Pitt | Swanson Engineering
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Nov

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
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

Oct

Oct
24
2017

Concrete — a hard material Pitt hopes to make harder

Civil & Environmental

For thousands of years, people have built civilizations with concrete made from readily available local materials. Just mix and heat, add some sand, stone and water and put it where you want it. Of course, give it time to harden — that is, after you have left your hand print or initials. So it’s no surprise that concrete is the world’s most widely used building material. Twice as much concrete has been used to build Pittsburgh — and everything else in the world — than wood and steel combined. So says concrete expert Julie Marie Vandenbossche, a University of Pittsburgh civil engineer. Read David Templeton's full article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
David Templeton, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Sep

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 and the Center for Energy, 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

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.

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
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

Jun

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
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

May

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
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
4
2017

Of Bicycles and Glaciers

Civil & Environmental, Diversity, Student Profiles

This article, "Graduating Senior Profiles: Naomi Anderson," originally appeared in the May 4, 2017 issue of The Pitt Chronicle. Author: Kimberly K. Barlow. Posted with permission. Driven by passions for water conservation and bicycling, Naomi Anderson has studied artificial glaciers in the Himalayas, helped to launch a campus bicycle cooperative and designed prize-winning solutions to mitigate abandoned mine drainage in the South Hills. In addition to these highlights of her five years as an undergraduate in the Swanson School of Engineering, Anderson has coordinated sustainability projects on and around campus and pedaled with friends to Washington, D.C., on the Great Allegheny Passage trail — twice. Anderson, who graduated on April 30, is one of the first two students to receive the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s new bachelor of science degree in environmental engineering. It’s a degree she wants to use here in Pittsburgh. A graduate of Pittsburgh Allderdice High School, she grew up in the city’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Her parents — Stewart Anderson, a faculty member in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health, and Deb Anderson, a business analyst at Grant Street Group — recognized early on her affinity for hands-on problem solving. hey nudged, gently. “‘You have an engineering brain,’ they’d say. They would always come to me to fix things,” Anderson recalls. When she arrived at Pitt, her preference for hands-on solutions made her choice of an engineering discipline easy: “It was civil or nothing,” she says. But her path there wasn’t all smooth. A required course in concrete structures had Anderson in an unhappy spot. “I was thinking, ‘I can’t do this major anymore,’” she says, admitting she considered leaving engineering. Anderson’s adviser, Leonard Casson, encouraged her instead to consider switching to the brand new environmental engineering major, which she did early in her final school year. “Everything came together at the right time,” Casson says. Anderson is exactly the sort of student the department had in mind when it created the new major, says Casson, an associate professor and the civil and environmental engineering department’s academic coordinator. “With her intellect, she’s capable of doing anything,” he says of Anderson. Summer experiences with a Student Conservation Association trail crew that worked to correct water drainage on forest trails in Vermont sent her along the path to environmental engineering. “It was cool to build something I could immediately see, helping nature,” she says. Her interest in water resources led her to the topic of artificial glaciers, and a resulting freshman research paper on the subject got the attention of a University of Massachusetts Amherst researcher who invited Anderson and her coauthor, fellow Pitt engineering student Taylor Shippling, to join her in the mountains of northern India to research the structures up close. Summers there are short, so farmers need melt water from glaciers to arrive at just the right time in the planting season if their crops are to succeed. As the glaciers recede, water takes longer to flow from higher on the mountain. To remedy the problem, engineers there have built structures to trap the melting water at lower altitudes, where it freezes in an ice dam and later melts at the expected time. “It was sweet to go to India,” says Anderson, who blogged with Shippling during their time in the province of Ladakh. “It was interesting learning about the technology — and to do so in a way that’s not like westerners traveling abroad to fix problems in the third world, but rather to learn,” Anderson says, not only about hydrology, but also from the local experts and their solutions. Elsewhere beyond the classroom, as president of Pitt’s chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World, Anderson coordinated projects to winterize students’ homes; to test the potential of wind belts, which are flapping straps that can generate power; and to create a rain garden in conjunction with an Oakland community group. In 2015, she joined with friends to found the Pitt Bicycle Collective to support the campus cycling community. The collective’s proposal to create a bike repair space in the Posvar Hall underpass won the $10,000 top prize in the 2017 Sustainable Solutions competition on campus. The Bike Cave will launch before fall, she says. Gena Kovalcik, codirector of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (MCSI), grew to know Anderson as both passionate and prepared in her proposals when seeking funding for sustainability-related projects. MCSI summer research funding contributed to the paper that led to Anderson’s journey to India. The center also provided some matching funds for ESW projects and the Bike Cave, Kovalcik says. “Hers were more than just lofty ideas. Every time she’d come into my office, I knew she had a plan. It was always well thought out and thorough. She came in with a budget and a strategy to make it happen. I’m so excited to see what she does next,” Kovalcik says. In a few weeks, Anderson and her mom will embark on a road trip to her next destination: Colorado, where she will spend four months as part of a Southwest Conservation Corps trail maintenance crew in the Four Corners region. When she returns to Pittsburgh in October, she plans to settle in Lawrenceville and seek a job involving water resources. “I want to be here. I think Pittsburgh needs people who care,” she says. “I’ve served Pitt. Now I’m excited to serve Pittsburgh.”
Author: Kimberly K. Barlow, University Communications
May
4
2017

