Pitt | Swanson Engineering
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Dec

Dec
15
2017

Lindsay Rodzwicz Receives Chancellor’s Staff Award for University Engagement

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (December 15, 2017) … Lindsay Rodzwicz, Coulter Program Administrator in the Department of Bioengineering, was selected as a recipient of the 2017 Chancellor’s Staff Award in the University Engagement category.The University Engagement Award is presented to an employee who “extends their commitment to the University through exemplary participation in volunteer activities within the University, through service on committees, working on special projects, or volunteering to assist with events or programs (e.g., Commencement and/or Convocation) that are outside of the scope of their normal job duties.”Rodzwicz has an impressive volunteer record with a number of University groups and commits up to 10 hours of her personal time to volunteer activities each week. One of her more significant investments is the University of Pittsburgh Staff Council.Rodzwicz first started her involvement with the Staff Council after signing up to become a volunteer at one of their Brown Bag Lunch and Learn sessions. She quickly dove into the organization and was elected to a two-year term as vice president for public relations in 2013, followed by another election as executive vice president in 2015. She was also a voting member of the University of Pittsburgh Senate Council from 2014-2017, which is the official body for shared governance amongst students, faculty, staff, administrative officers, and the Board of Trustees.Being a part of the Staff Council and University Senate, along with sitting on Board of Trustees committees gave Rodzwicz a better perspective of university policy. As a leader of the organization, Rodzwicz played a role in the Staff Council working both with Human Resources to enact the new Paid Parental Leave policy, and raising funds to establish the Ronald W. Frisch Staff Development Award. Her understanding of policy and the funding challenges that the University faces helped her as an advocate at Pitt Day in Harrisburg. She participated in this day-long trek to the state’s capital in 2015 and 2016.In addition to her participation in University governance, Rodzwicz is also active with the Phi Beta Chapter of the Chi Omega Fraternity at Pitt. She mentors the chapter of over 100 undergraduate women, providing guidance on scholarship, community service, career and personal development, campus involvement, leadership, and recruitment. In her award letter from Chancellor Gallagher, Harvey Borovetz, distinguished professor of bioengineering, was quoted saying, “I cannot think of a better role model for women interested in a STEM career than Ms. Rodzwicz, and Lindsay’s service at the Phi Beta Chapter of Chi Omega insures that the 100 women being advised heard from a person who had studied hard, worked hard and achieved success.”Laura Dunn, Pitt alumna and Chi Omega regional director, was also quoted in the chancellor’s letter and echoed a similar sentiment about Rodzwicz. Ms. Dunn said, “She has an incredible talent for mentorship and cultivating strengths inside each of the students she worked with, in that she wasn’t afraid to challenge us when she didn’t agree and helped us to come to a more reasonable understanding.”Rodzwicz started her time in the Department of Bioengineering as part of the first undergraduate class. She left the University for several years, but because of  her “love of Pitt,” decided to accept a role with the Department of Bioengineering in 2012 as the Coulter Program Administrator.“I chose to volunteer my time outside of my normal job duties, because I believe that Pitt is a great place to work and that our greatest asset of the University is our people,” Rodzwicz said.  This is also why Rodzwicz volunteers with the United Way Day of Caring where University staff are able to give back in a small way to the local Oakland community. Rodzicz said, “I am deeply honored to be recognized with a Chancellor’s Award for my volunteer work within the University of Pittsburgh, and I am extremely grateful to those who nominated me and wrote letters of recommendation on my behalf.  Without the dedication of my colleagues on the Staff Council and my co-advisors to the Phi Beta Chapter of Chi Omega, I would not have been successful in my volunteer endeavors – it takes a great team!  I am proud to think that in a small way my volunteer efforts have made a difference for the students I’ve advised and had a positive impact to make Pitt an even better place to work for staff members!”Recipients of the award are published in the Pitt Chronicle, receive a $2,500 prize, and recognized at a special reception. Their names will be added to a plaque in the William Pitt Union which displays all recipients of the award.

Dec
13
2017

Christopher Mahoney Wins the 2017 TERMIS-AM Student Scientist Award

Bioengineering, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (December 13, 2017) … Christopher Mahoney, bioengineering PhD candidate, is one of the 2017 recipients of the TERMIS-AM Student Scientist award.The award is given to students who demonstrate passion and promise in their research, academics, and service. It provides financial assistance to undergraduate and graduate students who are presenting in the annual meeting. Mahoney’s research advisor, Kacey Marra, associate professor of plastic surgery and bioengineering, said, “This award is well-deserved as Chris has consistently excelled in all three areas: research, academics and service.”The TERMIS-AM annual conference was December 3-6, 2017 in Charlotte, NC. Mahoney  presented a poster on “Dual Method Verification of Adipogenesis in Cultures Containing an Adipose Derived Delivery System for Adipose Restoration.”About Christopher MahoneyMahoney works with Marra on biomaterials and drug delivery for adipose tissue reconstructive applications.In 2014, Mahoney received the Wes Pickard Academic Fellowship, which is awarded to students chosen by their department chair who are in good academic standing. In fall 2014, he became a trainee under the University of Pittsburgh’s CATER NIH NRSA Institutional Predoctoral Training Grant, giving Mahoney the funding and support to develop as a student researcher. In March 2017, he was awarded the highly competitive NIH NRSA Individual Predoctoral Fellowship from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering to further his research and complete his doctoral degree.Mahoney participates in several other professional and community service activities. He serves on the University Senate Committee on Equality, Inclusion, and Diversity Advocacy and the Graduate and Professional Student Government Event Planning Committee. He is also former president of the Engineering Diversity Graduate Student Association and an active member of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization.

