Pitt | Swanson Engineering
MEMS News

Oct

Oct
15
2019

MEMS Visiting Committee Chair Spotlight

All SSoE News, MEMS, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

Ted Lyon and his five siblings. For Ted Lyon, current MEMS Visiting Committee Chair and Pitt alum, Pitt Engineering was an easy decision that ran in the family. In fact, three of Lyon’s five siblings are also Pitt graduates, two of them in engineering.  Lyon credits this to the influence of his father, who was an executive at Eichleay Engineers Inc., an engineering company in the Pittsburgh area, when the six Lyon children were growing up. For Lyon personally, his interest in math and science during his elementary and high school days cemented his decision to pursue an engineering degree at the University of Pittsburgh. Lyon graduated in 1980 with his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering and he also earned his master’s in business administration from the Katz Graduate School of Business in 1993. Lyon fondly recalls his time at Pitt, noting that he very much enjoyed most aspects of the ME curriculum. Some of his favorite classes included Mechanical Design, Fluid Mechanics, Fluid Dynamics, Heat Transfer and Materials Science. He said these classes were especially interesting due to the quality of the instruction, noting that he still recalls the names of his excellent professors. Ted Lyon and Associates with Executive Leadership of Emirates Global Aluminum in Abu Dhabi. During summer breaks, Lyon worked in Building Trades and was in the Labor Union Local 373 where he worked on several large projects in Pittsburgh, including the New Stanton Volkswagen Plant and the Quadrangle, which is now Pitt’s Wesley W. Posvar Hall. Lyon notes, “This was actually a great experience, as I learned a tremendous amount about construction on large projects, and could readily see how the engineering profession is applied in practical terms during project construction.” Though the economy was in recession when he graduated in 1980, the Pitt career center helped Lyon get interviews with quality companies such as Hewlett Packard and Exxon. He eventually accepted a job with Conoco as a maintenance engineer and begin working in July of 1980 in Baltimore, MD. In that position he worked in a chemical plant that made biodegradable surfactants.  Over the next 9 years, Lyon was promoted through Conoco, which required moving to Lake Charles, LA and Aberdeen, MS. His final role at Conoco was as a Mechanical Superintendent, where he was responsible for all maintenance and project engineering in a large PVC resin and compounding plant. He notes, “Conoco was an excellent company and training ground for a young engineer. I learned a tremendous amount and was given a lot of responsibility in plan maintenance, engineering and operations across a broad range of organic and inorganic chemical manufacturing processes.” Ted Lyon and associate at QSLIC facility in Qinghai, China during construction of a Magnesium Prill dehydration plant. Conoco was just the first stop on an impressive engineering trek for Lyon. He spent the next 12 years following in his father’s footsteps working for Eichleay Engineers, starting as a project manager and progressing through a few division director roles to eventually be named Vice President of Business Development. Lyon has spent the last 18 years at Hatch Associates in Pittsburgh. Hatch is a provider of professional services to the mining, metallurgical, infrastructure and energy sectors around the globe. Some of these services include technical and management consulting, operational readiness and commissioning services, project development and execution services. Hatch employees over 10,000 professionals of which over 6,500 of them are engineers of all disciplines throughout the world. Lyon’s current position at Hatch is Managing Director of Bulk Metals, where he is involved in the company’s global business with iron and steel as well as light metals.  He is in charge of the company’s total portfolio of business for these commodities with projects in South America, the Middle East, Russia/CIS, Australia, China and North America. Travel is, of course, a big component of a position like this.  When asked if he enjoyed that aspect of the job, Lyon reflected that “travel can be taxing from a physical standpoint, but quite interesting professionally and culturally.   Working with engineers and professionals from all over the world expands one’s perspective and provides insights that could not be acquired otherwise.   Engineering is a ‘universal language’, and regardless of the country of origin and your first language, the language of Engineering is common.” Ted Lyon representing Hatch on a panel at AISTech 2017. In addition to his business unit leadership role, Lyon is also the president of Hatch Group’s USA based operations. When considering moments or experiences that were pivotal to his career, Lyon noted that he was lucky to have great opportunities and was able to choose the most interesting ones for his tastes and interests. He said he was always keen to try new things and being flexible afforded him numerous opportunities to learn and expand his knowledge base. That said, his advice to current engineering students is, “…to have a view of what you want to do in the long run as you pick your first job, because it does start you down a particular path.” He also noted that collaboration with smart, open-minded, innovative engineers from diverse backgrounds and cultures was another major influence on his career. Lyon says as he approaches the back-end of his career, one important obligation to him is to ensure that the good things he has learned are imparted to the next generation of engineers and leadership in the profession.  Serving as Visiting Committee Chair for the MEMS Department is one of the ways he hopes to achieve this. He joined the VC in 2011 but remarked that it feels like only yesterday. Lyon said he is honored to be a member of the VC and he feels that the group always has constructive conversations, meaningful insights and advice to help bring the view of the customer to the institution. He notes, “…I very much enjoy the people on the committee, the interactions with the department leadership, the interactions with faculty and of course the students.” From right: Ted Lyon, his wife, daughter-in-law and son in the Scottish Highlands. Lyon notes that Pitt had a big influence on him in more ways than academics. He has always been a Pitt sports fan, currently holding football season tickets and at one point he also had basketball season tickets. He says probably most importantly, he met his wife Jo Ann while at Pitt as well. She also graduated in 1980 with a bachelor’s in social work and they will be celebrating their 40th anniversary next November! Keeping the Pitt tradition alive in the family, their son holds a master’s degree of public and international affairs from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.  Lyon says there is a lot of pride in the Pitt community and he is particularly thankful for the great start he received in his professional career through the Pitt Engineering School. He says, “I could never have made the correlation between where I started and where I am now.  Life takes you on many twists and turns. The key is to make the best out of them.”

Oct
14
2019

Scholarship Award Winners Named

MEMS, Student Profiles, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

The Robert E. Rumcik ’68 Scholarship in Mechanical and Materials Engineering has been awarded to two high-performing students in the MEMS Department: MSE junior Jonah De Cortie and MSE senior Alexandra Beebout. The scholarship recipients were selected by the Swanson School of Engineering based on recommendations from the MEMS Department Chair, Prof. Brian Gleeson. The scholarship, which is provided through an endowment established by ELLWOOD Group, allocates $15,000 towards the education expenses of each recipient. Bob Rumcik, the namesake of the scholarship, graduated from Pitt with a BS in Metallurgy in 1968.  He was President of ELLWOOD Quality Steels (EQS), ELLWOOD’s steelmaking division, from 1985 through to his retirement in 2013. There to present the scholarship to the winners were Bob Rumcik himself and Anna Barensfeld, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and fifth generation worker at ELLWOOD.

Oct
11
2019

Teaching heroes: School of Engineering’s Jacobs inspires students to care more

MEMS

Originally posted in in the University Times: https://www.utimes.pitt.edu/news/teaching-heroes-school In his classroom, engineering faculty member Tevis Jacobs is one animated presenter. He speaks rapidly and enthusiastically while adding diagrams to clear overlays on two screens of slides projected onto the white board.  The course is “Mechanical Behavior of Materials,” which examines how things bend and break, down to their atomic structures. Today’s class encompasses the concepts of “work hardening,” “twinning,” and nickel-based super alloys (“You guys know that is my favorite topic,” Jacobs says). He adds a bunch of equations to the board to illustrate a concept. “I would never expect you to memorize that on a test,” he says. “I would absolutely expect you to understand where it came from.” Jacobs pauses to point his students toward the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s crystal display, with its illustration of growth twins — one crystal structure at one orientation, attached to another at a different orientation. “You’ve got to go,” he says. As students in Jacobs’ department (mechanical engineering and materials science), “you will enjoy it way more than normal people,” he says. He sets pairs of students loose on a question about “dislocation interactions,” and patrols the room as their debates begin. “I heard some good discussions. Who has an idea?” he says. “Don’t be afraid to be wrong. And there are multiple answers.” He hovers over one pair, listening. “I agree with you,” he says finally. “What would be the ramifications of that?” The pair give their answer. “Maybe. Maybe. But why?” he asks. Jacobs joined the faculty of the Swanson School of Engineering in fall 2015, teaching this undergraduate class and another on experimental techniques, and offering one on tribology — the study of friction, wear and lubrication of sliding surfaces — to graduate students. “I’ve always wanted to understand how the world works,” Jacobs says. “Mechanical engineering and materials science: what I like about them is that they are all around us. We are constantly interacting with objects, seeing how they perform. I like the idea of making them better in the future … but the current goal is (studying) ‘Why did this thing happen in this way?’ “What I love,” he adds, “especially in the classes I’m teaching now: we can answer that.” But answers don’t always come easily to students. “We learn through struggle,” Jacobs says. “When I think about my own learning, that has been true.” In high school and college, he learned calculus and how to solve differential equations —absorbing the content “without really internalizing the ‘why’ and the ‘how,’ ” he says. Then in grad school, faced with real-world problems, “all of a sudden I was not able to link it to the coursework I had taken. I almost had to re-teach myself the calculus. I thought I understood it before that. When I went through this — then I got it: Oh, that is what they were trying to teach me.” To make “struggle” educational, a classroom lesson “has to be hard, but (students) have to care,” Jacobs explains. “It’s easy to make this hard; you want to make it hard with purpose. I’m still constantly refining that.” What works, he says, is “being honest with the students … acting like you’re all on the same side: Here is the best way for your group to take in information, and here is the best way for all of us as a team to do that.” One way to may sure students care about engineering lessons is to give them real-world problems, such as how to design a bridge, or how to tell when a mountain-climbing rope or a solar cell will fail? “In the classroom … there is an impact on the world. If you inspire that student to be excited about a topic or to be inspired about learning in the future, that has an impact.” He also tries to instill a passion for the communication of science, since these students will likely be using scientific writing in the future. “The doing of science is either useless or far less useful if it is not effectively communicated,” both inside the scientific community and to the world at large, he says. “No matter where our students go, they will need to effectively communicate technical information. I see that as one of the most important skills I want them to get out of their undergraduate experience.” Jacobs recalls a moment from the spring 2019 semester that showed his ideas were working. He had given students the last 20 minutes of class to work on a real-world problem. When it was time to go, class members asked if they could stay and keep working — “even though this is ungraded,” Jacobs marveled. Most of the class stayed and were kicked out only when another group of students arrived for a class in the same room. “That felt like I was doing something right,” Jacobs says. “It was both hard, and they cared.”
Marty Levine
Oct
9
2019

Manufacturing in Microgravity

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (October 9, 2019) … Magnesium and magnesium alloys have the potential to become a revolutionary material for a variety of industries because of their lightweight structure and ability to quickly biodegrade in water or inside the human body. Researchers, however, are still struggling to process this very reactive metal to eliminate defects that accelerate corrosion. Prashant N. Kumta, the Edward R. Weidlein Chair Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, believes that a microgravity environment may positively affect the solidification mechanisms of these alloys. He received grant funding from the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory to examine microgravity’s influence on his lab’s novel patented magnesium alloys. The team is partnering with Tec-Masters, Inc., the commercial hardware facility partner that operates the high-temperature SUBSA furnace aboard the ISS National Lab. Once in the microgravity environment of the space station, the alloy composition will be melted in the SUBSA furnace, and then solidified for further analysis. This is the first selected project in the new Biomedical Research Alliance - a multi-year collaboration between the ISS U.S. National Laboratory and the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine to push the limits of biomedical research and development aboard the orbiting laboratory. “The alloy’s improved mechanical properties, ability to store charge, and lightweight structure will make it an attractive material for aerospace, energy storage, and automotive applications,” said Kumta. He believes that this research will play a major role in the economical manufacturing of magnesium alloys, particularly in additive manufacturing and customized 3D printing of magnesium structures. “Magnesium and magnesium alloys are extremely light, with a density similar to natural bone,” explained Kumta. “They are two-fold lighter than titanium alloys and five-fold lighter than stainless steel and cobalt-chrome alloys – all of which are materials typically used in today’s implants and frameworks. Thus, the development of these materials could open new International Space Station applications as a lightweight structural framework material.” Because of their weight and earth abundance, the alloys may also prove to be beneficial for climate change and energy storage. “Fixtures or accessories in the aerospace industry - such as seats and lighting - that are made from magnesium alloys will be lighter which will consequently reduce fuel consumption,” said Kumta. “These benefits will help reduce costs and decrease greenhouse gas emissions – an advantage that can be applied to the automotive industry which accounts for a large amount of emissions in the United States. The material could also be used as a rechargeable battery similar to lithium-ion batteries.” The magnesium alloys developed by Kumta’s team may also serve as a cheaper and improved bioresorbable material for implanted medical devices. This type of material, which can be broken down and absorbed by the body, has a variety of applications in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering, such as implanted scaffolds that help guide the growth of new tissue. “Despite expensive post-processing steps to minimize defects, magnesium alloys processed on earth react in a physiological fluid environment and form large amounts of hydrogen gas, resulting in gas pockets that must be aspirated by a syringe,” said Kumta. “We believe that processing the material in microgravity will considerably minimize or perhaps even eliminate melting and casting defects. As a result, the alloys will likely exhibit improved corrosion resistance, resulting in soluble hydrogen and salt products with better bioresorption response when implanted as scaffolds. Further, expensive post-processing will likely be eliminated, thereby reducing costs by almost 50 percent.” Kumta, who holds secondary appointments in chemical and petroleum engineering, mechanical engineering and materials science, the McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine, and oral biology, will work with a team of researchers from his laboratory in the Swanson School of Engineering, including Bioengineering Research Assistant Professors Abhijit Roy, Moni Kanchan Datta, and Oleg Velikokhatnyi. The research team hopes that this work will lead to the processing of better quality magnesium alloys, which will be free of many of the defects that form in terrestrially processed alloys, ultimately enabling improved functionality on Earth with significantly reduced processing steps and costs. “This work offers a tremendous opportunity for advancing the science and technology of microgravity metal casting, widening the translational potential of the versatile magnesium-based systems for biomedical, energy, and aerospace applications,” said Kumta. “Magnesium has not yet been studied in space so this project gives us the chance to explore a new frontier in scalable manufacturing of high quality magnesium and magnesium alloys in space.” ###

Sep

Sep
27
2019

Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering Introduces New and Promoted Faculty

Bioengineering, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, Industrial, MEMS, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