Pitt engineering students study Chartiers Creek pollution

Civil & Environmental

One of my responsibilities with the University of Pittsburgh's Civil Engineering Department is coordinating of our senior design projects program. In their final semester, seniors are required to participate in a semester-long team design project. Ideally these projects are based on real world problems, constraints and data. The final class is a day-long colloquium in which each team spends an hour presenting its results to a large audience of students, faculty, family members, and visiting engineering practitioners. This year's colloquium was particularly impressive and I am proud of the students and their accomplishments. Read the article in the Tribune Review, or the full post at Dr. Oyler's blog.
John Oyler, Contributing Writer & Adjunct Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Apr

Apr
11
2017

CDC/WHO Ebola Guidelines Could Put Sewer Workers at Risk

Civil & Environmental

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

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

Civil & Environmental

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

Apr
10
2017

Pitt Names Senior Vice Chancellor for Research

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

PITTSBURGH—Rob A. Rutenbar has been named the University of Pittsburgh’s senior vice chancellor for research. In this newly established position, he will lead the University’s strategic vision for research and innovation, enhancing existing technological partnerships. “I am delighted to welcome Rob to the University of Pittsburgh as our inaugural senior vice chancellor for research,” said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “His experience as a researcher, innovator, collaborator and entrepreneur — both inside and outside of the university — make Rob uniquely qualified to support our faculty’s research and innovation efforts and to champion Pitt research on a local, national and global scale.” Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia E. Beeson said Rutenbar is exceptionally well-suited for the role. “His administrative, entrepreneurial and research experiences align well with our vision for a leader who drives excellence and will serve as a champion for the University of Pittsburgh,” she said. “Rob’s experiences and expertise in both the academic world and the private sector make him the perfect individual to fully integrate and expand upon Pitt’s University-level research and medical school endeavors,” said Arthur S. Levine, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and the John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine. “In the coming years, we hope to be an internationally recognized model for how the various divisions of an educational institution can communicate and work together. Rob Rutenbar is precisely the type of professional needed to accomplish that goal.” Working with other senior University officials, the senior vice chancellor for research is responsible for establishing and implementing a long-term plan for research infrastructure. The position manages the University’s Center for Research Computing, Economic Partnerships, the Innovation Institute, the Office of Export Controls, the Office of Research, the Research Conduct and Compliance Office and the Radiation Safety Office. Additionally, Rutenbar will have an active role with the University's Swanson School of Engineering. “Dr. Rutenbar is an internationally=acclaimed scholar in computer engineering, and we are most excited that he is joining the faculty of our Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering here in the Swanson School of Engineering," saidAlan George, chair of the Swanson School's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "We are looking forward to his contributions to and collaboration with our ECE research programs." Rutenbar brings nearly 40 years of experience in innovation and technology to Pitt. His research focuses on three broad categories: tools for a wide variety of integrated circuit design issues, methods for managing the statistics of nanoscale chip design and custom computer architectures for perceptual and data analytics problems. Rutenbar currently serves as the Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering and heads the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In this role, he oversees a department composed of 70 faculty members and more than 2,400 students that is currently ranked as the No. 5 computer science program in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. Prior to assuming that position in 2010, Rutenbar was a faculty member within Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering for 25 years. As an entrepreneur, Rutenbar founded the tech firms Neolinear