Dec
13
2017

Chancellor Gallagher presents Associate Dean Minking Chyu with Distinguished Service Professor medallion and appointment

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (December 13, 2017) … University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Patrick Gallagher and Provost Patricia Beeson this morning formally presented the Swanson School of Engineering's Minking Chyu with a medallion recognizing his appointment as Distinguished Service Professor. The presentation was held during a virtual Joint Management Committee meeting between representatives at Pitt and Sichuan University. "It is our custom in the academy to present a medallion to those who are propelling their disciplines forward, and have made exceptional scholarly contributions in their field," Chancellor Gallagher said at the ceremony. "With his remarkable achievements, it is easy to see why Minking’s colleagues and peers have recommended him for this appointment. This is the highest recognition that our University can bestow upon a faculty member, and I am proud to celebrate Minking as one of these exceptional scholars." 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 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. Above: Chancellor Gallagher presents Dr. Chyu with the Distinguished Service Professor Medallion ###

Dec
12
2017

Pitt Team Receives NIH BRAIN Grant to Improve Prosthetics Through Sensory Feedback

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (December 12, 2017)…Our tactile senses keep us aware of our environment and are essential for the execution of natural movement. Though there have been many advances in modern prosthetic devices, the loss of sensory feedback remains an issue, and many amputees struggle with everyday movement. Lack of sensory feedback in transtibial (below-knee) amputation means that the prosthesis user must rely on their residual limb for all motor skills. Patients suffer with problems in balance control, risk of falling, and severe phantom limb pain. A University of Pittsburgh group seeks to address this need for sensory feedback in prosthetic devices.Lee Fisher, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation, and Doug Weber, associate professor of bioengineering, were one of four University of Pittsburgh teams to receive a $5.3M National Institutes of Health (NIH) BRAIN award. The NIH Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative aims to advance understanding of the human brain. Fisher and Weber won an award in the “Next Generation Human Invasive Devices” category for their project titled “Spinal root stimulation for restoration of function in lower limb amputees.” “Evidence suggests that lack of sensory feedback contributes to phantom limb pain (PLP), a phenomenon where amputees feel pain from the missing limb, which can be long-lasting and severe,” Dr. Fisher said. “We’ll be investigating how electric stimulation may both counter PLP and improve movement and balance.”The team’s objectives are to 1) explore the effects of electrically stimulating the dorsal root ganglia and dorsal rootlets to generate sensations and reduce phantom limb pain, 2) characterize the responses to electrical stimulation in both the intact and amputated limbs to coordinate reflexes and improve movement, and 3) use electrical stimulation to decrease postural sway and increase gait stability.Fisher and his team will use an FDA-cleared spinal cord stimulator to send electrical pulses to the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and dorsal rootlets (DR) in hopes of reducing PLP. The stimulation creates sensations of pressure and movement in the amputated limb, thereby reducing PLP and improving prosthesis functionality.The group will use the same electrical stimulation to characterize reflexive responses. Electromyography will be used to measure reflex responses generated in the muscles of the leg.  Having bilaterally coordinated reflexes will help prosthetic users when responding to unexpected situations, such as slips or falls. Being able to precisely control the patterns of reflexive activity will also help with everyday standing and walking.The team will be using pressure sensitive insoles and joint angle sensors in the prosthetics. Fisher explains, “The insoles allow us to control stimulation. If we record increased pressure under the ball of the foot, we will increase stimulation for an electrode that generates a sensation at the ball of the foot. The goal is to make it feel like the sensations are coming from the prosthetic limb.” The study of these signals and modulation of sensory feedback through DRG/DR stimulation should improve movement by decreasing postural sway and increasing gait stability. According to Dr. Fisher, making improvements in the sensory feedback of prosthetic devices could drastically improve the quality of life for their users by reducing phantom limb pain, increasing balance control and confidence, and making the prosthetic limb feel more natural.

Dec
11
2017

ChemE and MEMS students are big winners at 2017 Blast Furnace

Chemical & Petroleum, MEMS, Student Profiles

The problems a few dozen Pitt students wrestled with this semester weren’t in a homework assignment or an exam. They were often intensely personal problems, the solutions to which they had formed into the kernel of an idea for a new product or service. To nurture those ideas they entered the 6th cohort of the Pitt Blast Furnace student idea accelerator. The winning team as determined by the judges was DisSolves, the brainchild of Jared Raszewksi, an undergraduate in chemical and petroleum engineering. He was joined by Emelyn Jaros, a mechanical engineering undergraduate. Raszewski said he is a regular user of protein powders and was frustrated by the process of measuring and mixing the protein drinks. Read their solution and more at the Innovation Institute.
Mike Yeomans, Innovation Institute
Dec
11
2017

Glass with switchable opacity could improve solar cells and LEDs

Electrical & Computer, Industrial

News release from The Optical Society WASHINGTON (December 11, 2017) ... Using nanoscale grass-like structures, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania have created glass that lets through a large amount of light while appearing hazy. This is the first time that glass has been made with such high levels of haze and light transmittance at the same time, a combination of properties that could help boost the performance of solar cells and LEDs. The glass exhibits another remarkable quality: It can be switched from hazy to clear by applying water. This could make it useful for creating smart windows that change haze or opacity to control the privacy of a room or to block glare from sunlight. "Switchable glass available today is quite expensive because it uses transparent conducting layers to apply a voltage across the entire glass," said Paul W. Leu of the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering, leader of the research team. "Our glass would be potentially less expensive to make because its opacity can be switched in a matter of seconds by simply applying or removing liquid." In Optica, The Optical Society's journal for high impact research, the researchers describe their new nanograss-based glass, which achieves a record 95 percent light transmittance and a similarly high degree of haze at the same time. The researchers experimented with glass etched with nanograss structures from 0.8 to 8.5 microns in height with "blades" each measuring a few hundred nanometers in diameter. The discovery of switchability was one of serendipity. "I was cleaning the new nanograss glass when I discovered that cleaning it with water made the glass become clear," said project lead, graduate student Sajad Haghanifar. While the discovery was incidental, it can be easily explained. "The water goes between the extremely hydrophilic nanostructures, making the nanograss glass act like a flat substrate. Because water has a very similar index of refraction to the glass, the light goes straight through it. When the water is removed, the light hits the scattering nanostructures, making the glass appear hazy." Using nanograss to improve solar cells Leu's group developed the new glass to improve the ability of solar cells to capture light and turn it into power. Nanostructure patterns can prevent light from reflecting off the solar cell's surface. These structures also scatter the light that enters the glass, helping more of the light reach the semiconductor material within the solar cell, where it is converted into power. The new glass uses a unique pattern of nanostructures that looks much like grass. Because the structures are taller than previously-used nanostructures, they increase the likelihood that light will be scattered. Although glass with the nanostructures appears opaque, tests showed that most of the scattered light makes its way through the glass. The fact that the glass is highly hazy and exhibits high transmittance could also make it useful for LEDs, which work in a way that is essentially the opposite of a solar cell, by using electricity that enters a semiconductor to produce light that is then emitted from the device. The new glass could potentially increase the amount of light that makes it from the semiconductor into the surroundings. Finding the right 'grass' height The researchers found that shorter nanograss improved the antireflection properties of the glass while longer nanograss tended to increase the haze. Glass with 4.5-micron-high nanograss showed a nice balance of 95.6 percent transmittance and 96.2 percent haze for light with a 550-nanometer wavelength (yellow light, a component of sunlight). Although more work is needed to estimate the exact cost of manufacturing the new glass, the researchers predict that their glass will be inexpensive because it is easy to make. The nanostructures are etched into the glass using a process known as reactive ion etching, a scalable and straightforward method commonly used to make printed circuit boards. To turn the glass into a smart window that switches from hazy to clear, it would require placing a piece of traditional glass over the nanograss glass. Pumps could be used to flow liquid into the space between the two glasses, and a fan or pump could be used to remove the water. The researchers also showed that in addition to water, applying acetone and toluene can also switch the glass from hazy to clear. "We are now conducting durability tests on the new nanograss glass and are evaluating its self-cleaning properties," said Haghanifar. "Self-cleaning glass is very useful because it prevents the need for robotic or manual removal of dust and debris that would reduce the efficiency of solar panels, whether the panels are on your house or on a Mars rover." ### Photo above: New glass etched with nanograss structures can be switched from hazy to clear by applying water. As shown here, removing the water from the glass makes it appear hazy again. This switchable glass could offer a simple and inexpensive way to make smart windows that change between clear and opaque. (Credit: Sajad Haghanifar, University of Pittsburgh) Paper: S. Haghanifar, T. Gao, R. T. Rodriguez de Vecchis, B. Pafcheck, T. D. B. Jacobs, P. W. Leu, "Ultrahigh Transparency, Ultrahigh Haze Nanograss Glass with Fluid-Induced Switchable Haze," Optica, Volume 4, Issue 12, 1522-1525 (2017). DOI: 10.1364/OPTICA.4.001522. About OpticaOptica is an open-access, online-only journal dedicated to the rapid dissemination of high-impact peer-reviewed research across the entire spectrum of optics and photonics. Published monthly by The Optical Society (OSA), Optica provides a forum for pioneering research to be swiftly accessed by the international community, whether that research is theoretical or experimental, fundamental or applied. Optica maintains a distinguished editorial board of more than 50 associate editors from around the world and is overseen by Editor-in-Chief Alex Gaeta, Columbia University, USA. For more information, visit Optica. About The Optical Society Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and business leaders who fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light. Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership initiatives, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of optics and photonics experts. For more information, visit osa.org.
Rebecca B. Andersen, The Optical Society
Dec
7
2017

