Pitt | Swanson Engineering
News Listing

Oct

Oct
17
2018

Engineering Student Athletes: Craig Bair

Industrial, Student Profiles

Craig Bair Sport: Soccer Position: Outside Back Major: Industrial Engineering and Economics Class: Senior Hometown: Brecksville, Ohio “Being a student-athlete has taught me to make the most of my opportunities and most importantly how to respond to failure. It also teaches you how to manage stress and turn it into a motivator for your success. I set aside certain days, look a week ahead, and use my time wisely to stay on top of my work. There’s no set routine. You just have to plan ahead and learn to balance everything at once to perform at your best.” “In the Top Tier” By the time Craig Bair was a senior in high school, he knew he wanted to study engineering, he knew he wanted to play college soccer, and he knew he wanted to go to Pitt. “I applied to a few places at first,” he says, “but I didn’t look at many other schools once I knew what great opportunities I would have at Pitt. The University is top-tier academics and top-tier athletics at the same time.” During the fall of his first year at Pitt, Bair worked for the soccer team as student manager and by spring, had his chance to make the team. As a student, Bair’s love of math led him to major in industrial engineering and a double-major in economics because of the flexibility it would provide him after college. He says, “Nearly every company needs an industrial engineer. When I thought about the kind of work I’d like to do after college, the combination of industrial engineering and economics seems to open the door to any kind of opportunity I think I’d like to pursue.” Although he’s thought a lot about what he wants to do after graduation, Bair has his sights set firmly on helping his team win this season. “We have a team with a lot of potential to do something special this year. The ACC is the best conference in the country. Usually at least two teams from our conference are in the College Cup each year, so we’ll face a lot of talented teams but no one that we can’t compete with,” he says. Noteworthy ACC Honor Roll, 2014 - present ACC Top Six for Service Pitt Blue and Gold Student Athlete Engineering Dean's List Volunteer, Coach for College, Thuan Hung, Vietnam University Scholar Scholarship Richard Lombardi Scholarship A Typical Day 6:00 am: Wake up 7:00 am: Arrive for practice 8:30 - 10:30 am: Training 11:00 am - 12:00 pm: Ice bath, rehab, etc. 1:00 - 5:00 pm: Classes 6:00 - 8:00 pm: Film, homework or recovery session 9:00 pm: Reading 10:00 pm: Sleep Note: This is part one of a four-part series about student-athletes at the Swanson School of Engineering. Part two will appear on the SSOE website on October 24, 2018. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

Sep

Sep
25
2018

NSF Awards Pitt Engineers $200K to Study the Impact of Reflection on Learning

Electrical & Computer, Industrial

PITTSBURGH (September 25, 2018) … University of Pittsburgh professors Samuel Dickerson and Renee Clark received an NSF grant to help students in the Swanson School of Engineering start to think about thinking. The two-year, $200,000 award will support a project to improve learning and development by promoting the frequent use of reflection and “metacognition” among students in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Dickerson, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, believes that the Swanson School is perfect for this kind of project. “Engineering is different from other disciplines because this type of thought process isn’t inherent in our training,” he said. “Reflection and metacognition are not skills that are regularly cultivated or practiced in the engineering curriculum - in the classroom we are more focused on immediate problem-solving rather than pausing and looking at the big picture, which is more common in the engineering workplace.” They hope to change that standard at Pitt by first introducing these skills to electrical and computer engineering students in Dickerson’s ECE-0257 microelectronic circuits course. According to Clark, assistant professor of industrial engineering, it is easier for a student in a classroom environment to ask a professor or teaching assistant to help them solve a problem. Outside of college however, there may be fewer resources on which to rely. Dickerson and Clark want to encourage engineering students to develop lifelong learning skills that will help them independently learn how to find a solution and ultimately give them an advantage when they join the workforce. “When a student faces an obstacle in class or doesn’t perform to the level he/she should, we don’t typically ask them to critically reflect on how they got there, what they can do to solve it, or how they can perform better,” said Clark, who is  also director of assessment for the Engineering Education Research Center (EERC). “Our goal is to utilize frequent activities that prompt students to reflect and better understand their learning processes.” “Metacognition is a useful skill that helps students take a deeper look at their learning processes by simply thinking about their thinking,” said Dickerson. “Reflection is a closely related skill where students are asked to critically analyze something they have done. In this project, we want to encourage students to use both metacognition and reflection to guide their own learning during new tasks.” A unique aspect of their research is the use of SPICE simulation tools to drive students to analyze their work and gain insight into success as well as mistakes. “I will ask the students in my class to use engineering theory to complete a problem and then compare their answer to a computed result using SPICE, the standard simulation environment used by professionals to predict electronic circuit behavior,” explained Dickerson. “I want them to reflect on the gaps in their understanding, thereby taking a deeper look at their learning process and understanding.” Dickerson and Clark will examine the impact of frequent reflection using SPICE by looking at both quantitative and qualitative data. In addition to monitoring exam scores, they will distribute surveys, conduct interviews, and hold focus groups. They will be using a system to measure the depth of the students’ reflections and will evaluate the content to see if it is showing growth in students’ professional development. “The results we are looking for are not necessarily better exam scores,” said Clark. “We want to know if we have cultivated reflective and metacognitive skills in engineering students and if we have made an impact on their development.  We will be analyzing both the depth and content of their reflections using a systematic approach that has been working for us in our preliminary research.” With the use of these skills, Dickerson and Clark hope that ECE students will become better students, learners, and professionals by developing the ability to critically reflect on their own performance. These types of reflective activities are applicable across disciplines and can be easily implemented in any classroom at the University. Clark said, “We hope that these efforts will help our students develop lifelong learning skills that will make them better prepared for the professional world.” ###

Aug

Aug
13
2018

NSF Awards IE’s Andrés Gómez $150K to Solve Widespread Optimization Problems in Computational Mathematics

Industrial

PITTSBURGH (August 13, 2018) … Relationships between return and investment cost, profit and time, or cost and quality are important for decision-makers looking to optimize efficiency. If the possible choices faced by the decision-maker have a simple structure, then these tradeoff problems can be solved efficiently; however, in practice, the decisions are rarely simple and the existing computational approaches fail after complexity reaches a certain point.The National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Mathematical Science awarded $150,000 to Andrés Gómez, assistant professor of industrial engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, to widen the computational boundaries of complex optimization problems involving such tradeoffs. The project titled “Advancing Fractional Combinatorial Optimization: Computation and Applications” (1818700) begins Sept. 1.“We will be working with a hard class of problems called single- and multiple-ratio fractional combinatorial optimization problems,” Dr. Gómez explains. “There are no adequate approaches to these kinds of problems if they involve many layers of complexity or variability. This project aims to develop computational approaches with solid underlying theoretical foundations to solve these problems.”Dr. Gómez’s research falls broadly into the field of “decision-making under uncertainty.” He studies ways to improve mathematical modeling to better understand problems in finance, statistics, machine learning, manufacturing, revenue management, and many other applications.“Our proposed approaches will contribute to our understanding of mathematical optimization, particularly conic, fractional and discrete optimization, combinatorics, and algebraic graph theory,” adds Dr. Gómez.Oleg Prokopyev, professor of industrial engineering at Pitt, will join Dr. Gómez as co-principal investigator of the study. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Aug
7
2018

