Pitt | Swanson Engineering
News Listing

Jun

Jun
18
2019

A Forest of Nano-Mushroom Structures Keep This Plastic Clean and Stain-Free

Chemical & Petroleum, Industrial

PITTSBURGH (June 18, 2019) ­—Technologies like solar panels and LEDs require a cover material that repels water, dirt and oil while still letting plenty of light through. New flexible materials would allow these devices to be incorporated into a variety of creative applications like curtains, clothes, and paper. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering have created a flexible optical plastic that has all of those properties, finding inspiration in a surprising place: the shape of Enoki mushrooms. The research, “Stain-Resistant, Superomniphobic Flexible Optical Plastics Based on Nano-Enoki Mushrooms,” was published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A ( doi:10.1039/C9TA01753D). The researchers created a plastic sheet surface with tall, thin nanostructures that have larger tops, like an Enoki mushroom. Named nano-enoki polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the nano-structures in the coating make the plastic sheet superomniphobic, repelling a wide range of liquids, while maintaining a high transparency. The surface can repel a variety of liquids, including water, milk, ketchup, coffee, and olive oil.  It also has high transparency and high haze, meaning it allows more light through, but that light is scattered. That makes it ideal for integrating with solar cells or LEDs, and combined with its flexible and durability, means it could be used in flexible lighting or wearable technology. “The key thing with these structures is the shape - it keeps liquid on top of the nanostructure. This is the best in the literature so far in terms of high transparency, high haze and high oil contact angle,” explains Sajad Haghanifar, lead author of the paper and doctoral candidate in industrial engineering at Pitt. “We show that substances that usually stain and leave residue behind, like mustard and blood, fall completely off the surface, even after they’ve dried.” Videos show how the dried mustard and blood flake off the surface when the surface is tilted. “The lotus leaf is nature’s gold standard in terms of a liquid-repellant and self-cleaning surface,” says Paul Leu, PhD, associate professor of industrial engineering, whose lab conducted the research. Dr. Leu holds secondary appointments in mechanical engineering and materials science and chemical engineering. “We compared our nano-enoki PET with a lotus leaf and found that ours was better at repelling more kinds of liquids, including olive oil, blood, coffee, and ethylene glycol. The surfaces not only resist staining from various liquids, but may be adapted for medical applications to resist bacteria or blood clotting.” The paper was coauthored by Sajad Haghanifar, Anthony Galante, David Pekker and Paul Leu, from Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, and Luke M. Tomasovic from the Georgia Institute of Technology. The work was supported in part by a National Science Foundation CAREER Award.
Maggie Pavlick

Apr

Apr
11
2019

Swanson School’s Department of Industrial Engineering Presents Kevin D. Braun with 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award

Industrial

PITTSBURGH (April 11, 2019) … 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 Kevin D. Braun, BSIE ’90, MBA, Vice President of Industrial Coatings at PPG. The six individuals representing each of the Swanson School’s departments and one overall honoree representing the entire school gathered at the 55th annual Distinguished Alumni Banquet at the University of Pittsburgh’s Alumni Hall to accept their awards. James R. Martin, US Steel Dean of Engineering, led the banquet for the first time since starting his tenure at Pitt in the fall. “Our Industrial Engineering program is the second oldest in the U.S., and one of the top ten public programs. It has graduated outstanding IEs throughout its history, and Kevin is no exception,” says Dean Martin. “What especially is remarkable about Kevin is his understanding of disruption, and how it affects change, both good and bad. The coatings industry is no different in this regard.” About Kevin D. Braun Kevin D. Braun earned a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. Mr. Braun joined PPG, in 1991 as a Production Engineer at the Coatings Manufacturing Facility in Delaware, Ohio. He joined the industrial coatings business in 1994 as a Sales/Service Representative in the Appliance Division. In 1997, he moved to the fiber glass business, serving as a Market Development Manager before returning to industrial coatings in 2000 as a Market Manager in Consumer Electronics. In 2001, he became a Regional Sales Manager for Industrial Coatings. Starting in 2003, Mr. Braun joined the architectural coatings business as a National Sales Manager for the Lowe’s account. He held this position until 2007 when he was named the Zone Sales Director for Midwest Dealers and Stores. Later that year, Mr. Braun relocated to Sydney, Australia as a General Manager of Architectural Coatings, ANZ (Australia and New Zealand). He was appointed the General Manager of Silica Products in 2011, then promoted as the Vice President of Global Raw Materials and Americas Purchasing in 2013. He has been in his current position as Vice President of Industrial Coatings since 2013. For the past three years, Mr. Braun has served on the Board of Directors for the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and sits on the business development and nominating sub committees. ###

Apr
1
2019

Swanson Faculty Honored with Two American Society for Engineering Education Awards

