation of outstanding scholars. All of his former postgraduate students are now in highly visible positions in academia, government laboratories and private industry across the globe. About Carnegie Science Center Carnegie Science Center is dedicated to inspiring learning and curiosity by connecting science and technology with everyday life. By making science both relevant and fun, the Science Center’s goal is to increase science literacy in the region and motivate young people to seek careers in science and technology. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, the Science Center is Pittsburgh’s premier science exploration destination, reaching more than 700,000 people annually through its hands-on exhibits, camps, classes, and off-site education programs. About Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1895, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh is a collection of four distinctive museums dedicated to exploration through art and science: Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, and The Andy Warhol Museum. Annually, the museums reach more than 1.2 million people through exhibitions, educational programs, outreach activities, and special events. ###

May
10
2017

Following two decades as Dean, Gerald Holder to return to faculty at Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering

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

PITTSBURGH (May 10, 2017) ... Marking the culmination of more than two decades of dynamic leadership, Gerald D. Holder, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering in the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, has announced his intention to step down from his position to return to the faculty in the fall of 2018.Holder, Distinguished Service Professor of chemical engineering, has been dean of the Swanson School since 1996 and a member of its faculty since 1979.“Two words come to mind when I look back on Jerry’s incredible career as dean of our Swanson School of Engineering: tremendous growth,” said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “Under Jerry’s leadership, our Swanson School has seen record enrollment levels and total giving to the school has topped $250 million. “The school has also expanded academically to support new knowledge in areas like energy and sustainability — and also new partnerships, including a joint engineering program with China’s Sichuan University. And while I will certainly miss Jerry’s many contributions as dean, I am grateful that he will remain an active faculty member and continue to strengthen our Swanson School’s bright future,” Gallagher said.       “Through a focus on innovation and excellence, Dean Holder has led a transformation of the Swanson School of Engineering into a leader in engineering research and education,” said Patricia E. Beeson, provost and senior vice chancellor. Beeson added, "From the establishment of the now top-ranked Department of Bioengineering to the integrated first-year curriculum that has become a national model, the Swanson School has been a change maker. And with nearly three-quarters of the faculty hired while he has been dean, the culture of success that he has established will remain long after he steps down.” The University plans to announce the search process for his successor in the coming months. Holder’s Many Accomplishments In his 21 years as dean, Holder has overseen school growth as well as increases in research awards and philanthropic gifts. Enrollment has doubled to nearly 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students, and the number of PhDs has increased threefold. Holder also has emphasized programs to nourish diversity and engagement — for example, in 2012 the Swanson School had the highest percentage in the nation of engineering doctoral degrees awarded to women. Co-curricular programs also have prospered during Holder’s tenure. The school’s cooperative education program, which places students in paid positions in industry during their undergraduate studies, has increased to approximately 300 active employers. International education or study abroad has also become a hallmark of a Pitt engineering education, with 46 percent participation in 2015 versus a 4.6 percent national average for engineering and a 22.6 percent national average for STEM fields. The school’s annual sponsored research has tripled during Holder’s years as dean, totaling a cumulative $400 million. Alumnus John A. Swanson’s landmark $43 million naming gift came in 2007, the largest-ever gift by an individual to the University at the time.University-wide initiatives developed during Holder’s tenure as dean include the Gertrude E. and John M. Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering; the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, founded with support of alumnus John C. “Jack” Mascaro; and the Center for Energy.Holder is likewise held in high regard by his peers. "As a dean of long standing, many of us refer to Dean Holder as `the Dean of deans,’ not just because of his years of service but also because of the respect that we have for his leadership, mentorship and impact on the engineering profession,” said James H. Garrett Jr., dean of the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.“He is an accomplished academician, an exceptional academic leader and a tremendous human being.” Holder, a noted expert on natural gas hydrates and author of more than 100 journal articles, earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Kalamazoo College and bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan. He was a faculty member in chemical engineering at Columbia University prior to joining the Pitt engineering faculty in 1979. He served as chair of the chemical engineering department from 1987 to 1995 before being named dean of engineering.Among many professional accomplishments, he was named an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow in 2003. In 2008 he was named an American Institute of Chemical Engineers Fellow and was awarded the William Metcalf Award from the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania for lifetime achievement in engineering. In 2015 he was elected chair of the American Society of Engineering Educators’ (ASEE) Engineering Deans Council, the leadership organization of engineering deans in the U.S., for a two-year term. The council has approximately 350 members, representing more than 90 percent of all U.S. engineering deans and is tasked by ASEE to advocate for engineering education, research and engagement throughout the U.S., especially among the public at large and in U.S. public policy. ###
Author: Kimberly Barlow, University Communications
May
10
2017