Integrated Sensor Could Monitor Brain Aneurysm Treatment

Bioengineering, Industrial

POSTED WITH PERMISSION FROM GEORGIA TECH. ATLANTA (August 2, 2018) ... Implantation of a stent-like flow diverter can offer one option for less invasive treatment of brain aneurysms – bulges in blood vessels – but the procedure requires frequent monitoring while the vessels heal. Now, a multi-university research team has demonstrated proof-of-concept for a highly flexible and stretchable sensor that could be integrated with the flow diverter to monitor hemodynamics in a blood vessel without costly diagnostic procedures.The sensor, which uses capacitance changes to measure blood flow, could reduce the need for testing to monitor the flow through the diverter. Researchers, led by Georgia Tech, have shown that the sensor accurately measures fluid flow in animal blood vessels in vitro, and are working on the next challenge: wireless operation that could allow in vivo testing. The research was reported July 18 in the journal ACS Nano and was supported by multiple grants from Georgia Tech’s Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology, the University of Pittsburgh and the Korea Institute of Materials Science. “The nanostructured sensor system could provide advantages for patients, including a less invasive aneurysm treatment and an active monitoring capability,” said Woon-Hong Yeo, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. “The integrated system could provide active monitoring of hemodynamics after surgery, allowing the doctor to follow up with quantitative measurement of how well the flow diverter is working in the treatment.”Cerebral aneurysms occur in up to five percent of the population, with each aneurysm carrying a one percent risk per year of rupturing, noted Youngjae Chun, an associate professor in the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. Aneurysm rupture will cause death in up to half of affected patients. Endovascular therapy using platinum coils to fill the aneurysm sac has become the standard of care for most aneurysms, but recently a new endovascular approach – a flow diverter – has been developed to treat cerebral aneurysms. Flow diversion involves placing a porous stent across the neck of an aneurysm to redirect flow away from the sac, generating local blood clots within the sac.“We have developed a highly stretchable, hyper-elastic flow diverter using a highly-porous thin film nitinol,” Chun explained. “None of the existing flow diverters, however, provide quantitative, real-time monitoring of hemodynamics within the sac of cerebral aneurysm. Through the collaboration with Dr. Yeo's group at Georgia Tech, we have developed a smart flow-diverter system that can actively monitor the flow alterations during and after surgery.”  Repairing the damaged artery takes months or even years, during which the flow diverter must be monitored using MRI and angiogram technology, which is costly and involves injection of a magnetic dye into the blood stream. Yeo and his colleagues hope their sensor could provide simpler monitoring in a doctor’s office using a wireless inductive coil to send electromagnetic energy through the sensor. By measuring how the energy’s resonant frequency changes as it passes through the sensor, the system could measure blood flow changes into the sac.“We are trying to develop a batteryless, wireless device that is extremely stretchable and flexible that can be miniaturized enough to be routed through the tiny and complex blood vessels of the brain and then deployed without damage,” said Yeo. “It’s a very challenging to insert such electronic system into the brain’s narrow and contoured blood vessels.”The sensor uses a micro-membrane made of two metal layers surrounding a dielectric material, and wraps around the flow diverter. The device is just a few hundred nanometers thick, and is produced using nanofabrication and material transfer printing techniques, encapsulated in a soft elastomeric material.“The membrane is deflected by the flow through the diverter, and depending on the strength of the flow, the velocity difference, the amount of deflection changes,” Yeo explained. “We measure the amount of deflection based on the capacitance change, because the capacitance is inversely proportional to the distance between two metal layers.”Because the brain’s blood vessels are so small, the flow diverters can be no more than five to ten millimeters long and a few millimeters in diameter. That rules out the use of conventional sensors with rigid and bulky electronic circuits.“Putting functional materials and circuits into something that size is pretty much impossible right now,” Yeo said. “What we are doing is very challenging based on conventional materials and design strategies.”The researchers tested three materials for their sensors: gold, magnesium and the nickel-titanium alloy known as nitinol. All can be safely used in the body, but magnesium offers the potential to be dissolved into the bloodstream after it is no longer needed.The proof-of-principle sensor was connected to a guide wire in the in vitro testing, but Yeo and his colleagues are now working on a wireless version that could be implanted in a living animal model. While implantable sensors are being used clinically to monitor abdominal blood vessels, application in the brain creates significant challenges.“The sensor has to be completely compressed for placement, so it must be capable of stretching 300 or 400 percent,” said Yeo. “The sensor structure has to be able to endure that kind of handling while being conformable and bending to fit inside the blood vessel.”The research included multiple contributors from different institutions, including Connor Howe from Virginia Commonwealth University; Saswat Mishra and Yun-Soung Kim from Georgia Tech, Youngjae Chun, Yanfei Chen, Sang-Ho Ye and William Wagner from the University of Pittsburgh; Jae-Woong Jeong from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology; Hun-Soo Byun from Chonnam National University; and Jong-Hoon Kim from Washington State University. CITATION: Connor Howe, et. al., “Stretchable, Implantable, Nanostructured Flow-Diverter System for Quantification of Intra-aneurysmal Hemodynamics” (ACS Nano, 2018). http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsnano.8b04689 ### A proof-of-concept flow sensor is shown here on a stent backbone. (Credit: John Toon, Georgia Tech)   With gloved fingers for scale, a proof-of-concept flow sensor is shown here on a stent backbone. (Credit: Woon-Hong Yeo, Georgia Tech)
John Toon, Director of Research News, Georgia Tech
Aug
3
2018

Ravi Shankar and collaborators make a breakthrough in 4D printing

Industrial

PITTSBURGH (Aug 3, 2018) … Four-dimensional (4D) printed objects are 3D structures capable of changing shape in time. This transformation is achieved by using stimuli-responsive materials. University of Pittsburgh Professor Ravi Shankar and collaborators at the University of Texas at Dallas have now demonstrated a platform that may help improve the way researchers morph these structures. The collaboration was led by Taylor Ware, assistant professor of bioengineering at UT Dallas, and Cedric Ambulo, a graduate student researcher in Ware’s lab. The study, “Four-dimensional Printing of Liquid Crystal Elastomers” (DOI: 10.1021/acsami.7b11851), was published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces in October 2017. Since its release, it has achieved recognition as being “first of its kind” and was awarded best poster at the 2017 International Liquid Crystal Elastomer Conference. “Previous strategies for stimuli-responsive materials require mechanical programming, which involves physically manipulating the material by stretching or bending it to help program the actuation,” said Shankar, professor of industrial engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. “In this work, we demonstrate a platform for programming the molecular-level order in macroscopic 3D structures so that the actuation can be triggered without external loading or training.” Their platform works by orienting molecules within a printable ‘ink’. On exposure to light, the ink cross-links into a rubbery material while maintaining molecular orientation. By controlling how the material is deposited, they can build 3D structures with encoded molecular orientation which allows for the control of the structure’s shape change when it is heated. The research team used liquid crystal elastomers (LCE), a polymer that can change shape in response to a variety of stimuli, including heat and light. “In order to undergo reversible shape change, LCEs should be cross-linked in an aligned state,” explained Shankar. “To do this, we controlled the print path used during 3D printing, whereby 3D structures with locally controlled and reversible stimulus response can be fabricated into geometries not achievable with current processing methods.” The resulting 4D models are capable of twisting, bending, and curving on demand. The structure will stay in one state until it is prompted by a stimulus to change shape. By printing objects with controlled geometry and stimulus response, the research team can create magnified shape transformations using snap-through instabilities. “Snap-through instabilities can be seen in nature when observing a venus flytrap catching their prey. The snapping action is used to magnify the power density and speed of actuation,” said Shankar. “Our group mimicked this action by creating curved geometries encoded with molecular-level programming that when exposed to a thermal stimulus, evolve and snap between discrete shapes.” Scientists are just scratching the surface for the future of this technology. According to Shankar, “There is a lot of potential for innovation with these unique materials. There are numerous applications for 4D printing including advancements in soft robotics, implantable medical devices, and consumer products.” This material is based upon work supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research under award number FA9550-17-1-0328. Any opinions, finding, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Air Force. ###

Aug
1
2018

Manufacturing Assistance Center in Homewood provides training and 95% job placement

Industrial

Donald Harmuth graduated from South Fayette High School this past spring and is building on the training he got at the Manufacturing Assistance Center in Homewood to pursue a degree in Engineering Physics at Westminster College this fall. “I was surprised by what we could do with the equipment we had. I was always extremely resourceful, but the capability of the machines is amazing when fully understood,” he says. “The most important thing I learned is not a technical or ‘hard skill’ but a soft one. It is resilience; anything can be done if you try,” says Harmuth. In May, the University of Pittsburgh’s Manufacturing Assistance Center (MAC) celebrated one year at its new location in Homewood. The center, which shares equipment and space with several other companies in a refurbished warehouse on Susquehanna Street, provides training in advanced manufacturing techniques for budding engineers and others in the East End and beyond. MAC is just one project in a larger effort by the University of Pittsburgh to move more facilities and resources into underserved neighborhoods bordering Oakland. Read the full article at Next Pittsburgh. The Manufacturing Assistance Center is an initiative of the Department of Industrial Engineering.
Bill O'Toole, Next Pittsburgh