PITTSBURGH (September 27, 2019) ... With expertise from biomaterials and autonomous sensing to cyber-physical systems, neural networks and renewable energy, 14 new faculty joined the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering this fall. "Here in the Swanson School, we have established our transformative purpose to create new knowledge for the betterment of the human condition. I’m excited that these outstanding new faculty will contribute toward that interdisciplinary pursuit," noted James R. Martin II, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering.  "Our new faculty bring incredible skill-sets that will help us address 21st-century challenges. In particular, the United Nations has outlined 17 sustainable development goals as a call to action for global socioeconomic and environmental sustainability by 2030. And we’re using those goals to track our own progress and inform our transformative purpose. I look forward to these new faculty joining in that important endeavor.” The new faculty include: Department of Bioengineering Elisa Castagnola, Research Assistant ProfessorDr. Castagnola received her PhD in robotics, neurosciences and nanotechnologies at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) and continued her postdoctoral research on neurotechnologies at IIT in the departments of Robotics Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and the Center for Translational Neurophysiology for Speech and Communication. Prior to Pitt, she was a senior postdoctoral researcher in bioengineering at the Center for Neurotechnology (NSF-ERC) and an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at San Diego State University.For the last 10 years, Dr. Castagnola’s work focused on combining research in material science and new microfabrication techniques for the development of innovative neurotechnology, advancing state-of-the-art implantable neural devices and bringing them to a clinical setting. She is now conducting research with Dr. Tracy Cui, Professor of Bioengineering, in the Swanson School’s Neural Tissue Engineering (NTE) Lab. She is currently working on the development and in-vivo validation of innovative neural probes with superior capability in neurochemical and neurophysiological recordings. Her main interests are in material science, electrochemistry, neurochemistry and microfabrication. Mangesh Kulkarni, Research Assistant ProfessorDr. Kulkarni received his bachelor degrees in medicine and surgery from Grant Medical College, University of Mumbai, his MTech in biomedical engineering and science from the Indian Institute of Technology, and a PhD in biomedical engineering and science from the National University of Ireland, Galway.While pursuing his PhD he served as a graduate research fellow at the University of Ireland’s Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials where he developed spatiotemporally controlled gene delivery system for compromised wound healing.  He then joined The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences, MR Division, Institute of Cell Engineering as a postdoctoral fellow where he was involved in development of MRI based non-invasive system to track the pancreatic islets transplants, and later was a postdoctoral scientist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Department of Biomedical Sciences and Regenerative Medicine Institute where he worked to unravel molecular signatures in corneal regeneration. At Pitt Dr. Kulkarni works with Dr. Bryan Brown associate professor of bioengineering and core faculty member of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Dr. Kulkarni’s research interests focus on the development of biomaterials-based delivery systems; molecular diagnostics and therapeutics (particularly involving non-coding RNA); and cell-free therapeutic strategies such as stem cells secretome therapy. Ioannis Zervantonakis, Assistant ProfessorDr. Zervantonakis  received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece, master of science in mechanical engineering from the Technical University of Munich, and PhD in the lab of Dr. Roger Kamm at MIT, where he engineered an array of microfluidic devices to study the tumor microenvironment. For his postdoctoral studies, he joined the lab of Dr. Joan Brugge at Harvard Medical School and developed systems biology approaches to study drug resistance and tumor-fibroblast interactions. He is a recipient of a 2014 Department of Defense Breast Cancer Postdoctoral Fellowship and a 2017 NIH/NCI Pathway to Independence K99/R00 award.In his Tumor Microenvironment Engineering Laboratory, Dr. Zervantonakis employs a quantitative approach that integrates microfluidics, systems biology modeling, and in vivo experiments to investigate the role of the tumor microenvironment on breast and ovarian cancer growth, metastasis and drug resistance. His research interests include cell and drug transport phenomena in cancer, mathematical modeling of cell-cell interactions, microfluidics, and systems biology of cell-cell interactions.Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Amir H. Alavi, Assistant ProfessorPrior to joining the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Alavi was an assistant professor of civil engineering at the University of Missouri. Dr. Alavi’s research interests include structural health monitoring, smart civil infrastructure systems, deployment of advanced sensors, energy harvesting, and engineering information systems. At Pitt, his Intelligent Structural Monitoring and Response Testing (iSMaRT) Lab focuses on advancing the knowledge and technology required to create self-sustained and multifunctional sensing and monitoring systems that are enhanced by engineering system informatics. His research activities involve implementation of these smart systems in the fields of civil infrastructure, construction, aerospace, and biomedical engineering. Dr. Alavi has worked on research projects supported by Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Missouri DOT, and Michigan DOT. He has authored five books and more than 170 publications in archival journals, book chapters, and conference proceedings, and has received several award certificates for his journal articles. Recently, he was selected among the Google Scholar 200 Most Cited Authors in Civil Engineering, as well as Web of Science ESI's World Top 1% Scientific Minds. He has served as the editor/guest editor of several journals such as Sensors, Case Studies in Construction Material, Automation in Construction, Geoscience Frontiers, Smart Cities, ASCE-ASME Journal of Risk and Uncertainty in Engineering Systems, and Advances in Mechanical Engineering. He received his PhD in civil engineering from Michigan State University.Aleksandar Stevanovic, Associate ProfessorDr. Stevanovic previously served as an associate professor of civil, environmental and geomatics engineering at the Florida Atlantic University (FAU)., where he was also the director of the Laboratory of Adaptive Traffic Operations and Management (LATOM) and the Program Leader in Infrastructure Systems within the FAU Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems Engineering (I-SENSE). At Pitt, he teaches courses in transportation and traffic engineering, transportation planning, and operations research and conducts research in a variety of subjects including traffic signal control systems, intelligent transportation systems, multimodal and sustainable operations, transportation simulation modeling, etc. Although Dr. Stefanovic’s main research interests emphasize arterial operations and traffic signal control, he is best known for his contributions in Adaptive Traffic Control Systems (ATCS). He is the sole author of the NCHRP 403 Synthesis Study – Adaptive Traffic Control Systems: Domestic and Foreign State of Practice and has been invited to present and teach about ATCSs, both nationally and internationally. He has published more than 150 journal and conference papers and presented at more than 80 international, national, and state seminars and professional meetings. He has been principal investigator on 31 research projects for a total of ~ $3.9 million in funding and has authored more than 30 technical reports for various transportation agencies including TRB/NAS, NSF, UDOT, UTA, FLDOT, NJDOT, and others. He is a member of TRB AHB25 Committee for Traffic Signal Systems and he is also a member of ITE, TRB, and ASCE. He serves as a paper reviewer for 30 scientific journals and conference proceedings, has advised more than 35 graduate students and five post-doctoral associates, and has served on PhD committees of several international university graduate programs. He has been awarded a position of Fulbright Specialist, in the area of urban network traffic control, for 2018-2021. He earned his bachelor’s in traffic and transportation engineering at the University of Belgrade (Serbia) followed by a master’s and PhD in civil engineering at the University of Utah. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Mai Abdelhakim, Assistant ProfessorDr. Abdelhakim received her PhD in electrical engineering from Michigan State University (MSU) and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electronics and communications engineering from Cairo University. Her current research focuses on securing cyber-physical systems by leveraging machine learning, networks design, stochastic modeling and information theory. Following her PhD, she was a postdoctoral research associate at MSU where she worked on developing reliable communication networks and distributed decision making in sensor networks and high-speed communication systems. She later was a research scientist at OSRAM research center working on Internet of Things applications, security mechanisms, wireless optical communications and indoor positioning systems. Prior to her appointment at the Swanson School, she was a faculty member in Pitt’s School of Computing and Information. Her research interests include cyber-physical systems, cybersecurity, machine learning, wireless communications, networks design, stochastic systems analysis and information theory.Mohamed Bayoumy, Assistant ProfessorDr. Bayoumy received his bachelor's degree in electronics and electrical communications engineering and a master's in engineering physics from the Faculty of Engineering at Cairo University. He then joined the Swanson School’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering as a graduate research and teaching fellow, and received his doctoral degree in 2019. His research features the development of optical fiber-based sensors for monitoring harsh environments. He is a recipient of the Swanson School of Engineering Dean’s Fellowship and multiple research and teaching awards. Since 2016 he has been appointed to the Postgraduate Research Program at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) administered through Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE).Theodore Huppert, Research Associate ProfessorDr Huppert received his bacehlor’s in biochemistry and genetics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and PhD in biophysics at Harvard University and the A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging of the Massachusetts General Hospital on the topic of statistical analysis models for multimodal brain imaging and models of the cerebral neural-vascular unit. Prior to joining the Swanson School, he served in the School of Medicine Department of Radiology and worked as one of the core MRI physicists in the MRI Research Center.Dr Huppert’s lab develops data analysis methods for brain imaging including near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), electroencephalography (EEG), magnetoencephalography (MEG), and functional MRI with a focus on multimodal analysis and data fusion approaches. His lab also supports the NIRS brain imaging program at Pitt, which currently has over two dozen funded projects and more than a dozen different labs on campus working on projects ranging from infant development to gait impairments in the elderly. His lab also authored several open source data analysis packages for NIRS, with more than 1,400 users worldwide, and is a founding member of the Society for NIRS.   In Hee Lee, Assistant ProfessorDr. Lee received his PhD degree in electrical and electronic engineering from the University of Michigan and served there as a postdoc and research scientist. His research interests include low-power energy-efficient circuit design to develop millimeter-scale energy-autonomous sensing/computing systems for biomedical, ecological, and industrial applications.In addition to publications and presentations, Dr. Lee holds six patents on technologies including analog to digital conversion, switched capacitor circuits, resistance detection and ultra-low-power temperature current sourcing. Amr Mahmoud, Visiting Assistant ProfessorDr. Mahmoud received his bachelor’s in electronics and electrical communications engineering and master’s in engineering physics from Cairo University, and a PhD in computer engineering from the University of Pittsburgh. His research interests include, but are not limited to, machine learning, especially deep learning for image processing; memristor-based neuromorphic computing systems; and video prediction using generative adversarial recurrent neural networks. He has published five conference papers, one book chapter, and one journal paper in prestigious conferences and journals, including IEEE EMBC, ACM-DATE, IEEE IJCNN, and IEEE TNANO.Nathan Youngblood, Assistant ProfessorDr. Youngblood received his bachelor’s in physics from Bethel University and master’s and PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota, where his research focused on integrating 2D materials with silicon photonics for high-speed optoelectronic applications. Following, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford developing phase-change photonic devices for integrated optical memory and computation. His research interests include bi-stable optical materials, 2D material optoelectronics, and photonic architectures for machine learning. At his Photonics Lab, his research combines unique optoelectronic materials with nanophotonics to create new platforms for high-efficiency machine learning and high-precision biosensing. Principal to this is a fundamental understanding of light-matter interaction at the nanoscale and use of advanced nanofabrication techniques to address major challenges facing these disciplines.Department of Industrial Engineering Hyo Kyung Lee, Assistant ProfessorDr. Lee received her bachelor’s in information and industrial engineering from Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea, master’s in industrial and systems engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, and. PhD in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research investigates healthcare analytics, data-driven decision support, and operational planning and management in the context of clinical data and practice. She has experience collaborating with medical professionals in UW Health, Mayo Clinic, Baptist Memorial Health System, SSM Health, and Dean Medical Group. She is the recipient of the Grainger Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship from the College of Engineering at UW Madison.Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Nikhil Bajaj, Assistant ProfessorDr. Bajaj earned his bachelor’s, master’s and PhD in mechanical engineering from Purdue University, and has held research assistant positions on several projects in the areas of nonlinear dynamics, control systems, sensing and machine learning, computational design, and heat transfer. He has held a summer research position with Alcatel-Lucent Bell Laboratories and has also served as a consulting mechatronics engineer with two startup technology companies, in the areas of force sensing in gaming devices and the control of multi-actuator haptics. His research interests include nonlinear dynamical and control systems, and the analysis and design of mechatronic systems, especially in the context of cyber-physical systems—in particular making them secure and resilient.Tony Kerzmann, Associate ProfessorDr. Kerzmann received his bachelor’s degree in physics from Duquesne University followed by a bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh. Following his PhD, he was an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Robert Morris University where his research focused on developing alternative vehicle fueling station optimization simulations. He advised student groups that won regional and international awards; the most recent team won the Utility of Tomorrow competition, outperforming 55 international teams. Additionally, he developed and taught thirteen different courses, many in the areas of energy, sustainability, thermodynamics, and heat transfer. He served as the mechanical coordinator for the Engineering Department for six years and was the Director of Outreach for the Research and Outreach Center in the School of Engineering, Mathematics and Science. Additionally, several faculty received promotions and named professorships and fellowships:Faculty PromotionsBioengineeringBryan Brown, Associate ProfessorTamer Ibrahim, ProfessorSpandan Maiti, Associate ProfessorWarren Ruder, Associate ProfessorChemical & PetroleumGiannis Mpourmpakis, Associate ProfessorJohn Keith, Associate ProfessorCivil & EnvironmentalJulie Vandenbossche, ProfessorElectrical and ComputerWei Gao, ProfessorMechanical & Materials ScienceMarkus Chmielus, Associate ProfessorAlbert To, Professor Professorships and FellowsWilliam Kepler Whiteford ProfessorsAlbert To (MEMS)Anne Robertson (MEMS)Lance Davidson (BioE)J. Karl Johnson (ChemE)   Julie Vandenbossche (CEE)William Kepler Whiteford FellowsWarren Ruder (BioE)Chris Wilmer (ChemE)Bicentennial Board of Visitors Faculty FellowSusan Fullerton (ChemE)CNG Faculty FellowGuofeng Wang (MEMS)Wellington C. Carl Faculty FellowVikas Khanna (CEE) ###

Sep
25
2019

Pittsburgh-Based Optimus Tech, Founded by MEMS Alumnus Colin Huwyler, Wins $1 Million 76West Clean Energy Competition

MEMS, Student Profiles

News release from Office of New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the six winning companies of the 76West Clean Energy Competition, one of the largest competitions in the country that supports growing clean energy businesses to foster economic development. Pittsburgh-based Optimus Technologies, which manufactures biodiesel fuel systems for diesel trucks that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel costs, was named the $1 million grand prize winner, and will expand its operations to the Southern Tier. The competition supports Governor Cuomo's Green New Deal, the most aggressive climate change program in the nation and complements "Southern Tier Soaring," the region's comprehensive strategy to generate robust economic growth and community development. "We cannot successfully combat climate change without innovative technologies such as those being developed by 76West winners," Governor Cuomo said. "Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and increasing energy efficiency in our buildings are critical strategies in this fight. I congratulate Optimus Technologies and all of the 76West winners for their commitment to a cleaner future and new economic opportunity." "I'm pleased to help announce the winners of the 76West Competition every year and see firsthand the success of these start-up companies," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "With the extension of 76West with an additional $20 million in funding for another four years, we will further advance the clean energy industry in the Southern Tier. This competition supports our ambitious clean energy goals and efforts to combat climate change, while creating innovative job opportunities and strengthening the economy of the region. I congratulate this year's 76West winners and their commitment to expanding in New York State to help ensure a cleaner and greener environment for the future." A total of $2.5 million was competitively awarded to six innovative companies at today's awards ceremony at Binghamton University where Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul announced the winners, and was joined by elected officials, entrepreneurs and local business leaders. A $500,000 winner and four $250,000 winners were also named as part of the competition, which is administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). In total, 76West winners from the prior three years have raised $28 million in private capital, made multimillion-dollar investments in property and equipment in the region, and spent more than $1.7 million on key suppliers, and this year's winners will add to the continuation of this Southern Tier trend. New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO Alicia Barton said, "The 76West Competition's previous winners are expanding their businesses, hiring new employees and scaling up innovative technologies, creating an engine for economic growth that is powered by Governor Cuomo's unwavering commitment to accelerating solutions that will help solve the climate crisis. I congratulate this year's winners and encourage them to keep pushing the envelope and developing forward-thinking innovations to help New York lead the nation in developing a world-class clean energy ecosystem." The 2019 76West winners are: $1 million grand prize winner: Optimus Technologies - Pittsburgh, PA: Designs and manufactures biodiesel fuel systems for medium and heavy-duty diesel trucks to operate on up to 100 percent biodiesel, thereby reducing fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80 percent. $500,000 award winner: Radical Plastics - Marblehead, MA: Develops a biodegradable replacement for agricultural plastic mulch, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality by reducing fertilizer and avoiding plastic incineration. $250,000 award winners: Cambridge Crops - Somerville, MA: Produces an edible bio-based protein coating that reduces food spoilage and waste as well as associated carbon dioxide emissions from food production and transport. Carbon Upcycling Technologies - Calgary, Canada: Transforms carbon dioxide emissions into nanoparticles that can be used to produce coatings and additives to extend the life of concrete, thereby helping to avoid greenhouse gas emissions associated with concrete manufacturing. CleanFiber - Buffalo, NY: Manufactures low-dust high-performance cellulose building insulation from recycled cardboard that increases energy efficiency and reduces energy costs. ProsumerGrid - Atlanta, GA: Produces integrated planning software enabling electric utilities and energy service companies to optimize deployment of distributed energy resources such as solar and energy storage. In addition to revealing the 76West winners, Lieutenant Governor Hochul announced that the competition has been extended through 2023 with a $20 million commitment from Empire State Development as part of the Governor's Upstate Revitalization Initiative and that $3.5 million is being made available from existing 76West business support funds to organizations in the 76West geographic coverage area to develop and execute innovative programs that facilitate the formation and growth of clean energy companies to accelerate the region's growing clean energy ecosystem. The application deadline is November 20, 2019. For more information about this funding, visit NYSERDA's website. In this year's 76West competition, NYSERDA received 169 applications representing 14 countries and 21 states. Of these, 18 semifinalists were chosen and participated in a two-day pitch session this summer at Binghamton University. Judges then recommended the top six winners. As a condition of the award, companies must either move to the Southern Tier or establish a direct connection with the Southern Tier economy, such as a supply chain partnership, job development with Southern Tier companies or other strategic relationships with Southern Tier entities that help spur economic development and create jobs. For companies already located in the Southern Tier, they must commit to substantially growing their business and employment in the region. Supported by previous rounds of 76West, several out-of-state winners have already integrated and expanded their business operations into the Southern Tier including Ireland-based Hub Controls and Dallas-based Skyven Technologies. 76West began in 2016 as a four-year $20 million competition and support program. Empire State Development has committed $20 million to extend the competition through 2023 as part of the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, offering $10 million in awards and $10 million in business support. Applicants will again compete for $2.5 million in total prizes each year, with a $1 million grand prize and other awards. NYSERDA will continue to administer 76West, working closely with the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) and local partners in the region. Funding for the first four years of the Competition was provided through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the Clean Energy Fund and covered all of the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) counties as well as three from the Western NY REDC (Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua). The extension through 2023 will focus on the Southern Tier REDC region and support ecosystem development in the Southern Tier. New York State has made a significant investment in the Southern Tier to attract a talented workforce, grow business and drive innovation. The Southern Tier is already home to nation-leading companies and universities that are spurring innovation and leading global research. Last year, Governor Cuomo announced the opening of the first state-supported clean energy incubator in the Southern Tier to support the region's growing clean energy ecosystem. With the addition of New York's 76West winners, the Southern Tier continues to be a leading region for clean energy technology development and a model for other regions across the state and nationally. Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-Designate Eric Gertler said, "The URI's strategic investments will continue to transform the Upstate economy by helping to renew the 76West Competition through 2023 - incentivizing clean energy innovation that will create even more jobs and opportunities in the Southern Tier and around New York State." Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs Dr. Harvey Stenger, President of Binghamton University and Judy McKinney Cherry, Executive Director, Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development said, "Innovation is a central component of the Southern Tier Soaring Upstate Revitalization Initiative plan. It is a key driver of economic growth in the region and the 76West Competition has brought some of the best and brightest innovators to the Southern Tier. Not only will the winners of this competition generate new job opportunities and help grow the economy, they will help address our state's future clean energy needs." Assembly Member Donna Lupardo said, "76West has helped the Southern Tier continue its legacy of innovation and entrepreneurship by encouraging new businesses to locate in our region. Investments through 76West are complementing economic development efforts across the region as well as building on New York's status as a leader in the development of clean energy." New York State's Green New Deal Governor Cuomo's Green New Deal is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, putting the state on a path to being entirely carbon-neutral across all sectors of the economy and establishing a goal to achieve a zero-carbon emissions electricity sector by 2040, faster than any other state. It builds on New York's unprecedented ramp-up of clean energy including a $2.9 billion investment in 46 large-scale renewable projects across the state, the creation of more than 150,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector, a commitment to develop nearly 1,700 megawatts of offshore wind by 2024, and 1,700 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2012. The recently passed Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) mandates the Green New Deal's national leading clean energy targets: nine gigawatts of offshore wind by 2035, six gigawatts of distributed solar by 2025, and three gigawatts of energy storage by 2030, while calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy. The CLCPA also directs New York State agencies and authorities to collaborate with stakeholders to develop a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 and aim to invest 40 percent of clean energy and energy efficiency program resources to benefit disadvantaged communities. Accelerating Southern Tier Soaring Today's announcement complements "Southern Tier Soaring," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The state has already invested more than $4.6 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan - attracting a talented workforce, growing business and driving innovation. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Binghamton, Johnson City and Corning as a destination in which to grow and invest. Now, the region is accelerating Southern Tier Soaring with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion - and the region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 10,200 new jobs. More information is available here.