Davidson Lab Postdoc Position

Bioengineering, Open Positions

Positions are available to study the physical principles of morphogenesis in the Mechanics of Morphogenesis / Davidson Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh in the Department of Bioengineering. Our group focuses on studying the molecular, cellular, and tissue-scale processes that regulate mechanical properties and force-production during morphogenesis. Projects can involve quantitative cell biology, biophysics, bioengineering, and embryology. Postdoctoral candidates will have recently completed a PhD and have strong background in either bioengineering, biophysics, cell and developmental biology, or cell- and tissuemechanics. Candidates with expertise with biochemistry, quantitative microscopy, microrheology, microfabrication or computer simulation are preferred. The research environment at the University of Pittsburgh includes a dynamic community of bioengineers, developmental biologists, cell- and tissue-level biomechanics, and theoretical biologists. Nearby resources include the Peterson Institute of NanoScience and Engineering and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center. Contemporary Pittsburgh is a diverse vibrant city undergoing a renaissance led by world class Universities and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The University of Pittsburgh is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Women and minorities are especially encouraged to apply. Interested applicants should forward their CV, statement of research interests, and references to Lance Davidson via email at lad43@pitt.edu. 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 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.

Davidson lab website
Dec
6
2017

Undergraduate Research Student Profile: Medical Device Data Analytics with the FDA

Bioengineering, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (December 6, 2017) Julie Constantinescu, a sophomore bioengineering student, spent this past summer at an internship with the Food and Drug Administration headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland under the mentorship of Pitt alumna, Jill Marion. Julie was hired through the FDA’s ORISE research fellowship program to work on the Medical Product Safety Network (MedSun) team within the Office of Surveillance and Biometrics. The MedSun program works with hospitals to identify and solve problems with the use of medical devices in their facilities.Julie answered a few questions about her experience in the program.Can you tell us more about the program and your research?My focus was on the research of medical device data analytics. The FDA is looking for ways to improve the way they deal with inconsistent hospital device data that is reported through MedSun, so my goal was to research and recommend possible analytics platforms to be integrated into their system to make the reporting system more accurate and efficient. I would have weekly meetings with my mentor for updates on my research and guidance, as well as biweekly meetings with the division to learn about any updates to include in my research. In between this research, I also worked with the survey team in the division to create questions to send to hospitals about the quality of their device reporting systems, such as CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System). I was basically working 9 am to 5 pm accumulating research from library sources like PubMed as well as notes from hospital phone calls that I conducted to get first-hand information about their current analytics platforms. After this research was done, I put it all together into a formal paper which I submitted at the end of my term and presented to the division. How did you get assigned to this research project?Although I wasn’t sure exactly which project I would be working on until I started, I was able to pick the department I wanted to work in. Since the FDA is very branched and includes a lot of different fields of expertise, I was able to choose to apply to a division that most closely aligned with my interests. This was the Center of Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH), specifically in the Office of Surveillance and Biometrics (OSB).What was your favorite part about your summer research experience?I found the most rewarding part of this internship was gaining real “work” experience and seeing a first-hand, real-world application of bioengineering. About 80% of the people I worked with were bioengineers, so talking to them about their undergrad experiences and how they got to their current position was really helpful for me.Do you have any advice for those looking to work for the FDA?For those looking to work for the FDA, I would first recommend applying really early because the government takes forever to process paperwork. I would also recommend looking into the different offices and departments at the FDA and applying to a department that really interests you since your research will focus on the work they do in that specific department.