Jul

Jul
26
2018

Manufacturing Engineer Mostafa Bedewy Lands $330K NSF Grant to Study “Nanotube Forests”

Industrial

PITTSBURGH (July 26, 2018) … Manufacturers use carbon nanotubes in a variety of commercial products from baseball bats and bicycle frames to aerospace structures. Attributes such as a tensile strength 20 times higher than steel and an electrical conductivity 10 times that of copper have caused the global carbon nanotube market to soar to $3.43 billion in 2016, and it is projected to double by 2022.To better understand and control the internal structure of nanotube-based materials for emerging applications, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded $330,000 to Mostafa Bedewy, assistant professor of industrial engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. In this new NSF project titled “Functionally Graded Carbon Nanotubes by Dynamic Control of Morphology during Chemical Vapor Deposition,” Dr. Bedewy will employ a combination of experimental and modeling techniques to reveal the kinetics of activation and deactivation in large populations of carbon nanotubes known as “nanotube forests.”“In the community of carbon nanotube researchers, structures made of billions of vertically-aligned nanotubes are sometimes referred to as forests, turfs, arrays, or films, but I think the term “forest” best describes their complex intertwined and tortuous morphology,” says Dr. Bedewy. “Research efforts abound on how the size and atomic structure dictate the properties of individual nanotubes, but in my lab we are more interested in looking at these nanotube forests collectively to gain a fundamental understanding of how they behave together as a population.”Carbon nanotubes are hollow, cylindrical nanostructures consisting of single-sheets of carbon atoms. Their sizes are typically smaller than one ten-thousandth the width of a human hair. Random assortments of individual nanotubes appear in many technologies because of their desirable electrical, physical, and thermal properties; however, leveraging the exceptional collective mechanical, thermal and electrical properties of nanotube forests is very promising for applications that require directional energy and mass transport.Dr. Bedewy explains, “Our previous work has shown that when we grow nanotube forests by chemical vapor deposition, we end up with a significant variation of density, alignment, and size distribution across the height of each forest. These spatial variations directly impact their collective properties such as their behavior under mechanical loading.”Chemical vapor deposition (CVD) is a process that enables the synthesis of carbon nanotubes from catalyst nanoparticles by the decomposition and dissociation of hydrocarbon gases. CVD is the process of choice for industrial applications of nanotubes owing to its scalability and versatility, as well as the high quality of CVD-grown nanotubes. “I am very excited about this NSF grant, because it will enable us to create nanotube "forests" with tailored morphology, leveraging the unique capabilities of our custom-designed rapid-thermal chemical vapor deposition (RT-CVD) reactor, which will enable unprecedented control of nanotube density profiles,” says Dr. Bedewy.Emerging applications such as thermal interfaces for high power density devices, electrical interconnects for 3D electronics, and structural materials for mechanical energy absorption require greater control of the nanotube forest structures, and therefore, a better understanding is needed for how the forest morphology develops during the production process, i.e. during their collective growth by CVD.“Our work will shed light on the stochastic nature of how individual nanotubes "pop" into existence in a population of billions of neighboring nanotubes, whose growth is seeded from catalytically active nanoparticles. Revealing the interplay between the kinetics of this "birth" and "death" of nanotubes is key to understand their population behavior during growth, which dictates their overall hierarchical structure and collective properties,” says Dr. Bedewy. ### About the NanoProduct LabThe NanoProduct Lab (nanoproductlab.org), also known as the Bedewy Research Group, focuses on fundamental experimental research at the interface between nanoscience, biotechnology, and manufacturing engineering. The group explores basic scientific discoveries and applied technological developments in the broad area of advanced manufacturing at multiple length scales, creating solutions that impact major societal challenges in energy, healthcare, and the environment.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jul
6
2018

Neutron beams help to advance the 3D printing industry

Industrial

This article originally appeared at the Canadian Institute for Neutron Scattering. Although 3D printing might be widely known for its ability to make bobble heads and plastic trinkets, it’s also a practical way to produce unique or specialized parts for important applications. For instance, 3D printers allow airplane and car parts to be made without having to tool up an entire factory, thereby bringing down the cost of producing small batches or even a single part.This new technology, also known as ‘additive manufacturing,’ now represents a major commercial industry. Already generating over $6 billion in annual revenue, the 3D printing industry is currently enjoying double-digit growth that is expected to continue well into the future as the technology matures.The potential applications for this technology reach a wide variety of industries, including some that aren’t necessarily considered part of the traditional manufacturing sector. For example, in the healthcare sector, some patients have already benefited from early examples of 3D printing of biomedical implants and specialized surgical devices, which have complex or customized shapes and specs that may be difficult to produce using traditional manufacturing methods.To help 3D printing technology mature, researchers are addressing technical challenges involved in producing parts with precise specifications.“In principle, 3D printing can produce a material in any shape, but sometimes it fails due to stress in the material while the part is being printed,” says Ravi Shankar, professor of industrial engineering at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.“This stress can lead to distortions in the shape, either as the part is being built, or when it is extracted it from the printer. If the distortions are larger than the limits of the specification, then it’s a failure, its ‘off-spec’,” he explains.To overcome this problem, Shankar has been leading a team including researchers from the University of Notre Dame and Ohio State University. This collaboration, supported by $1.7 million in funding from the America Makes Program of the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining, has also benefited from the involvement of ITAMCO, a 3D printing software company whose input helped the researchers to determine what tests would produce the most useful results for the industry.“We needed to understand the relationships between geometry [i.e., the shape and orientation of the part being printed], stress, and the resulting distortions—critical knowledge for 3D printing algorithms that will avoid the distortions, or minimize their impact,” Shankar says. Another factor they needed to consider was the role of the support structure. Support structures are selected to ensure that during printing, the part doesn’t move, and this selection can also impact the distortions.That’s where neutron beams came in: Shankar’s research team accessed the Canadian Neutron Beam Centre (CNBC) to measure the stresses present in 3D-printed steel components and then compare these stresses with the accompanying distortions. Because neutron beams are non-destructive, the researchers could measure the stresses present both before and after a part was removed from the support structures.These data provided the information needed to relate the support structures and the orientation of the part to the stresses and resulting distortions present in the 3D-printed part. The researchers published some of their results in a 2017 paper (doi:10.1016/j.msea.2017.09.108) and have more publications in progress.Meanwhile, ITAMCO has already begun applying the team’s results to improve its commercial services. For instance, it offers a software platform accessible through a website (https://atlas3d.xyz/) that will convert a part’s design into an algorithm that can be used by the customer’s own 3D printer. Informed by the research, this software now takes into account various factors such as support structures and printing materials to predict what the stresses and resulting distortions may be if printed in each of over 100 orientations. The software then selects an orientation that will minimize the distortion.“The stress data and other results of Professor Shankar’s research provided valuable experimental checks to boost the accuracy of our software’s ability to find the best orientation to produce the part,” says Joel Neidig, Chief Technology Officer at ITAMCO.Undoubtedly, better predictive capabilities like these will help 3D printing to revolutionize production, whether by enabling previously unattainable efficiencies in the traditional manufacturing sector or by supporting the creation of biomedical devices that would be impractical to produce any other way. ###
CINS
Jul
2
2018