Industrial, MEMS, Diversity

PITTSBURGH (March 25, 2019) — Honoring commitment to excellence and diversity in engineering education, the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) has selected professors at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering to receive two of its annual awards. Jayant Rajgopal, PhD, professor of industrial engineering, won the John L. Imhoff Global Excellence Award for Industrial Engineering Education. Dr. Rajgopal is a Fellow of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE), a member of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). The John L. Imhoff Global Excellence Award for Industrial Engineering Education honors an individual “who has made outstanding contributions in the field of industrial engineering education and has demonstrated global cooperation and understanding through leadership and other initiatives,” according to the ASEE. The award was endowed from the estate of the late Professor John L. Imhoff and includes a $1,000 honorarium. Sylvanus Wosu, PhD, associate dean for diversity affairs and associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, won the DuPont Minorities in Engineering Award. Under Dr. Wosu’s direction, the Engineering Office of Diversity offers programs to foster diversity at the pre-college, undergraduate and graduate levels. Previously he has been recognized by NSF and AIChE for leadership and support of current and aspiring minority faculty in chemical engineering. According to ASEE the DuPont Minorities in Engineering Award recognizes the importance of student diversity by ethnicity and gender in science, engineering and technology. The recipient demonstrates outstanding achievements in increasing student diversity within engineering programs and is charged with motivating underrepresented students to enter into and continue engineering education. Endowed by DuPont, the award includes a $1,500 honorarium, a certificate and a $500 grant for travel expenses to the ASEE Annual Conference. The ASEE will honor Drs. Rajgopal and Wosu at the Annual Awards Luncheon during their Annual Conference and Exposition on Wednesday, June 19, 2019, at the Tampa Convention Center. “We at Swanson are impressed every day by our dedicated and talented faculty and their commitment to engineering education,” says U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering James Martin. “The multiple awards from ASEE this year further prove our faculty’s devotion to innovation in engineering education today and into the future.”

Mar

Mar
28
2019

Pitt Undergraduates Win First Place in Ergonomics Design Competition

Industrial

PITTSBURGH (March 20, 2019)—Undergraduate students from the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering won first place this year at the International Ergonomics Design Competition hosted by Auburn Engineers, Inc. “We only had one team enter in this competition in the fall, and they came in first place,” says Joel Haight, professor of industrial engineering and director of Pitt’s Safety Engineering Program. Dr. Haight is faculty advisor to the Ergonomic Design Competition teams. “I’m especially proud of our students’ innovation in this event, and the application of their coursework to solve a workplace issue.” The award grants the team a $5,000 towards a professional conference of their choice in 2019, as well as $300 per team member, a team plaque, certificates and the “eTools” Prize Statue. Throughout the fall semester, students worked on two design projects and two lightning round smaller design solution applications All of these projects required that the students identify workplace ergonomic stressors and apply design principles to alleviate them. The most significant of these was to develop solutions to address the ergonomic stress associated with working in the cramped quarters of a food truck. The winning team is comprised of five industrial engineering majors who were enrolled in Dr. Haight’s Human Factors Engineering course.  They are Alexander Hartman, Maiti Keen, Megan McCormick, Dina Perlic, and Abigail Pinto. The University of Pittsburgh teams have historically done well in this competition, coming in second place for the past three years. With this win, they are making their debut in first place.
Maggie Pavlick
Mar
1
2019