Dec
5
2017

Pitt Computer Engineers Win Best Paper Award at International Big Data Conference

Electrical & Computer

TUSCANY, ITALY (December 5, 2017) … A team of computer engineering and bioengineering researchers from the University of Pittsburgh won the Best Paper Award at the 3rd International Conference on Machine Learning, Optimization & big Data (MOD 2017). The paper titled “Recipes for Translating Big Data Machine Reading to Executable Cellular Signaling Models” describes how automated machine reading can be used to pore over volumes of research and use that information to create models for understanding biological processes.“These models are used to conduct and explain hundreds of thousands of simulated experiments, which would be impractical if done with biological material in the lab,” says Natasa Miskov-Zivanov, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. “Our paper won the Best Paper Award because the methods it presents are critical to automating the process of model generation from vast amounts of literature without human intervention.” The MOD 2017 conference judges selected eight finalists for the Best Paper Award after calling on the international machine learning community for submissions. A major theme of the conference is developing ways to improve computation tools to automate tedious tasks like reading through thousands of studies to find the specific information that applies to a particular biological niche.“Creating big models to describe biological processes is still mainly a manual effort,” explains Khaled Sayed, a PhD student in Dr. Miskov-Zivanov’s lab. “Natural language processing tools are getting better at extracting useful information, but there is still a disconnect between how the tools work and the how researchers assemble models. Our paper describes an interface we have built to connect the efforts of machine reading and model building in biology.”Model building uses equations, data structures, and conceptual tools to represent biological systems in computer simulations. By doing so, researchers are able to better understand biological processes through testing and analysis. The more detailed the model, the more likely it can be used to design new disease treatments and guide future research. Dr. Miskov-Zivanov and her team developed a language processing tool so humans and machines can interpret big data more accurately.“The interface could be applied immediately to existing literature. Several state-of-the-art reading engines are already using it for their output, and we have applied it to reading hundreds of thousands of papers from PubMed to build and expand models of pancreatic cancer and melanoma cells,” says Dr. Miskov-Zivanov.In addition to Sayed and Dr. Miskov-Zivanov, the paper’s authors included: Adam Butchy, PhD student in the Department of Bioengineering, and Carnegie Mellon University’s Cheryl Telmer, research biologist at the Biological Sciences and the Molecular Biosensor and Imaging Center.Dr. Miskov-Zivanov led the project and proposed the initial version of the representation format. Dr. Telmer worked with the engineers to explain biological information and provide insight on how it could be represented. Sayed analyzed the features of the reading output and worked to develop the most suitable representation format, and Butchy identified the times when data was extracted correctly and misinterpretations. He also presented the paper at the MOD conference. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Dec
5
2017

Pitt IE and Children's Hospital Team Up to Reduce Wait Times, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Reports

Industrial

The last thing a parent with a sick or injured child wants to do in the hospital emergency room is wait. And continue waiting as anxiety builds.Working to limit that scenario, Children’s  Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC has teamed up with industrial engineers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering to develop ways to reduce emergency-department wait times. The team has developed wait-time indicators, which update every 3 minutes, and show length of time before the next treatment room is available. Those times also are posted on the hospital website. At 4:30 p.m. on a recent afternoon, for example, the monitor showed that the next room would be available in 15 to 25 minutes, with a general range of 0 to 50 minutes. Read David Templeton's full article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
David Templeton, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Dec
4
2017

ChemE Professors James McKone and Chris Wilmer named “rising stars” in electrochemical energy storage

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (December 4, 2017) … Two junior faculty members in the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering were among a class of early-career researchers recognized for their nascent research in energy storage. James McKone and Christopher E. Wilmer, both Assistant Professors of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, along with their peers were honored as new Fellows at the first Scialog: Advanced Energy Storage meeting in Tucson, Arizona, Nov. 2-5, hosted by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. Drs. McKone and Wilmer were among Scialog’s outstanding 58 early-career researchers from U.S. academic institutions. According to Scialog, these rising stars participated in intensive discussions aimed at developing proposals for seed funding of transformative energy storage systems and novel research ideas to greatly improve efficiencies in advanced batteries, supercapacitors and related systems. Each Scialog brings together researchers from across traditional disciplinary boundaries – AES in this instance attracted chemists, engineers, materials scientists and physicists. Unlike most conferences, almost all the meeting time is devoted to carefully crafted breakout science discussions to explore novel ideas and develop a vibrant network of Scialog Fellows to advance basic research, which in turn can be applied to solve major societal problems. “I am tremendously proud of James and Chris, who are among Pitt’s outstanding young researchers in energy,” noted Steven R. Little, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor and Department Chair of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. “Their exploration of next-generation energy storage systems not only broadens the University’s portfolio, but also further establishes Pittsburgh as a nexus for energy R&D and innovation.” The conference yielded 35 competitive proposals, the most for any Scialog, created by teams of Fellows newly formed at the meeting. One of the goals of Scialog is to rapidly catalyze new collaborations, and members of each team are required not to have previously collaborated. Winning teams will be announced by the end of the year, according to RCSA Senior Program Director Richard Wiener. “Research Corporation chose to focus on advanced energy storage,” Dr. Wiener said, “because we believe this critical area of science requires major breakthroughs in fundamental understanding of electrochemical and physical processes that will lead to a new era of technological advance.” ### About Dr. McKone Dr. McKone’s research group studies fundamentals and applications of electrochemistry, photochemistry, and solid-state/materials chemistry with an emphasis on renewable energy and sustainability. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and music from Saint Olaf College in Northfield, MN and PhD in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where he was advised by Harry Gray and Nathan Lewis. Prior to Pitt, Dr. McKone was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Cornell University under Héctor D. Abruña and Francis J. DiSalvo. 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 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, and is co-founder of Ledger, the first peer-reviewed academic journal dedicated to blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. For more information visit Dr. Wilmer’s website at www.wilmerlab.com.

Nov

Nov
29
2017

Five-School Collaboration at the University of Pittsburgh Earns NSF Grant to Promote Inclusion in STEM Fields