Discovering “Virtual” Resources in the National Food System

Civil & Environmental, Industrial

PITTSBURGH (July 2, 2018) … Does producing one ton of rice consume more water in Arkansas or California? Is it more sustainable for Texas to import oranges from Florida or grow its own? Will switching to water efficient irrigation pumps reduce both water and energy footprint of food production? To better integrate sustainability across multiple production systems, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded two professors from the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering a $305,764 grant for their research into the interconnectivity of U.S. food, energy, and water resources. The research will focus on modeling the complex network of resources in the United States and strategies for optimizing sustainability in resource production and consumption with a focus on food, energy, and water systems.“People tend to see food, energy, and water as individual diodes on a larger network, when they are more like a mesh of connections. This research is asking how you can model the nexus of these complex systems,” says Vikas Khanna, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt and principal investigator of the study.The study titled "Modeling and Optimization of Sustainable and ResilienT FEW (MOST FEW) Networks" will use publicly available data from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the Department of Agriculture, and related organizations to examine the environmental sustainability of U.S. national food system with an emphasis on interstate trade. The researchers in particular will focus on identifying networks of “virtual resources.”“Virtual resources are those consumed in a process but not intended to be directly used in the exchange itself,” Dr. Khanna explains. “For example, a large amount of water is consumed across the entire supply chain of corn. A singular focus on optimizing corn production could come at the expense of high water consumption or increased fertilizer use, or result in some other negative consequence if relationships within the system aren’t better understood.”Joining Dr. Khanna on the study as co-principal investigator is Oleg Prokopyev, professor of industrial engineering. Dr. Prokopyev specializes in Operations Research and develops tools and algorithms for describing complex, mathematical relationships in networks. Their collaboration began after Dr. Khanna used similar techniques and principles to model the London public transit system. Dr. Prokopyev recognized their common research interests, and the two decided to collaborate on the current project.Dr. Prokopyev says, “When looking at multiple objectives, most often efficiency with one thing will come at the expense of another. These are problems that don’t really have easy solutions, but there are mathematical ways to describe the processes and help people visualize how their decisions impact the network.”During the grant period, the researchers hope to identify “hot spots” for improvement opportunities and provide a range of solutions that minimize environmental impact and maximize the efficiency of resource production and consumption.“When your focus is sustainability, you always have a research application in mind,” says Dr. Khanna. “We face real life problems every day that require tradeoffs like quality for price or personal preference for availability. In the same way consumers can make better decision by being more informed, modeling the food, energy, and water networks will help to inform better decision making about our national resource policies by government, industry, utilities, and more.” ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

Jun

Jun
18
2018

Swanson School professors capture award to improve engineering instruction and learning

Electrical & Computer, Industrial

PITTSBURGH (June 18, 2018) … When imagining a college classroom, one might imagine a professor standing at a podium and lecturing a room full of students taking notes. A pair of professors from the University of Pittsburgh want to reimagine this simplistic approach with a more interactive experience. Renee Clark, research assistant professor of industrial engineering, and Sam Dickerson, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, hope to impact education at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering through widespread propagation of active learning. In an effort to strengthen the role of teaching at Pitt, the Provost’s Advisory Council on Instructional Excellence (ACIE) created the Innovation in Education Awards Program to support faculty proposals which aim to reinvent traditional classroom instruction. Clark and Dickerson received one of eight awards this year for their project. “With active learning, we ask students to do something in the classroom beyond just listening to a lecture and taking notes,” explained Clark. “Students should be engaged and interacting with class content. Whether through brainstorming solutions to a problem, solving calculations in a group, or writing a one-minute reflection at the end of class, the goal is to have professors take a step back from lecturing and allow students to participate in the lesson. This promotes critical thinking and improves knowledge retention” Clark began working with Dickerson in July 2016 after they attended a Swanson School active learning workshop. They decided that they wanted to take their experience a step further and coach other instructors in how they can implement what they learned from this workshop in their classrooms. Clark and Dickerson’s project will begin this summer with a cohort of nine professors. This pilot group will work to implement simple active learning activities for their courses in two engineering departments (IE and ECE). Clark said, “We want to create a supportive learning community where we can exchange ideas and plans for the use of active learning.” Clark and Dickerson will coach each of the professors throughout the school year by observing their classrooms and giving feedback. At the end of the year, they will reunite the professors for a focus group to further improve their model for future participants. While there are many useful advanced active learning techniques, Clark and Dickerson plan to start simple. Dickerson’s implementation of the “think, pair, share” activity in his classroom demonstrates the success of this approach. He explains, “Rather than starting a class with an example and running through it, you give the students a problem, allow them to individually think about it, then ask them to come up with a solution as a group.” He discovered that using this activity changed the dynamic of his classroom. He said, “It became completely normal for students to speak up when they didn’t understand a concept or offer help to peers who were struggling with certain topics.” The ease of execution is a selling point for instructors who may debate changing their classroom structure. “Many professors do not have the time for more-involved active learning so we are sharing simple activities that require little preparation,” Clark said. “Instructors can introduce these methods on the fly or in response to a lack of classroom interaction. It is easy to stop a lecture and allow students to think about what they’re learning.” Dickerson has found that using these activities has been beneficial to more than just the students. He said, “Using active learning has helped me reflect on the way I teach; what I thought were easy concepts, were not. This strategy has allowed me to reevaluate my lessons and improve student comprehension.” Clark and Dickerson have had positive feedback on their efforts and found that students quickly become comfortable in this kind of environment. Based on data collected over the past two years, simple active learning has also positively impacted exam scores. This response encouraged them to apply to the Innovation in Education program and adapt their experience into a school-wide effort. Dickerson said, “Although these types of teaching techniques work well, the number of adopters is low. We want to change that.” The overall goal of this project is to have other Swanson School professors adapt this successful model to their classrooms. They hope to enhance student engagement, increase information retention, and improve students’ ability to use gained knowledge. “We want to make classrooms more learner-centered. In a teacher-centered environment, the focus is on content delivery. With a learner-centered classroom, we switch the spotlight to the student,” said Clark. “With simple active learning, class may still be lecture based, but you add some elements to make the students more active and turn the focus on them.” ###

Jun
18
2018

When It Rains, It Pours for Pitt IE Awards

Industrial, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (June 18, 2018) … The scholarships came pouring in with the spring rain this year for several students from the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering’s Department of Industrial Engineering (IE). Two IE professional organizations announced five scholarships last month to support the students’ tuition during the 2018-19 academic year. “So many of our students work incredibly hard in their classes yet still manage to engage with professional societies and lay the groundwork for their upcoming careers,” said Karen Bursic, associate professor of industrial engineering and director of the IE undergraduate program. “We always look forward to this kind of recognition for their outstanding efforts and encouragement for their professional futures.”The Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) awarded three scholarships to Pitt IE students during its annual meeting, which took place from May 19-22 in Orlando, Fla. The award recipients and their scholarships were:• Dina Perlic, Dwight D. Gardner Scholarship• Regina Munsch, Harold & Inge Marcus Scholarship• Marni Sirota, Marvin Mundel Memorial ScholarshipThe IISE awards scholarships to active members enrolled full time in graduate or undergraduate industrial engineering programs. Recipients must have an overall grade-point-average of 3.40 or higher. They must be nominated by IE department heads or faculty advisors. The IISE evaluates nominees based on scholastic ability, character, leadership, and potential service to the industrial engineering profession.The Material Handling Education Foundation, Inc. (MHEFI) awarded two scholarships to Pitt IE students. The award recipients and their scholarships were:• Julie Shields, Rack Manufacturers Institute/John Nofsinger Honor Scholarship• Dina Perlic, Southworth International Group, Inc. Honor ScholarshipScholarships from the MHEFI range from $1,500 to $6,000. Students must have completed at least two years of study and must be enrolled or provide proof of plans to enroll as a full-time undergraduate or graduate student. All applicants must have maintained a “B” equivalent grade point average in post-secondary studies.About IISESystems world view. Productivity. Efficiency. These are words that describe the distinctive attributes of industrial engineering, and IISE is the world's largest professional society dedicated solely to the support of the industrial engineering profession and individuals involved with improving quality and productivity. Founded in 1948, IISE is an international, nonprofit association that provides leadership for the application, education, training, research, and development of industrial engineering. ISEs figure out a better way to do things and work in a wide array of professional areas, including management, manufacturing, logistics, health systems, retail, service, and ergonomics. They influence policy and implementation issues regarding topics such as sustainability, innovation, and Six Sigma. And like the profession, ISEs are rooted in the sciences of engineering, the analysis of systems, and the management of people. About MHEFIThe Material Handling Education Foundation, Inc. is an independent charitable organization that was established in 1976 with a mission to promote the study of material handling, logistics and supply chains by exposing students and educators to the industry through financial support. Since 1976, more than $2.5 million in scholarships and grants have been awarded to students at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