ECE’s Ervin Sejdic Becomes IEEE Signal Processing Magazine Area Editor of eNews

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH, PA (May 10, 2017) … The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Signal Processing Magazine has announced Ervin Sejdic, associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, will become the new Area Editor for eNews. Dr. Sejdic joins the magazine’s five other area editors in this senior position.“It is my great honor and pleasure to serve as an area editor for the IEEE Signal Processing Magazine, which is the highest rated journal in the area of signal processing,” said Dr. Sejdic. “This is a great recognition of my contributions to this field, and I’m very fortunate to be given this extraordinary opportunity.”Signal Processing Magazine and the recently introduced “Inside Signal Processing E-Newsletter” is distributed to all members of the IEEE Signal Processing Society. The journal contains instructional articles with “comprehensive surveys of important theories, algorithms, tools, and applications related to signal processing and related areas.” Its impact factor of 6.671 is the highest in the field.About Dr. SejdicDr. Sejdic holds a B.E. Sc. and Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario, both in electrical engineering. During his undergraduate studies, Dr. Sejdic specialized in wireless communications, while his Ph.D. project focused on signal processing. From 2008 until 2010, Dr. Sejdic was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto with a cross-appointment at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Canada’s largest children’s rehabilitation teaching hospital. During his postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Sejdic 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 (July 2010-June 2011), where he focused on cardiovascular and cerebrovascular monitoring of older/diabetic adults. In addition to his role of associate professor at Pitt, Dr. Sejdic is the associate director of the RFID Center for Excellence, which works within academia and industry to advance the understanding and application of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.About IEEEWith more than 400,000 members in 160 countries, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is the world’s largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. The IEEE is a leading authority on world-changing technologies, from computing and sustainable energy systems to aerospace, communications, robotics, healthcare, and more. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
May
10
2017

ChemE’s Taryn Bayles Named American Institute of Chemical Engineers Fellow

Chemical & Petroleum, Diversity

PITTSBURGH, PA (May 10, 2017) … The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) has elected Taryn Bayles, professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, as a Fellow. Fellow is the highest grade of membership with AIChE. It requires 25 years of excellence in chemical engineering practice, at least 10 years of membership and participation with AIChE, and Senior Membership at the time of election. “This is a tremendous accolade for Taryn, and our department couldn’t be more proud,” noted Steven R. Little, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor and Chair of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. “Taryn is one of the nation’s most noted experts in engineering education, and literally wrote the book (with a co-author) on engaging high school students in engineering. Her contributions to the department are exceeded only by the passion for engineering that she encourages in our student body.”Dr. Bayles is the fourth professor at the University of Pittsburgh to become an AIChE Fellow, including Karl Johnson, George Klinzing, and Dean Gerald Holder.The AIChE limits the number of Fellows at any time to five percent of the sum of Fellows, Senior Members, and Members. Fellows must be nominated by a member of AIChE, and the grade of Fellow is intended to honor and reward AIChE members for their accomplishments and service.About Dr. BaylesTaryn M. Bayles is a non-tenure stream (NTS) Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and serves as the Chair of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Education Division. She has spent part of her career working in industry with Exxon, Westinghouse, and Phillips Petroleum. Her industrial experience has included process engineering, computer modeling and control, process design and testing, and engineering management. She has also spent over 20 years teaching Chemical Engineering at the University of Nevada Reno, University of Pittsburgh, University of Maryland College Park, and University of Maryland Baltimore County.Dr. Bayles research focuses on Engineering Education and Outreach to increase awareness of and interest in pursuing engineering as a career, as well as to understand what factors help students be successful once they have chosen engineering as a major. She is the co-author of the INSPIRES (INcreasing Student Participation, Interest and Recruitment in Engineering & Science) curriculum, which introduce high school students to engineering design through hands-on experiences and inquiry-based learning with real world engineering design challenges. This curriculum targets the International Technology and Engineering Education Association Standards as well as National Next Generation Science Standards and aligns with the Framework for K-12 Science Education. About AIChEThe American Institute of Chemical Engineers is the world’s leading organization for chemical engineering professionals with more than 50,000 members from over 100 countries. AIChE has the breadth of resources and expertise from core process industries to emerging areas, such as translational medicine. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
May
8
2017