Shifting Into High Gear

Industrial, MEMS, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

David Kitch holds two degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, but his connection to the Pitt community extends far beyond that. Kitch earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (1968) and a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering (1981). Kitch first became aware of the University of Pittsburgh at a young age, working in his father’s automobile repair shop, Kitch’s Auto Service, located in Slickville, PA, 30 miles east of Pittsburgh in Westmoreland County. It was here that he gained an interest in engineering through rebuilding engines, transmissions, carburetors and more when he was just 10 years old. Kitch would often talk about his engineering interest to the shop’s customers, which included UPMC doctors and University of Pittsburgh instructors. They all encouraged Kitch to consider Pitt when the time came to apply to college. While Kitch originally intended to apply for a scholarship to the US Naval Academy, tuition benefits and other perks for the Westmoreland County native led him to attend the University of Pittsburgh Greensburg, which offered a pre-engineering curriculum. Kitch attended Pitt Greensburg for two years and then transferred to the Oakland campus in 1966. When he got to Oakland, Kitch joined the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) as a student member. Kitch fondly remembers attending classes in Engineering Hall and eating brown bag lunches with other commuter students. Because of his interest in energy conversion and turbomachinery, he especially enjoyed his thermo-fluids classes. Kitch says his most influential instructors were Dr. Blaine Leidy who taught Thermodynamics 1 and 2 and Dr. Joel Peterson who taught Fluid Mechanics.  Kitch continued to work at his father’s repair shop throughout his undergraduate career. While the formal co-op program had not yet been created at the time, Kitch considers Kitch’s Auto Service to be one of the first co-op sponsors and he gives much credit to his work there in helping him achieve his degree.  When Kitch graduated in 1968, the job market for engineers was thriving. He recalls being frequently contacted by company recruiters. He took interviews with four companies, but his love for the Pittsburgh region ultimately influenced him to stay local and he accepted a position at Elliott Co. in Jeannette, PA. In the early ‘70s, the nuclear power field gained traction and was led by local company, Westinghouse Electric Co. Several Elliott engineers were recruited by Westinghouse, including Kitch, who was hired in 1973. Kitch spent the next 25 years working for Westinghouse in a variety of positions including; principal design engineer, marketing engineer, nuclear safety, and project engineering.  These positions afforded Kitch the opportunity to publish numerous technical papers and travel the world visiting suppliers and nuclear plants where Westinghouse equipment was installed. In the late 70s, Kitch began attending night school in pursuit of his master’s in Engineering Management. He notes, “I was most influenced by Dr. David Cleland, my project management professor who was also well known for his publications on the subject. Dr. Cleland asked me if would critique one of his books and I did.  I reviewed the many papers submitted by authors and picked the best, to which I was mentioned in his book and received three credits toward my degree.” Kitch was also named to the IE National Honor Society in 1981. In a long and prosperous engineering tenure, Kitch is able to identify many highlights. One highlight that particularly stands out to Kitch was when his position at Westinghouse was to mentor three young engineering new hires to work on the AP-1000 plant design. One of the three hires was a Pitt Mechanical Engineering graduate named Kyle Noel. “Kyle and I formed the pump design team for the AP-1000 and we traveled to Europe, California, and throughout the US for four years. When I retired from this job, Kyle assumed command and we have remained close friends today.”During Kitch’s time as a design engineer for Westinghouse, he stayed in touch with two of his Pitt classmates, Bernard "Bernie" Fedak and Wilson Farmerie. These men recruited Kitch to serve on the then Mechanical Engineering Department Visiting Committee, an important service the three of them still do today, 25 years later. In October 2016, Kitch received from Dean Holder a MEMS Department Service Award for his impactful and dedicated commitment to the Department and the Swanson School of Engineering in general.Currently, Kitch is an engineering consultant working for Vinoski and Assoc. Inc., and McNally LLC. “My work consists of expert witness testimony support, failure and root cause analyses, reliability/design audits, and project management.” Kitch never lost his passion for cars. He supports the Pitt FSAE team as a booster, spectator and fan. He serves as a judge for the National Corvette Restorer’s Society.  He has also restored several Corvettes and currently owns three, which he keeps in a garage he calls Dave’s Corvette Corner.
Author: Meagan Lenze, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Mar
1
2019

Pitt IE students help the Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank Provide More Nutritious Milk to Preterm Babies

Industrial, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (March 1, 2019) … The nutritional benefits of breastmilk can positively impact the health of infants, particularly those who were born prematurely and require the immunological contents that fortified formulas cannot provide. The Mid-Atlantic Mother’s Milk Bank (MAMMB) is a Pittsburgh non-profit organization that provides pasteurized milk from carefully screened donors to mothers who are not able to produce their own, and a group of University of Pittsburgh industrial engineering students teamed up with them to optimize the nutritional contents of the donated milk. This project was part of the fall 2018 Industrial Engineering Senior Design course in the Swanson School of Engineering. Team members included Jennifer Lundahl, Nick Kelly, Julian Mandzy, and Aster Chmielewski, and they were advised by Lisa Maillart, a professor of industrial engineering who had previous experience working with a milk bank in Texas. MAMMB serves hospitals and outpatient infants with medical needs in PA, WV, NJ, and MD, giving Maillart and the students an opportunity to help serve the local community. “The milk donation process consists of thawing milk deposits, pooling deposits from multiple mothers, bottling the pools, and pasteurizing the pooled milk,” said Maillart. “The product is then delivered to newborn intensive care units (NICUs), which have an acute need for the milk because of the increased health risks among premature infants.” The project scope was inspired by MAMMB’s recent purchase of a MIRIS Human Milk Analyzer, which yields accurate analysis of the macronutrient content of milk samples, allowing technicians to monitor the milk’s protein and caloric content. MAMMB wanted to create a process to optimize NICU-grade milk production by target pooling milk deposits based on nutritional content. In order to implement target pooling, the IE student group needed to create a pooling model, donor deposit database, and a standard operating procedure. According to the students, a donor deposit database was created to allow MAMMB to make thawing decisions with insight to historical donor macronutrient information rather than expiration date alone. To create the database, donor nutritional data was compiled into an Excel pivot table that includes basic caloric statistics such as donor minimum, maximum, and a weighted average. The addition of these values mitigates the risk of thawing a group of deposits with contents above or below the desired range. The resulting processing time for each optimized bottle increased from 97 seconds to 114 seconds, but the benefits of target pooling are significant, and the students hypothesized that the processing time may decrease as technicians become more familiar with the procedure. “This milk, which leverages the natural variations between mothers, will help drive better growth in preterm babies,” said Cyndy Verardi, director of operations at the Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank.  “It’s was an awesome semester and we are looking forward to utilizing their findings as we constantly work at improving outcomes for babies all across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and the Mid-Atlantic region.” The Senior Design course allows Swanson School students to gain valuable industry experience with local companies. “We work with a diverse set of industry partners around Pittsburgh to identify problems that take advantage of the range of skills learned in class, the industrial experiences the students have from internships and cooperative engineering programs, and the experiences of our faculty,” said Louis Luangkesorn, assistant professor of industrial engineering and coordinator of the senior design course. “The project puts the students in a setting where they have to work with the customer to identify the underlying problem and develop a solution within a limited time frame that could be implemented by a client with limited technical resources.” Funding for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation Grant CMMI-1537992, “Optimal Management of Donor Milk Banks.” ###