May

May
9
2018

NCDMM Honors Howard A. Kuhn as the Recipient of the 2018 Lawrence J. Rhoades Award

Industrial

Reposted from the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM). View the article here. Prestigious Award Recognizes Achievement in Dedication to Advancement of Manufacturing Technology Presented at NCDMM’s Annual SUMMIT Event Blairsville, Pa. — May 9, 2018. The National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) proudly announces that today at its annual SUMMIT event, it awarded its highest honor, the Lawrence J. Rhoades Award, to Howard A. Kuhn, Ph.D., P.E. Each year, the NCDMM awards the Lawrence J. Rhoades Award to an individual who shares Mr. Rhoades’ tireless commitment, futuristic vision, and unwavering dedication to the defense manufacturing industry. “On behalf of all of us at the NCDMM, I am most honored to present the Lawrence J. Rhoades Award to our long-time friend and esteemed colleague, Dr. Howard Kuhn,” said NCDMM President and Executive Director Ralph Resnick. “Throughout his illustrious 50-year career, Howard has been a force within both the manufacturing industry and academic institutions, serving as an esteemed, innovative thought-leader and mentor. Howard also shares many of the same extraordinary qualities as Larry Rhoades and namesake of this award. You could say they are cut from the same cloth. Like Larry, Howard is also a visionary, as well as a collaborator in the truest sense of the word, possessing an almost effortless ability to bring and inspire mutual efforts together to advance manufacturing technology for the betterment of our industry. He has set a standard that many aspire to meet. “Therefore, in recognition of his tireless commitment, steady leadership, dedication, and actions on behalf of the national manufacturing community and the mission of NCDMM, we congratulate Dr. Howard Kuhn as the 2018 NCDMM Lawrence J. Rhoades Awardee,” continued Mr. Resnick. NCDMM established the Lawrence J. Rhoades Award to honor the memory of Mr. Rhoades whose entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to the advancement of manufacturing processes was known industry-wide. Mr. Rhoades was one of the founding fathers of the NCDMM, and an inaugural member of the Board of Directors where he served until his untimely death in 2007. At the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, Dr. Kuhn is an adjunct Professor in industrial engineering, instructing courses in manufacturing, product realization, entrepreneurship, and additive manufacturing. He also conducts research on additive manufacturing of biomedical devices for tissue engineering at the University. Dr. Kuhn also serves as a consultant at local industry-leading organizations, including America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, which is managed by the NCDMM, and The Ex One Company. At America Makes, he is a Technical Advisor, teaching a course, titled “Fundamentals of Additive Manufacturing Materials and Processes.” Upon its founding in August 2012, Dr. Kuhn also served as the Acting Deputy Director of Advanced Manufacturing Enterprise. At Ex One, he is currently a Research Consultant, but also previously served as the Director of Prometal Technology for Ex One. Previously, Dr. Kuhn, as the co-founder of Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC), served as the company’s Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for 12 years. He also co-founded Deformation Control Technology, a consulting firm serving the metalworking industry. Prior to this, Dr. Kuhn held joint appointments in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Department of Material Science at Drexel University and the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Kuhn is a Fellow of the American Society for Materials International and SME. In 2008 and 2011, respectively, he received the ASM Gold Medal and the SME Eli Whitney Productivity Award. In 2014, America Makes awarded Dr. Kuhn with its Distinguished Collaborator Award for his exceptional commitment and dedication to advancing additive manufacturing technology, practices, and innovation in the manufacturing industry through collaborative partnerships and contributing to the overall mission of America Makes. Dr. Kuhn is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and pursued all of his undergraduate, graduate, and doctorial degrees in mechanical engineering at the university. He is a registered professional engineer in Pennsylvania. ### About NCDMM NCDMM delivers optimized manufacturing solutions that enhance the quality, affordability, maintainability, and rapid deployment of existing and yet-to-be developed defense systems. This is accomplished through collaboration with government, industry, and academic organizations to promote the implementation of best practices to key stakeholders through the development and delivery of disciplined training, advanced technologies, and methodologies. NCDMM also manages the national accelerator for additive manufacturing (AM) and 3DP printing (3DP), America Makes—the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute. For additional information, visit NCDMM at ncdmm.org.
NCDMM

Apr

Apr
30
2018

Pitt Industrial Engineer Mostafa Bedewy Receives Top Honor from Society of Manufacturing Engineers

Industrial

PITTSBURGH (April 30, 2018) ... In recognition of his contributions to the field of nanomanufacturing, Mostafa Bedewy was named a 2018 recipient of the Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME). Dr. Bedewy is assistant professor of industrial engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, and principal investigator of the NanoProduct Lab at Pitt. The Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award is given to exceptional young manufacturing engineers (35 years old or younger) from academia and industry for their contributions in manufacturing. According to SME, recipients are selected based on work in emerging manufacturing applications, technical publications, patents, and academic or industry leadership. Dr. Bedewy, a member of SME since 2017, is among 18 recipients from the U.S. and China. “This is an incredibly competitive award, and we are proud that Mostafa has been recognized by his peers for his advances in nonmanufacturing and nanoscience,” noted Bopaya Bidanda, the Ernst Roth Professor and Chair of the Department of Industrial Engineering. “His interdisciplinary research has been a great addition to our department and this award truly validates his impact in the field.” Dr. Bedewy’s research interests include nanomanufacturing and micromanufacturing; surface engineering and coating technology; materials characterization and metrology; design and mechanics of surgical tools and medical devices; synthesis and self-organization of nanofilaments and fibers; bottom-up self-assembly of 2D/3D nanoparticles; and structuring of biointerfaces and biomolecular systems.“In our interdisciplinary research group, we leveraging precision engineering, biomimetic/bio-inspired designs, and quantitative tools to tackle fundamental research questions at the interface between nanoscience, biotechnology, and manufacturing engineering,” said Dr. Bedewy.He joined the Swanson School of Engineering in fall 2016 after a postdoctoral associate position in bionanofabrication at MIT. He completed his doctorate at the University of Michigan in 2013 after having received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical design and production engineering from Cairo University. Dr. Bedewy’s other awards include the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (2017); the Robert A. Meyer Award from the American Carbon Society (2016); the Richard and Eleanor Towner Prize for Distinguished Academic Achievement from the University of Michigan (2014); and the Silver Award from the Materials Research Society (2013). ### About the NanoProduct LabThe NanoProduct Lab (nanoproductlab.org), also known as the Bedewy Research Group, focuses on fundamental experimental research at the interface between nanoscience, biotechnology, and manufacturing engineering. The group explores basic scientific discoveries and applied technological developments in the broad area of advanced manufacturing at multiple length scales, creating solutions that impact major societal challenges in energy, healthcare, and the environment.