Sep
13
2019

Pitt Nuclear Energy Research Awarded Over $2 Million in Department of Energy Grants

Electrical & Computer, MEMS, Nuclear

PITTSBURGH (September 13, 2019) — The Stephen R. Tritch Nuclear Engineering program at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering has received three substantial grants from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) totaling $2.3 million. The awards are three of the 40 grants in 23 states issued by the DOE, which awarded more than $28.5 million to research programs through the NEUP this year to maintain the U.S.’s leadership in nuclear research. “Nuclear energy research is a vital and growing source of clean energy in the U.S., and we are at the forefront of this exciting field,” says Heng Ban, PhD, R.K. Mellon Professor in Energy and director of the Stephen R. Tritch Nuclear Engineering Program at the Swanson School of Engineering. “These grants will enable us to collaborate with leading international experts, conducting research that will help shape future of nuclear energy.” One project, titled “Advanced Online Monitoring and Diagnostic Technologies for Nuclear Plant Management, Operation, and Maintenance,” received $1 million and is led by Daniel Cole, PhD, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Pitt.  Taking advantage of advanced instrumentation and big data analytics, the work will develop and test advanced online monitoring to better operate and manage nuclear power plants.  By combining condition monitoring, financial analysis, and supply chain models, nuclear utilities will be better able to streamline operation and maintenance efforts, minimize financial risk, and ensure safety. The project “Development of Versatile Liquid Metal Testing Facility for Lead-cooled Fast Reactor Technology” received $800,000 and is led by Jung-Kun Lee, PhD, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Pitt. His work will benefit lead-cooled fast reactor (LFR) technology. Liquid lead is beneficial for this cooling process because it is non-reactive with water and air, has a high boiling point, poor neutron absorption and excellent heat transfer properties. Despite these benefits, though, lead’s corrosive nature is a critical challenge of LFR. This research would develop a versatile, high-temperature liquid lead testing facility that would help researchers understand this corrosive behavior to find a solution. Dr. Lee will collaborate with Dr. Ban at Pitt, as well as researchers from Westinghouse Electric Company, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, the ENEA in Italy, and the University of Manchester in the UK. The project “Thermal Conductivity Measurement of Irradiated Metallic Fuel Using TREAT” received $500,000 and is led by Dr. Ban in collaboration with Assel Aitkaliyeva from the University of Florida. The project will help to measure thermal conductivity and diffusivity data in uranium-plutonium-zirconium (U-Pu-Zr) fuels using an innovative thermal wave technique in the Transient Reactor Test Facility (TREAT). The project will not only provide thermophysical properties of irradiated U-Pu-Zr fuels, but also create a new approach for measuring irradiated, intact fuel rodlets. Additionally, Kevin Chen, PhD, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Pitt, will collaborate on a project that received $800,000 from the DOE, titled “Mixing of Helium with Air in Reactor Cavities Following a Pipe Break in HTGRs” and led by Masahiro Kawaji, PhD, professor at the City College of New York and assistant director of CUNY Energy Institute.
Maggie Pavlick
Sep
10
2019

MEMS Materials for Extreme Environments Faculty Position

MEMS, Open Positions

The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS) at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) invites applications at all academic levels for a tenure-track professor position in the area of Materials for Extreme Environments, with a particular focus on corrosion resistance. Successful applicants should have the ability to build an externally funded research program, as well as contribute to the teaching mission of the MEMS Department. Applicants should have a PhD or ScD in Materials Science and Engineering or a related field. We are seeking applicants who have strong interdisciplinary interests and who can collaborate across engineering disciplines. The primary hiring focus will be on candidates with demonstrated experimental and/or computational research experience and a sound fundamental understanding of thermodynamic and kinetic properties associated with materials for use in extreme environments. Examples include materials for use in all forms of corrosive environments, protective coatings, and environmental barrier coatings. The MEMS Department currently has 30 tenured or tenure-track faculty members who generate over $8 million in annual research expenditures. The Department maintains cutting-edge experimental and computational facilities in its six core research competencies: materials for extreme environments; advanced manufacturing and design; soft matter biomechanics; computational and data-enabled engineering; nuclear and other sustainable energies; and quantitative and in situ materials characterization. The successful candidate for this position will benefit from the resources, support, and multidisciplinary research environment fostered by interdisciplinary centers, including the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Research Computing (http://www.crc.pitt.edu) and the Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering (http://www.nano.pitt.edu), located within the Swanson School of Engineering. The latter is a user facility, which houses state-of-the-art materials characterization and fabrication capabilities. Qualified applicants should submit their applications through Interfolio at the following link:  https://apply.interfolio.com/68093. The application should include the following materials in pdf form: a curriculum vitae, a statement of research and teaching plans, and the names and contact information of at least three references. Review of applications will begin on November 1, 2019, and continue until the position is filled. Candidates from groups traditionally underrepresented in engineering are strongly encouraged to apply. The candidate should be committed to high-quality teaching for a diverse student body and to assisting our Department in enhancing diversity. The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science fosters an inclusive academic teaching, learning, and research culture that supports the success of its diverse faculty and students. The University of Pittsburgh is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

Sep
10
2019

MEMS Data-Driven Modeling Faculty Position

MEMS, Open Positions

The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS) at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) invites applications for a tenure ¬track position in the area of Data-Driven Modeling. Successful applicants should have the ability to build an externally funded research program, as well as contribute to the teaching mission of the MEMS Department. Applicants should have a PhD or ScD in Mechanical Engineering or a related field. Applicants with outstanding track records at the associate professor and full professor levels are also encouraged to apply, but the focus will be at the assistant professor level. Expertise is particularly sought in one or more of the following areas: data-driven discovery of dynamical systems; physics-informed machine learning; data-driven predictive modeling; and multi-fidelity analysis.  Candidates with research applications in the areas of data assimilation and forecast, PDE-constrained optimization, control and reinforcement learning and modern computational methodologies are especially encouraged.  We are seeking candidates who have strong interdisciplinary interests and who can collaborate across engineering disciplines, but have a primary focus on mechanical engineering. The MEMS Department currently has 30 tenured or tenure-track faculty members who generate over $8 million in annual research expenditures. The Department maintains cutting-edge experimental and computational facilities in its six core research competencies: computational and data-enabled engineering; materials for extreme environments; advanced manufacturing and design; soft matter biomechanics; nuclear and other sustainable energies; and quantitative and in situ materials characterization. The successful candidate for this position will benefit from the resources, support, and a multidisciplinary research environment fostered by many interdisciplinary centers including the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Research Computing (http://www.crc.pitt.edu). Qualified applicants should submit their applications through Interfolio at the following link:  https://apply.interfolio.com/68086. The application should include the following materials in pdf form: a curriculum vitae, a statement of research and teaching plans, and name and contact information of at least three references. Review of applications will begin immediately, and continue until the position is filled. Candidates from groups traditionally underrepresented in engineering are strongly encouraged to apply. The candidate should be committed to high-quality teaching for a diverse student body and to assisting our Department in enhancing diversity. The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science fosters an inclusive academic teaching, learning, and research culture that supports the success of its diverse faculty and students. The University of Pittsburgh is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

Sep
9
2019

Makerspaces and Mindsets

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, MEMS, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (Sept. 9, 2019) — As with many creative projects, this one started with a doodle. Students at this year’s Makerspace Bootcamp at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering learned that to create a finished product, (in this case, a laser-cut lampshade), you must first translate the idea in your head onto paper. The 31 rising sophomore engineering students were asked to quickly sketch out a lampshade design, and then another, and another. By the end of the day, they would turn one of the sketches into a working lamp. “The project goes from physical, to digital, and back to physical. We walk through the design process, using software to create a digital model from the sketch, cutting it with the laser cutter, and assembling the lamp,” says David Sanchez, PhD, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Swanson School. “The workshop helps students overcome two hurdles—one, that they don’t know that the makerspace is available to everyone, and two that they feel they need to be Tony Stark in order to create something.” The students used the Pitt Makerspace led by Brandon Barber, BioE Design, Innovation and Outreach Coordinator, to complete their lamp. The Makerspace, located in Benedum Hall, is open to students of all majors and has a wide range of equipment to design and fabricate. Current Makerspace students serve as mentors and helped the boot camp participants in the same way they guide all newcomers. “The Pitt Makerspaces provide hands-on experiences for students, with resources and support to make an idea a reality,” says Barber. “We want students to feel welcome to come in, explore, and collaborate, and the boot camp helps introduce them to a new way of thinking.” The annual boot camp began in 2013 as an entrepreneurship-focused event sponsored by the Engineering Education Research Center, but under the direction of Sanchez with the support of William (Buddy) Clark, PhD, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, and Director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship program. Since then it has shifted its focus to the Makerspace and Sanchez and Barber now plan for it to be even more hands-on and open to more students. While the first day of the workshop focused on using the Pitt Makerspace, the final day centered on building the mindset of a creator. Sanchez presented the students with different design challenges, such as imagining how to grow a company that sells one particular product successfully, like an oven cleaner. While most pitched the idea of making “a better oven cleaner,” he helped them to see that diving deeper into the customer’s experience would yield opportunities to reinvent it with concepts like better self-cleaning ovens. “Critical thinking and empathy are important parts of the design process. Shifting your focus beyond what products do to what customers experience is essential to good design,” says Sanchez. “Our goal for the boot camp is to cultivate this approach to design and making that inspires all our students to incorporate it into their experience here at the Swanson School.”
Maggie Pavlick

Aug

Aug
27
2019

Engineering a Low-Stress Aquarium

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (Aug. 27, 2019) — Little is more soothing than watching a tank of colorful fish gliding through the water, lights dancing off their scales against an auditory background of quietly bubbling water. Dentist’s offices and classrooms know this to be true—aquariums are a popular feature in places where a little soothing relaxation is welcome. However, taking care of an aquarium can be taxing, and the upkeep may be impossible for those with disabilities—the people most likely to benefit from them. Three recent graduates from the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering spent the last year working on a fish tank that would provide a maintenance solution by way of automation. Lucas Cerchiaro (MEMS ’19), Sarah Hertzler (MEMS ’19) and Tori Winter (MEMS ’19) finished the automated aquarium, the “AIOquarium,” for their senior design project, but they came up with the idea much earlier. “Lucas is our aquarium expert, and he had the idea last spring,” explains Winter. “We built a prototype as part of our mechatronics project, and we’ve been working on it since.” The tank uses Bluetooth connectivity and an app downloadable on Android devices to automate the heat, light and pump, and synchronize the components. They also installed a controllable valve to empty the water into a sink or receptacle. “We had no experience in coding before we started this, or in Bluetooth communication,” says Cerchiaro. “It took a while to get everything working at first.” The finished tank and its components have been put through extensive testing to make sure they can run for an extended period. Now, the team will donate the AIOquarium to a local classroom to serve as both a teaching tool and a relaxing classroom fixture. Brian Garlick, technology education teacher at South Fayette High School in McDonald, Pa., will implement the tank in his classroom. Hertzler was a student of Garlick’s throughout her years at the school, and she partially credits him for her decision to go into engineering. “He’s one of the reasons I’m here [at Swanson]. I reached out to him and he’s interested in the project,” says Hertzler. “I hope they keep the project going and let students work to improve it, try to inspire someone else like I was inspired.” In addition to wanting to highlight a former student’s work, Garlick is looking forward to sharing the learning opportunity with his students. “This aquarium and the innovative technologies applied within it will allow our Computer Science and Engineering students to openly collaborate and impact a real-world situation, with integrated coding and mechanical systems,” he says. “I love the ocean, and water in general. I scuba dive and started an Underwater Robotics club here in the high school. My goal is to try and introduce to our students the wealth of career and job opportunities that exist within the Marine and Oceanography fields.”
Maggie Pavlick
Aug
23
2019

Five Pitt engineering faculty capture nearly $3 million in total NSF CAREER awards for 2018/2019

Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, MEMS, Diversity

PITTSBURGH (August 23, 2019) … Five faculty members from the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering have been named CAREER Award recipients by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Recognized as the NSF’s most competitive award for junior faculty, the grants total nearly $3 million in funding both for research and community engagement. The CAREER program “recognizes faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.” The five awards – one each in the departments of Bioengineering, Chemical and Petroleum, Civil and Environmental, Electrical and Computer, and Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science – ties the record from 2017 for the most received by Pitt and Swanson School faculty in a single NSF CAREER funding announcement. “Federal funding for academic research is extremely competitive, especially for faculty just beginning their academic careers. Receiving five prestigious NSF CAREER Awards in one cycle is a reflection of our winners’ distinctive research and support by their respective departments and the Swanson School,” noted David Vorp, PhD, the Swanson School’s Associate Dean for Research. He added, “Since a CAREER Award is also focused on community engagement, this is an opportunity for our faculty and their graduate students to promote STEM to children in the area, especially in underserved populations, and we will be working with them to develop impactful outreach programs.”Dr. Vorp also noted that the Swanson School’s recent success with CAREER awards can be attributed to a number of factors, including the School’s Center for Faculty Excellence, directed by Prof. Anne Robertson, and the CAREER writing group developed and run by Julie Myers-Irvin, PhD, the Swanson School’s Grants Developer. “Participating faculty acknowledge that the writing group focus on early preparation, group comradery, technical feedback, and discussions of grantsmanship practices attribute to more well-rounded proposals,” Dr. Myers-Irvin says.The award recipients include:Murat Akcakaya, Assistant Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering, with Carla A. Mazefsky, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology ($550,000)Title:Toward a Biologically Informed Intervention for Emotionally Dysregulated Adolescents and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (#1844885)Summary: Although clinical techniques are used to help patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) respond to stress and other factors, none are known to couple with technology that could monitor brain response in real time and provide the patient with feedback. Drs. Akcakaya and Mazefsky are developing a new intervention using electroencephalography (EEG)-guided, non-invasive brain-computer interface (BCI) technology could complement clinical treatments and improve emotion regulation in people with ASD.Dr. Akcakaya will also develop courses related to the research and outreach activities to promote STEM and ASD research to K-12 populations and the broader public. Outreach will focus especially on individuals with ASD, their families, and caretakers. Susan Fullerton, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering ($540,000)Title:Scaling Electrolytes to a Single Monolayer for Low-Power Ion-Gated Electronics with Unconventional Characteristics (#1847808)Summary: Two-dimensional (2D) materials are being explored for their exciting new physics that can impart novel functionalities in application spaces such as information storage, neuromorphic computing, and hardware security. Dr. Fullerton and her group invented a new type of ion-containing material, or electrolyte, which is only a single molecule thick. This “monolayer electrolyte” will ultimately introduce new functions that can be used by the electronic materials community to explore the fundamental properties of new semiconductor materials and to increase storage capacity, decrease power consumption, and vastly accelerate processing speed.The NSF award will support a PhD student and postdoctoral researcher, as well as an outreach program to inspire curiosity and engagement of K-12 and underrepresented students in materials for next-generation electronics. Specifically, Dr. Fullerton has developed an activity where students can watch the polymer electrolytes used in this study crystallize in real-time using an inexpensive camera attached to a smart phone or iPad. The CAREER award will allow Dr. Fullerton to provide this microscope to classrooms so that the teachers can continue exploring with their students. Tevis Jacobs, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science ($500,000)Title:Understanding Nanoparticle Adhesion to Guide the Surface Engineering of Supporting Structures (#1844739) Summary: Although far thinner than a human hair, metal nanoparticles play an important role in advanced industries and technologies from electronics and pharmaceuticals to catalysts and sensors. Nanoparticles can be as small as ten atoms in diameter, and their small size makes them especially susceptible to coarsening with continued use, which reduces functionality and degrades performance. Dr. Jacobs will utilize electron microscopy to develop new methods to measure the attachment and stability of nanoparticles on surfaces under various conditions, allowing researchers to enhance both surfaces and nanoparticles in tandem to work more effectively together.Additionally, Dr. Jacobs and his lab group will engage with the University of Pittsburgh School of Education and a local elementary school to create and nationally disseminate surface engineering-focused curricular units for sixth- to eighth-grade students and professional development training modules for teachers. Carla Ng, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering ($500,000)Title:Harnessing biology to tackle fluorinated alkyl substances in the environment (#1845336) Summary: Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) are man-made chemicals that are useful in a variety of industries because of their durability, but do not naturally break down in the environment or human body. Because of their useful oil- and water-repellent properties, PFAS are used in many consumer products, industrial processes, and in firefighting foams, but unfortunately, their manufacturing and widespread use has contributed to the undesired release of these chemicals into the environment. With evidence showing that PFAS may have adverse effects on human health, Dr. Ng wants to further investigate the potential impacts of these chemicals and identify ways to remove them from the environment. She plans to elevate K-12 and undergraduate education through the use of collaborative model-building in a game-like environment. Dr. Ng in particular will utilize the agent-based modeling language NetLogo, a freely available and accessible model-building tool that can be equally powerful for cutting edge research or for students exploring new STEM concepts in science and engineering. Gelsy Torres-Oviedo, Assistant Professor of Bioengineering ($805,670)Title: Novel human-in-the loop approach to increase locomotor learning Summary: Many stroke survivors who suffer from impaired gait benefit from rehabilitation using robotics. Unfortunately, motor improvements following training are not maintained in the patient’s daily life. Dr. Torres-Oviedo hypothesizes that some of these individuals have difficulty perceiving their asymmetric movement, and she will use this project to characterize this deficit and indicate if split-belt walking - in which the legs move at different speeds - can correct it. Her lab will track how patients with brain lesions perceive asymmetries in their gait. They will then measure how their perception is adjusted once their movements are adapted in the split-belt environment. In the second part of this study, the lab will use these data and a unique method to manipulate how people perceive their movement and create the illusion of error-free performance during split-belt walking. The goal is for the changes in their movements to be sustained in the patient’s daily life. Dr. Torres-Oviedo will also use this project as a way to increase the participation of students from underrepresented minorities (URM) in science and engineering. She will recruit, mentor, and prepare URM students from K-12 and college to pursue advanced education, with the ultimate goal of broadening the professional opportunities for this population. ###

