Pitt | Swanson Engineering
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Mar

Mar
12
2020

Four Members of the Swanson School are Recognized by the Carnegie Science Awards

Bioengineering, Civil & Environmental, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (Mar. 11, 2020) … Four members of the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering were recognized by the Carnegie Science Awards, announced on March 10 by the Carnegie Science Center. Bioengineering’s Bryan Brown and Alexis Nolfi received the Postsecondary Educator Award and University Student Award, respectively. Civil and environmental engineering’s David Sanchez and Kareem Rabbat received honorable mentions in the same categories. They will receive the awards at the 24th Annual Carnegie Science Awards Celebration, held May 8, 2020. Bryan Brown, associate professor of bioengineering, Postsecondary Educator Award Brown’s educational efforts in the Department of Bioengineering include teaching and mentoring junior faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students. He also serves as the director of educational outreach at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, where he reaches younger audiences through the McGowan Institute’s Summer School. In July 2014, Brown organized and launched the program, which is a hands-on experiential learning program that aims to provide regional, national, and international students an opportunity to explore the multidisciplinary field of regenerative medicine. Through lectures and laboratory experiences, undergraduate students have the opportunity to interact with more than 20 faculty members from across the University. The program aims to recruit students from underrepresented backgrounds, including those from universities that lack significant bioengineering and/or regenerative medicine programs. In addition to engaging younger audiences in STEM, Brown also targets individuals who wish to continue their education through his course on regenerative medicine hosted by Carnegie Mellon University’s Osher Center for Lifelong Learning program. As an extension of these activities, he also developed an hour long “Open to the Public” session on the “Hype vs. Hope of Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine,” which focuses on the realities of the science and clinical practice related to the use of stem cells in medicine. The program was developed to address the most common questions asked by participants in the Osher classes. Alexis Nolfi, bioengineering graduate student, College Student Award Nolfi is involved in numerous projects centered on how the immune system is involved in the pathogenesis of disease and how we can modify immune response to biomaterials and with biomaterials-based approaches. Much of her work has a distinct focus in women’s health applications, including a polypropylene mesh often used in pelvic surgery and a novel ovarian hydrogel that could one day be used to generate a tissue-appropriate model of endometriosis. According to Nolfi, the field of basic science research in women’s health topics is underserved by the biomaterials and regenerative medicine community. She believes that this research helps to shine light on topics deserving of more attention, and the experimental findings and developments will be applicable to not only biomaterials-based urogynecologic applications, but also to furthering advancement of other biomaterial and immunology-based fields. As part of her work with biomaterials, she and the lab developed a novel contact lens that is coated with an immune modifying molecule for the treatment of dry eye disease. The bioengineering- and opthamology-led research group was recently awarded $100,000 at the 2019 Pitt Innovation Challenge. David Sanchez, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, Postsecondary Educator honorable mention In addition to his appointment in CEE, Sanchez serves as assistant director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. He directs programs including the Undergraduate Summer Research Program, Sustainability certificate, and Master’s in Sustainable Engineering. He is the founding advisor for Pitt Hydroponics and the principal investigator for Sustainable Design Labs. He teaches the Environmental Engineering Lab, core engineering sustainability courses, and in the First Year Engineering program. Sanchez also leads many community engagement efforts. For the past five years, he has held a Summer Teacher workshop that exposes middle school science teachers to sustainability and engineering. This effort indirectly engages around 2000 students each year. He founded the Constellation Energy Inventor Labs and has used it to teach hundreds of Pittsburgh area students about energy using design-build modules. Furthermore, he has worked with the ALCOSAN summer science program for many years and helped create the Clean Water Academy for 2018. Sanchez organizes an annual Makerspace and Mindsets Bootcamp each fall that introduces engineering students to the creative resources available to them and the design thinking that goes with them. He was the recipient of the Swanson School’s Faculty Diversity Award in 2015 in recognition of his significant contributions in increasing diversity. His research focuses on sustainable solutions to pollution, including a recent $420,000 NSF grant to study biofilms grown on electrodes as a method to degrade the contaminant Bisphenol A (BPA). Kareem Rabbat, undergraduate senior in civil and environmental engineering, College Student honorable mention Rabbat’s passion for the environment is clear to anyone he meets. Through research, coursework, internships, competitions and global summits, he has taken full advantage of his four years at Pitt and does not plan to slow down in his pursuit to educate communities about sustainability and develop technology that helps guide a greener future. From an aquaponics project funded by the competitive Ford College Community Challenge sprouted Ecotone Renewables, a company dedicated to local and sustainable urban farming. Rabbat is CIO of the company which has converted shipping containers into biodigesters and greenhouses throughout the city. They also seek to educate the local communities about sustainable practices of agriculture. This past summer, he performed research looking for bacteria and fungi that could solve persistent pollution problems. If successful, the innovation could be used globally to eliminate toxicity caused by nonylphenol and bisphenol (BPA) that contaminate soil and water near old industrial facilities. Rabbat’s environmental work does not end at Pittsburgh’s city limits. In addition to his local achievements, Kareem has also explored global sustainability: he designed and implemented aquaponics/hydroponics systems in Brazil; he studied abroad in Johannesburg, South Africa as part of the Swanson School’s Engineering Design for Social Change program; and he was recently nominated and selected to attend the 2019 Global Grand Challenges Summit Student Competition in London, a program held jointly by the U.S., U.K., and Chinese academies of engineering. His achievements have been recognized locally by the Incline’s Who’s Next: Environment and Energy Class of 2019. # # #