Diversity

PITTSBURGH (November 29, 2017) … The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded $300,000 to a University of Pittsburgh team in one of the foundation’s Ten Big ideas for Future Investments programs, “Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES).” The team’s two-year pilot project, “Diversifying Access to Urban Universities for Students in STEM Fields,” is a credentialing and badging system for pre-college science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs with the ultimate goal of increasing participation of underserved and underrepresented minority students in postsecondary STEM programs, leading to STEM careers. INCLUDES is an agency-wide initiative “aimed at enhancing U.S. leadership in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics discoveries and innovations through a commitment to diversity and inclusion,” according to the NSF website.  The grant period began September 15, 2017 and continues through August 31, 2019. The Pitt collaboration will expand upon a community engagement framework to involve more students in STEM pre-college programs and define how the programs teach students the competencies that promote success in STEM majors. This will inform the credentialing of pre-college programs and, in coordination with University admissions professionals, develop a badging system that holistically reviews student applicants. Image (from left to right): Jennifer Iriti, Lori Delale-O'Connor David Boone, Alaine Allen, and Alison Slinskey Legg The collaboration includes the Pitt Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, the Pitt Community Engagement Centers, Pittsburgh Public Schools, Remake Learning, five schools at Pitt, and four campus STEM pre-college programs:• Gene Team in the Department of Biological Sciences;• INVESTING NOW in the Swanson School of Engineering;• The Technology Leadership Initiative in the School of Computing and Information;• The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute Academy in the School of Medicine.The four pre-college programs will engage approximately 300 high school students during the pilot round. The two-fold approach of credentialing STEM pre-college programs and badging student participants aims to have an impact on increasing the visibility of underserved and underrepresented minorities for admission considerations at urban research universities. Although Pitt is providing much of the initial effort for this project, the pilot is embedded within the broader Pittsburgh Regional STEM Ecosystem and is guided by the Remake Learning Network. Ultimately, the group’s change effort will result in an urban transformation in which previously “siloed” programs and organizations will take collective ownership and action to create stronger pathways for underrepresented minority students to enter STEM undergraduate programs in the region. Faculty and administrators from Carnegie Mellon University and Duquesne University are included in the development and design efforts of the proposal, and will provide feedback on their precollege and admissions processes, participate on the Advisory Boards, and determine whether the piloted model is feasible for expansion at their home institutions. The pilot will lay the foundation for a future alliance effort in which activities are replicated in other urban areas nationally.The investigators include:• Alison Slinskey Legg (principal investigator), Senior Lecturer and Director of Outreach Programs in the Department of Biological Sciences; • Alaine Allen, Director of INVESTING NOW pre-college diversity program and Pitt EXCEL undergraduate diversity program in the Swanson School of Engineering;• David Boone, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics; • Lori Delale-O’Connor, Assistant Professor of Education in Pitt’s Center for Urban Education;• Jennifer Iriti, Research Scientist in Pitt’s Learning Research & Development Center. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Nov
29
2017

Pitt’s Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and Lubrizol Partner on $7.5 Million Project to Improve American Chemical Manufacturing

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (November 29, 2017) … The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded the University of Pittsburgh Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and Ohio specialty chemicals provider Lubrizol Corporation a collaborative grant for research into clean energy chemical manufacturing. The DOE grant, along with contributions from Pitt and Lubrizol, will total $7.5 million over a four-year period.“The project will focus on applying advanced chemical engineering research to industrial-scale chemical manufacturing,” said Steven Little, William Kepler Whiteford Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at Pitt. “The Pitt-Lubrizol partnership aligns well with University efforts to work with businesses to translate research into industry practices and impact the region’s economy in a positive way.”The grant is part of the DOE’s Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment (RAPID) initiative, a partnership between the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and the DOE. Both Pitt and Lubrizol are among the 45 members of the $70 million AIChE/RAPID Initiative for improving energy efficiency and industrial productivity through process intensification and modular manufacturing—two design approaches for chemical manufacturing at industry-relevant scales.“At Lubrizol, we are working with thousands of tons of chemicals per year,” said Cliff Kowall, Lubrizol technical fellow and corporate engineer. “The end objective is to provide the design basis to allow Lubrizol to deploy these innovative processes with sharp reductions in waste generation, utility, and energy costs, capital cost, and footprint accompanied by an improvement in quality consistency.” Kowall was integral in establishing the initial partnership between Pitt and Lubrizol, which began in 2014 with a $1.2 million Strategic Alliance agreement. The partnership brought about opportunities for students to learn about engineering needs in an industrial environment, while at the same time benefiting Lubrizol through research projects tailored to its business operations. Last month, Pitt and Lubrizol renewed the partnership, worth roughly $1 million invested over a three-year period. “The University of Pittsburgh was by far the best fit for us to establish a relationship with a university, largely due to the enthusiasm of the Pitt Chemical Engineering leadership team,” said Kowall. “Lubrizol made a long-term commitment initially, and now we’ve extended it for three more years with the expectation of it lasting indefinitely.”The partnership helped Pitt’s Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Department develop the course “Introduction to Chemical Product Design” (ChE 0214). Open to students in their sophomore year, the course teaches how to design products specific to a customer’s needs. In a traditional paradigm, engineering students don’t work on design projects until their senior years. “This alliance has led to new educational programs that are first-of-their-kind in the country, exposing our students to unique opportunities to learn design principles and leading to multiple awards and even a spin-out company for our students,” said Dr. Little. The follow-up course, “Taking Products to Market: The Next Step in Chemical Product Design” (ChE 0314), focuses on entrepreneurship and the skills necessary to successfully turn their ideas into products or companies.“About half of the initial $1.2 million agreement went into the development of these courses and the resources to ensure our students’ success,” said Dr. Little. “Collaborating with Lubrizol directly, plus a jumpstart on product design, really gives our students a competitive advantage after graduation.”Another feature of the partnership was the creation of the ‘University of Pittsburgh Physical Property Internship,’ which is a nine-month internship targeted at chemical engineering students who graduate in December and are intending to go to graduate school in the fall.“This helps Lubrizol as well as the student who might have trouble finding something worthwhile to do in that rather awkward time. Three of the first four recipients became full-time employees,” said Kowall. “We have put emphasis on recruiting co-op students from Pitt. We work with the faculty to identify high potential candidates. Retention has been excellent in keeping co-op students as full-time employees.” ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Nov
28
2017

Pitt engineering undergraduate Joanna Rivero receives scholarship from Universities Space Research Association