Feb

Feb
4
2019

Pitt Industrial Engineering Students Apply Their Knowledge in a Collaboration with Grane Rx

Industrial, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (February 4, 2019) … A group of University of Pittsburgh industrial engineering undergraduate students spent the fall 2018 semester helping a local pharmaceutical supplier balance production and optimize distribution strategies. The work was part of a Swanson School of Engineering senior capstone project, a program that allows students to gain valuable industry experience with local companies while pursuing their degrees. “We work with a diverse set of industry partners around Pittsburgh to identify problems that take advantage of the range of skills learned in class, the industrial experiences the students have from internships and cooperative engineering programs, and the experiences of our faculty,” said Louis Luangkesorn, assistant professor of industrial engineering and coordinator of the department’s capstone program. “The project puts the students in a setting where they have to work with the customer to identify the underlying problem and develop a solution within a limited time frame.” The group of undergraduates worked with Grane Rx, a pharmaceutical supplier for Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE),  skilled nursing centers, and personal care homes in multiple states on the East Coast. The company is planning an expansion of their PACE Pharmacy services to the West Coast with a significant amount of new participants expected in a short period of time. To help manage this growth, Grane Rx recruited the help of Pitt IE students and faculty to strategize ways to meet production and distribution needs. The students’ first goal was to create a working production scheduling model that optimizes weekly and daily production and allows for business growth. The second goal was to provide a weekly production cost analysis that compares the options for overtime production once the new Colorado facility reaches its capacity. “We created both models by having meetings with the Grane Rx resources, analyzing data sets provided by the company, holding group design sessions, and coding in VBA and Matlab,” said Julie Shields, who recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. “The project helped improve our coding and project management skills, both of which may be useful in our future careers.” As part of the capstone, students created weekly progress reports and met with Grane Rx employees along with University of Pittsburgh faculty who served as mentors and advisors. Quintin Graciano, an operations project manager who helped supervise the group, said, “The production model created by the students provided Grane Rx a fresh and unique view of our new PACE production processes. We have incorporated several new production tools at our Denver PACE pharmacy. The students were engaging and committed to providing a tool that made a difference.  Mission accomplished!” According to Shields, the most important skill that the group gained was effective delegation based on the talents of each team member. She said, “Being able to improve these skills and gain meaningful industry experience before we graduate was extremely valuable.” The team presented their project at the Swanson School of Engineering’s Fall 2018 Design Expo where they took first place in the industrial engineering category. Dr. Luangkesorn said, “The work with Grane Rx provided a good example of a project that showcased the abilities of our partner and our students, enhancing the students’ project management and technical skills while helping local industry grow.” ### About Grane Rx For nearly 25 years, Grane Rx has been a leader in pharmacy solutions and services for PACE organizations and post-acute care providers across the United States. Our customer centric pharmacy approach optimizes Care Center operations so providers can deliver the most seamless, accurate and convenient pharmacy experiences to their patients and participants. Our PACE Pharmacy Solutions include Meds2Home packaging, EasyRead Pharmacy labels, and LearnRx literacy tools available in 22 different languages, which are designed to revolutionize pharmacy services and outcomes. Grane Rx leverages senior care pharmacy experts and the newest technologies to provide universal, best-in-class service to patients, participants and Centers alike. For more information, contact Scott Sosso at ssosso@GraneRx.com or call 412-449-0504 or visit www.GraneRx.com.