Mar
10
2020

Learn more about Pitt's planning and response to COVID-19

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, Industrial, MEMS, Diversity, Student Profiles, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

Please visit and bookmark the University of Pittsburgh COVID-19 site for the most up-to-date information and a full list of resources. From the University Times: As the coronavirus COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, Pitt is remaining diligent with addressing related issues as the pop up. For an overall look at updates from Pitt, go to emergency.pitt.edu. On Saturday, Provost Ann Cudd issued a statement about how to support faculty and staff who have committed to attending professional conferences this semester and choose not to attend due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The University will grant an exception for travel booked through May 31 and reimburse any out-of-pocket expenses incurred by those who decide to cancel travel. The administration will reassess this deadline date as COVID-19 evolves and may extend the deadline as conditions evolve. For more updates from the provost, go to provost.pitt.edu. The provost and the University Center for Teaching and Learning is encouraging faculty to be prepared if remote learning situations become required. The center has set up a page detailing the basics of providing instructional continuity. The page will be updated regularly. Find information about remote learning and more at teaching.pitt.edu/instructional-continuity. All business units and responsibilities centers also are being asked to work on how to handle mass absenteeism and/or the need for as many people as possible to work at home.

Mar
5
2020

CEE Undergraduate Kaitie DeOre Wins American Bridge Leadership Award

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (March 5, 2020) — The Pittsburgh Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has awarded the American Bridge Leadership Award to Kaitie DeOre, a senior civil engineering student at the University of Pittsburgh. Michael Winiarczyk, senior civil engineering student at Pitt, received an ASCE Accomplishment Award. “Kaitie and Mike are great students, and I’m proud of their accomplishments,” says Anthony Iannacchione, PhD, associate professor of civil engineering and the Pitt ASCE student chapter’s faculty advisor. “I was honored to recommend them for these awards and look forward to the amazing things they will accomplish in their careers.” The Bridge Award is a highly competitive award open to all civil engineering students in the region covered by the ASCE Pittsburgh Section, and included a $7,000 cash prize. The ASCE Accomplishment Award included a $500 cash prize. DeOre, whose concentration is geotechnical engineering, is the president of Pitt ASCE. She organized the first annual Civil Engineering Day at Pitt to introduce high school students to the field through professional demonstrations, lab tours, panels and hands-on activities. She is captain for the Geotechnical Team and is involved with the Society of Women Engineers. DeOre has completed a co-op with Independence Excavating; after graduation in December 2020, she plans to pursue a career in the industry here in Pittsburgh. Winiarczyk, who will also graduate in December 2020, is the treasurer for ASCE Pitt. He is the captain of the 2019-2020 OVSC Surveying team and has been co-captain and member of the team for the past two years. Throughout his undergraduate career, he has completed co-ops with PennDOT and GAI Consultants, Inc., where he is planning to enter a full-time position in Transmission Line Engineering upon graduation. The awards were presented at the Engineers Week Awards Banquet on Feb. 15, 2020.
Maggie Pavlick