Pitt Names Founding Dean of School of Computing and Information

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH—Paul R. Cohen is the founding dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Computing and Information. Cohen’s deanship begins on Aug. 1, 2017. The first new school or college established at Pitt since 1995, the School of Computing and Information is a multidisciplinary environment that supports discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship driven by data and technology. It is a key element in Pitt’s strategy to support research in data and computation-intensive fields across the University. The school will begin operations on July 1 and will enroll its first students in the fall 2017 term. “Paul is a visionary leader who will quickly drive our School of Computing and Information to the forefront of academic excellence,” said Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “He is also an expert collaborator and a leading authority on utilizing data, technology and information in new ways to solve some of the most challenging and complex issues facing society today.” “Paul’s scholarship and expertise are well suited to our ambitions for the School of Computing and Information. His history of leadership in academia and government positions him well to foster the development of the school and to partner with other leaders across the University,” said Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia E. Beeson. “I know that his enthusiasm and expertise will advance the school and will help the University of Pittsburgh continue to make an impact on our community and our world.” Since 2013, Cohen has worked as a program manager within the Information Innovation Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). At DARPA, he oversees programs that address a far-reaching collection of areas, such as communication between humans and machines, cancer biology, extracting knowledge from text, and global and national security. These programs have included the Big Mechanism and the Communicating with Computers programs. Cohen serves as a professor and was the founding director of the School of Information: Science, Technology and Arts, now the School of Information, at the University of Arizona. A professor at the University of Arizona since 2008, he also held positions at the University of Southern California from 2003 to 2008 and the University of Massachusetts from 1983 to 2003. In terms of his professional research, Cohen works in artificial intelligence and cognitive science. He is particularly interested in how robots and computers can learn the meanings of words and phrases — one of his programs at DARPA focuses on communicating with computers. He has also worked on other physical foundations for language, including vision-based learning of spatial language. Additionally, Cohen has developed methods for education informatics, which apply artificial intelligence and machine learning to better engage and teach students. Cohen's recent DARPA programs focus on technology to gather large numbers of journal articles and other data into causal models of very complicated systems, such as cell signaling systems in cancer or food and water systems. Cohen is the author of the book “Empirical Methods for Artificial Intelligence.” He was editor in chief of the International Journal of Intelligent Data Analysis, and also has been the co-editor for the International Journal of Approximate Reasoning, Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design and Manufacturing, and Knowledge Engineering Review. Throughout his nearly 35 year academic and professional career, Cohen has been recognized with numerous honors and distinctions. He is an elected fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. In 1998, he was named a faculty fellow of the University of Massachusetts. Cohen was a councilor for the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence from 1991 to 1994. Cohen earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology at the University of California San Diego in 1977, a Masters of Arts degree in psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1978 and a PhD in computer science and psychology at Stanford University in 1983. ###
Author: Anthony Moore, University Communications
May
8
2017