Aug
15
2019

Strong Pitt Showing at Gordon Research Conference on High Temperature Corrosion

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (August 15, 2019) … Students in Brian Gleeson’s research group in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS) at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering very recently participated in the Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) and Conference (GRC) on High Temperature Corrosion in New London, NH. The GRS is limited to young investigators in the field and was held during the weekend of the start of the GRC, which was held July 21-26, 2019. One student presented his work at the Seminar, and two students won awards in the poster competition. According to Gleeson, Tack Chaired Professor and Department Chair of MEMS, the strong showing by his students at such prestigious meetings is a credit to the high quality of their research coupled with hard work and unbridled enthusiasm. Patrick Brennan, a PhD student, gave a presentation entitled “Reproducing and Elucidating the Mechanisms of Rapid CaSO4-Deposit-Induced Degradation of Nickel-Based Superalloys.” This work is in collaboration with G.E. Aviation and supported by the United States Office of Naval Research. His research addresses novel modes of degradation induced by CaSO4 deposits. There were 60 attendees at the Seminar and Patrick was one of 11 speakers. Grace Vanessa de León Nope, a PhD student, received second place in the Gordon Research Seminar poster competition, where a total of 49 posters were presented. Her poster was titled  “Oxidation Behavior of Inconel 625 Made by Additive Manufacturing.”  The work presented is supported by the National Science Foundation. Her research focuses on understanding the differences in oxidation behavior between conventional alloys and those processed using additive manufacturing methods. Emily Kistler, a PhD student, won the Best Student Poster Award at the GRC out of a field of 71 student posters (included were postdoctoral researchers). Her poster was titled “A New Solid-State Mode of Hot Corrosion Occurring Below 700°C: Mechanistic Understanding and Mitigation Strategies.”  The research is being conducted in collaboration with Pratt & Whitney and supported by the United State Office of Naval Research and an NDSEG Fellowship. The work addressed the mechanism of a recently identified form of low-temperature deposit-induced corrosion, occurring in aero and marine engines, and identified mitigation methods to the attack. At the same GRC, Professor Gleeson gave a presentation entitled “Beyond Conventional Hot Corrosion.”  Also attending the GRC and presenting posters were Professors Judith Yang (ChemE) and Wissam Saidi (MEMS). There are over 300 GRCs and associated GRSs, providing an international forum for the presentation and discussion of frontier research in a given topic area of the biological, chemical, physical, and engineering sciences. ###
Brian Gleeson, PhD

Jul

Jul
29
2019

MEMS PhD Student Takes Home Third Place in Poster Competition

MEMS, Student Profiles

Yunhao Zhao, a PhD student working under Dr. Wei Xiong in the Physical Metallurgy and Materials Design Laboratory placed third in a poster presentation competition at the 5th World Congress on Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) 2019 Conference.  The conference was hosted by The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS) in Indianapolis, IN this past July.   According to TMS, the IMCE, “convenes leading researchers and practitioners of ICME to share the latest knowledge and advances in the discipline. This congress is the recognized hub of interaction among software developers and process engineers along the entire production chain, as well as for materials scientists and engineers developing new materials.” Zhao’s PhD thesis is titled “Phase Transformation Modeling and Post-Processing Design for Additively Manufactured Inconel 718 Superalloys.” He aims to employ ICME methods to predict the microstructures of additively manufactured Inconel 718 and design post-processing strategies to improve the properties of the alloys.
Meagan Lenze
Jul
11
2019

Pitt Engineers Receive $1 Million to Develop Better Quality Control for 3D Printing Turbine Components

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (July 11, 2019) — The U.S. Department of Energy, through its University Turbine Systems Research program, has awarded researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering $802,400 to find an effective quality assurance method for additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, of new-generation gas turbine components. The three-year project has received additional support from the University of Pittsburgh ($200,600), resulting in a total grant of $1,003,000. Xiayun (Sharon) Zhao, PhD, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Pitt, will lead the research, working with Albert To, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Pitt, and Richard W. Neu, professor in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Mechanical Engineering. The team will use machine learning to develop a cost-effective method for rapidly evaluating, either in-process or offline, the hot gas path turbine components (HGPTCs) that are created with laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) additive manufacturing (AM) technology. “LPBF AM is capable of making complex metal components with reduced cost of material and time. There is a desire to employ the appealing AM technology to fabricate sophisticated HGPTCs that can withstand higher working temperature for next-generation turbines. However, because there’s a possibility that the components will have porous defects and be prone to detrimental thermomechanical fatigue, it’s critical to have a good quality assurance method before putting them to use,” explains Dr. Zhao. “The quality assurance framework we are developing will immensely reduce the cost of testing and quality control and enhance confidence in adopting the LPBF process to fabricate demanding HGPTCs.” ANSYS will serve as an industrial partner in this project.
Maggie Pavlick
Jul
9
2019

NSF funds Bridges-2 supercomputer at Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, Industrial, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (July 9, 2019) ... A $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) is funding a new supercomputer at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), a joint research center of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. In partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), PSC will deploy Bridges-2, a system designed to provide researchers in Pennsylvania and the nation with massive computational capacity and the flexibility to adapt to the rapidly evolving field of data- and computation-intensive research. Bridges-2 will be available at no cost for research and education, and at cost-recovery rates for other purposes. "Unlocking the power of data will accelerate discovery to advance science, improve our quality of life and enhance national competitiveness," said Nick Nystrom, PSC's chief scientist and principal investigator (PI) for Bridges-2. "We designed Bridges-2 to drive discoveries that will come from the rapid evolution of research, which increasingly needs new, scalable ways for combining large, complex data with high-performance simulation and modeling." Bridges-2 will accelerate discovery to benefit science, society, and the nation. Its unique architecture will catalyze breakthroughs in critically important areas such as understanding the brain, developing new materials for sustainable energy production and quantum computing, assembling genomes of crop species to improve agricultural efficiency, exploring the universe via multimessenger astrophysics and enabling technologies for smart cities. Building on PSC's experience with its very successful Bridges system, Bridges-2 will take the next step in pioneering converged, scalable high-performance computing (HPC), artificial intelligence (AI) and data. Designed to power and scale applications identified through close collaboration with the national research community, Bridges-2 will integrate cutting-edge processors, accelerators, large memory, an all-flash storage array and exceptional data-handling capabilities to let researchers meet challenges that otherwise would be out of reach. By enabling AI to be combined with simulation and modeling and through its focus on ease of use and researcher productivity, Bridges-2 will drive a new era of research breakthroughs. "Bridges-2 is a major leap forward for PSC in high-performance computing and data analytics infrastructure and research," said Alan D. George, Interim Director of PSC. "PSC is unique in combining the strengths of two world-class universities (CMU and Pitt) and a world-class medical center (UPMC). Bridges-2 will amplify these strengths to fuel many new discoveries." "Enabling the execution of science, engineering and non-traditional workflows at scale while leveraging and further developing artificial intelligence is vital to keeping the United States at the forefront of scientific discovery now and into the future," said Paola Buitrago, Director of Artificial Intelligence & Big Data at PSC and co-PI of Bridges. "The Bridges-2 system is the way to realize this and more. I look forward to all the knowledge, discoveries and progress this new system will produce." Bridges-2's community data collections and user-friendly interfaces are designed to democratize participation in science and engineering and foster collaboration and convergence research. The Bridges-2 project includes bringing the benefits of scalable data analytics and AI to industry, developing STEM talent to strengthen the nation's workforce and broadening collaborations to accelerate discovery. The NSF is funding Bridges-2 as part of a series of awards for Advanced Computing Systems & Services. "The capabilities and services these awards will provide will enable the research community to explore new computing models and paradigms," said Manish Parashar, Office Director for the Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure at NSF. "These awards complement NSF's long-standing investment in advanced computational infrastructure, providing much-needed support for the full range of innovative computational- and data-intensive research being conducted across all of science and engineering." Bridges-2 will be deployed in the summer of 2020. ###

Jul
2
2019

Preparing for a Sustainable Future

Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Industrial, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (July 2, 2019) — When it comes to finding sustainable solutions for our planet, there is no time to waste. Luckily, students in the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation’s (MSCI) Undergraduate Summer Research Program don’t have to wait until graduation to start working on projects that can make a big difference. From data that can help replace lead pipes here in Pittsburgh to devices that can identify and track birdsongs out in the field, students are doing work that will help solve the problems facing our planet “Our students are passionate about sustainability and truly want to make a difference in the world,” says Gena Kovalcik, co-director of MCSI. “The Undergraduate Summer Research Program gives them a chance to learn new skills while contributing to important sustainability research. Students work 40 hours a week for 12 weeks over the summer and meet weekly with their advisors. In addition to the research, students in the program have to write a final paper, produce a two-minute video detailing their work and its significance for sustainability, and give an oral presentation at the Undergraduate Research Symposium, which will be held on July 24 this year. The program, currently in its 15th year, was started in 2004 with just five students participating. In all, there are 22 MCSI Undergraduate Summer Research Program projects across the University this year. Here is a look at five of them. Recirculating Aquaculture: Managing Water Quality in a Closed System Over-fishing is a problem in many oceans and waterways, and companies are turning to land-based fish farming (recirculating aquaculture) to provide a more sustainable protein source. But one major risk is that farmed fish can end up tasting a little off—hints of earthy, musty flavors can taint some of the fish raised this way. This summer, Mason Unger, senior civil and environmental engineering major, and his adviser David Sanchez, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, are trying to solve that problem. “There’s a risk to flavor profiles of farmed fish because of an off-flavor produced by chemical compounds like geosmin. To avoid this, the fish go through ‘purging,’ where they run clean water through the tank over the fish for 7-10 days,” Mason explains. “During that time, they aren’t fed, so the fish lose mass, and it’s not great for water use. If you could figure out how the compounds are created and degrade them, it’d have economic and environmental benefits.” Using samples from fish farms across the country, Mason is working to verify protocols for collecting samples and detecting the off-flavors in the water. The ultimate goal is to find a way to eliminate the compounds causing the musty taste as soon as they are identified, saving water and keeping sustainable fish accessible and affordable. “The state of the industry is changing. Land-based farming systems have been around for a while, but there have been a lot of false starts,” says Dr. Sanchez. “This time is quite different, companies are scaling up successful operations and the World Bank projects that aquaculture will supply more than half of all fish globally by 2030.” Using Data to Improve Drinking Water: Identifying Lead Water Lines in Allegheny County Lead water pipes are an issue elevated to national attention when the horrific water quality in Flint, Mich., was discovered, but lead pipes are widely used in Pittsburgh, as well. The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) is replacing those lines; in the meantime, homeowners may want to test their own water’s safety. Testing your own tap water, though, is notoriously tricky, explains Michael Blackhurst, PhD, Co-Director of Urban & Regional Analysis Program and Research Development Manager at the Center for Social & Urban Research. “There is a lot of variation in the amount of lead you’d observe in your tap water, depending on whether or not you were able to capture the water that had been stagnant in the lead pipes,” he says. “Even if you do, there is a lot of evidence that lead pipes can be coated to varying degrees, affecting how much lead will leach into the pipe.” According to Dr. Blackhurst, it is important to understand how accurate these home water tests are. Arianna Heilbrunn, senior environmental studies major, will spend much of her summer with Dr. Blackhurst combing through data from PWSA and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to compare home test results with the known locations of lead pipes. “We’re combining data from historical records and excavations, comparing whether the materials that we know the pipes are made from match up with the results people are getting in their homes,” she says. Generally, people are advised to test their water first thing in the morning, flushing the line by running the water for one or two minutes and then collecting a sample to send in for testing. It is not clear, however, that these guidelines provide consistently accurate results. Though previous internships put Arianna out in the field, doing water and soil testing, she wanted to learn new skills. The trove of data and the program used to sift through it will build skills that will be useful in a future career in consulting or federal environmental work, which is Arianna’s current goal for the future. By working with the PWSA and Pennsylvania DEP, the team hopes they can help lower lead exposure, something especially important for children. “From an ethics standpoint, the problem is hard to ignore,” says Dr. Blackhurst. “Lead has a greater effect on children, and they have no say in how much lead they’re exposed to.” The data the team is working with can help not only see where the city’s lead pipes are but can also predict where they’ll find lead lateral lines, which bring the water from the main line to the house, even if homeowners aren’t aware of them. “People don’t want to know [how much lead is in their water], but they should want to know,” says Arianna. “Everyone thinks of Flint’s water as a tragedy, but no one wants to hear that their own water contains lead, too.” Using acoustic sensors and machine learning to locate birds and bats in the field It took a little time for Jiade Song, senior industrial engineering major, to get used to working in the Kitzes Lab, a biology lab. But now that he has, his work will contribute to a system that can record birds in the field and, using AI and machine learning, learn to locate the sounds and tell which creatures are making them. Eventually, they hope their software will be able to pinpoint and ID species recorded in the field on a device called the AudioMoth. “I’m in industrial engineering, and we work in all types of fields. I’ve taken a variety of courses—production optimizations, coding, data analysis and physics—but this lab was different from my previous working spots in an industrial or production department,” says Jiade. “It has been really great in helping me get used to working in a new environment.” Jiade’s particular goal this summer is creating a tool called a calibration chamber that uses code to detect if the devices are working well. The team puts a batch of the AudioMoths in the box-like device, which then plays a recording. Afterward, they use Jiade’s program to see if all of the AudioMoths are “hearing” the same sounds. The method will produce a visualized report and help the team weed out malfunctioning devices before they are sent into the field, or check their quality after spending weeks outdoors. “One cool thing here is that Jiade is here as an engineer, and I’m an engineer,” says Trieste Devlin, a technician in the Kitzes Lab. “Dr. Kitzes is intentional about creating an interdisciplinary approach to biology.” What the Frack: Designing nanocatalysts for responsible use of natural gas “Fracking” is a buzzword that most people, especially in western Pennsylvania, are familiar with. It is at once an important economic driver in the state and a process that has a striking environmental impact. This summer, Albert Lopez-Martinez, a junior chemical and petroleum engineering major, is working with Götz Veser, PhD, professor of chemical and petroleum engineering, to find ways to make fracking more sustainable. “When fracking happens in oil shales, natural gas is burned off using flares. Instead of combusting it we’re trying to find a way to convert it into a more viable, eco-friendly alternative by turning methane into benzene,” says Albert. “My job is to help find that catalyst, varying parameters and seeing how it is affected by microwave heating.” In collaboration with Shell, West Virginia University and the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), the team is looking for a new way to convert methane to a liquid chemical like benzene. This would make it a valuable chemical resource that could be transported, lessening the environmental impact while acting as an economic boon in the region. “Here in Pennsylvania, we’re not doing as much flaring, but the issue is that our natural resources are being stripped from under us, and we are left with nothing but the pollution,” says Dr. Veser. “If we can turn natural gas into a valuable product on its own here in the region, it could balance the environmental impact with a positive economic impact.” For Albert, the project is an opportunity to get started on work he is passionate about. Now that he has gotten involved in research, he is considering pursuing a masters or even a doctorate after graduation. “I know I want to work in sustainability, giving back to the community and working against climate change,” says Albert. “The Mascaro Center’s summer research program seemed like a good fit for my future goals. Durable Antireflective, Anti-Soiling and Self-Cleaning Solar Glass When it comes to renewable energy, solar panels are perhaps the most promising. There is more energy in the sunlight that hits the earth’s surface in one hour than all of humanity uses in an entire year. But solar panels do have their challenges: conventional solar panels only convert about 20 percent of the sun’s light to electricity. The top glass on a solar panel is partially reflective, losing valuable rays that could be converted to energy as they bounce off the glass. Solar panels may also be installed in desert and urban environments, where particulates and pollutants may dirty the glass, resulting in less sunlight being converted to electricity. Sooraj Sharma, senior materials science and engineering (MSE) major, has been working with Paul Leu, PhD, associate professor of industrial engineering, since last summer on a way to make anti-reflective, anti-soiling and self-cleaning glass for solar panels. While conventional anti-reflective coatings aren’t effective against all wavelengths, the team in Leu’s lab is using sub-wavelength nano-structures to reduce broadband reflection over a wide range of incidence angles to as low as 0 percent. In addition, the glass repels water and can use naturally forming dew droplets to remove dirt. Last year, they were able to show these properties on a four-inch piece of glass, but this year, they’re hoping to improve the method so it could be used to create the glass for solar panels, which are usually over one square meter. “The end product will have the same properties, but this year, our big focus is on using larger and more scalable methods that could translate to the factory level,” says Sooraj. “The viability of this glass depends on the ability to recreate it with more robust and scalable methods.” Sooraj and the team are looking at not only the process used to coat the glass but the method used to apply it. “We’re looking at scalable methods to deposit the coating on the glass, and we’re engineering that glass to be more anti-reflective to different angles and wavelengths,” explains Sooraj. The new process Sooraj is working with is called sol-gel, an extremely powerful fabrication process that can effectively produce a large variety of material end products. For solar, this means creating a porous, antireflective coating that should achieve similar results to the conventional nanostructures. The upside is that this method is far more economical, as creating the latter requires the use of expensive machines that operate on a small scale. Though Sooraj’s original interest was in working with silicon and other semiconductor materials, he was surprised to find that he found glass so fascinating to work with. “As a sophomore, I was feeling the pressure to get a co-op, but most of the ones I found weren’t that interesting to me,” he says. “When I talked to my adviser, Dr. Nettleship, he suggested I look into the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation Undergrad Summer Research Program. I found this project to be really interesting with enormous real-world potential, and I was later able to continue working on it throughout the rest of my junior year. I never knew working with glass would be so interesting to me. I think it confirmed and aligned my interests.” Last year, Sooraj won the Best Presentation Award at the Mascaro Undergraduate Research Program Symposium and later submitted his summer findings to Science 2018, where he won the Innovation Institute’s Award for Best Poster on Innovation. Sooraj presented his work this year at Allegheny SolarFest at Frick Environmental Center on June 23, marking the second year in a row they attended the event. Though the event is usually represented by community groups and solar panel vendors, Sooraj felt their contribution was valuable. “We were sort the ‘black sheep’ of the event,” says Dr. Leu. “But I know the other attendees found our research interesting and valuable, and we were excited to present again.” ### Other Opportunities for Undergraduate Research Beyond the MCSI Undergraduate Summer Research Program, students have plenty of opportunities to pursue research alongside renowned faculty before donning their caps and gowns. SSOE Summer Undergraduate Research ProgramThe decade-long program enables around 80 Pitt students to propose a topic of their choosing and work with a faculty mentor to pursue their research for 12 weeks over the summer. Contact: Mary Besterfield-Sacre (mbsacre@pitt.edu) Excel Summer Research Institute (SRI)The EXCEL program focuses on preparing under-represented minority students for graduate education and professional careers, and the EXCEL Summer Research Institute helps achieve that goal by giving students research experience in their freshman, sophomore or junior year.  The program offers eight to 10 students a nine-week summer research internship, pairing students with faculty mentors to complete a research project in their engineering field. Contact: Yvette Moore, Director of Pitt EXCEL (yvettemoore@pitt.edu) NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) ProgramsEach year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) provides funds for researchers to engage undergraduates in their work. Swanson has such programs in Civil Engineering and Chemical Engineering. Contact: Civil Engineering: Kent Harries (kharries@pitt.edu)Chemical and Petroleum Engineering: Joseph McCarthy (joseph.john.mccarthy@gmail.com) Center for Space, High-performance, and Resilient Computing (SHREC) Summer Undergraduate Research Group (SURG)The NSF Center for Space, High-performance, and Resilient Computing (SHREC), recently responsible for a supercomputer sent to the International Space Station, invites 24 undergraduate students in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science to work alongside researchers in this important national research center. Contact: Alan George (alan.george@pitt.edu) Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC)The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) is a joint effort between Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University, founded over 30 years ago. It offers undergraduate students the opportunity to work with university, government and industrial researchers on high-performance computing, communications and data analytics. Contact: Alan George (alan.george@pitt.edu) NSF International Research Experiences for StudentsThis NSF-funded opportunity sends students to research battery-less embedded systems in Internet of Things devices in China, which has one of the world’s largest electronic industry and market. Five graduate students and two graduate students are selected each year to participate in this research at Tsinghua University for eight weeks. Contact: Jingtong Hu (jthu@pitt.edu)
Maggie Pavlick