MEMS, Diversity, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (November 28, 2017) … Joanna R. Rivero, a senior at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, was one of six recipients of the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) annual USRA Scholarship Award. USRA awards scholarships to undergraduate students who tackle challenging scientific questions in the areas of space research and exploration, particularly astrophysics and astronomy and create technologies and solutions that will positively influence people’s lives. Ms. Rivero, a native of Miami, Fla., received the John R. Sevier Memorial Scholarship Award which recognizes the former Acting Director of the Lunar and Planetary Institute and as Deputy Director of the Division of Space Life Sciences and honors his dedication to education and advancements in aerospace technology. She was nominated by Matthew M. Barry, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, and was among 112 eligible applicants for this year’s awards. Alyssa A. Brown, a Swanson School senior from Glenn Dale, Md., received an honorable mention as one of 13 finalists. According to URSA, a panel of judges well recognized in their respective fields selects the recipients and the competition represents the rigor expected of a science competition. The selection committee consists of university faculty members in science and engineering disciplines from among the top tier universities. “The URSA is synonymous with NASA and aerospace research, and this is a prestigious scholarship for Joanna as well as a great honor for Alyssa,” noted Peyman Givi, Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Pitt. “I’m proud of the students we nominated for this year’s class, and appreciate the support that URSA provides to our undergraduates.” “We at USRA are extremely proud of students who receive these awards,” said Dr. Jeffrey Isaacson, President and Chief Executive Officer, USRA. “They demonstrate great promise in areas such as astrophysics, planetary exploration, data utilization, fluid dynamics and biomechanics. But it’s not just their research that makes them stand out –the award recipients are also selected based on their leadership potential and initiative. We congratulate these talented students and wish them a brilliant future.” About USRA Founded in 1969 under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences at the request of the U.S. Government, the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is a nonprofit corporation chartered to advance space-related science, technology and engineering. USRA operates scientific institutes and facilities, and conducts other major research and educational programs, under Federal funding. USRA engages the university community and employs in-house scientific leadership, innovative research and development, and project management expertise. More information about USRA is available at www.usra.edu. ###

Nov
21
2017

Hooked on Aquaponics

Civil & Environmental

DEARBORN, MICH. (November 21, 2017) … The Aquaponics Project, a University of Pittsburgh student group bent on sustainable urban farming, won the grand prize of $10,000 and a Ford Connect Transit Van at the 10th Annual Ford College Community Challenge to support their efforts to provide Pittsburghers with fresh, locally grown food. The Pitt team received an additional $25,000 for finishing in the top 10.“The Ford Fund usually awards $25,000 to 10 universities each year,” says Kareem Rabbat, a sophomore studying environmental engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. “To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the competition, we were invited to the Ford World Headquarters in Michigan to compete with two other schools. We presented our proposal and won first prize in the final round.”Rabbat is co-president of The Aquaponics Project student group, which aims to spread awareness of how aquaponics can be used to produce healthy food, even in densely populated urban areas. Last year, the group debuted a two-story, 160-square foot shipping container capable of producing 10,000 pounds of food annually in an almost entirely closed-loop system.“Aquaponics is an incredibly self-sufficient method of growing food that can be traced back as far as the Aztec civilization,” Rabbat says. “The aquaponics facility was initially installed downtown near the Gateway T station. Its current location is next to the Home Depot in East Liberty. People can go inside to learn about the integrated food production system.” The key to high crop yields in densely populated areas is swapping traditional agriculture with the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. Aquaculture is the umbrella term for cultivating plants and animals in water, and hydroponics means growing plants in water rather than soil. Together, they work really well to create the low-energy, sustainable system of food production called “aquaponics.”“The plants get nutrients from the fish waste and filter the water for the fish, allowing the water to continue cycling through the system,” explains Rabbat. “We use solar panels to power pumps that deliver water from the fish tank on the first floor to the plants on the second floor.”Aquaponics can produce 10 times the amount of food per square foot than traditional farming, while using 70 percent less energy and 90 percent less water. The Aquaponics Project’s facility currently produces basil and tilapia, but a variety of different plants and fish can be used.In 2012, the United States Department of Agriculture announced that more than 47 percent of Pittsburghers live in “food deserts” without access to affordable fruits, vegetables, or healthy whole foods. At the same time, 40 percent of food gets wasted globally, according to the Pittsburgh-based nonprofit 412 Food Rescue’s website. The Aquaponics Project will use the support from the Ford Fund to team up with 412 Food Rescue and help put discarded food to use rather than letting it slowly decompose in a landfill.“Decomposing organic matter releases methane gas into the atmosphere,” says Rabbat. “Our winning proposal integrates our aquaponics facility with an anaerobic digester to decompose the organic matter collected from restaurants and food pantries around Pittsburgh. The cool thing about the anaerobic digester is that we can capture gas from the decomposing food and use it to power the facility.” The aquaponics facility has a Plexiglassgreenhouse on top for growing basil The group started the project to educate the local community about sustainable practices of food production and to implement these practices. After the deployment of their aquaponics facility, the team began to brainstorm ideas on how to mitigate food waste. “By integrating an anaerobic digester into our facility we will not only able to produce fresh food, but also be able to transform food waste into clean energy and fertilizer,” says Rabbat. The team called their proposal “A 21st Century Food System,” as they are trying to use waste from one step of the food cycle as a resource in another. “The facility currently sits next to a community garden in East Liberty, so we can distribute the fertilizer directly on their soil a few feet away,” says Rabbat. “The competition centered on how mobility solutions could be used to meet community needs, and I think we won first place because our idea to better circulate food production and disposal in urban environments really aligned with that mission.”The Aquaponics Project was founded at the University of Pittsburgh in 2015 and has grown to include students from Carnegie Mellon University and The University of Michigan. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Nov
21
2017

WESA FM (NPR) features Hao Sun on his Forbes 30 Under 30 recognition

Civil & Environmental

A University of Pittsburgh researcher's work detecting the "health" of buildings has landed him a spot on Forbes' 30 Under 30 List in science. Hao Sun, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt, has developed a method that could help detect structural problems in buildings after a damaging event such as an earthquake or a hurricane. Read more and listen to the interview with WESA's Joaquin Gonzalez.
Joaquin Gonzalez, Pittsburgh Tech Report Content Producer, 90.5 WESA-FM
Nov
21
2017