Pitt’s Bopaya Bidanda Named IISE Outstanding Faculty Advisor

Industrial

PITTSBURGH, PA (May 8, 2017) … The Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers (IISE) named Bopaya Bidanda, the Ernst Roth Professor and Chair of the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, Outstanding Faculty Advisor for the Northeast Region.“We honor [Dr. Bidanda] for his guidance and availability to chapter officers and chapter members, his participation at chapter events, his interfacing for the chapter to the university and community, and his significant contributions to the IISE student chapter,” said Bill Boyd, Director of Membership Services at IISE.“When you have an outstanding group of students, it’s easy to be an effective Faculty Advisor,” added Dr. Bidanda.The IISE Northeast Region includes New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. One of seven U.S. regions for IISE, the Northeast is home to 25 percent of the U.S. professional chapters and 16 percent of the U.S. student chapters.Winners of the regional award will receive a personalized certificate and recognition at the IISE Annual Conference and Expo. This year, the annual conference will take place May 20 – 23 in Pittsburgh.About Dr. BidandaBopaya Bidanda is currently the Ernest E. Roth Professor and Chairman of the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. His research focuses on Manufacturing Systems, Reverse Engineering and Project Management. He has published nine books and over 100 papers in international journals and conference proceedings. Recent (edited) books include books published by Springer Inc., on Virtual Prototyping & Bio-manufacturing in Medical applications, and on Bio-materials and Prototyping Applications. He has also given invited and keynote talks in Asia, South America, Africa, and Europe. He also helped initiate and institutionalize the Engineering Program on the Semester at Sea voyage in 2004. He has previously served as the President of the Council of Industrial Engineering Academic Department Heads (CIEADH) and on the Board of Trustees of the Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers. He has also served on International Advisory Boards of universities in India and South America. Dr. Bidanda is a Fellow of the Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers and currently serves as a Commissioner with the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET. In 2004, he was appointed a Fulbright Senior Specialist by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board and the U.S. Department of State. He received the 2012 John Imhoff Award for Global Excellence in Industrial Engineering given by the American Society for Engineering Education. He also received the International Federation of Engineering Education Societies (IFEES) 2012 Award for Global Excellence in Engineering Education in Buenos Aires and also the 2013 Albert Holzman Award Distinguished Educator Award given by the Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers. In recognition of his service to the engineering discipline, medical community and the University of Pittsburgh, he was honored with the 2014 Chancellors Distinguished Public Service Award.About IISEIISE, the world's largest professional society dedicated solely to the support of the profession, is an international, nonprofit association that provides leadership for the application, education, training, research, and development of industrial and systems engineering. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
May
4
2017