Jun

Jun
28
2019

Two Swanson School Alumni Elected to Pitt's Board of Trustees

Civil & Environmental, MEMS, Diversity, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

PITTSBURGH (June 28, 2019) ... The University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees elected five new trustees during its annual meeting on Friday, June 28. The new members, all distinguished Pitt alumni, bring to the board a range of experience that spans decades in industry and public service. The five new trustees are: Robert O. Agbede (ENGR ’79 G ’81) SaLisa L. Berrien (ENGR ’91) Sundaa Bridgett-Jones (GSPIA ’95) Wen-Ta Chiu (GSPH ’89) Adam C. Walker (A&S ’09) Their terms are effective July 1. The board also re-elected Eva Tansky Blum to her fifth and final term as chair of the board, a position she has held since 2015. Thomas E. Richards, a long-serving Pitt trustee and executive chair of the board of directors for the technology services corporation CDW, was named chair-elect of the University’s Board of Trustees. In this capacity, he will become chair after Blum’s final term, which will conclude in June 2020. The board also nominated Richards, Vaughn Clagette, James Covert and John Verbanac to serve on the UPMC Board of Directors. Biographical information for the new members follows:Robert O. Agbede currently serves as vice chair of Hatch USA, a global management, engineering and development consulting firm. He is the former CEO and owner of Chester Engineers, which merged with Hatch Ltd., in 2017. Agbede built Chester Engineers into one of the largest African American owned water/wastewater, energy and environmental engineering firms in the United States. There, he developed a work culture that emphasizes the importance of giving back and viewing corporate social responsibility as good business. He has earned several awards, including the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year—Business Services, the Minority Enterprise Development Agency’s Minority Small Business Award and the NAACP Homer S. Brown Award. In 2000, Agbede was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Swanson School of Engineering, where he is currently a member of the Board of Visitors and chair of its Diversity Committee. Agbede helped establish several mentorship and scholarship opportunities at the Swanson School, including the Robert O. Agbede Scholarship for African American students pursuing engineering degrees, as well as the Robert O. Agbede Annual Diversity Award to encourage recruitment and retention of African American faculty and students. In 2009, the University’s African American Alumni Council presented him with the Distinguished Alumni Award for Achievement in Business. SaLisa L. Berrien is the founder and CEO of COI Energy and has more than 25 years of experience in the electric power and smart grid space, working in areas ranging from vertically integrated utility companies to an energy service company on smart grid, clean tech and big data analytics. Berrien is also founder and board chair of STRIVE Inc., a charitable organization that focuses on STEM leadership development training for students in grades three through 12. In 2013, she established COI Ladder Institute to focus on delivering leadership and empowerment services to millennials and women. In 2004, Berrien established the Karl H. Lewis Engineering Impact Alumni Fund for Pitt students of underrepresented groups enrolled in engineering. She later elsewhere established, in honor of her aunt, the Talibah M. Yazid Academic Excellence scholarship for college-bound high school seniors with a GPA of 3.0 or greater. Berrien has earned service awards from the City of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Lehigh University; the National Society of Black Engineers and the YMCA. She is also the recipient of the Allentown Human Relations Commission Human Relations Award and the National Society of Negro Women Mary Jackson Engineering Award. Sundaa Bridgett-Jones leads the Rockefeller Foundation’s support for policy innovations to help solve pressing international development issues, including achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. She has more than 20 years of experience designing and executing global initiatives and public-private partnerships. Between 2010 and 2012, Bridgett-Jones led the Office of Policy, Planning and Public Diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor in groundbreaking advocacy on internet and religious freedoms and served as a member of the White House National Security Staff interagency committee. She previously managed C-suite affairs at the U.N. Department of Political Affairs, working on preventive diplomacy plans in South Asia. Bridgett-Jones launched the Scholars in the Nation’s Service Initiative at Princeton University to encourage talented women and men to enter public service. She has taken on lead roles with Global Kids, an organization that develops youth leaders for the global stage. She also serves as a member of the Board of Visitors for Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Wen-Ta Chiu serves as a co-CEO of California-based AHMC Healthcare Inc., a hospital and health system committed to improving access to health care services for the most vulnerable members of the San Gabriel, California, community. In 2011, Chiu was appointed Minister of the Ministry of Health and Welfare in Taiwan. During nearly four years of service, he successfully implemented the second-generation National Health Insurance, along with many other health policies. He also led the ministry through several public health crises in Taiwan. Prior to his appointment as minister, Chiu led the successful growth of Taipei Medical University, a world-class medical university and hospital system. Chiu is an accomplished traumatic brain injury researcher who has made significant leadership contributions in public health through the Asia-Pacific Academic Consortium, the Academy for Multidisciplinary Neurotraumatology, the Taiwan Neurotrauma Society and the Asia Oceania Neurotrauma Society. His numerous career honors include earning the Contribution Award for Public Health from the Asia-Pacific Academic Consortium, distinction as a Distinguished Alumnus of Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health and the University’s Legacy Laureate Award. Adam C. Walker is CEO of Summit Packaging Solutions, a leading global supply chain firm, taking the helm in 2014 and applying nearly 20 years of industry expertise to set in motion an accelerated growth strategy. Walker previously co-founded Homestead Packaging Solutions, overseeing facilities in Tennessee and Michigan and garnering industry recognition such as the National Minority Supplier Diversity Council’s Supplier of the Year and the U.S. Department of Commerce–MBDA Manufacturer of the Year. Walker was a National Football League player for seven consecutive seasons, beginning and ending his career with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1990 and 1996, respectively. From 1991 until 1995, he played for the San Francisco 49ers, including the 1994 Super Bowl championship team. Walker has earned the Atlanta Tribune Men of Distinction award and recognition as a New Pittsburgh Courier Men of Excellence honoree. He serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Minority Supplier Diversity Council and as a member of Procter & Gamble’s Supplier Advisory Council. # # #
Kevin Zwick, University of Pittsburgh News
Jun
12
2019

MEMS Professor Anne Robertson Delivers Keynote Lecture at International Conference

Bioengineering, MEMS

Anne Robertson, William Kepler Whiteford Endowed Professorship of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Professor of Bioengineering, was among a prestigious group of scholars invited to give a keynote lecture at the 6th International Conference on Computational and Mathematical Biomedical Engineering. The conference was hosted by Tohoku University in Sendai City, Japan earlier this June. The title of Dr. Robertson’s lecture was “Identifying Physical Causes of Failure in Brain Aneurysms.”  A subarachnoid hemorrhage, a type of stroke with high mortality and disability rates, is often caused by the rupture of a cerebral aneurysm. However, if the aneurysm is not ruptured, treatment for this condition can be more dangerous than the risk of rupture itself.  Therefore, there is a need to develop reliable methods for assessing rupture risk. Dr. Robertson’s presentation discussed her group’s recent findings which demonstrate the need to identify the actual physical causes for wall vulnerability as a vital component of accessing rupture risk.  This research is done by using data driven computational simulations obtained from human aneurysm tissue. New tools for mapping heterogeneous experimental data for the wall to the 3D reconstructed vascular model make it possible to evaluate the associations between critical aspects of aneurysm wall structure and both hemodynamic and intramural stress. Other Pitt members of this multi-institutional research team include Dr. Spandan Maiti, who holds a primary appointment in Bioengineering and a secondary appointment in MEMS and Dr. Simon Watkins, Distinguished Professor of the Department of Cell Biology and Director of the Center for Biologic Imaging.   Doctoral students Fangzhou Cheng, Michael Durka, Ronald Fortunato, Piyusha Gade and Chao Sang as well as postdoctoral researchers Yasutaka Tobe and Eliisa Ollikainen also made substantial contributions to this work. One of the main focuses of Dr. Robertson’s research is the relationship between soft tissue structure and mechanical function in health and disease for soft tissues such as cerebral arteries, cerebral aneurysms, tissue engineered blood vessels and the bladder wall.  Her research is heavily supported by the National Institutes of Health where she is a standing member of the Neuroscience and Ophthalmic Imaging Technologies (NOIT) Study Section.

Jun
7
2019

MEMS Professor Peyman Givi Invited to Deliver 13th Elsevier Distinguished Lecture in Mechanics

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (June 7, 2019) — In recognition of his seminal contributions to his field, Peyman Givi, PhD, distinguished professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, has been invited to deliver the 13th Elsevier Distinguished Lecture in Mechanics. The lecture is sponsored by Elsevier and its publication Mechanics Research Communications. It will be hosted by the University of Pittsburgh in 2020. “I am very honored to be selected for this distinction, and I was pleased to accept it,” says Dr. Givi. “It is an honor to bring this lecture to Pittsburgh, where mechanical engineering has such a rich industrial history, especially at Pitt, where our program has celebrated 151 years of excellence.” Dr. Givi joins a long line of distinguished lecturers, beginning with the 2008 inaugural lecture by Prof. Jan Achenbach. The lecture will be on a topic of Dr. Givi’s choosing within the field of mechanics; previous topics have included “Structural Health Monitoring,” “Isogeometric Analysis,” and “Seeking Simplicity in the Flow of Complex Fluids.” “We were glad to extend the invitation to Dr. Givi,” says Anthony Rosato, PhD, director of the Granular Science Laboratory at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and editor-in-chief of Elsevier’s Mechanics Research Communications. “This invitation recognizes his seminal contributions to the field of mathematical modeling and simulation of complex turbulent fluid dynamics.” As with all previous Elsevier Distinguished Lectures in Mechanics, Dr. Givi’s lecture will be available on Elsevier’s website after it is delivered. “Dr. Givi is a shining example of the Swanson School’s commitment to innovation and the advancement of engineering research and education,” says James R. Martin II, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering. “We are looking forward to hosting the Elsevier Distinguished Lecture in Mechanics and know that Dr. Givi’s lecture will be enlightening and engaging in equal measure.”
Maggie Pavlick

May

May
24
2019

New Partnership Expands Research into Rechargeable Battery Systems

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (May 24, 2019) — Energy storage influences every part of modern life, from the cell phone in your pocket to the electric car on the highway. However, seeing the chemistry of what is happening inside a battery while it is in use is indeed tricky, but it could have remarkable opportunities for identifying new materials as well as improving the battery itself. Now, the Next-Generation Energy Conversion and Storage Technologies Lab (NECSTL) at the University of Pittsburgh’s Energy Innovation Center has announced a new energy research partnership with Malvern Panalytical that will enable the lab to do exactly that. The NECSTL, headed by Prashant N. Kumta, PhD, focuses on energy conversion and storage, including rechargeable battery systems. Malvern Panalytical’s Empyrean X-ray Platform, a multipurpose diffractometer, will be used in the lab to identify solid-state materials by determining their internal structure, composition and phase while they are in use. “For example, it can be used to determine what happens to an electrode and electrolyte material as the main active component is removed and brought back during a electrochemical reaction, such as in the case of a lithium-ion rechargeable battery,” explains Prashant N. Kumta, PhD, Edward R. Weidlein Chair professor of Bioengineering. Dr. Kumta also holds appointments in chemical and petroleum engineering, mechanical engineering and materials science, the McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine, and oral biology. “This understanding will lead to new discoveries of mechanisms and operation, which can result in new materials discovery and new designs for significantly increasing the performance of batteries and fuel cells.” Dr. Kumta also believes that the partnership will enable the design of new instrumentation for further in-situ diagnostics of energy storage and conversion systems. The new partnership and equipment was celebrated on May 23 at the Energy Innovation Center, where attendees got a first look at the Empyrean up close.
Maggie Pavlick
May
4
2019

How Kevin Glunt Went From Struggling Student to Sending an A.I. Computer to the ISS

Electrical & Computer, MEMS, Student Profiles

Around a decade ago, Kevin Glunt was more interested in drawing cars than paying attention in class, with his parents threatening that he would repeat a grade of school if he didn’t stop. Now aged 24, he’s in awe as SpaceX has launched his team’s creation into orbit: A radiation-tolerant supercomputer that will be used in experiments on sensing, image processing, and machine learning, aboard the International Space Station. “All of our names are on the board, like etched on it,” Glunt told Inverse this week, prior to the launch. “It’s like, your name will be in space. And it’s really, really weird to think about that.” It’s not just a name in space: the computer, made by Glunt and his fellow researchers and students from the University of Pittsburgh, could pave the way for a faster future in space. More powerful systems at lower cost, and with more efficient power usage, represent another step toward more reliable research in orbit. Read the full story at inverse.com.
Author: Mike Brown, inverse.com
May
1
2019