Apr
17
2018

American Society of Safety Engineers Elects Joel Haight to Board of Directors

Industrial

PITTSBURGH (April 17, 2018) … The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) announced that Joel M. Haight, associate professor of industrial engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, will join its 2018-19 Board of Directors as a Director-At-Large after a society-wide vote earlier this year. Dr. Haight’s term begins July 1 and lasts three years.“My own professional and personal values align greatly with ASSE’s mission, and I look forward to taking on a new role to help shape an organization that has done so much to help shape the safety engineering profession,” said Dr. Haight.The ASSE Board of Directors has four Directors-At-Large and assigns duties to them based on organizational need. Candidates must be a member of ASSE to appear on ballot for the Board of Directors election. They must be involved in an ASSE committee or task force, have a record of positive contributions to the safety and health profession, show support and understanding of the Society’s vision, and be a good motivator who is results-driven.Dr. Haight has been a member of ASSE since 1985. From 2011 until 2017, he served as the chair of the research committee for the ASSE foundation and a Board of Trustees member.Read the official ASSE press release at http://www.asse.org/asse-election-results-highlighted-by-medinas-move-to-president/. About ASSEFounded in 1911, the American Society of Safety Engineers is the world’s oldest professional safety society. ASSE promotes the expertise, leadership, and commitment of its members, while providing them with professional development, advocacy, and standards development. It also sets the occupational safety, health, and environment community’s standards for excellence and ethics.ASSE is a global association of occupational safety professionals representing more than 36,000 members worldwide. The Society is also a visible advocate for Occupational Safety and Health professionals through proactive government affairs at the federal and state levels and in member-led relationships with key federal safety and health agencies.About Dr. HaightJoel M. Haight joined the Industrial Engineering Department at the University of Pittsburgh in 2013. In the previous 33 years he served four years as Chief of the Human Factors Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) at their Pittsburgh Office of Mine Safety and Health Research, where he managed a research branch of 35-40 researchers in the areas of ergonomics, cognitive engineering, human behavior, and training. Dr. Haight also served for nearly 10 years, as an Associate Professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Haight worked as a manager and engineer for the Chevron Corporation for 18 years prior to joining the faculty at Penn State. His research interests include health and safety management systems intervention effectiveness measurement and optimization and human performance measurement in automated control system design.He is the editor in chief and contributing author of Handbook of Loss Prevention Engineering published by J.W. Wiley and Sons in 2013 and the Safety Professionals Handbook published by the American Society of Safety Engineers in 2012. In addition, he has published nearly 60 refereed journal articles and conference proceedings.  Dr. Haight is an active member of ASSE, HFES, IISE, and AIHA. He is a licensed professional engineer in Pennsylvania and Alabama and certified by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals and the American Board of Industrial Hygienists. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Apr
4
2018

Swanson School’s Department of Industrial Engineering Presents Tracey Travis with 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award

Industrial, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

PITTSBURGH (April 4, 2018) … This year’s Distinguished Alumni from the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering have worked with lesson plans and strategic plans, cosmetics and the cosmos, brains and barrels and bridges. It’s a diverse group, but each honoree shares two things in common on their long lists of accomplishments: outstanding achievement in their fields, and of course, graduation from the University of Pittsburgh.This year’s recipient for the Department of Industrial Engineering is Tracey T. Travis, BSIE ‘83, Executive Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer of The Estée Lauder Companies.The six individuals representing each of the Swanson School’s departments and one overall honoree representing the entire school gathered at the 54th annual Distinguished Alumni Banquet at the University of Pittsburgh’s Alumni Hall to accept their awards. Gerald D. Holder, US Steel Dean of Engineering, led the banquet for the final time before his return to the faculty this fall.“Today, at the Estee Lauder Corporation as CFO and Executive Vice President of Finance, she is responsible for global finance, IT, investor relations and process improvement among other duties,” said Dean Holder. “Our Industrial Engineering program is the second oldest in the U.S., and one of the top 10 public programs. It has graduated outstanding IEs throughout its history, and Tracey is no exception.”About Tracey TravisTracey Travis received a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA in Finance and Operations Management from Columbia University. She is currently the Executive Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer of The Estée Lauder Companies with responsibilities for global finance, accounting, investor relations, information technology, and strategy and new business development. She also co-leads the company’s major cost savings and process improvement initiatives.  Previously, Ms. Travis was Senior Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer at Ralph Lauren Corporation from January 2005-July 2012. In both roles, she led and supported multiple acquisitions, the development of enhanced capital structures and shareholder returns, and technology transformations.     Ms. Travis was employed with Limited Brands in Columbus, Ohio from 2001-2004 as Chief Financial Officer of Intimate Brands, Inc. and as Senior Vice President of Finance for Limited Brands. From 1999-2001 she was Chief Financial Officer of the Americas Group of American National Can. Prior to this position, she held various management positions at Pepsico/Pepsi Bottling Group from 1989-1999. Ms. Travis began her career at General Motors first as an engineer, then after receiving a GM Fellowship to pursue her MBA, she returned to General Motors as a Financial Executive.She currently serves as a director on the boards of Accenture PLC and Lincoln Center Theater in New York and previously on the boards of Campbell Soup Company and Jo-Ann Stores Inc. where she chaired the Audit Committee. She is a member of the Board of Overseers for Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business and recently served on the University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees.  Treasury and Risk Management magazine recognized Ms. Travis as one of the Top 25 Women in Finance in 2005 and one of the 100 Most Influential People in Finance in 2012. Institutional Investor magazine granted her the Best CFO award in 2008 and Black Enterprise magazine named her one of the Top 100 African Americans in Corporate America in 2009 and 2017. In 2011 Ms. Travis served as an inaugural member of the Wall Street Journal’s CFO Forum and in 2016 she received Legal Momentum’s Aiming High Award. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Apr
4
2018

Industrial Engineering’s Joel Haight Discusses Workplace Automation at Health and Safety Conference

Industrial

PITTSBURGH (April 4, 2018) … Joel M. Haight, associate professor of industrial engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering and director of the Safety Engineering Program, delivered the opening keynote at the National Health & Safety Leaders’ Summit during the Safety 360 conference on March 27 – 28 in Auckland, New Zealand.His speech titled “Safety in the digital era – can you have the best of both worlds?” examined living and working with rapid technological advancement, particularly the necessity for human workers to prepare for interacting more and more with machines and the dangers of abandoning human oversight in the workplace for complete automation.“We cannot just remove the human in the name of effectiveness, efficiency, or safety,” said Dr. Haight during the keynote. “The human role has to change and our human operators must adapt. Overall system performance will be better if there is effective human-machine integration.”The Safety 360 conference focuses on best practices for health and safety professionals across all sectors and industries with legislative updates, case studies, interactive panel discussions, and inspirational stories. Its four summits explore topics in health and safety leadership, hazardous substance management, health and wellbeing, and occupational health.About Dr. HaightJoel M. Haight joined the Industrial Engineering Department at the University of Pittsburgh in 2013. In the previous 33 years he served four years as Chief of the Human Factors Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) at their Pittsburgh Office of Mine Safety and Health Research, where he managed a research branch of 35-40 researchers in the areas of ergonomics, cognitive engineering, human behavior, and training. Dr. Haight also served for nearly 10 years, as an Associate Professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Haight worked as a manager and engineer for the Chevron Corporation for 18 years prior to joining the faculty at Penn State. His research interests include health and safety management systems intervention effectiveness measurement and optimization and human performance measurement in automated control system design.He is the editor in chief and contributing author of Handbook of Loss Prevention Engineering published by J.W. Wiley and Sons in 2013 and the Safety Professionals Handbook published by the American Society of Safety Engineers in 2012. In addition, he has published nearly 60 refereed journal articles and conference proceedings.  Dr. Haight is an active member of ASSE, HFES, IISE, and AIHA. From 2011 until 2017, he served as the chair of the research committee for the American Society of Safety Engineers foundation and Board of Trustees member. He is a licensed professional engineer in Pennsylvania and Alabama and certified by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals and the American Board of Industrial Hygienists. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Apr
2
2018