2018 ECE Faculty Positions

Electrical & Computer, Open Positions

The ECE Department (http://www.engineering.pitt.edu/ECE/) at the University of Pittsburgh invites applications for tenure-stream (TS) faculty positions as Assistant Professor in the areas of computer engineering or electric power and energy, as well as a non-tenure-stream (NTS) faculty position as Assistant Professor for teaching and education research in general areas of ECE. The anticipated start date is September 1, 2018. Candidates must show strong potential to become leaders in their fields and be able to synergize with current strengths of Pitt-ECE and the Swanson School of Engineering (SSOE). Successful candidates must also be committed to high-quality education for a diverse student body of undergraduate and graduate students.Since its founding in 1893 by two legends, George Westinghouse and Reginald Fessenden, Pitt-ECE has excelled in education, research, and service.  Today, the department features innovative undergraduate and graduate programs and world-class research centers and labs, combining theory with practice at the nexus of computer and electrical engineering, for our students to learn, develop, and lead lives of impact. The University of Pittsburgh is ranked by the Wall Street Journal as the #1 public university in the Northeastern US, and by US News and World Report as the #15 public university in the US.  The ECE Department is experiencing major growth and achievement in its academic and research programs, with seven faculty members hired since September 2016, the new Energy Grid Institute located at the Pittsburgh Energy Innovation Center, and the new NSF Center for Space, High-performance, and Resilient Computing (SHREC).  In addition, Pitt-ECE features strong collaborations with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and School of Medicine, the Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering (PINSE), the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, the U.S. DOE National Energy Technology Lab (NETL), numerous industry partners, and many more in the Pittsburgh area.Pitt-ECE has 29 full-time faculty members and offers B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical and computer engineering.  Current enrollment consists of nearly 500 undergraduate and 200 graduate students.  The SSOE recently completed a $100 million renovation and redesign of Benedum Engineering Hall, home of Pitt-ECE, with state-of-the-art teaching and research labs. As part of its growth, Pitt-ECE has additional space in Schenley Place, a new research-centric building on Pitt’s campus within walking distance of Benedum Hall and home to much industry/university collaboration.Exceptional candidates in these targeted areas will be carefully considered. Applications are due by January 8th, 2018, although candidates will continue to be considered until positions are filled. Please submit a CV, research and teaching statements, and contact information for at least three references, all in a single PDF file, to ecesearch-TS@pitt.edu for TS positions, or to ecesearch-NTS@pitt.edu for NTS.The University of Pittsburgh is an affirmative action and 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.

Nov
20
2017

The Building Doctor

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (November 20, 2017) … London Bridge isn’t the only one falling down. Exposure to extreme weather, daily wear and tear, and destructive environmental events like earthquakes all compromise the structural integrity of bridges and buildings. The aging of large structures poses a serious threat to public safety, and the current method of inspection isn’t exactly full-coverage insurance.“Building inspectors must physically be present to examine the structure’s condition, and even then they can’t check every single corner,” says Hao Sun, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. “In the event of a disaster, the inspectors certainly can’t monitor building health in real-time. The fate of that building becomes a guessing game with very destructive consequences.”Dr. Sun’s research into using advanced sensors with Internet-of-Things (IoT) connectivity and data analytics to monitor large structures earned him a spot on Forbes’ 2018 “30 Under 30” in Science list of young innovators and rising stars. They are scientists, professors, entrepreneurs, and inventors determining the future of companies, labs, and ground-breaking research while advancing our understanding of the world and the people in it.“The recognition of my work is truly inspiring,” says Dr. Sun. “The response from my colleagues has been incredible, and this kind of encouragement is critical as I start my career leading research teams at the University of Pittsburgh.”Dr. Sun, 29, arrived at Pitt on Sept. 1 after working as a postdoctoral associate at Massachusetts Institute of technology (MIT). He’s now head of the Lab for Infrastructure Sensing and Data Science at the Swanson School. His research focuses on sensor systems and determining how the enormous amounts of data feedback from those sensors can diagnose building health.“All buildings produce a constant stream of ambient vibrations,” explains Dr. Sun. “A 100-year-old-building is going to sound much differently than a brand new one, but safety is important for both. We can attach monitors that produce big data about the building, then we must correctly mine the data to understand the building’s condition.”Dr. Sun’s sensors combine GPS technology, accelerometers, and tiltmeters, which measure the building’s deformation and vibration. He also uses gauges for monitoring temperature, humidity, wind velocity, and other weather conditions. The sensors communicate to each other through IoT technology, providing consistent and constant feedback while picking up those good vibrations. “Vibration-based structural health monitoring essentially listens to building response to assess potential risks and the current stage of the structure’s lifecycle,” says Dr. Sun. “The great thing about this strategy is it can be recorded anywhere, at any time, including normal operational conditions, intermediate stress conditions, and extreme events.”Currently, the technology developed by Dr. Sun has been tested on MIT’s Green Building and is being applied to monitor the Al-Hamra Tower in Kuwait. The Al-Hamra Tower, a 1,358-foot skyscraper, is the 23rd tallest building in the world. It experiences severe temperature changes in the Arabian Desert and can be affected by earthquakes from nearby epicenters in Iraq and Iran. Dr. Sun is working with the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research to continue the ongoing research collaboration with his colleagues from MIT, and now, Pitt.“I’ve only been here for three months, but I’ve already partnered with several other Pitt researchers,” says Dr. Sun. “My research is interdisciplinary in nature with contributions from civil engineering, mechanics, and sensing and data science. Pitt is a great place for collaborating with researchers from different backgrounds with different strengths and areas of expertise.”Dr. Sun’s research has been supported by Shell Global in collaboration with an MIT team led by Oral Buyukozturk, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Shell team directed by Dirk Smit, Vice President of Exploration Technology; Lorna Ortiz, Global R&D Project Manager; and Haibin Xu, Regional Manager of External Research and Innovation.About Hao SunDr. Sun’s research focuses on the advancement of scientific knowledge and the development of innovative sensing and data analytics to tackle built environment issues, specifically to address the resilience, sustainability, and safety issues of civil infrastructure systems. His interests include advanced sensing, big data analytics, machine learning, uncertainty quantification, and inverse computational mechanics, for structural health monitoring and resilience assessment. Dr. Sun is the receipt of multiple scholarships and awards, such as two poster competition awards from EMI Conference 2014, Boeing Fellowship, NSF Workshop Travel Award, and China National Merit Scholarship. He obtained his PhD and M.Phil. in Engineering Mechanics and MS in civil engineering from Columbia University, after completing his BS in civil engineering at Hohai University in Nanjing, China. Prior to joining Pitt, he was a postdoctoral associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Nov
20
2017

Students dedicate time to developing drone

Electrical & Computer

Levi Burner had dreamed of making a flying machine since he was 8 years old. The junior electrical engineering student finally got his chance when he started to build a drone for the International Aerial Robotics Competition more than a year ago. “The fact that we have found a competition that follows that dream just gets me really excited,” Burner said. “I’ve always been a robotics fan, so I’ve been building robots since I was quite young.” Burner, along with the Pitt Robotics and Automation Society, engineered a drone capable of flight to compete in the North American venue of the IARC, hosted at the Georgia Institute of Technology this past summer. The student group — which began work on the drone during the summer of 2016 — has since worked to improve their initial drone by developing its software and hardware so that it can compete again next summer. Read the full story at The Pitt News.
Anish Salvi for The Pitt News
Nov
17
2017