New Pitt Supercomputer to Launch Into Space

Electrical & Computer, MEMS, Student Profiles

This story originally appeared in Pittwire. Reposted with permission. Additional coverage at Inside HPC. A novel supercomputer developed by a University of Pittsburgh team is set to journey to the International Space Station on May 1, continuing a NASA partnership meant to improve Earth and space science. (Editor’s note: The successful launch later occurred on May 4.) It will be “one of the most powerful space-qualified computers ever made and flown,” said Alan George, department chair of the Swanson School of Engineering’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who led Pitt researchers and graduate students on the project. On the space station, the supercomputer will serve as a research “sandbox” for space-based experiments on computing, sensing, image processing and machine learning. Researchers said the main objective of these experiments is progression toward autonomous spacecraft, like a more advanced version of the self-driving cars seen in Pittsburgh. This radiation-tolerant computer cluster, called the Spacecraft Supercomputing for Image and Video Processing (SSIVP) system, is part of the U.S. Department of Defense Space Test Program-Houston 6 mission (STP-H6), developed at the National Science Foundation Center for Space, High-performance, and Resilient Computing (SHREC). The system “features an unprecedented combination of high performance, high reliability, low power and reconfigurability for computing in the harsh environment of space, going beyond the capabilities of previous space computers,” said George, who’s also founder and director of SHREC. The project carries over from time’s spent with the University of Florida prior to moving to Pitt in 2017, when a pair of space computers developed by Pitt students and faculty was sent aboard the space station. Last year, the new space supercomputer embarked on a 1,400-mile land-based journey for rigorous testing, from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to the NASA Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston to the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Its final, much shorter and more meaningful trip will see it travel 250 miles skyward from NASA Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, to the space station with the SpaceX-17 mission on a Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket. Super powered Sebastian Sabogal and Evan Gretok, PhD students in electrical and computer engineering, pose by their workstation in SHREC (Center for Space, High-performance, and Resilient Computing), where they monitor their supercomputing cluster’s progress. They’ve worked on the cluster’s design, hardware configuration and image processing. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh) The new space supercomputer is more than 2.5 times more powerful than its predecessor, which was launched to the space station with STP-H5 on SpaceX-10 in February 2017. It includes dual high-resolution cameras capable of snapping 5-megapixel images of Earth, for detailed aerial shots like the city of Pittsburgh, all in a system about the size of a breadbox. The H5 system will remain on the space station, working separately from the soon-to-be-launched H6 system on a dynamic set of space technology experiments until at least 2021. The H6 system is expected to be in service for three to four years after launch. The large amounts of data the new system captures will pose their own challenge. “There are limitations in communications between ground and spacecraft, so we’re trying to circumvent these limitations with high-performance onboard data processing to more quickly transfer data,” said Sebastian Sabogal, a third-year PhD student studying electrical and computer engineering. “We also want our systems to be highly responsive to processed sensor data to enable spacecraft autonomy, which would reduce the amount of human interaction needed to operate the spacecraft and interpret data.” “Everyone in the space community wants to build sensor systems that are more powerful and autonomous,” George said. “We must process the data where it’s gathered, which requires very powerful computers, but space is the most challenging place to build and deploy powerful computers.” Space, too, is a challenging place for computers to thrive due to high fluctuations in temperatures, strong vibrations during launch and higher levels of radiation — all of which can affect performance, said Sabogal. During its time in space, the supercomputer will gather and monitor data on weather patterns, deforestation, and the effects of natural disasters on Earth and the effects of space and radiation on electronic devices, among many applications in Earth and space science. A goldmine for students SHREC also is collaborating for the first time with the Swanson School of Engineering’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, with the latter designing, assembling and testing the system chassis to meet the structural requirements from NASA for the computing system. For students, these space missions are an opportunity to hone their engineering expertise and interact closely with experts at NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense. The Spacecraft Supercomputing for Image and Video Processing marks the first known instance of the “Pitt Script” in space. (Courtesy of Alan George) “When I initially came in, it was one of the big projects going on here,” said Evan Gretok, a second-year PhD student studying electrical and computer engineering. “I was asked if I was up for a challenge, and I was put on developing some of the flight software for some of the secondary objectives of the mission.” These secondary objectives include studies regarding flight services, hardware configuration and studies on image processing. Gretok also earned his master’s degree in the same field at Pitt this year, and he has been working with the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to certify the supercomputer’s ground-station software for mission operations that will be controlled by Pitt researchers in the SHREC lab meets NASA standards. “It’s really humbling to be part of a team that has this kind of access to such innovative technology,” Gretok said. “The amount of opportunities that open up for Earth observation for data analytics and for these students to develop their own applications and algorithms is exciting to see.” Other leading researchers for the project include Matthew Barry, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, who also works with the Center for Research Computing and was in charge of thermal modeling for the computer, and David Schmidt, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, whose team was in charge of the design and construction of the aluminum chassis to house the electronics, ensuring that it meets NASA specifications. For more information on the mission visit NASA’s missions page.
Author: Amerigo Allegretto, University Communications
May
1
2019

MEMS Success at Senior Design Expo

MEMS, Student Profiles

First place from left: Jamie Laughlin, Arden Stayer, Ethan Linderman, and Jake Saletsky Second place from left: Dr. Dave Schmidt, Hunter Stept, Adam Argentine, Nicole Nduta, and Austin Gray Third place from left: Rui Xu, Frost Wang, Caroline Collopy, and Terry McLinden Fourth place from left: Dr. Dave Schmidt, Cameron Rendulic, and Shawn Kosko (not pictured: Stanley Umeweni) The Spring 2019 Swanson School Design Expo was held on April 18 at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall. This semiannual event allows students to showcase their work from senior capstone design courses. The expo features almost 100 projects from more than 400 students, with the MEMS Department producing the most projects in the School. Project ideas come from industry, faculty and students. Students have 13 weeks to complete their projects on a budget of ~$400. Projects are judged by faculty, alumni and industry professionals in various categories including a People’s Choice Award, which all attendees can vote on. MEMS students have always done well at the competition in the past, and this year was no exception. The “Panther Junk Kart Club” team took first place for MEMS projects and also won the judge’s award for Best Overall Project by creating a practice FSAE go-kart. Team members were Ethan Linderman, Jamie Laughlin, Jake Saletsky and Arden Stayer. Second place went to team Pitt Sear, who developed a searing cooking system. The members of that team were Adam Argentine, Austin Gray, Nicole Nduta and Hunter Stept. A project that involved the design of a rotating camera system for stereo imaging large deformations of soft tissues took home third place. That team was Caroline Collopy, Terry McLinden, Frost Wang and Rui Xu. Finally, fourth place went to the design of carbon fiber wheels for the FSAE car. Team members were Shawn Kosko, Cameron Rendulic and Stanley Umeweni. Dr. Dave Schmidt, associate professor and instructor of the senior design course, notes that the projects serve as a bridge between undergraduate coursework and the workforce. The projects allow students to apply their class training and gives them a story to tell to potential employers in interviews. Schmidt noted that a good work environment and culture of each team is vital for success of the projects. These necessary elements are why the Department is establishing a dedicated classroom for Senior Design projects. The classroom is located on the ground floor of Benedum Hall and was sponsored by ME alum and current MEMS Visiting Committee member, Wilson Farmerie and his wife Karen. The classroom is setup with build, meeting, computation and storage spaces for the students to complete their projects.
Meagan Lenze
May
1
2019

MEMS Senior Receives NASA Fellowship

MEMS, Student Profiles

Noah Sargent, a mechanical engineering senior, received a prestigious NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship (NSTRF) award. Sargent will begin the materials science and engineering PhD program at Pitt this coming fall where he will put the fellowship to use. According to the NASA website, the goal of the fellowship is to sponsor graduate students who show significant potential to contribute to NASA’s goal of creating innovative new space technologies for our Nation’s science, exploration and economic future. The award will be made in the form of a training grant accredited to the University on behalf of Sargent, where faculty advisor Dr. Wei Xiong will serve as the principal investigator. The award is for $80,000/year for up to four years. Additionally, Sargent will be matched with a technically relevant and community-engaged NASA Subject Matter Expert, who will serve as a research collaborator. Sargent is a part of the Physical Metallurgy & Materials Design Laboratory under the direction of Wei Xiong. The proposal that won him the fellowship is titled “Integrated Computational Design of Graded Alloys Made with Additive Manufacturing.” Sargent says, “Words cannot express how thankful and excited I am to receive this award. I look forward to starting graduate school in the fall and continuing my studying at the University of Pittsburgh.”

Apr

Apr
24
2019

Entrepreneurial Engineer Brings Creative Spirit and Connections to Campus, Honda

MEMS, Student Profiles, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

Posted with permission. Read the original post at Pittwire. The tagline on Sean O’Brien’s Instagram bio reads “Dedicated to leaving an impact.” But over the course of his five years at Pitt, O’Brien is known more for making, not merely leaving, an impact — through his work at the Pitt Makerspace. O’Brien, president of the Pitt Makerspace, is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a certificate in innovation, product design and entrepreneurship from Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, as well as a resume that includes autonomous vehicle research made possible through several co-op rotations at Nissan. In May, he’ll start work as an innovation engineer at a brand-new Honda facility in Michigan, after fielding job offers from several auto manufacturers. He’s mapped his own career path — and paved the way for other students — admittedly not through a turbocharged grade point average, he said, but by his passion for hands-on learning, willingness to make connections and desire to solve problems. All simply “to make things work,” said O’Brien. O’Brien joined the Pitt Makerspace team early on as its sponsorship and outreach lead, a role in which he secured thousands of dollars in financial support and helped develop events designed to connect students with potential employers. “I have the ability to sell what I’m passionate about,” he said. Boosted by connections made at the Stanford University-based national University Innovation Fellows program, he has helped grow the Makerspace from a basement space with little more than a few benches and sofas, a 3D printer and some tools into a vibrant hub for creating, innovating and, importantly, for networking. O’Brien launched his own MakerHUB podcast, which has drawn notable guests — including Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher — to the Makerspace sofas for a conversation. The Pitt Makerspace served more than 1,000 students last year; a team of 30 keeps it running day to day. The suite has become a regular stop on prospective students’ campus tours, and now hosts alumni gatherings and events sponsored by industry partners. O’Brien also has made a commitment to give back as a member of Pitt’s first cohort of Panthers Forward graduates. The new Pitt program pays up to $5,000 of each student’s federal loan debt. In exchange, upon graduation, participants are asked to pay it forward in support of future Panthers Forward students. A passion in the making O’Brien knew from the time he started high school that he wanted to be an engineer. As a teen, he persuaded his parents to let him build a table large enough to seat his extended family so they could dine together rather than in separate rooms at holidays. It took 200 hours of work, but the result is a massive 11-foot-long table that is the focal point in his family’s dining room in Reading, Pennsylvania. “I realized what I could make with the proper resources and the proper help,” he said of the experience. In his senior year at Muhlenberg High School, he launched his own small business, SO’s Bows, all because he couldn’t find a bow tie in the appropriate shade of blue to match his prom date’s dress. He designed his own, then stitched it himself on a home economics class sewing machine. After perfecting the process, he began selling ties made to order. His interest in entrepreneurship led him to Pitt’s student innovation programming. He met Babs Carryer, director of Pitt’s Big Idea Center within the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute at a Startup Blitz event. He soon began working in her office — analyzing participation data in an effort to create strategies to engage students from all disciplines in Innovation Institute programming. “When students come to Pitt, they don’t necessarily know what they want to do, but they figure it out,” Carryer said. “He’s a great example of an engineering student who discovers innovation and entrepreneurship as a result of being at Pitt. It is life-changing. He is going to be wildly successful, whatever he chooses to do.” Intrapreneurship — entrepreneurship in a company setting — suits O’Brien, Carryer said. “He wants to merge creativity and entrepreneurship with engineering,” she said, commending his motivation and skill set. “This is the dream job,” O’Brien said as he prepares for his new position in Michigan that will include creating a makerspace where his group can prototype concepts to bring to the overall organization. “I’m honored to have this opportunity. It’s a blank slate to decide what this facility means to Honda moving forward.” And the wheels already are turning in his mind: “Ultimately I’d like to create an internship program between this Honda facility and the Pitt Makerspace,” he said. “Providing value is the currency that leverages your next opportunity,” O’Brien said. “The return doesn’t need to be immediate. What I’m leaving behind is a platform for people to succeed.” Leaving an impact? Those who know his work best say O’Brien is making it happen.
Kimberly K. Barlow
Apr
19
2019

Four Projects Receive Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation Seed Grants

Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (April 19, 2019) — The Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering has announced its 2019-2020 seed grant recipients. The grants support graduate student and post-doctoral fellows on one-year research projects that are focused on sustainability. “All of the projects we have selected this year have the potential to make a lasting, positive impact on the environment,” says Gena Kovalcik, co-director of the Mascaro Center. “The Mascaro Center is excited to support these core teams of researchers who are passionate about sustainability.” This year’s recipients are: Towards Using Microbes for Sustainable Construction Materials:  Feasibility StudySarah Haig, civil & environmental engineeringSteven Sachs, civil & environmental engineeringMax Stephens, civil & environmental engineering*Jointly funded by MCSI and IRISE Chemical Recycling of Polyethylene to EthyleneEric Beckman, chemical & petroleum engineeringIoannis Bourmpakis, chemical & petroleum engineeringRobert Enick, chemical & petroleum engineeringGoetz Veser, chemical & petroleum engineering Investigating flexible piezoelectric materials with lower water pressuresKatherine Hornbostel, mechanical engineering & materials scienceMax Stephens, civil & environmental engineering Amplifying the efficiency of Tungsten Disulfide Thermoelectric DevicesFeng Xiong, electrical and computer engineering
Maggie Pavlick
Apr
19
2019

Freakonomics Spotlight

MEMS

Katherine Hornbostel, mechanical engineering assistant professor, was invited to be a guest on the popular podcast, Freakonomics Radio Live.  The offer came after a producer of the show came across an article published on the SSOE website last December.  The article described Hornbostel’s postdoctoral work at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and her continued efforts at Pitt to find a safe, cheap and efficient method of carbon-capture. Hornbostel flew to New York City to be on the live show which was held at City Winery on March 9.  She was one of six guests on the episode called on stage to give a 15-minute interview with show creator Stephen Dubner and co-host Angela Duckworth (author of Grit, a NYT best seller). The show was recorded in front of a live audience of approximately 200 people. During her interview, which begins at 42:10, Hornbostel discusses using tiny capsules to capture carbon dioxide from the exhaust of a power plant. Hornbostel describes the method invented and studied by her team at LLNL: “…this particular combination — water and sodium carbonate — if you dissolve it in water, can react with carbon dioxide and extract it from a gas stream coming off a coal plant. And the really interesting thing that I’ve studied is that if you put these chemicals into little capsules that look like caviar, you can actually pack them into a reactor, attach it to a power plant, and selectively take out the carbon dioxide that’s being released from the exhaust.” Hornbostel and Dubner joked that the technology should be re-branded as “carbon capture caviar.” Hornbostel’s team at LLNL is currently working with small-scale partners, such as a biogas company and a microbrewery, to pilot this technology. Hornbostel’s group at Pitt is also researching how to use this “carbon capture caviar” to extract CO2 from the ocean to reverse acidification.
Meagan Lenze
Apr
17
2019

The Promise of Nuclear Engineering at Pitt

MEMS, Nuclear

The nuclear industry in the U.S. is at a crossroads, as several plants are scheduled for permanent shutdown, including three in Pennsylvania, the second-largest nuclear energy-producing state. However, in his brief tenure at Pitt, Professor Heng Ban, director of the Swanson School’s Stephen R. Tritch Nuclear Engineering Program, sees opportunity ahead for students, alumni and faculty researchers. Dr. Ban joined Pitt in 2017 from Utah State University (USU), where he served as a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and founding Director of the Center for Thermohydraulics and Material Properties. In addition to continuing to serve as principal investigator on a fuel safety research program at USU, he holds a research portfolio of nearly $1 million per year in nuclear-related research. He believes that Pittsburgh’s nuclear history – and Pitt’s distinctive program – allow the Swanson School to better compete in a global energy industry. “Nuclear energy is one of the cleanest power resources and is a vital component not only of our nation’s energy portfolio, but also the U.S. naval nuclear fleet and several countries around the world. Research is ongoing into additive manufacturing of nuclear components, smaller reactor systems as well as sensors and controls for reactor safety and machine learning for facility maintenance,” Dr. Ban says. “The Swanson School has assembled diverse faculty expertise in these areas, and so we can offer technological breakthroughs and outstanding graduates in field.” Pitt currently offers an undergraduate certificate and graduate certificate and master of science in nuclear engineering through the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. Dr. Ban says that what sets the Swanson School program apart is the ability to draw upon adjunct faculty in the area who have direct ties to the nuclear industry. “Pittsburgh was the birthplace of the nuclear energy industry,” Dr. Ban notes. “The first peacetime nuclear reactor was built near here in Shippingport, and the first nuclear submarine engine was developed at the Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory in West Mifflin. Those current and former employees have such a combined wealth of knowledge about the industry, and are a unique feature of our curriculum. Dr. Ban adds that since many of those engineers are nearing retirement, there is a great need for a new generation of nuclear employees. “From Bettis, Westinghouse, Bechtel Marine and so many other in the supply chain, employers are telling us not only that they need engineers, but are helping us structure the curriculum so that we educate the best engineer for the field.” And the research that students engage in spans the nuclear industry. For example, Dr. Ban’s research includes a large project with participation of Westinghouse, GE, Framatome, several universities and the Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory on fuel safety and advanced sensor systems for a next-generation sodium-cooled test reactor in Idaho; Professors Albert To and Wei Xiong are working industry to optimize designs of 3-D printing of nuclear parts, Professor Jeffrey Vipperman is studying vibration detection while Kevin Chen is developing optical fiber sensors for reactor environments; Sangyeop Lee is focused on molecular dynamics computational studies for molten salt reactors, Daniel Cole is working with Rolls-Royce on nuclear plant operation using machine learning; and Katherine Hornbostel is developing system analysis tools. “As long as nuclear energy remains a reliable, clean, efficient and safe energy resource, we will have a greater need for the engineers who can be competitive in the global nuclear energy marketplace, as well as who can develop the next ground-breaking technologies,” Dr. Ban says. “And the Swanson School is at the nexus of this industry that is a critical part of our national safety, from power generation to defense, and a major contributor to reducing carbon emissions worldwide.” ### Associated Awards in Nuclear Engineering Predictive Solutions for Prevention and Mitigation of Corrosion in Support of Next Generation Logistics PI/Co-PI: Brian Gleeson (PI), Heng Ban (Co-PI), Qing-Ming Wang (Co-PI)Grant Source: Battelle Memorial InstituteGrant Amount: $1,145,931Grant Period: 04/20/2018 – 05/30/2018Preparatory Out-of-pile Lead Loop Experiments to Support Design of Irradiation Test Loop in VTR PI: Heng BanGrant Source: University of New Mexico/DOE Grant Amount: $150,000Grant Period: 10/01/2018 – 09/30/2019Transient Reactor (TREAT) Experiments to Validate MDM Fuel Performance Simulations PI: Heng BanGrant Source: DOEGrant Amount: $1,000,000Grant Period: 10/01/2018– 08/31/2020Preparatory Out-of-pile Lead Loop Experiments to Support Design of Irradiation Test Loop in VTR PI: Heng BanGrant Source: DOEGrant Amount: $450,000Grant Period: 10/01/2018 – 09/30/2019Integrating Dissolvable Supports, Topology Optimization, and Microstructure Design to Drastically Reduce Costs in Developing and Post-Processing Nuclear Plan Components by Laser-Based Powder Bed Additive Manufacturing PI: Albert To Grant Source: DOEGrant Amount: $1,000,000Grant Period: 10/01/2018 – 09/30/2021Advanced Manufacturing of Embedded Heat Pipe Nuclear Hybrid Reactor PI: Kevin Chen Grant Source: ARPA-E through Los Alamos national LabGrant Amount: $200,000Grant Period: 2018-2021Self-regulating, Solid Core Block “SCB” for an Inherently Safe Heat Pipe Reactor PI: Kevin Chen Grant Source: ARPA-E through Westinghouse Grant Amount: $670,000Grant Period: Oct. 2018 – Sept. 2021.Radiation Effects on Optical Fiber Sensor Fused Smart Alloy Parts with Graded Alloy Composition Manufactured by Additive Manufacturing Processes PI: Kevin Chen Grant Source: DOEGrant Amount: $1,250,000Grant Period: Oct. 2017 – Sept. 2020Nuclear Regulatory Commission Graduate Fellowship Award PI/Co-PI: Dan Cole (PI), Heng Ban (Co-PI)Grant Source: DOEGrant Amount: $450,000Grant Period: 2017-2020Nuclear Regulatory Commission Faculty Development Award PI: Dan ColeGrant Source: DOEGrant Amount: $300,000Grant Period: 2016-2019