Feb

Feb
12
2020

Distinguished Service Award Honoree Dr. John F. Oyler Establishes CEE Fellowship

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (Feb. 12, 2020) The Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department of the School of Engineering is delighted to announce the establishment of the John F. Oyler Fellowship. The Fellowship will provide full tuition support for a graduate student in good academic standing and specializing in structures or solid mechanics in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, with preference for students entering the  Engineering Accelerated Graduate (EAGr) program. It is funded by a gift from the John Francis Oyler and Nancy Lee Victoria Fleck Oyler Foundation to recognize Dr. Oyler’s longstanding connection to the CEE Department. Dr. Oyler was a professor in the Swanson School for 25 years before retiring in 2018. He began his teaching career after 40 years in industry, where he worked for Dravo Corporation, Daxus Corporation, and his own consulting firm, Oyler Consulting Services. During his time at Pitt, he taught Statics, Mechanics of Materials, Materials of Construction, and Senior Design Projects. He hopes that this recent gift will help jumpstart students’ careers in the field in which he dedicated more than 65 years of service. “My family and I are quite grateful for the opportunity the Civil Engineering Department gave me to participate in the education of young engineers for the past two and a half decades,” he said. “It has always been my belief that a civil engineer should acquire proficiency in all of the civil engineering disciplines and a complete mastery of at least one.” Students in the  EAGr program are encouraged to apply for the Fellowship, which will announce its first award in 2020. EAGr is an accelerated master’s program that was established to ease the path toward an advanced degree. Eligible students will earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree within their discipline in five years, rather than six. Interested students should contact Dr. Leonard Casson, the Undergraduate Coordinator for the CEE Department. “I am in agreement with the general opinion in the civil engineering profession that a fifth year of formal education is an essential requirement for achieving the professional level. It certainly was true in my career,” said Dr. Oyler. “We are particularly interested in encouraging students to pursue their master's degrees in solid mechanics and structures via the EAGr program.” In 2017, the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) selected Oyler as recipient of the 2017 Michael A. Gross Meritorious Service Award in recognition of contributions to civil engineering. He was nominated by former students wishing to pay tribute to his role in their professional development and the impact he has had on countless other students over the years. More recently, Dr. Oyler was selected to receive the 2020 Distinguished Service Award from the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers (PSPE). The award recognizes “an individual or individuals for outstanding contributions toward the improvement of the social, economic, and professional status of the Professional Engineer.” “These recent awards are a reflection of what Dr. Oyler has done for decades to elevate the stature of our profession,” said Radisav Vidic, William Kepler Whiteford Professor and chair of civil and environmental engineering. “He has impacted the lives of our students, and with this generous gift, he will continue to support their careers and leave a lasting legacy in the Swanson School.” In addition to the John F. Oyler Fellowship, Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences established the Nancy L. Oyler Student Award with a gift from the Oyler family foundation. The Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling program designed the award to support and encourage graduate level training and clinical excellence in rehabilitation counseling. It was established in 2019 to honor the memory of Mrs. Oyler, who worked as a rehabilitation counselor, which involved providing psychosocial adjustment services to persons with disabilities. # # #