Inc. and Voci Technologies, Inc. in 1998 and 2006, respectively. He was the founding director for the Center for Circuit and System Solutions, a multi-university consortium that focused on next-generation chip design challenges. The recipient of 14 U.S. patent grants, his endeavors have been funded by such notable entities as AT&T, Google, IBM, the National Science Foundation and the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Technology Alliance. Rutenbar is the author of eight books and 175 published research articles. In recognition of his career accomplishments, Rutenbar was elected a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery. He has twice won the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ coveted Donald O. Pedersen Best Paper Award. He was recognized with distinguished alumnus awards from both the University of Michigan and Wayne State University. In 2002, Rutenbar 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. Rutenbar earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Wayne State University in 1978. He earned master’s and doctorate degrees in computer, information and control engineering at the University of Michigan in 1979 and 1984, respectively. Rutenbar will join Pitt’s senior leadership team in July. ###
Anthony Moore, University Communications
Apr
6
2017

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

Civil & Environmental

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

Apr
6
2017

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

Civil & Environmental

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

Apr
3
2017

MCSI Seed Grants Fund New Round of Sustainability Research

Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Industrial, MEMS

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

Mar

Mar
22
2017

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

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (March 22, 2017) … Collectively they are professors, researchers and authors; inventors, builders and producers; business leaders, entrepreneurs and industry pioneers. The 53rd annual Distinguished Alumni Banquet brought together honorees from each of the Swanson School of Engineering’s six departments and one overall honoree to represent the entire school. The banquet took place at the University of Pittsburgh's Alumni Hall, and Gerald D. Holder, US Steel Dean of Engineering, presented the awards.This year’s recipient for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering was Michael Flowers, MSCE ’78, retired, President and CEO, American Bridge Company.“Civil engineering was the first engineering program established at Pitt 150 years ago, and so our civil engineering alumni have influenced the field for generations,” said Dean Holder. “Of course, one of civil engineering’s most important, historic accomplishments and contributions to society has been building bridges to connect one land mass to another. Michael Flowers, represents that strong tradition.”About Michael FlowersMichael Flowers received his MS in civil engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 1978 and his BS in civil engineering from West Virginia University in 1974. He joined American Bridge Company in 1975 as a design engineer in the Pittsburgh Regional Engineering office. In the early years of his career, he worked on the repair and maintenance of a variety of steelmaking facilities for American Bridge’s parent United States Steel Corporation. In 1978, Flowers was assigned to a business unit in American Bridge responsible for major commercial construction projects in the United States, working on both high-rise buildings and bridges. His projects included Phase II of the Renaissance Center in Detroit, MI, One Mellon Bank Center, PPG Place and Fifth Avenue Place buildings in Pittsburgh, PA; and a total reconstruction of the Riverside Drive Viaduct in New York City. In 2006, Flowers became the project director for the American Bridge-led joint venture building the new $1.9 billion San Francisco-Oakland Bay Self-Anchored-Suspension Bridge in California. There he oversaw all aspects of the construction of this one-of-a kind suspension bridge project in the highly seismic Bay Area.Flowers assumed CEO responsibilities of American Bridge in January of 2011. In his capacity as CEO, he led the company’s participation in joint venture wins for the new Queensferry Crossing, a three-tower cable stayed bridge over of the Firth of Forth in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the new Tappan Zee Hudson River Bridge in Tarrytown, NY. In June of 2016 he retired as president and CEO of American Bridge. ### Photo Above: Dean Holder (left) with Michael Flowers and CEE Department Chair Radisav Vidic.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
14
2017