Apr
17
2019

Nine Pitt Students Awarded 2019 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, MEMS, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH—Nine University of Pittsburgh students were awarded a 2019 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Seven Pitt students and one alumnus also earned an honorable mention. The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program is designed to ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce in the United States. The program recognizes and supports outstanding students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees. Fellows receive an annual stipend of $34,000 for three years, as well as a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees. The support accorded to NSF Graduate Research Fellows is intended to nurture awardees’ ambition to become lifelong leaders who contribute significantly to both scientific innovation and teaching. “Receipt of an NSF Fellowship award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our undergrad and graduate students, and to their faculty mentors and advisors. It is also one of the most highly recognized indicators of early success in a scientific research career,” said Nathan Urban, vice provost for graduate studies and strategic initiatives at Pitt. “The University is committed to increasing support for future NSF-GRFP applicants through the application process while we congratulate this year’s winners.” Four Swanson School students received an award: Nathanial Buettner, a civil engineering undergraduate student, works in the Pavement Mechanics and Materials Laboratory where he aims to advance research on concrete pavements. Starting in summer 2019, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in civil engineering at the University of Pittsburgh under the advisement of Dr. Julie Vandenbossche. Charles Griego, a chemical engineering graduate student, works with Dr. John Keith to evaluate computational models used for high-throughput screening of catalysts that improve chemical processes. He graduated from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in 2017 with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. He serves as President of Pitt’s Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Association and plans to become a professor to fulfill his desire for teaching and inspiring students in STEM. Dulce Mariscal, a bioengineering graduate student, works in the lab of Gelsy Torres-Oviedo where she aims to identify biomechanical factors that modulate the generalization of treadmill learning to ultimately improve rehabilitation treatments for patients with gait impairments. She graduated from the Universidad del Turabo, PR in 2014 with a B.S. in mechanical engineering. Kalon Overholt, a bioengineering undergraduate student, has worked under the mentorship of Dr. Rocky Tuan in the Center for Cellular and Molecular Engineering (CCME) for the past three years. His research focused on developing a device to study how biochemical crosstalk between bone and cartilage may contribute to the mechanism of osteoarthritis. He plans to pursue a graduate degree in biological engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology starting in fall 2019. Two Swanson School students received honorable mentions: Ethan Schumann graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2018 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. He worked on medical device development with Dr. Jeffrey Vipperman at Pitt and hardware design and testing of a bipedal robot with Dr. C. David Remy at the University of Michigan. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Harvard University with Dr. Conor Walsh in the Biodesign Lab starting fall 2019. Sommer Anjum, a bioengineering graduate student, is pursuing a Ph.D. in the area of computational modeling and simulation. She works in the MechMorpho lab of Dr. Lance Davidson where she aims to develop computational models capturing the complex biophysical properties of developing organisms. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2018 with a degree in Biological Engineering, where she discovered her passion for trying to understand the behaviors of biological systems through computational models. Andrea Sajewski, an undergraduate student from Duquesne University who works with Dr. Tamer Ibrahim, was also awarded a fellowship. She will join the bioengineering graduate program in the fall and continue her magnetic resonance imaging research in the Radiofrequency Research Facility. Nathan Brantly, who also recently accepted an offer to join the bioengineering graduate program, received an award and will join Dr. Jennifer Collinger's group in the fall. Current Swanson School students who hold or previously held the NSF-GRFP award include, Sarah Hemler (BioE), Angelica Herrera (BioE), Monica Liu (BioE), Patrick Marino (BioE), Erika Pliner (BioE), Donald Kline (BioE), Megan Routzong (BioE), Michael Taylor (ChemE), Drake Pedersen (BioE), Natalie Austin (ChemE), Gerald Ferrer (BioE), Alexis Nolfi (BioE), Carly Sombric (BioE), and Elyse Stachler (CEE). ###

Apr
15
2019

Happy Retirement for Two MEMS Faculty Members

MEMS

The Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science department celebrated the retirements of two full professors this year at the faculty meeting last Friday. • Anthony DeArdo: Deardo spent 43 years teaching at Pitt, plus one year as an emeritus professor. He served as director of Pitt’s Basic Metals Processing Research Institute (BAMPRI).  He has received numerous awards, included one at the Prof. A.J. DeArdo Symposium on Microalloyed Steels, International Conf. Thermec, Las Vegas, 2013. • Gerald Meier: Meier served 49 years at Pitt, plus one year as an emeritus professor.  He published two successful books, Introduction to the High-Temperature Oxidation of Metals in 2006 and Thermodynamics of Surfaces and Interfaces: Concepts in Inorganic Materials in 2014. The MEMS department would like to congratulate Tony and Jerry on successful careers!
Meagan Lenze
Apr
11
2019

New Research Adds to Work of Prandtl, Father of Modern Aerodynamics

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (April 11, 2019) ... In 1942, Ludwig Prandtl—considered the father of modern aerodynamics—published “Führer durch die Strömungslehre,” the first book of its time on fluid mechanics and translated to English from the German language in 1952 as “Essentials of Fluid Dynamics.” The book was uniquely successful such that Prandtl’s students continued to maintain and develop the book with new findings after his death. Today, the work is available under the revised title “Prandtl—Essentials of Fluid Mechanics,” as an expanded and revised version of the original book with contributions by leading researchers in the field of fluid mechanics. Over the years, the last three pages of Prandtl’s original book, focusing on mountain and valley winds, have received some attention from the meteorology research community, but the specific pages have been largely overlooked by the fluid mechanics community to the point that the content and the exact mathematical solutions have disappeared in the current expanded version of the book. But today in the age of supercomputers, Inanc Senocak, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, is finding new insights in Prandtl’s original work, with important implications for nighttime weather prediction in mountainous terrain.Drs. Senocak and Cheng-Nian Xiao, a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Senocak’s lab, recently authored a paper titled “Stability of the Prandtl Model for Katabatic Slope Flows,” published in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics (DOI: 10.1017/jfm.2019.132). The researchers used both linear stability theory and direct numerical simulations to uncover, for the first time, fluid instabilities in the Prandtl model for katabatic slope flows. Katabatic slope flows are gravity-driven winds common over large ice sheets or during nighttime on mountain slopes, where cool air flows downhill. Understanding those winds are vital for reliable weather predictions, which are important for air quality, aviation and agriculture. But the complexity of the terrain, the stratification of the atmosphere and fluid turbulence make computer modeling of winds around mountains difficult. Since Prandtl’s model does not set the conditions for when a slope flow would become turbulent, that deficiency makes it difficult, for example, to predict weather for the area around Salt Lake City in Utah, where the area’s prolonged inversions create a challenging environment for air quality.“Now that we have more powerful supercomputers, we can improve upon the complexity of the terrain with better spatial resolutions in the mathematical model,” says Dr. Senocak. “However, numerical weather prediction models still make use of simplified models that have originated during a time when computing power was insufficient.”The researchers found that while Prandtl’s model is prone to unique fluid instabilities, which emerge as a function of the slope angle and a new dimensionless number, they have named the stratification perturbation parameter as a measure of the disturbance to the background stratification of the atmosphere due to cooling at the surface. The concept of dimensionless numbers, for example the Reynolds number, plays an important role in thermal and fluid sciences in general as they capture the essence of competing processes in a problem.An important implication of their finding is that, for a given fluid such as air, dynamic stability of katabatic slope flows cannot simply be determined by a single dimensionless parameter alone, such as the Richardson number, as is practiced currently in the meteorology and fluids dynamics community. The Richardson number expresses a ratio of buoyancy to the wind shear and is commonly used in weather prediction, investigating currents in oceans, lakes and reservoirs, and measuring expected air turbulence in aviation.“An overarching concept was missing, and the Richardson number was the fallback,” says Dr. Senocak. “We’re not saying the Richardson number is irrelevant, but when a mountain or valley is shielded from larger scale weather motions, it doesn’t enter into the picture. Now we have a better way of explaining the theory of these down-slope and down-valley flows.”Not only will this discovery be important for agriculture, aviation and weather prediction, according to Dr. Senocak, but it will also be vital for climate change research and associated sea-level rise, as accurate prediction of katabatic surface wind profiles over large ice sheets and glaciers is critical in energy balance of melting ice. He notes that even in the fluids dynamics community, the discovery of this new surprising type of instability is expected to arouse a lot of research interest.Next, Dr. Senocak is advising and sponsoring a senior design team to see if researchers can actually observe these fluid instabilities in the lab at a scale much smaller than a mountain. ### The paper was published online in February and will appear in print April 25, 2019. Acknowledgements Research was sponsored by the Army Research Office and was accomplished under Grant no. W911NF-17-1-0564 with Dr J. G. Baryzk as the program manager. This research was supported in part by the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research Computing through the resources provided.
Maggie Pavlick, Senior Communications Writer
Apr
11
2019

Swanson School’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Presents Kevin McAllister with 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award

MEMS

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 Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science is Kevin McAllister, BSMEMS ‘ 86, executive vice president of The Boeing Company and president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA). 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. “An degree in MEMS from Pitt is an invitation to create and influence things that affect our everyday lives, and Kevin is a great example of that,” says Dean Martin. “The knowledge and skills he learned here at Swanson gave him a solid foundation. From his aviation work at GE and Boeing to his role as Chairman of the Board of Directors of ORBIS International, dedicated to preserving and restoring eyesight worldwide, he’s expanding he is influential both on and off the tarmac.” About Kevin McAllister Kevin McAllister is Executive Vice President of The Boeing Company and President and Chief Executive Officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA). He is a member of Boeing’s Executive Council and serves as Boeing’s senior executive in the Pacific Northwest. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Pittsburgh in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. Named BCA president and CEO in November 2016, he is responsible for delivering on a record backlog and overseeing the growth of its commercial airplane programs. Before joining Boeing, McAllister was President and Chief Executive Officer of GE Aviation Services, a more than $9-billion business committed to helping operators of the more than 34,000 GE and CFM commercial engines achieve the lowest lifecycle cost of ownership via a fully customizable suite of products and offerings. Prior to leading GE Aviation Services, McAllister was Vice President and General Manager, Global Sales and Marketing, leading record growth in the GE Aviation backlog. He was appointed an officer of the General Electric Company in 2008 and was appointed as a member of GE Company's Corporate Executive Council in 2013. He was honored with the Chairman's Leadership Award in 2012 and Heroes of Growth Award in 2010. McAllister first joined GE Aviation Services in 1998 as a Master Black Belt leading Six Sigma productivity improvements across the global network of Component Repair Operations. Later that year, he was selected to lead Six Sigma program across Services, including Overhaul & Repair Operations, Materials, Engineering and Marketing & Sales. In 2000, he became General Manager of a newly formed GE Engines Services Customer Satisfaction Organization. From 2001 to 2005, McAllister was general manager of global Customer & Product Support Operations. McAllister joined GE Aviation from Howmet Corporation in 1989 and held various materials engineering leadership roles. ###

Apr
10
2019

Quality Tour, Quality Steels

MEMS

Five faculty members, three graduate students and thirteen undergraduates traveled to New Castle, PA last Saturday to visit Ellwood Quality Steels (EQS), part of the Ellwood Group.  Three of the tour guides were recent graduates from the MEMS Department, including Brendon Connolly, who helped organize the trip. Connolly is the manager of steelmaking technology at EQS and is also a member of the MEMS Department’s Visiting Committee. The tour began with a video introducing the company and facilities as well as providing safety information.  After suiting up in personal protective equipment, the group then visited the electric arc furnace (EAF) shop, the ingot pouring area, the forging area, and a new building nearing completion, which will house new electroslag remelting (ESR), vacuum arc remelting (VAR), and grinding facilities. The tour concluded with a question and answer session, where the three Pitt graduates spoke about their experiences working in the steel industry and what a typical day working at EQS entails. The tour was a very positive experience for everyone involved.  Materials science and engineering junior, Joseph Damian, describes the trip, “I really enjoyed the tour, it was interesting to see some of the processes that I learned about in my classes in person.  I was surprised by how big the furnaces, ladles, and ingots were and how much power the plant consumed.  The tour guides were also very knowledgeable about the operations of the plant and offered valuable information about the equipment and processes.  Overall, it was a great experience.”

Apr
4
2019

Good Vibrations: Pitt Undergraduates Create a Device to Help Deaf Kids Experience Music Through Tactile and Visual Feedback

Bioengineering, Electrical & Computer, MEMS, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (April 4, 2019) … Through the Swanson School of Engineering’s The Art of Making class, an interdisciplinary group of eleven University of Pittsburgh undergraduate students connected with the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (WPSD) and Attack Theatre to create a device that can help hearing-impaired children experience music and express themselves through dance. Attack Theatre holds a recurring dance workshop for three-to-six-year-olds at WPSD. The group previously tried using a Bluetooth speaker in a trash can to produce a vibratory effect that the children could touch and interact with, but this design was not kid-friendly and lacked mobility for lessons that necessitate free movement. The Pitt team saw an opportunity to take a fresh look at the problem and design a new system that addresses the needs of both the instructors and the children. However, with no hearing-impaired members, the undergraduates had to find a way to step into the shoes of their end users to better understand their needs. “This was a profoundly human-centered design problem with multiple stakeholders,” said Dr. Joseph Samosky, assistant professor of bioengineering and director of The Art of Making course. “A new technology, even if it works perfectly, is useless if it isn’t accepted by and accessible to the end user. This team of student innovators really understood and acted on that insight.” Issam Abushaban, a sophomore bioengineering and computer engineering student, said that the group learned more about their target audience from WPSD teachers. “We discovered that the rhythm of music and the visualization of colors can reflect a certain mood and affect the way that you feel,” he said. “That was something we really wanted to incorporate into our design.” To better understand the dance element of their task, the group participated in one of Attack Theatre’s workshops catered to deaf and hard-of-hearing children. “A lot of their dance moves were geared toward expressing an emotion, such as stomping to express anger or frustration or skipping to express joy,” said Farah Khan, a senior bioengineering student. “I think this demonstration gave us a different perspective and helped us view music in a new, productive way.” After completing their background research, the team decided to explore the use of both visual and tactile feedback for their design. They created several early prototypes, including a wrist strap with haptic motors and a disc “floor mat” with multi-hued illumination around the periphery. When the vibrating wrist strap was sampled by the children, the team learned the value of making early prototypes and getting feedback from their users to empirically test design concepts. “During our first round of testing, we wanted to pay attention to the reactions that the kids made, rather than focusing on the messages that the interpreter relayed,” said Abushaban. “Some of the kids seemed to be wary or afraid of the wrist strap so the lesson we learned from that meeting was that our product perhaps wasn’t kid-friendly. We then brainstormed new ideas of how to provide vibrational feedback in a more toy-like system.” The custom-designed plush toy houses sound transducers and a wireless communication system. The soft straps of the backpack/frontpack are adjustable, comfortable for the kids, and allow greater mobility for the dance workshop. Natalie Neal, a junior mechanical engineering and materials science student, was inspired to create patterns and hand sew a series of plush toy monkeys that incorporate a Bluetooth receiver, audio amplifier, vibrational transducers and battery power supply. This new iteration, dubbed Vibrance, can be worn either as a backpack or a “frontpack” - what the team calls “hug mode.” Additional testing and user feedback led to supplementing the tactile feedback with a projected visualizer that produces colorful circles based on the audio input. The Vibrance team presented their work at the Swanson School of Engineering’s fall 2018 Design Expo and swept the top three awards: first place in The Art of Making category, the People’s Choice Award, and the Best Overall Design. “Receiving those three awards really validated all of the hard work we did throughout the semester,” said Khan. The students’ innovative design has also received an enthusiastic response from kids, teachers, and parents. One parent of a child at WPSD wrote to the team, “I hope I’ll get the chance to see my son experience the vest vibration device. What an awesome idea!” Dr. Samosky was recently awarded a Provost’s Personalized Education Grant to support high-potential – and potentially high-impact – student design projects like Vibrance, enabling them to continue beyond the class in which they originate and be nurtured toward real-world impact. The Vibrance team will continue to develop and improve Vibrance under this new Classroom to Community initiative in Dr. Samosky’s lab. The goal is to create a device that meets the needs of both WPSD and Attack Theatre, but most importantly, the team wants to continue to positively affect the lives of the children using their device. As stated by Jocelyn Dunlap, a senior communication science student, “We are heading back to WPSD to continue building a project that claims a spot in all of our hearts.” ### This video of the Vibrance project, also created as part of the students’ coursework in The Art of Making, shows the system in action as it is used by instructors and kids at WPSD and with Attack Theatre. The Vibrance team includes, Issam Abushaban, a sophomore bioengineering and computer engineering student; Dani Broderick, a senior mechanical engineering student; Tom Driscoll, a junior computer engineering student; Jocelyn Dunlap, a senior communication science student; Austin Farwell, a junior mathematics student; Farah Khan, a senior bioengineering student; Stephanie Lachell, a senior mechanical engineering student; Evan Lawrence, a junior mechanical engineering student; Natalie Neal, a junior materials science and engineering student; Jesse Rosenfeld, a junior mechanical engineering student; and Caroline Westrick, a junior bioengineering student.