Feb
12
2020

Pitt Student Team Wins First Place in Annual CAWP Student Estimating Competition

Civil & Environmental, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (Feb. 12, 2020) — A student team from the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering placed first in the 4th annual Constructors Association of Western Pennsylvania (CAWP) Student Estimating Competition, held Feb. 6-8, 2020, at the Regional Learning Alliance in Cranberry Township. The competition asked student teams to think like a construction company and bid on a heavy-highway construction project. Students received pre-job documents and attended a pre-bid meeting before they were asked to prepare bids and a schedule. The teams turned in their packages before 5 p.m. on Friday and had 30 minutes the following day to present their bid and process to a panel of judges. Nine teams from five universities in the region—Carnegie Mellon University, Penn State University, Penn State University at Harrisburg, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown—participated in the competition, with two teams hailing from Pitt and one from Pitt Johnstown. Benedum Builders team members Paul Amicucci, Anthony Gansor, Russell Jacobs, Mason Hill, Patrick Schorr, and Brandon McDermott, took home a $1,500 prize for first place. The Brain Storm Troopers, from Pitt at Johnstown, placed second. “We appreciate CAWP and the industry mentors for providing this Estimating Competition opportunity to our students for the fourth straight year,” says John Sebastian, McKamish Director of Construction Management Program at Pitt. “The competition provided not only a realistic experience for the students but also a chance to interact with professionals in the industry. A networking opportunity as well as a competition, teams were invited to participate in a career fair and industry presentations when not presenting their bids. Representatives from local construction companies served as judges for the competition, including Swank Construction Company, Independence Excavating, Michael Facchiano Contracting, Trumbull Corporation, Mascaro Contracting and Brayman Construction Corporation. Pitt’s teams were mentored by members of Independence Excavating and i+iconUSA, a construction company led by Swanson School alumnus Lester Snyder. The CAWP developed the Student Estimating Competition to encourage students to understand the benefits and opportunities the heavy-highway construction industry has to offer. CAWP, established in 1934, is a non-profit organization that assists workers in the heavy, highway and utility construction industry and improves relationships between contractors, their employees and the general public.
Maggie Pavlick
Feb
7
2020

Staying on Track

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (Feb. 7, 2020) — Temperature is an important factor when engineering for the outdoors because materials can change with the weather. Modern railways, the kinds used for high-speed trains, are made of continuous welded rails (CWRs) that are pre-expanded when set so they won’t buckle in the warm weather or crack in the cold. Ensuring the rails remain this way is vital for the safety of trains and longevity of the tracks, but the rails can change with wear, meaning the temperature at which the rail is neither contracting or expanding can fluctuate over time. To help address this issue, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering have developed a nondestructive evaluation method to measure stress in rails, with the eventual aim of calculating when the ambient temperature will be problematic. “When the temperature outside is hotter or colder than usual, trains slow down as a precautionary measure to prevent excess strain on the rails,” explains Piervincenzo Rizzo, PhD, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt and senior author on the paper. “Unnecessary slowdowns create train delays and interruptions in the supply chain, which is why real-time monitoring of the stress on the rails would be so beneficial to the industry.” Rizzo and co-author Amir Nasrollahi, PhD, published their work in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Journal of Nondestructive Evaluation, Diagnostics and Prognostics of Engineering Systems. The ASME selected Rizzo’s paper as one of the top three papers in the 2019 Best Paper competition; it will be recognized at the 47th Annual Review of Progress in Quantitative Nondestructive Evaluation, held in July 2020 in Minneapolis. The paper, “Numerical Analysis and Experimental Validation of a Nondestructive Evaluation Method to Measure Stress in Rails,” (doi: 10.1115/1.4043949) was authored by Rizzo and Amir Nasrollahi, PhD, who previously was a PhD candidate and then post-doctoral researcher in Rizzo’s Laboratory for Nondestructive Evaluation and Structural Health Monitoring Studies at Pitt. Nasrollahi is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Stanford University.
Maggie Pavlick

Jan

Jan
27
2020

Recognizing a career of service to generations of students

Civil & Environmental

From the Pittsburgh Professional Engineer newsletter. Reposted with permission. Founded in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers, Engineers’ Week is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well‐educated future engineering workforce by increasing the understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers. Engineers’ Week promotes recognition among parents, teachers, and students of the importance of a technical education and a high level of math, science, and technology literacy. It motivates youth to pursue engineering careers. Each year, Engineers’ Week reaches thousands of schools, businesses, and community groups across the United States. In conjunction with Engineers’ Week, the PSPE Pittsburgh Chapter will hold its annual Awards Banquet at the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania (ESWP) on Saturday, February 22, 2020. The Distinguished Service Award is presented each year to recognize an individual or individuals for outstanding contributions toward the improvement of the social, economic, and professional status of the Professional Engineer. This year’s award recipient is Dr. John Oyler, whose professional interests are specialized in Civil Engineering Materials, Solid Mechanics, and Structural Engineering. He earned a B.S. in civil engineering from The Pennsylvania State University in 1953, an M.S. in Civil Engineering from Carnegie Tech in 1961, and PhD in Civil Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 1972. Dr. Oyler worked for Dravo Corporation from 1953 to 1987 and Daxus Corporation from 1988 to 1991, before forming Oyler Consulting Services in 1991 as a sole proprietorship. He has a strong engineering and solid mechanics background and interest and is a Registered Professional Engineer in five states. He earned his Pennsylvania license in 1959, making him one of the oldest Professional Engineers in the state. Dr. Oyler has had responsibility for all the engineering activities of the 750-member staff of Dravo Engineers. He served as the Project Engineering Manager for the Timken Company’s $450-million greenfield integrated steel-making facility in Canton, Ohio. Dr. Oyler is active nationally in ASCE and ASME and served as an Adjunct Associate Professor from 1993 to 2018 in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, teaching Statics, Mechanics of Materials, Materials of Construction, and Senior Design Projects.