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

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

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

Mar
13
2017

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

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH, PA (March 13, 2017) … A team of students from the University of Pittsburgh finished in the top spot at the inaugural Constructors Association of Western Pennsylvania (CAWP) Student Estimating Competition. They beat out nine other teams and received a $1,500 award for their victory. The Panther Estimators, led by Civil and Environmental Engineering student Thomas Tresky, won the competition with a total of 208 points, securing a narrow victory over the second place team from the Pennsylvania State University, which scored 207.2 points. Team Abbey, also from the University of Pittsburgh and led by Civil and Environmental Engineering student Jon Abbey, came in third place with a score of 193.5 points. The full team rosters were: Panther Estimators • Thomas Tresky (captain) • Lee Anderson • Matt Lane • Janet D’Anna • Hannah Schell Team Abbey • Jon Abbey (captain) • Katelyn McEneaney • Andrew James • Phillip Paulone • Charles Riddle • Matt Eastburn Five universities participated in the CAWP competition: University of Pittsburgh main campus, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Pennsylvania State University, Pennsylvania State University Harrisburg and Carnegie Mellon University. The competition required students to assemble bid packages based on pre-job documents and a pre-bid meeting on a highway construction project. The students had to prepare their bids and schedules by a 6:00 p.m. deadline and then present an explanation of how they arrived at their final bid to judges the next day. Plum Contracting, Inc. provided one of its jobs to serve as the subject of the students’ bids, and Bill Woodford, recently retired chief estimator from Trumbull Corporation, developed the structure of the competition. Representatives from local construction companies served as the judges. Participating companies included: Mosites Construction Company; Swank Construction Company; Michael Facchiano Contracting, Inc.; Plum Contracting, Inc.; The Lane Construction Corporation; Brayman Construction Corporation; and Joseph B. Fay Co. Kurt Karanovich and Brian Westrom, also from Joseph B. Fay Co., mentored the two teams from the University of Pittsburgh main campus. The two-day competition took place at the Regional Learning Alliance in Cranberry Township. On the second day, students also participated in a career fair showcasing the region’s employers and potential job opportunities. The CAWP developed the Student Estimating Competition to encourage students to understand the benefits and opportunities the heavy-highway construction industry has to offer. CAWP, established in 1934, is a non-profit organization that assists workers in the heavy, highway and utility construction industry and improves relationships between contractors, their employees and the general public. ###
Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
8
2017