Apr
1
2019

The Next Generation of Nuclear Engineers

MEMS, Student Profiles, Nuclear

PITTSBURGH (April 1, 2019) ... Two outstanding MEMS students won scholarship and fellowship awards from the Department of Energy (DOE), part of an annual program sponsored by the Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP). Both students are working with Dr. Heng Ban, director of the Nuclear Engineering program at the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering. The recipients:• Evan Kaseman, a mechanical engineering junior won a $7,500 scholarship designated to help cover education costs for the upcoming year. Kaseman is currently enrolled in the co-op program at Philips Respironics. His first co-op rotation at Emerson Automation Solutions this past summer sparked his interest in nuclear energy.• Brady Cameron, a first-year mechanical engineering PhD student won a $150,000 graduate fellowship for three years. The fellowship also includes $5,000 to fund an internship at a U.S. national laboratory or other approved research facility to strengthen the ties between students and DOE’s energy research programs. Since 2009, the DOE has awarded over $44 million to students pursuing nuclear energy-related degrees. This year, more than $5 million was awarded nationally to 45 undergraduates from 26 universities and 33 graduate students from 20 universities. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Nuclear Energy, Edward McGinnis, stated, “The recipients will be the future of nuclear energy production in the United States and in the world.” ###
Meagan Lenze, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
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
27
2019

MEMS Undergraduate Trevor Kickliter Selected to Represent Pitt at the ACC Meeting of the Minds

Bioengineering, MEMS, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (March 27, 2019) … Trevor Kickliter, a junior mechanical engineering student in the Swanson School of Engineering, was selected as one of six undergraduate researchers to represent the University of Pittsburgh at the 2019 ACC Meeting of the Minds Conference hosted by the University of Louisville, March 29-31, 2019. Kickliter will present his research on the use of adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ADMSCs) as a promising alternative to traditional surgical therapy for an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). With a mortality rate of 90 percent and no sufficient strategy for early intervention, rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body, which runs from the heart, through the chest, and down to the abdomen. Due to its size, an AAA can lead to massive internal bleeding, which is typically fatal. According to Kickliter, due to inadequate diagnostic markers, surgical intervention for this disease often fails to treat those in need of care while subjecting others to unnecessary risks. His work in the lab of David Vorp, PhD, Associate Dean for Research and the John A. Swanson Professor of Bioengineering, addresses these shortcomings through the use of stem cell therapy. “Our lab has previously investigated the use of adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells in therapies for abdominal aortic aneurysm, but a method to effectively target ADMSCs to the aorta has yet to be developed or tested in large animals,” said Kickliter. “Since the use of ADMSCs as a therapeutic treatment seems promising, the primary goal of this study was to design and create a method for localizing ADMSCs in large animal aortas.” The group implanted a diametric magnet into a harvested aorta loaded with ADMSCs that were treated with iron nanoparticles. The internal magnet was then able to draw the ADMSCs to the aortic adventitia - the outermost layer of connective tissue in the aorta. “We looked at a cross-section of the treated aorta under fluorescent microscopy, and we found a significantly greater concentration of ADMSCs both on and around the aortic adventitia in the group where an internal magnet was used,” said Kickliter. “These results suggest that our method can be used to localize stem cell-based vascular therapies in other large animals, including humans.” Each participating institution in the ACC Meeting of the Minds conference is allowed to select a total of six students to give three oral presentations and three poster presentations. Kickliter will present his research during the poster session. “This is another outstanding recognition for Trevor, who continues to impress me with the quality of his research,” said Dr. Vorp. “This work introduces a novel way to localize delivery of stem cell therapy in large animals, and we hope that it will lead to improved treatment for abdominal aortic aneurysms.” ###

Mar
22
2019

SSOE Associate Dean for Diversity and MEMS Associate Professor Receives Award

MEMS, Diversity, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

Sylvanus Wosu, associate dean for diversity and MEMS associate professor, was the recipient of this year’s DuPont Minorities in Engineering Award given by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).  The award is intended to recognize the outstanding performance of an engineering educator for their efforts in increasing student diversity within engineering and engineering technology programs. The award consists of a $1500 honorarium, a $500 grant for travel expenses to the ASEE Annual Conference and a certificate.

Mar
12
2019

University of Pittsburgh expert in fluid dynamics, combustion and aerodynamics to co-chair mini symposium at NC19

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (March 12, 2019) … Peyman Givi, developer of the Filtered Density Function (FDF) used in very high fidelity numerical simulation of chemically reactive flow fields, will co-chair a mini symposium on the subject at the 17th International Conference on Numerical Combustion (NC19) in Aachen, Germany from May 6-8, 2019. Dr. Givi is a Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the James T. MacLeod Professor in Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.The mini symposium “Filtered Density Function Methods for Turbulent Reactive Flows” will include 60 participants and 28 presented papers. According to Dr. Givi, participants will learn the latest developments and innovations in enhancing the computational and predictive capabilities of the FDF methodology.“When I first developed and introduced FDF, many thought it was mathematically complex and too computational intensive,” Dr. Givi says. “However, I have worked with my outstanding PhD students at Pitt to develop methodologies to address the computational complexity and further refine its adoption. Today, I could not be more pleased by the number of colleagues from outstanding institutions around the world who will be joining us in Aachen to share their success stories using our method.” For more information, visit http://givi.pitt.edu/news/. About Dr. GiviPrior to his tenure at Pitt, Dr. Givi held the rank of University Distinguished Professor in Aerospace Engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he received the Professor of the Year Award by Tau Beta Pi (2002). He also worked as a Research Scientist at the Flow Industries, Inc. in Seattle. Dr. Givi has had frequent visiting appointments at the NASA Langley & Glenn (Lewis) centers, and received the NASA's Public Service Medal (2005). He is among the first 15 engineering faculty nationwide who received the White House Presidential Faculty Fellowship. He is also a recipient of the Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research, and the Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation. Dr. Givi is the Deputy Editor of AIAA Journal, member of the editorial boards of Computers & Fluids, Journal of Applied Fluid Mechanics; the Open Aerospace Engineering Journal, an Associate Editor of Journal of Combustion; and a past advisory board member of Progress in Energy and Combustion Science. He received his Ph.D. from the Carnegie Mellon University (PA), and BE (Summa Cum Laude) from the Youngstown State University (OH), where he was named the 2004 Phi Kappa Phi Distinguished Alumnus, and the 2012 STEM College Outstanding Alumnus. Dr. Givi has achieved Fellow status in AAAS, AIAA, APS, and ASME; and was designated as ASME's Engineer of the Year 2007 in Pittsburgh. ###

Mar
11
2019

MEMS professor co-authors review paper in Materials Today Physics

MEMS

Sangyeop Lee, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, is co-author of a recent article, “Survey of ab initio phonon thermal transport” in Materials Today Physics (vol. 7, 2018, pp. 106-120, DOI 10.1016/j.mtphys.2018.11.008). According to the abstract: The coupling of lattice dynamics and phonon transport methodologies with density functional theory has become a powerful tool for calculating lattice thermal conductivity (k) with demonstrated quantitative accuracy and applicability to a wide range of materials. More importantly, these first-principles transport methods lack empirical tuning parameters so that reliable predictions of k behaviors in new and old materials can be formulated. Since its inception nearly a decade ago, first-principles thermal transport has vastly expanded the range of materials examined, altered our physical intuition of phonon interactions and transport behaviors, provided deeper understanding of experiments, and accelerated the design of materials for targeted thermal functionalities. Such advances are critically important for developing novel thermal management materials and strategies as heat sets challenging operating limitations on engines, microelectronics, and batteries. This article provides a comprehensive survey of first-principles Peierls-Boltzmann thermal transport as developed in the literature over the last decade, with particular focus on more recent advances. This review will demonstrate the wide variety of calculations accessible to first-principles transport methods (including dimensionality, pressure, and defects), highlight unusual properties and predictions that have been made, and discuss some challenges and behaviors that lie beyond. Dr. Lee, who joined Pitt in 2015, studies nanoscale thermal transport in solid materials, and his research is currently focused on hydrodynamic phonon transport in graphitic materials and thermal transport in fully or partially disordered phase. His group utilizes Boltzmann transport theory, Green's function method, and molecular dynamics simulation, all of which use interatomic force constants calculated from density functional theory. He earned his BS and MS in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and PhD in mechanical engineering from MIT. Funding for this research was provided by: Office of Science Oak Ridge National Laboratory National Science Foundation (1709307, 1150948, 1705756) Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (HR0011-15-2-0037)

Mar
4
2019

Solving a Sticky Problem

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (March 4, 2019) … Although far thinner than a human hair, metal nanoparticles play an important role in advanced industries and technologies from electronics and pharmaceuticals to catalysts and sensors. Nanoparticles can be as small as ten atoms in diameter, and their small size makes them especially susceptible to coarsening with continued use, which reduces functionality and degrades performance. To advance the understanding of micro- and nano-surfaces and to engineer more stable nanoparticles, the National Science Foundation has awarded the University of Pittsburgh’s Tevis Jacobs a $500,000 CAREER Award, which supports early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. Dr. Jacobs, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, will utilize electron microscopy to directly study and measure adhesion properties of nanoparticles and their supporting substrates. “Research has already shown that nanoparticle coarsening is related to nanoparticle adhesion; however, those prior studies measured the aggregate behavior of billions of particles simultaneously. The large number of particles prevented systematic investigation of the key factors governing adhesion. To gain a better understanding, we need to be able to study individual nanoparticles in action, in real time,” Dr. Jacobs explains. “Our suite of tools for performing mechanical and materials testing inside of a transmission electron microscope allows for direct measurements of adhesion under different circumstances. These measurements will enable greater understanding of the atomic-scale relationships between nanoparticle adhesion and coarsening.” Dr. Jacobs noted that current processes to counter nanoparticle coarsening utilize stabilizing materials, but matching the most effective stabilizer to a nanoparticle is a time-consuming and costly trial-and-error process. The CAREER award will enable Dr. Jacobs and his lab group to develop new methods to measure the attachment and stability of nanoparticles on surfaces under various conditions, allowing researchers to enhance both surfaces and nanoparticles in tandem to work more effectively together. Additionally, the CAREER award allows Dr. Jacobs and his Surfaces and Small-Scale Structures Laboratory  to engage with the University of Pittsburgh School of Education and a local elementary school to create and nationally disseminate surface engineering-focused curricular units for sixth- to eighth-grade students and professional development training modules for teachers. “Incorporating engineering projects in early grades has the potential to inspire more students of all backgrounds to become interested in STEM, and can have particularly strong effects on groups that are underrepresented in STEM careers today,” Dr. Jacobs said. “And on the research side, the improvements in nanoparticle performance will have direct benefit in applications such as manufacturing, solar energy, and sensors for the detection of pollutants in the environment and diseases in the body.” ### Above from left: PhD students Sai Bharadwaj Vishnubhotla, Yahui Yang, and Dr. Jacobs with the FEI Titan Themis aberration-corrected transmission electron microscope in the Gertrude E. and John M. Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering (PINSE) and Nanoscale Fabrication and Characterization Facility.

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

Feb

Feb
26
2019

Pennsylvania's Climate Moment

Electrical & Computer, MEMS, Nuclear

Forty-two percent of Pennsylvania’s electricity is generated by nuclear plants, but that percentage may decline as a result of the announced closure of two of Pennsylvania’s five nuclear plants in 2019 and 2021, respectively. To explore what impact those closures will have on the Commonwealth's energy portfolio, as well as on decarbonization plans, the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Energy will host a special forum, "Pennsylvania's Climate Moment," on Friday, March 8 from 11:00am - 12:30 pm in Posvar 3911. Heng Ban, PhDR.K. Mellon Professor in Energy, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, and Director of the Stephen R. Tritch Nuclear Engineering ProgramUniversity of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering Hillary BrightDirector, State Policies Blue Green Alliance Sam RessinFormer PresidentUniversity of Pittsburgh Climate Stewardship Society Kathleen RobertsonSenior Manager of Environmental Policy and Wholesale Market DevelopmentExelon John WalliserSenior Vice-President, Legal AffairsPennsylvania Environmental Council For more information, contact the Center for Energy at 412-624-7476 or centerforenergy@engr.pitt.edu.

Feb
20
2019

MEMS Startup Diamond Kinetics Strikes Deal with SeventySix Capital and Former Philly Ryan Howard

MEMS

Read the full article by Andrew Cohen at SportTechie. Sports tech investment firm SeventySix Capital announced it has contributed to the latest round of funding for Diamond Kinetics, a company that develops swing analysis products for baseball and softball. Financial terms of the investment were not included in a press release from SeventySix Capital. Former Philadelphia Phillies All-Star Ryan Howard is a leading partner at SeventySix Capital, which was founded in 1999. With new financial support, Diamond Kinetics plans to continue to develop and refine its bat sensor technology, smart balls, and mobile apps. The company’s SwingTracker training tool includes a bat sensor that measures key swing metrics and can capture real-time analysis of a player’s swing. Though sensors can be attached to handles, through partnerships with more than a dozen bat manufacturers bats can also be purchased with SwingTracker already embedded. ... C.J. Handron and Dr. William Clark founded Diamond Kinetics in 2013. The company is based in Pittsburgh, and previous investors include Bob Nutting, principal owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, as well as former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu. Diamond Kinetics has partnered with several youth baseball organizations, including Perfect Game and Ripken Baseball, and also elite collegiate baseball and softball programs from schools such as Vanderbilt University and the University of Georgia. ----- More coverage is available at the Pittsburgh Business Times (subscription required): "Former Phillies slugger invests in local baseball tech company." (Julia Mericle, February 20, 2019) Original news release: "SeventySix Capital, sports tech venture capital fund led by MLB great Ryan Howard, invests in baseball technology company Diamond Kinetics." (Jessica David, Director of Marketing, SeventySix Capital)

Jan

Jan
29
2019

Pitt Engineering faculty and graduate students receive $150K in total funding from PA Manufacturing Fellow Initiative

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (January 28, 2019) … Four faculty and six graduate students from the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing (UPCAM) and the Swanson School of Engineering will benefit from the Pennsylvania Manufacturing Innovation Program (PAMIP), a university-industry collaboration supported by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).Funding recipients include: Markus Chmielus, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, with graduate student Katerina Kimes and undergraduate student Pierangeli Rodriguez De Vecchis, and industry partner General Carbide. Research proposal: “Enabling highly complex tungsten carbide parts via binder jet 3D printing.” Funding: $64,858. C. Isaac Garcia, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, with undergraduate Yasmin Daukoru and postdoctoral student Gregorio Solis, and industry partner US Steel Corporation. Research proposal: “A new approach to optimize the performance of X80 Nb-bearing linepipe steels using IRCR high temperature processing.” Funding: $28,812. Jorg M. Wiezorek, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science; and M. Ravi Shankar, Professor of Industrial Engineering, with graduate students Jaehyuk Jo and Zhijie Wang, and industry partner AMETEK, Inc. Research proposal: “Hydride-dehydride powder manufacturing intensification by up-cycling of machining chips.” Funding: $56,543. “The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has embraced the potential of additive manufacturing as the forfront of our next industrial revolution, and we’re excited to partner with them to advance this new research,” noted David Vorp, the Swanson School’s associate dean for research and professor of bioengineering. “Most importantly, the PAMIP program recognizes the importance of engaging the next generation of engineering researchers through funded fellowships. Our undergraduate and graduate students contribute greatly to this research, and the fellowships support their education here at Pitt.” PAMIP was established to leverage the science and engineering talent and discovery capacity of Pennsylvania’s institutions of higher education to ensure that Pennsylvania remains a national and international leader in manufacturing and achieves the full economic potential for high-paying manufacturing jobs. A main component of the PA Manufacturing Innovation Program is the Manufacturing Fellows Initiative (PMFI), a $2 million initiative to support manufacturing research collaborations between Pennsylvania colleges/universities and manufacturers. The goal of the program is to enable these institutions to seamlessly bring their capabilities to bear to support industrial innovation and position the Commonwealth at the forefront of the next wave of manufacturing. ###