Jan
27
2020

Bridging the Gaps in Bridge Inspection Data

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (Jan. 27, 2020) — The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania maintains over 25,000 bridges, and the average age of those bridges is 50 years, with a significant portion of them in poor condition. Making sure these bridges are safe is a vital job, but it’s also a dangerous one: Every year, an estimated average of 23  bridge inspectors of state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) lose their lives on the job, highlighting the need for an automated inspection method that is safe, accurate and efficient. Amir Alavi, PhD, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering is undertaking a $200,000 project sponsored by the Impactful Resilient Infrastructure Science and Engineering (IRISE) Consortium at Pitt for work that will improve bridge assessment. IRISE is a public-private consortium focused on solving infrastructure durability problems.  Its members are Allegheny County, Golden Triangle Construction, Michael Baker International, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Alavi’s research will integrate three bridge assessment techniques: structural health monitoring (SHM), non-destructive evaluation (NDE) and visual inspection using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones. The study will establish a data fusion framework to identify the synergies among bridge degradation, remaining service life, and the SHM, NDE and UAV-collected data. Though using UAVs is an emerging civil infrastructure inspection method, it is presenting its own challenges. In the arena of bridge inspection, one of the unanswered questions is how DOTs can integrate the UAV systems with NDE techniques to additionally track deterioration at a higher temporal resolution, or the frequency at which data is collected, improving service-life models forecasting. “We have tons of systems collecting different type of information about the condition of the civil infrastructure systems and, in particular, our bridges. However, the problem is how to combine this information to give inspectors a more descriptive picture of the health status of the bridge,” says Alavi. “While one method can offer a better temporal information, the other may provide better spatial resolution, giving more visual detail but less frequently. One of our primary goals is to identify the level of unique information provided by each data modality and then fuse the data with various levels of spatial and temporal resolution to help bridge inspectors make better decisions more efficiently.” To pursue this research, Alavi and his team will collaborate with the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) at Rutgers University, along with industry partner Wiss, Janney, Elstner (WJE) Inc. It will leverage the data collected by Rutgers’ Bridge Evaluation and Accelerated Structural Testing (BEAST) facility, the world’s first full-scale accelerated testing facility for bridges. The team at the BEAST will monitor a multi-girder steel composite bridge that is 30 by 50 feet. They will expose the bridge to rapid-cycling environmental changes and extreme traffic loading to speed up the bridge’s deterioration, even undergoing simulated winter road maintenance treatments. Over the nine- to 12-month period, the bridge will go through the equivalent of 15 to 20 years of wear and tear. Alavi’s team will evaluate the resulting data to look for correlations between the SHM, NDE and UAV-collected data through the full-life cycle of bridge performance from the first day of service until to the point that the bridge will be functionally deficient and out of service. The team plans to build a layered heat map, stacking the data from each method to provide a more efficient picture of the bridge’s health and potential issues. The goal of the research is for PennDOT and the other IRISE public partner agencies to implement the framework, gaining valuable information that will inform how—and how often—bridge inspectors should use the various modalities to monitor bridge health. “Understanding bridge condition is a critical aspect of infrastructure durability,” says Julie Vandenbossche, PhD, director of IRISE and William Kepler Whiteford professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt. “We’re pleased that Dr. Alavi’s work will improve the state-of-the practice in how those conditions are assessed.” The team will address the reliability of the UAV-based assessment as compared to the commonly-used NDE methods. “The autonomous robotic inspection is the future of bridge inspection, and UAVs play a key role in this game. The problems we are facing for a wide application of UAVs are basically technological issues,” says Alavi. “There are solutions, it’s only a matter of time and research, and our research is a step in the right direction for an effective UAV implementation for bridge inspection in Pennsylvania and beyond.”
Maggie Pavlick
Jan
22
2020