Undergraduate Study Abroad Student Profile: Getting SERIUS in Singapore

Bioengineering, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (November 17, 2017) - Jake Meadows, Hannah Liu, and Mazin Rahman are bioengineering juniors who spent eight weeks in Singapore with the Summer Engineering Research Internship for U.S. Students (SERIUS) program. SERIUS selects students from US partner institutions to participate in internships at the National University of Singapore (NUS) engineering labs. Jake and Hannah engaged in research with Dr. Hongliang Ren in the Medical Mechatronics Laboratory. The pair were given flexibility with their projects, which allowed them to explore this area of bioengineering. Jake worked on a surgical robotics project titled “Preliminary Development Of A Low-Cost Flexible Endoscope For Robotic Minimally Invasive Nasopharyngoscopy.” Hannah worked on a different project in Dr. Ren’s lab, “Four-Point Fortune-Teller-Inspired Origami Grasper for Increased Dexterity and Less Tissue Damage in Minimally Invasive Surgery.” Mazin’s research was in the Biofluid Mechanics Lab with with Dr. Hwa Liang Leo . He worked with one of Dr. Leo’s graduate students on “Hemodynamic Investigation of Tricuspid Valvular Therapies in Treating Functional Tricuspid Regurgitation.” Jake, Hannah, and Mazin discuss their experience in Singapore: What was your favorite thing about living in Singapore? The front entrance of the "Ordination Hall" at Wat Arun, a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, Thailand. Jake: “Definitely the food and the people.  Singapore is an incredibly diverse country, consisting of large Chinese, Malay, and Indian populations.  Everyone we met was friendly and excited to share the culture with us -- especially in the form of food.”  Hannah: “Easy access to anything you wanted to do. The MRT (public transportation) was super easy to navigate, and we could go virtually anywhere in Singapore like Sentosa beach, Pulau Ubin (biking island), Little India, Chinatown, etc. Changi Airport is also a great hub, and you can catch an hour-two hour flight to other countries nearby.”Mazin: “The ease in which someone from any culture/religion can stay in Singapore. As Jake said, Singapore is a very diverse country with a variety of cultures and religions. As a Muslim, living in Singapore was honestly easier to live in than in the U.S. due to the large population of Singaporean Muslims, thus making it easier on religious requirements especially during the holy month of Ramadan. Also, the food!”How did you enjoy your research project? Hannah at Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) in Bangkok, Thailand. Jake: “My day-to-day was mostly rapid prototyping, testing out early-stage design via Solidworks simulations and just trying things out in the workshop. My project was extraordinarily independent, and I could take it any direction I wanted. This was daunting, but also extremely liberating. This independence gave me an opportunity to really explore the research topic and understand this area of bioengineering.”Hannah: “It was definitely outside of my comfort zone since I’m concentrating in cellular engineering while this project was more “medical product-focused.” Jake and I sat across from each other every day and helped each other along whenever we were stuck and needed help prototyping our designs. From talking to other students in the same program and from my own experience, the research project was very “you-driven.” Basically, the lab provided us with resources, and we could do anything we saw fit in our project - lots of flexibility and hands-on experience.”Mazin: “This was in fact my first research experience, and I enjoyed it tremendously. As opposed to most other students, who were given their own research project, the project I worked on was an ongoing project of a PhD student. This was very helpful in that she would help us and give us advice and direction, while still allowing enough freedom for us to be able to design our own solutions and solve our own problems.”Do you have any advice for those looking to study in Singapore? The group on the Mekong Delta outside of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Jake: “Definitely apply! There are also semester-long programs available at two different universities in Singapore, NUS and NTU, that would be perfect for someone looking to study in Singapore and experience South East Asian culture.”Hannah: “Jake, Mazin and I all agree that this is the best experience of our adult lives. It definitely changed me as a person and also affirmed my interest in cellular engineering as opposed to medical product, signals, etc. APPLY APPLY APPLY!! The application really is not difficult at all, and you won’t regret it!”Mazin: “Definitely apply to this program! If you are interested in doing any study abroad, this is a great opportunity. The application is not a lot of work and since the application pool is limited to only a few engineering schools, I believe it is easier to get into than other study abroad programs that are open to all students. Not only was the research awesome, but we had a lot of fun exploring other parts of Southeast Asia. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you should not pass up.”For more information about the SERIUS program, visit their website: https://www.eng.nus.edu.sg/exchange-students/serius/. To apply through Pitt, please visit: http://www.abroad.pitt.edu/engresearchsingapore.  The application deadline is January 28, 2018.

Nov
15
2017

Bioengineering Department Participates in BMES Annual Meeting

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (November 15, 2017)…This past October, Pitt Bioengineering students joined their peers at the 2017 Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Annual Meeting.More than 35 undergraduate and eight graduate students participated at this year’s conference in Phoenix, Arizona. They presented in both the platform sessions and poster sessions.The students were joined by Pitt Bioengineering faculty members, including Arash Mahboobin, assistant professor, who said, “The event was well attended, and I was very encouraged by the engineering education topics presented at the conference. Our undergraduate students represented the department very well. I am extremely proud of their achievements and will certainly watch their careers develop with great interest and high expectation.”Part of the event included a two-part presentation from the 2017 Young Innovators of Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering (CMBE). CMBE publishes a special issue, which highlights assistant professors from across the country who are doing innovative bioengineering research. Shilpa Sant, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, with a secondary appointment in bioengineering, was one of eleven awardees. She presented her group’s work titled “Shape-specific Nanoceria Mitigate Oxidative Stress-induced Calcification in Primary Human Valvular Interstitial Cell Culture.” Tyler Bray and Christine Heisler are bioengineering juniors who presented at the meeting. “The BMES Conference in Phoenix was a fantastic place to learn and network. It’s a great experience to be around so many talented and accomplished individuals while seeing the future of the bioengineering field unfold,” Mr. Bray said. It was very rewarding opportunity to present my research and have meaningful conversations with people who have similar interests. The trip to Phoenix also allowed me to enjoy the city and grow closer to my peers!”Ms. Heisler thought it was a rewarding experience and used this opportunity to explore post-graduate options. She said, “[I attended] incredibly interesting lectures that have directed my post-graduate plans toward Public Health.” During the conference, she was able to network with various graduate schools that catered to her interests.The 2018 BMES Annual Meeting will be held in Atlanta, Georgia on October 17-18.To find out more about Pitt’s BMES chapters, visit:Undergraduate: http://www.pittbmes.com/Graduate: http://www.pittbmes.org/

Nov
13
2017