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

Civil & Environmental, Diversity

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

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

Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer

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

Feb

Feb
27
2017

What's Really in the Water

Civil & Environmental

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

Feb
18
2017

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

Civil & Environmental, Student Profiles

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

Feb
2
2017

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

Civil & Environmental

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

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

All SSoE News, Civil & Environmental, Student Profiles

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

Feb
1
2017

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

Civil & Environmental

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

ASCE Pittsburgh Names Andrew Bunger 2016 Professor of the Year

Civil & Environmental

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

Jan

Jan
19
2017

Geosciences-Inspired Engineering

Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (January 19, 2017) … The Mackenzie Dike Swarm, an ancient geological feature covering an area more than 300 miles wide and 1,900 miles long beneath Canada from the Arctic to the Great Lakes, is the largest dike swarm on Earth. Formed more than one billion years ago, the swarm’s geology discloses insights into major magmatic events and continental breakup. The Mackenzie Dike Swarm and the roughly 120 other known giant dike swarms located across the planet may also provide useful information about efficient extraction of oil and natural gas in today’s modern world. To explore how naturally-occurring dike swarms can lead to improved methods of oil and gas reservoir stimulation, the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Earth Sciences awarded a $310,000 award to Andrew Bunger, assistant professor in the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering. Dike swarms are the result of molten rock (magma) rising from depth and then driving cracks through the Earth’s crust. Dike swarms exhibit a self-organizing behavior that allows hundreds of individual dikes to fan out across large distances. Although petroleum engineers desire to achieve the same effect when creating hydraulic fractures for stimulation of oil and gas production, the industrial hydraulic fractures appear far more likely to localize to only one or two dominant strands. This localization leaves 30-40 percent of most reservoirs in an unproductive state, representing an inefficient use of resources and leading to unnecessary intensity of oil and gas development. In the study, “Self-Organization Mechanisms within Magma-Driven Dyke and Hydraulic Fracture Swarms,” Bunger will take a novel approach to understanding the mechanics of fluid-driven cracks, which he refers to as “geosciences-inspired engineering.” Like the growing field of biologically-inspired engineering, Bunger will be looking to processes in the natural world to better understand the constructed or engineered world. “I would like to challenge myself and the geoscience community to look at naturally occurring morphologies with the eye of an engineer,” says Bunger. “The first part of the study will involve developing a mechanical model to explain the behavior of the dike swarms. We are borrowing from a theoretical framework developed in biology called ‘swarm theory,’ which explains the self-organizing behavior of groups of animals.” Swarm theory, or swarm intelligence, refers to naturally and artificially occurring complex systems with no centralized control structure. The individual agents in the system exhibit simple or even random behavior, but collectively the group achieves emergent, or “intelligent,” behavior. “One of the hallmarks of self-organizing behavior within swarms was recognized by swarm theory’s earliest proponents, who were actually motivated by developing algorithms to simulate flocks and herds in computer animation,” Bunger explains. “They proposed that all swarming behavior can be tied to the presence of three basic forces. One of these leads to alignment of the members with each other – it is what makes a flocking bird fly in the same direction as its neighbors. A second force is associated with repulsion – it keeps birds within a flock from running into each other and knocking each other out of the air. The third force is attraction – an often instinctive desire of certain animals to be near other animals of their own species, typically for protection from predators.” “If you look at dike swarms,” Bunger continues, “They have been called ‘swarms’ for decades, but there has never been an effort to identify the mechanical origins of the three forces that are known to be present any place that swarming morphology is observed. When we view dikes in this way, we see that the alignment and repulsive forces have been recognized for years, although never placed in the broader context of their role in swarming. However, the origin of the attractive force is problematic. Why do all these dikes have any mechanical impetus to grow near each other? Because the mechanical origin of the attractive force has not been known, it is unclear why natural fluid-driven cracks – dikes – tend to exhibit swarming behavior while such an outcome is far less commonly observed in man-made fluid-driven cracks associated with hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas reservoirs.” “We will use computational models and analogue experiments, which use artificial materials to simulate the Earth’s processes, to develop a new theory of fluid-driven crack swarms,” says Bunger. “Through this advance, we would like to improve the stimulation methods used for oil and gas production. This will be a win-win for both industry and our society that depends upon the energy resources they produce. Industry will benefit from more efficient methods, and society will benefit from lower energy costs and a decreased environmental footprint associated with resource extraction.” In addition to a deeper understanding of the geological process that occur throughout Earth’s history, Bunger also sees his research impacting planetary research of Mars and Venus. Both rocky planets contain a large number of giant dike swarms. Understanding how the geometry of dike swarms relates to the conditions in the Earth’s crust at the time of emplacement will lead to a new method for ascertaining the little-known geological structure and history of Mars and Venus though analysis of the geometry of their many giant dike swarms. ### Photo above: Dr. Bunger in his Benedum Hall lab with the newly-installed compression frame he uses to simulate the high-stress environment deep inside the Earth.
Author: Matthew Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jan
4
2017

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

Civil & Environmental

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