MBA & CAP Award Scholarships to Pitt Engineering Students

Civil & Environmental, Student Profiles, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

MBA/CAP News Release. Posted with permission. PITTSBURGH (January 22, 2020) ... The Master Builders’ Association of Western Pennsylvania, Inc. (MBA) and the Construction Advancement Program (CAP) awarded three scholarships this year at the MBA’s Annual Membership Reception. The scholarship awardees were Derek Miller, Anthony Mash, and Rachel Dancer. Collectively, the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering’s Construction Management/Civil Engineering Program students received $15,000. Derek Miller took the top prize of an $8,000 scholarship. Miller is the returning champion, having taken first place last year as well. Anthony Mash and Rachel Dancer were in a statistical tie for second place, so the prize was split, awarding each student $3,500. "Congratulations to the scholarship winners, who are all Civil Engineering students with a Construction Management focus. We are grateful to the Master Builders Association and the Construction Advancement Program for providing these scholarships annually to deserving Pitt students," said John T. Sebastian, Professor of Practice and Director of the Construction Management program. Providing annual scholarships to students in the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering is something near and dear to the MBA & CAP. In the early 1990s CAP responded to an inquiry from the School's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering to do a needs assessment of the construction community so that Pitt could expand its engineering studies into areas that would improve the skills and the marketability of its graduates. The CAP Board of Trustees worked with university faculty to help set goals for what is now the Pitt Construction Management Program. Since the MBA & CAP teamed to provide annual scholarships in 1998, more than $200,000 in scholarships have been provided. This year’s recipients were honored at the 2020 MBA Annual Membership Reception, held on Friday, January 17, at the Duquesne Club. To view photos from the event, please click here. About CAP: The Construction Advancement Program is a service organization established in 1961 via the collective bargaining agreements between the MBA and the various building trades unions. The primary function of CAP is to provide services benefiting all persons, management and labor alike, who earn their living in union construction.About the MBA Since 1886, MBA contractors have set the standard in Western PA for construction excellence by investing in a skilled workforce, implementing award-winning safety programs and offering the best in management expertise. For more information on the MBA, please call 412-922-3912 or visit www.mbawpa.org. ###
Master Builders’ Association
Jan
16
2020

Le Problème des Plastiques

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (Jan. 16, 2020) — Plastic pollution is one of the many pressing environmental problems we are facing. On Dec. 12 and 13, 2019, in Paris and Le Mans, France, Melissa Bilec - deputy director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Roberta A. Luxbacher Faculty Fellow the University of Pittsburgh -  was invited by the French Embassy in the U.S. and the French Government to provide her perspective on solutions to this demanding problem. Bilec’s work in circular economy solutions to plastic waste earned her an invitation to present her expertise to the Parliamentary Office for Scientific and Technological Assessment (OPECST). OPECST is composed of 18 members of the National Assembly and 18 senators, with the purpose of studying and assessing research that applies to policy decisions. Specifically, Bilec’s presentation will inform French politicians Angèle Préville, Senator for Lot, and Deputy Philippe Bolo, member of the National Assembly for Maine-et-Loire, as they lead a study on plastic pollution. “Complex problems like plastic waste require convergent, systems-level perspectives; circular economy solutions should be considered as a strong and viable solution to address plastic waste,” says Bilec. “I am grateful for the opportunity to share my expertise and ideas on designing products and processes to close loops with those who can enact them on the global stage.” Following the testimony to OPECST, Bilec was also invited to speak at workshop, “Responding to Plastic Pollution through Science: From Research to Action,” in Le Mans, France, which was attended by the Senator Preville and Deputy Bolo, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Embassy of France in the United States.
Maggie Pavlick