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

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

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

Mar

Mar
22
2018

Southwestern Pennsylvania Manufacturers Get Student Support

Industrial, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (March 22, 2018) … Small- to medium-sized companies in southwestern Pennsylvania have a friend in the University of Pittsburgh. For the past two years, Pitt Industrial Engineering (IE) students have worked with manufacturing extension partnership Catalyst Connection to make productivity and operations improvements throughout the region.“The collaboration with Catalyst Connection began during the fall semester in 2016,” says Louis Luangkesorn, assistant professor of industrial engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering and Senior Design Capstone Course advisor. “Senior design projects require students to complete a complex project based on challenges they’ll face in the workplace so using these projects as an opportunity to help local businesses is a natural fit.” Catalyst Connection is one of only 60 manufacturing extension partnership centers throughout the 50 states. They provide improvement services and consultation to companies in the 14 counties of southwestern Pennsylvania. After recognizing the many similarities between Catalyst Connection’s work and the work Pitt students were doing in the classroom, the two joined forces.“Pitt students are brought in for the heavy lifting: time studies, development of systems, scheduling, and resource plans,” says Eric MacDonald, senior continuous improvement consultant at Catalyst Connection. MacDonald works directly with companies to determine their consulting needs and coordinates their demand with Dr. Luangkesorn’s supply of students.Last semester, a team of five Pitt seniors assisted All-Clad Metalcrafters, an internationally recognized cookware manufacturer in Canonsburg, Pa. They focused on improving the “cladding” process, which consists of heating, bonding, and “blanking” metal sheets into disks.“Cookware manufacturing begins with a round disk called a ‘blank.’ The first step involves putting the blank in an oven and cooking it properly based on the temperature, time, and design. The Pitt team looked at this first step of the process to see if they could improve it. In the end, they found ways to improve four steps of the process,” says Mike Whaley, process engineer at All-Clad.Contributions from the Pitt teams during the spring and fall semesters in 2017 resulted in an estimated annual savings of $466,057 for All-Clad Metalcrafters. “The best resource I was provided was intelligent questions to things I have not yet resolved. Those questions drove new paths in the project, and those paths led to breakthrough innovation,” adds Whaley.Evan Bair, who last December received a B.S. degree in Industrial Engineering, was part of the fall 2017 Pitt team at All-Clad. They compiled temperature profiles of the product in the oven, executed trials with cost-reduced designs, and wrote data-based reports that recommended ways to improve All-Clad’s manufacturing processes.“Being able to work alongside full-time engineers in a manufacturing environment is so helpful in teaching students the skills that can’t be taught in the classroom: working on multi-discipline teams, dealing with setbacks caused by events that are out of the students’ control, interacting with people who work on the plant floor. The list could go on, but I feel that this kind of work is a vital part of any student’s education,” says Bair.Another Pitt team traveled to Anchor Distributors in New Kensington, Pa. to study the company’s more than 130,000 square foot warehouse. Most of Anchor’s business come from distributing books, and the company began working with Catalyst Connection to improve warehouse efficiency and prepare for potential expansion. “The Pitt students were able to quantify the effect of a new layout and firmed up our decision to go in a new direction and get on the right track,” says Rob Whitaker III, financial analyst at Anchor Distributors.The company’s original “serpentine pattern” for fulfilling orders had workers walking an average of 10 to 12 miles per day. By changing the warehouse to a six-zone layout in which products are organized based on popularity, the students demonstrate with engineering models how the company could increase productivity while lowering labor and overtime cost.“I was impressed by how competent the students were and how well they worked together,” says Whitaker. “It’s encouraging to know that this is the next generation about to enter the work force.”Seventeen teams journeyed off Pitt’s campus and helped Pennsylvania companies last year. According to Dr. Luangkesorn, these experiences have lasting effects on the students as well as the companies because the collaborations explore new ideas and apply fresh thinking to traditional manufacturing processes.“While the University of Pittsburgh rightly celebrates the achievements of its best students, the success of so many of these senior capstone projects speaks to the quality and prospects of the entire Pitt engineering student body, not only the top students,” says Dr. Luangkesorn. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
19
2018

Industrial Engineering’s Jeff Kharoufeh Named IISE Fellow

Industrial

PITTSBURGH (March 19, 2018) … The Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) will honor Jeff Kharoufeh, Professor of Industrial Engineering at the Swanson School, with the award of Fellow for his outstanding contributions to serving and advancing the field of industrial engineering. A Fellow is the highest classification of IISE membership.“The IISE is the largest professional society for industrial engineers, and only 20 fellows are named each year. Having Jeff included in such an elite group underscores decades of commitment to his work and substantial impact on shaping the discipline,” said Bopaya Bidanda, the Ernest E. Roth Professor and Chair of Industrial Engineering at Pitt.Dr. Kharoufeh is currently a Senior Member of IISE. He will receive the award at the IISE Annual Conference in Orlando this May.About Jeff KharoufehJeff Kharoufeh is Professor of Industrial Engineering. He specializes in the application of probability and stochastic processes to the modeling, design, performance evaluation, and optimal control of stochastic systems. His recent work focuses on the modeling, analysis, and optimization of energy systems, reliability theory, maintenance optimization, and models for wireless sensor networks. He is a former president of the IISE Operations Research Division and former Department Editor of IISE Transactions. Professor Kharoufeh earned BS and MS degrees in Industrial & Systems Engineering from Ohio University and a PhD in Industrial Engineering & Operations Research from the Pennsylvania State University. He is currently an Area Editor of Operations Research Letters, Associate Editor of Operations Research, and a member of the Editorial Board of Probability in the Engineering Informational Sciences. Dr. Kharoufeh is a Senior Member of IISE and a Professional Member of INFORMS and the Applied Probability Society.About IISEIISE is the global association of productivity and efficiency professionals specializing in industrial engineering, healthcare, ergonomics, and other related professions. IISE is where these varied fields come together to advance the engineering profession through networking, training, and knowledge sharing. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

Feb

Feb
20
2018

Pitt Among Top Fulbright Grant Producers

Industrial, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

University of Pittsburgh News Release The University of Pittsburgh is one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright students and scholars for the 2017-18 academic year, according to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Pitt is among only 16 institutions in the country to be named a top producer of both the Fulbright U.S. Student and Scholar programs. The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. Its U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study and research projects for English Teaching Assistant Programs. The U.S. Scholar Program offers awards for teaching, research or both in over 125 countries to college and university faculty as well as other professionals. Pitt affiliates earned 10 student and six scholar awards this year. The Chronicle of Higher Education highlighted the achievement on Sunday. “This designation, which just 15 other institutions across the nation received, speaks to the University of Pittsburgh’s extraordinary capacity to attract student scholars,” says Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “We are proud of their success and grateful that they are helping to advance Pitt’s mission of leveraging knowledge for society’s gain.” This is the seventh time in eight years Pitt has earned this distinction for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. “We are extremely proud of our students’ success with Fulbright scholarships,” says Brian Primack, dean of the University Honors College. “The fact that we consistently maintain our status as a Top Producing Institution demonstrates Pitt’s commitment not only to high quality instruction and research but also extending our global reach.” Four Pitt alumni are currently on Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grants in host countries around the world, including Tiffani Anne Humble and Amber Montgomery in Jordan, Melissa Kukowski in South Korea and Marjorie Tolsdorf in Russia, while John McGovern, Daniel Snyder, Sophia Winston and Benjamin Zhu are teaching in Brazil Two Pitt graduate students — Emilie Rose Coakley and Trevor Thomas Wilson — are on Fulbright research grants in Indonesia and Russia. Pitt also was the only Pennsylvania institution on the list of top producing Fulbright U.S. Scholars. Those include the following: Caitlin Bruce of the Department of Communication within the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences is researching a project called Citizens Voices in Aerosol: Leon’s Graffiti Worlds at the Ibero-American University in Mexico. Lauren Jonkman of the School of Pharmacy will support teaching and research at a primary clinical pharmacy practice at the University of Namibia School of Pharmacy. Lisa Maillart of the Swanson School of Engineering last fall lectured and conducted research on Markov decision models for health care maintenance optimization at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. Mary Rauktis of the School of Social Work last fall lectured and conducted research on measuring the restrictiveness of living environments at out-of-home care for children and youth at the University of Porto in Portugal. Vanessa Sterling of Pitt Study Abroad and the University Center for International Studies will attend the Fulbright’s U.S.-Taiwan International Education Administrators Program in Taipei, Taiwan, this spring. Amy Williams of the Department of Music within the Dietrich School is lecturing and researching a project called Two Music Courses and an Original Song Cycle in Irish at University College Cork in Ireland. About the Fulbright Program Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 380,000 participants — chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Over 1,900 U.S. students, artists and young professionals in more than 100 different fields of study are offered Fulbright Program grants to study, teach English and conduct research abroad each year. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program operates in over 140 countries throughout the world. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State, funded by an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and supported in its implementation by the Institute of International Education. The Fulbright Program also awards grants to U.S. scholars, teachers and faculty to conduct research and teach overseas. In addition, some 4,000 foreign Fulbright students and scholars come to the United States annually to study, lecture, conduct research and teach foreign languages. For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit http://eca.state.gov/fulbright. ###
Kevin Zwick, University of Pittsburgh News
Feb
15
2018

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences spotlights Pitt INFORMS student chapter

Industrial

The University of Pittsburgh INFORMS Student Chapter primarily serves graduate students in the Industrial Engineering Department to encourage students to expand their networks and enhance their academic skills. In the past couple of years, we have made an effort to begin offering more academic and social events to our student members and have recently advertised our events more broadly to students in the business and engineering schools. We have a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/PittINFORMS/about/) and maintain our Chapter’s page (http://connect.informs.org/universityofpittsburgh/home) on the INFORMS website to update our members on upcoming events, as well as summarize recent events. Read the full spotlight here. About INFORMS With over 12,500 members from around the globe, INFORMS is the leading international association for professionals in operations research and analytics. INFORMS promotes best practices and advances in operations research, management science, and analytics to improve operational processes, decision-making, and outcomes through an array of highly-cited publications, conferences, competitions, networking communities, and professional development services.