Water, Water, Nowhere

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (May 4, 2017) … Hydrogen powered fuel cell cars, developed by almost every major car manufacturer, are ideal zero-emissions vehicles because they produce only water as exhaust. However, their reliability is limited because the fuel cell relies upon a membrane that only functions in when enough water is present, limiting the vehicle’s operating conditions.   Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering have found that the unusual properties of graphane – a two-dimensional polymer of carbon and hydrogen – could form a type of anhydrous “bucket brigade” that transports protons without the need for water, potentially leading to the development of more efficient hydrogen fuel cells for vehicles and other energy systems. The principal investigator is Karl Johnson, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor in the Swanson School’s Department of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering, and graduate research assistant Abhishek Bagusetty is the lead author. Their work, “Facile Anhydrous Proton Transport on Hydroxyl Functionalized Graphane” (DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.118.186101), was published this week in Physical Review Letters. Computational modeling techniques coupled with the high performance computational infrastructure at the University’s Center for Research Computing enabled them to design this potentially groundbreaking material. Hydrogen fuels cells are like a battery that can be recharged with hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen enters one side of the fuel cell, where it is broken down into protons (hydrogen ions) and electrons, while oxygen enters the other side and is ultimately chemically combined with the protons and electrons to produce water, releasing a great deal of energy. At the heart of the fuel cell is a proton exchange membrane (PEM). These membranes mostly rely on water to aid in the conduction of protons across the membranes. Everything works well unless the temperature gets too high or the humidity drops, which depletes the membrane of water and stops the protons from migrating across the membrane. Dr. Johnson explains that for this reason, there is keen interest in developing new membrane materials that can operate at very low water levels–or even in the complete absence of water (anhydrously). “PEMs in today’s hydrogen fuel cells are made of a polymer called Nafion, which only conducts protons when it has the right amount of water on it,” says Dr. Johnson. “Too little water, the membrane dries out and protons stop moving. Too much and the membrane “floods” and stops operating, similar to how you could flood a carbureted engine with too much gasoline,” he added. Dr. Johnson and his team focused on graphane because when functionalized with hydroxyl groups it creates a more stable, insulating membrane to conduct protons. “Our computational modeling showed that because of graphane’s unique structure, it is well suited to rapidly conduct protons across the membrane and electrons across the circuit under anhydrous conditions,” Dr. Johnson said. “This would enable hydrogen fuel cell cars to be a more practical alternative vehicle.” About the Johnson Research GroupThe Johnson Research Group at the University of Pittsburgh uses atomistic modeling to tackle fundamental problems over a wide range of subject areas in chemical engineering, including the molecular design of nanoporous sorbents for the capture of carbon dioxide, the development of catalysts for conversion of carbon dioxide into fuels, the transport of gases and liquids through carbon nanotube membranes, the study of chemical reaction mechanisms, the development of CO2-soluble polymers and CO2 thickeners, and the study of hydrogen storage with complex hydrides.   About Dr. JohnsonKarl Johnson is a member of the Pittsburgh Quantum Institute. He received his bachelor and master of science degrees in chemical engineering from Brigham Young University, and PhD in chemical engineering with a minor in computer science from Cornell University. ### Illustration above and below: In computer simulations at Pitt, graphane provides a water-free "bucket brigade" to rapidly conduct protons across the membrane and electrons across the circuit. (Credit: A. Bagusetty/University of Pittsburgh; Rick Henkel)

May
4
2017

Two MEMS Graduate PhD Candidates Named Department of Defense Fellows

MEMS, Diversity, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH, PA (May 4, 2017) … The United States Department of Defense (DoD) announced that Emily Cimino and Erica Stevens, PhD candidates in the Materials Science and Engineering PhD program at the University of Pittsburgh, were awarded National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowships. The award covers the fellows’ full tuition and required fees, not including room and board, and $153,000 in stipend funds over the course of the 48-month program tenure.Ms. Cimino is working in the research group of Brian Gleeson, the Harry S. Tack Chair Professor and Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS). She is researching the hot corrosion of a second generation nickel-based superalloy supplied by Pratt & Whitney, an aerospace manufacturer headquartered in Hartford, Connecticut. The goal of her research is to understand the mechanism of hot corrosion as a function of temperature and sulfur dioxide content and to establish methods that may reduce alloy degradation via hot corrosion. Ms. Cimino earned her bachelor’s degree at the Pennsylvania State University. “Being awarded the DoD fellowship is a huge plus because I have a source of funding until I graduate, and I can solely focus on research,” said Ms. Cimino. “I hope to advance current understanding of hot corrosion, and I hope to take full advantage of the resources I have at Pitt, namely characterization equipment necessary for this research as well as knowledgeable faculty.”Ms. Stevens received funding for her research into additive manufacturing magnetocaloric materials, or materials that change temperature with magnetic field changes. She is pursuing her PhD under the supervision of Markus Chmielus, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science. She received her undergraduate degrees in materials science and engineering at Pitt as well as a bachelor of philosophy degree through the University Honors College.“Magnetic refrigeration, or refrigerators that use magnetocaloric materials, is currently being developed, but their highest reported efficiency is around 20 percent, while theoretical is 30 percent,” said Ms. Stevens. “During the fellowship, I could be integral in increasing the efficiency of refrigerators by another 10 percent, saving consumers on electricity bills and contributing to lowering emissions from power generation. A large portion of our electricity generation as a nation goes to refrigeration.”The selection process for NDSEG fellows consists of a panel evaluating the candidate as a whole and review of the candidate’s research project by the DoD.