Feb
8
2018

Pitt Undergraduates Finish in Second Place of Ergonomics Design Competition for Third Consecutive Year

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Industrial, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (February 8, 2018) … Undergraduate students from the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering finished in second place overall for the third year in a row at the International Ergonomics Design Competition hosted by Auburn Engineers, Inc.“We entered six teams this year, and two of them finished in the top five with one team finishing as the runner-up again,” said Joel Haight, associate professor of industrial engineering and director of Pitt’s Safety Engineering Program. Dr. Haight is faculty advisor to the Ergonomic Design Competition teams.Throughout the fall semester, students worked on a Preliminary Design Project to identify workplace stressors and apply ergonomic design principles to alleviate them. This year’s challenge centered on improving an operating room for veterinarians treating large dogs. The Final Design Project, which the students had to complete in 48 hours, involved the evaluation and redesign of a work station at a small engine repair shop.The Pitt teams comprised students from the departments of industrial engineering, bioengineering, chemical engineering, and psychology. According to Dr. Haight, the competition came down to the wire, with the Pitt students just barely edged out of the first place spot.“Our students were up against graduate students at almost all of the schools, and our top team came in just behind a team of graduate students from the University of Buffalo,” noted Dr. Haight.In addition to the two top five teams, the four other Pitt teams received honorable mentions, meaning they finished among the top 14 teams. A total of 28 teams competed, including students from the University of Michigan, Auburn University, Texas A&M, Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon (Mexico), Virginia Tech, Concordia, and others.In response to the success of Pitt’s undergraduate students’ performance over the past three years, David C. Alexander, president of Auburn Engineers and competition director, collaborated with Dr. Haight to write a joint paper about the competition and its contribution to education.“We submitted the paper to the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers’ annual conference in Orlando, and it’s been accepted. We will talk about the competition and industrial engineering education at Pitt to conference attendees this May,” said Dr. Haight. Image (left to right): Top five finishers Dr. Haight, Rip Rucker (IE), Lauren Czerniak (IE), Sean Callaghan (IE), and Connor Bomba (IE) Image (left to right): Dr. Haight, James Oosten (BioE), Katelyn Axman (BioE), and Matt Astbury (BioE) Image (left to right): Dr. Haight, Mackenzie Cavanaugh (IE), Aster Chmielewski (IE), Tom Kramer (IE), and Chris Herrick (IE) Image (left to right): Matt Jones (Psy), Charlie Gates (IE), and Dr. Haight, missing from photo: Jack Clark (ChemE) Image (left to right): Evan Poska (IE), Matt Hoge (IE), Chris C.J. Luther (IE), and Dr. Haight ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

Jan

Jan
3
2018

Get Well Sooner

Industrial

PITTSBURGH (January 3, 2018) … One of the few places more nerve-wracking for a parent with a sick child than the emergency room is the waiting room outside the emergency room. Rushing to the hospital only to sit and wait can increase anxiety and worry, especially with new parents.“I’ve seen firsthand some patients whose total time in the emergency department was quite long, and during our busiest times, three hours or more of their time was in the waiting room,” says Anna Svirsko, a third-year graduate student studying industrial engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.Svirsko is part of a team of industrial engineers at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering who partnered with Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC to create a “Wait Time Indicator” and help patients and their families in the Emergency Department (ED) at Children’s Hospital estimate when a doctor will be ready to see them. The indicator is part of a larger project to reduce overall patient length of stay in the ED.“The indicator uses the average wait time over the past hour and the number of people currently in the waiting room to predict how long it will take until the next exam room will open,” says Louis Luangkesorn, assistant professor of industrial engineering at Pitt and faculty advisor to the students working at Children’s Hospital.Wait times are updated every three minutes and displayed in the ED waiting room as well as on Children’s Hospital’s website. In recent years, Children’s Hospital has seen an influx of patients, encouraging leadership eager to find a cure for the crowds.“We’ve seen a steady increase in our yearly patient volume nearly each of the past 15 years,” says Richard Saladino, MD, chief of pediatric emergency medicine at Children’s Hospital. “I think the new generation is becoming more informed and seeking medical care more often and at a lower threshold in recent years.”Children’s Hospital serves people from western Pennsylvania as well as Ohio and West Virginia. Unexpected spurts of patients can quickly cause the ED to become overcrowded and understaffed. Removing uncertainty encourages patients to stick around for treatment, or choose alternatives forms of care provided by Children’s Hospital, such as Children’s Express Care centers.“Families who become frustrated with a long wait will occasionally leave without being seen by a doctor if they don’t have a sense of when they will be seen,” says Dr. Saladino. “Perceived wait time is much different than actual wait time and therefore, being upfront with expectations can have a big impact on patient experience.” The underlying data behind the Wait Time Indicator is capable of predicting days or even hours when the ED can expect to see many patients. These “surge times” and staffing information are incorporated into another tool that can help guide clinicians on predicting when the ED will be busy, allowing them to call in more doctors.“The surge tool can identify a surge around two hours before it hits its peak. In the past, additional doctors usually wouldn’t arrive until after the peak and the crowd had already started to thin. Now, we can better anticipate the rush,” says Dr. Luangkesorn.Pitt students began working with the ED at Children’s Hospital when former associate professor Bryan Norman directed senior design projects to help solve hospital problems. The students started treating the ED’s ailments by using workplace efficiency techniques and strategies they were learning in their classes.“They started with semester-long projects, which were worthwhile experiences but limited in terms of what you could accomplish,” says Dr. Luangkesorn. “Children’s Hospital wanted to expand its relationship with Pitt Engineering to work on bigger problems.”Dr. Luangkesorn and other members of the Industrial Engineering faculty started actively recruiting students from their classes to work at Children’s Hospital. Over the past three years, about 15 to 20 students have been involved with projects aimed at reducing wait times, optimizing staff efficiency, increasing resource utilization and creating a better environment for patients.“The general goal of working with Children’s Hospital is to reduce treatment times and improve patient experience,” says Jayant Rajgopal, professor and graduate program director in the Department of Industrial Engineering at Pitt. “We started with a customer satisfaction approach to improving patient satisfaction at the hospital. We surveyed the patients, and one major complaint was that wait times were too long.”Now the Pitt industrial engineers attend weekly meetings with the ED doctors and staff. They are members of the Children’s Hospital Emergency Department Length of Stay Task Force.“We were invited to be a part of the Task Force about two years ago,” says Dr. Rajgopal. “We have a whole team of people committed to the ultimate goal of reducing overall length of stay in the emergency room—without compromising quality treatment.”The Pitt team has also introduced new strategies to prepare the Children’s Hospital staff for the urgency of an emergency. They implemented the “5S” methodology for organizing equipment. The “S-es” stand for “sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain” and were originally part of a Japanese business principle that helped enable lean or “just-in-time” manufacturing.Students worked with the Environmental Services staff to improve how quickly rooms are cleaned, when previously Children’s Hospital staff members consulted a central computer to find which rooms needed cleaning. They now use iPads on the cleaning carts that give them updates on the move, saving back-and-forth trips to the stationary computer. “Cleaning faster means those rooms are available for the next patient sooner,” adds Svirsko.“The Wait Time Indicator is just one project of many,” says Dr. Luangkesorn. “Children’s Hospital has decreased average time to rapid triage by almost 70 percent, getting the patients in most immediate need of attention more quickly in front of a doctor. We’ve reduced average length of stay for all patients over the past few years, too, and we expect to keep getting better as more students get involved.” ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer