Pitt | Swanson Engineering
News Listing

Sep

Sep
18
2020

Adding a Layer of Protection to Indoor Air

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (Sept. 18, 2020) — Because the novel coronavirus spreads through the air, experts continue to recommend outdoor activities over remaining indoors. However, the right air filter can make indoor air safer and help prevent the spread of the virus. Melissa Bilec, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, explains how these filters work in a new exhibit at Carnegie Science Center, which employs the HEPA filters that help keep the air clean. Experts have determined that the novel coronavirus is primarily spread by droplets from someone talking, sneezing or coughing nearby. However, it is also potentially “aerosolized,” meaning it can be attached to particles so small that they remain suspended in the air. The display explains the difference between the weight of aerosolized particles versus droplets—a tiny feather versus a golf ball—and how both masks and our buildings can provide another layer of protection. Indoors, HVAC systems circulate air around the building. While research is still determining exactly how much of a role HVAC systems may play in the spread of the virus, Bilec’s display shows how filters that are at least MERV 13 or a HEPA filter can help by trapping the particles carrying the virus. “With so much mis-information about COVID-19, I hope our exhibit will teach people about the way our buildings can do some of that important work for us,” said Bilec the Roberta A. Luxbacher Faculty Fellow and deputy director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. “I am passionate about ensuring my research positively impacts society and the environment, and I’m thrilled to work with the Carnegie Science Center.” Bilec’s research primarily focuses on improving the built environment, with an eye toward the effects of poor air quality and strategies to improve both indoor and ambient air quality. For the past decade she and her students have worked with underserved communities throughout Pittsburgh to help low-income families create a more sustainable home environment. Their solutions focus on projects including energy assessments and indoor air quality. The display will be featured at Carnegie Science Center as well as other Carnegie museums, including The Andy Warhol Museum. "As an advocate for science literacy, we saw the pandemic as an opportunity to combine a message about real research, current events, and museum collections in one place,” said Dennis Bateman, director of exhibits at Carnegie Science Center. "We didn't want to just dwell on the pandemic for our visitors coming to enjoy themselves as an escape from the restrictions in our lives now, but we did want to reassure them about our precautions while they are here, to connect research to real-world examples, like protecting our valuable collections—and our valued guests."
Maggie Pavlick
Sep
17
2020

Plotting a Course for the Circular Economy

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (Sept. 17, 2020) — Experts in sustainability warn that the current economic model, forming a straight line from resource to product to waste, is unsustainable. Researchers are instead turning to the circular economy to disrupt that line, working toward a lifecycle of products that does not end in a landfill. Melissa Bilec, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, is currently leading a team of researchers studying the circular economy, the focus of another NSF Convergence grant, which received $1.3 million last year. Bilec has received $98,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to convene a panel of experts to meet for a workshop on the circular economy that will help set the research agenda for years to come. The workshop brings together experts and thought leaders in academia, industry, government and nonprofits to discuss circular economy design from molecules to the built environment. In the course of three three-hour sessions over three weeks, the workshop will be an opportunity for the wide array of invited constituents to discuss and develop ideas in circular economy research. “The NSF’s Convergence Accelerator Program selects one or two research tracks each year, and this year, and these workshops help to determine what those tracks will be,” explained Bilec, who is also the Roberta A. Luxbacher Faculty Fellow and deputy director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (MCSI). “This is a fantastic opportunity to build, foster and facilitate the community around this emerging area of sustainability research. It also has the potential to shape the direction of major research in the coming years.” Bilec will team with Eric Beckman, Distinguished Service Professor of Chemical Engineering and co-director of MCSI, and Gemma Jiang, director of the Organizational Innovation Lab at the Swanson School. They are collaborating with the University of Georgia’s Jason Locklin, professor of chemical engineering and founding director of the New Materials Institute; Jenna Jambeck, professor of environmental engineering at the University of Georgia, and Gregg Beckham, senior research fellow at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). The group will also call on the expertise of KnowInnovation, a company with extensive experience in virtual workshop facilitation. The workshops are taking place by invitation throughout the month of September.
Maggie Pavlick
Sep
7
2020

Pitt's Construction Management Program Featured on the "Building PA" Podcast

Civil & Environmental

John Sebastian, director of Construction Management Program at the University of Pittsburgh joins co-hosts Chris Martin and Jon O'Brien to discuss how students are learning. Sebastian shared how the program has evolved and what students at the University of Pittsburgh are learning and engaging with industry professionals.Sebastian adds, "the key is to get involved early and engage with our students and the program to learn more of the opportunities that these students bring from the program." He is always looking for opportunities to engage with industry professionals, contractors, architects and engineers. In fact, the university has announced two programs allowing personal development opportunities - certification program and a Master's degree.Listen to the podcast below.
Building PA Podcast

Jul

Jul
22
2020

Understanding the Microbial Community Hiding in Our Showers

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (July 22, 2020) — In Benedum Hall at the University of Pittsburgh, nine shower heads in three brand new shower stalls run for eight minutes every day. Eight minutes is the average time an American spends in the shower, though no one is using these showers for their typical purpose. Instead, they’re part of the Investigating Home Water and Aerosols’ Links to Opportunistic Pathogen Exposure (INHALE) Lab, led by Sarah Haig, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering. Prior to joining the Swanson School, Haig worked with cystic fibrosis patients and their families, testing their plumbing for opportunistic pathogens (OPs) that could pose danger to their compromised immune systems, like nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. “Parents would ask me a lot of questions about how to clean their shower head and what kind of shower head helps limit bacterial growth and exposure. I didn’t have good answers for them—we just don’t know,” said Haig. “That was part of the inspiration for the INHALE Lab, where we can compare how materials and in-home disinfection strategies impact microbes so that we can find those answers. The research can empower the public to make their own decisions regarding reducing microbial exposure at the final point of exposure: the fixtures in their homes.” The 250 square foot lab has its own water heaters and its own plumbing. The shower heads are a mix of standard plastic and metal shower heads and shower heads embedded with antimicrobial silver. Because the lab is new and has sat idle since the lockdowns began in March 2020, the lines need to be flushed daily to condition the pipes—and to allow bacteria to take up residence—before research can begin again in earnest. However, several projects will utilize the lab’s unique capabilities. One current project, funded by the National Science Foundation, will look at the effect of silver in shower heads on the OP Legionellaand whether antibiotic resistance is induced due to silver exposure.Another project, which has received seed grant funding from the Central Research Development Fund at Pitt, will examine the effectiveness of several prevention methods on the number of OPs that can become airborne when the shower is running—the most common way users are exposed to the OPs. The work will assess the effectiveness of disinfection strategies as well as different kinds of shower heads, including standard shower heads and ones modified with antimicrobial compounds or filtration devices. “It’s a scary thought, one I’d bet you’d never had before: You might be taking a shower in waterborne pathogens!” said Janet E. Stout, president of the Special Pathogens Laboratory, research associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt, and internationally recognized expert on the management and control of waterborne pathogens. “The INHALE lab will help us understand the microbes in our showers, how they’re disseminated, and most importantly, how to control them under conditions that replicate your own shower.” Eventually, Haig hopes the INHALE Lab’s research will help families, hospitals and other facilities make decisions that will keep vulnerable populations safe from potentially harmful OPs. “For healthy individuals, these OPs are not generally a problem. Water is not—and isn’t meant to be—sterile. But for people who are immunocompromised or have existing pulmonary conditions, they can be deadly,” she noted. “Opportunistic pathogens are natural members of the water community, so you can’t feasibly eliminate them, but it’s a numbers game. When you reduce the number of pathogens, you can reduce your risk – we now just need to focus on understanding how to do this.”
Maggie Pavlick
Jul
20
2020

In Memoriam: John C. "Jack" Mascaro BSCE ’66 MSCE ’80, 1944-2020

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

From James R. Martin II, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering: It is with great sadness to inform you that Jack Mascaro BSCE ’66 MSCE ’80, one of our outstanding alumni, volunteers, advocates, and benefactors, passed away this weekend after a hard-fought battle with illness. On behalf of our Swanson School community, I extend our deep condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.Jack was a creative, caring juggernaut of ideas and inspiration, and his passing leaves an emptiness in our hearts and minds. It was an incredible honor and privilege to work with him during my short tenure as dean thus far, but I know those of you who have a long history with Jack and his family experienced a deep connection and now share a tremendous loss. I hope your memories of his lighthearted spirit, curious intellect, and enthusiasm for our students and programs provide solace and smiles.As one of our Distinguished Alumni, Jack was lauded by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the School for his contributions to Pitt, the region, and the profession, and was also honored by the University with the Chancellor’s Medallion. Thanks to his beneficence, the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation and our focus on sustainability will continue his legacy for generations. Most importantly, it was his passion for sustainability, and what he saw as its inexorable link to engineering, that will forever inform our mission to create new knowledge for the benefit of the human condition. He truly was an engineer’s engineer, and we can never thank him and his family enough for his generosity of mind and spirit. Please join me in expressing our sympathies to the Mascaro Family, and to thank them for Jack’s impact on our students, alumni, and entire Swanson School community. Visitation will be held this Thursday in McMurray and you may leave thoughts for the family at his obituary page. Sincerely,Jimmy Other Remembrances Some Random and Personal Observations. Jeffrey Burd, Tall Timber Group & Breaking Ground Magazine (7-21-20). Jack Mascaro, founder of one of Pittsburgh's largest construction firms, dies at 76. Tim Schooley, Pittsburgh Business Times (7-22-20). Pittsburgh builder and sustainability pioneer Jack Mascaro dies after long illness. Paul Guggenheimer, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (7-23-20). John C. 'Jack' Mascaro / Builder of Heinz Field, science center embraced 'green' construction. Janice Crompton, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (7-27-20). Founder of Mascaro Construction, Heinz Field builder, dies at age 75. Harry Funk, Washington Observer-Reporter (8-1-20).

Jul
7
2020

Searching for the Silver Lining in Drinking Water Disinfection

Covid-19, Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (July 7, 2020) … As workplaces prepare to reopen, precautionary measures like plexiglass barriers and sanitizer stations have been put in place to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Researchers and public health experts, however, warn that this might not be the only health concern to worry about. Buildings that have been relatively abandoned for months likely have stagnant water in the plumbing, and if not treated properly, this can be a breeding ground for bacteria. The National Science Foundation awarded a cross-disciplinary team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh $330,000 to examine the effect that silver, embedded in shower fixtures, has on water disinfection. “While the context of our proposed research is showers in homes, offices, healthcare facilities, and gyms under normal operation, the COVID-19 pandemic introduces a new relevance to our project,” said Leanne Gilbertson, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering (CEE) at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering and lead researcher on the study. Municipally treated drinking water is not sterile. Instead, it is home to many types of microbes, the majority of which are not harmful. “Typically, the drinking water entering buildings contains a disinfectant residual, such as chlorine, to help prevent and reduce microbial growth,” explained Sarah Haig, assistant professor of CEE at Pitt. “However, changes in water chemistry, building fixtures and building operation, like the long periods without water use (stagnation) recently observed across the world during the COVID-19 pandemic will have unexpected consequences on building water quality.” According to Haig, the long stretches of stagnation can result in low to no disinfection residual being present in building water. This creates an ideal growth environment for many microbes such as Legionella pneumophila. Opportunistic pathogens (OPs) like Legionella pneumophila, which causes the respiratory Legionnaires’ disease, can become airborne simply by turning on a faucet or flushing a toilet. This poses an additional public health threat to a world that is already in the midst of a pandemic. There are various strategies for preventing illness, but researchers have yet to discover a perfect solution. The research will take place at Haig's INHALE Lab in the Swanson School of Engineering. Credit: Dr. Sarah Haig. “Water fixtures containing silver are believed to eliminate bacteria due to the antimicrobial properties of this heavy metal; however, heavy metal exposure is also known to transform some bacteria into antibiotic resistant forms,” said Gilbertson. Antibiotic resistance is a major threat to global health, food security, and development so Gilbertson and her colleagues will use this award to determine if these silver-coated fixtures provide a viable solution or are perhaps doing more harm than good. “Many aspects of both the water composition and water fixtures can influence how much and how fast silver interacts with bacteria,” explained Jill Millstone, associate professor of chemistry at Pitt. “We’ll work to quantify these factors and make connections between the presence of OPs and the amount, type, and rate of silver release. Uncovering these relationships should lead to more effective fixture design that maximizes antimicrobial activity and minimizes resistance build-up.” Janet E. Stout, president of the Special Pathogens Laboratory and an internationally recognized expert on Legionella, will also contribute to this work. “Conditions in the water systems of about 50 percent of large buildings promote Legionella growth and spread. Fatal infections occur at a rate of up to 30 percent in hospitals and 10 percent in the community. This research explores how we might interrupt the spread right at the fixture,” said Stout, who also holds and appointment as research associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt. The research will leverage the unique capabilities of Haig’s INHALE Lab, which houses three full-size shower stalls, each with its own water heater and three showerheads. This enables the research team to investigate the influence of different showerhead materials. The findings will reveal if silver is an effective strategy to mitigate bacteria in shower water as well as if it potentially induces antibiotic resistance. # # #

Jun

Jun
25
2020

Making a Sustainable Impact Throughout Pitt and Our Communities

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

"MCSI remains committed to addressing global sustainability issues, connecting our domestic and international pursuits to create synergies locally, nationally, and internationally. We hope you enjoy this summary of the past year’s impacts, and we'd be happy to answer any questions you might have about the report's contents and MCSI's programs."

Jun
3
2020

CEE Selects Jake Kline as the inaugural John F. Oyler Fellow

Civil & Environmental, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (June 3, 2020) … Jake Kline, a University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University undergraduate student, was selected as the first recipient of the John F. Oyler Fellowship. The award, administered by Pitt’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, will provide full tuition support to a student who is in good academic standing and specializing in structures or solids. Preference is given to a student who is participating in the Engineering Accelerated Graduate (EAGr) program and/or for master’s recruitment purposes. Kline, an upcoming alumnus of the Binary Engineering Program, will receive a dual bachelor’s degree in physics and civil engineering at the end of the summer. His interests lie in structural health monitoring and structural rehabilitation of older buildings. “My time in undergraduate civil engineering has helped me discover the variety of possibilities and applications if I further my education at Pitt,” he said, “and I look forward to expanding my knowledge of structural engineering.” Kline will participate in the EAGr program which provides qualified students with the opportunity to earn a bachelor of science (BS) and a master of science (MS) degree in five years. “Once I complete my academic commitments, I plan to pursue a career with Engineers Without Borders, as I firmly believe the principal duty of an engineer is to make the world a better place,” he said. The John F. Oyler Fellowship was generously funded by a gift from the John Francis Oyler and Nancy Lee Victoria Fleck Oyler Foundation to recognize Dr. Oyler’s long standing connection to the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. About John F. Oyler 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 fellowship will help jumpstart students’ careers in the field in which he dedicated more than 65 years of service.

May

May
20
2020

Pitt alumna and Alabama engineer Renee Corbett '16 helping NYC homeless fight COVID-19

Covid-19, Civil & Environmental, Diversity, Student Profiles, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

This story was originally published by AL.com. In New York City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, the virus that’s forced most people indoors is forcing the homeless outdoors. Renee Corbett, a native of Huntsville who works with the international aid group, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF, has seen it first-hand. Corbett, a civil and environmental engineer by training, is in New York working with an MSF team providing hygiene service and infection control to New York’s homeless population. With public bathrooms and recreation centers closed, the places where homeless people could bathe are gone. So Corbett’s team operates two mobile shower facilities for people that need it. “At our showers we are meeting many people who say that they are choosing to live on the streets instead of in shelters because they feel that they are safer from COVID-19 on the streets,” she said. Before the global pandemic, Corbett had worked primarily in Africa, providing water and hygiene to people in Ethiopia and Sudan. It seems odd that providing a simple need: clean water and a place to bathe, would be just as necessary in America’s largest city as it is in wilds of Africa. ... Read the full article here.
Author: Shelly Haskins, AL.com
May
4
2020

Pitt ASCE Chapter Once Again Wins Distinguished Chapter Award and is Ridgway Award Finalist

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (May 4, 2020) ­— The University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering’s student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) received the organization’s Distinguished Chapter Award for Region II. The chapter is also one of five selected as a finalist for the Robert Ridgway Student Chapter Award, presented annually to the single most outstanding ASCE student chapter nationwide. “The chapter’s dedication to our profession and our department is truly inspiring,” says Radisav Vidic, PhD, professor and department chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering. “Their accomplishments are a credit to them, our department, the Swanson School and Pitt.” The Distinguished Chapter Award is based on the chapter’s annual reports from the previous year. Among the highlights of this year was the chapter’s first Civil Engineering Day, which introduced high school students in the area to civil engineering through hands-on experiences. Students from Pitt ASCE won first place overall at the 2019 Ohio Valley Student Conference, attended the ASCE National Conference in Miami, presented at the Environmental & Water Resources Institute Conference, and sent seven students to the Region II Assembly at Drexel University. “As president, I could not be prouder of the students that make up this group. Every member should be very honored about what they've done and been a part of. They put their heart and soul into what they do, and this award really showcases that determination and drive on an national stage,” says 2019-2020 Pitt ASCE President Kaitie DeOre, who won the 2020 ASCE Bridge Leadership Award. “There were a lot of special moments this year, and I'm just really proud to say that I was a part of it. Being a finalist for the biggest award that a student chapter can win is the best possible way to end my tenure as president of Pitt ASCE; being chosen for this award is every president's dream.” The Ridgway Award was named for Robert Ridgway, past president of ASCE, and has been awarded annually since 1963. The Pitt ASCE Student Chapter has been a finalist for this award three times in five years and has received the Distinguished Chapter Award for Region II four times in five years. “This organization has done an excellent job of enhancing the experience of civil engineering undergraduates at the Swanson School,” said Anthony Iannacchione, PhD, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and faculty advisor to the chapter. “Their passion for the field is evident in the events they organize and the way they welcome anyone who wants to be involved.”
Maggie Pavlick

Apr

Apr
15
2020

Peering Into Undergraduate Research at Pitt: Swanson School of Engineering Publishes Sixth Edition of Ingenium

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

PITTSBURGH (April 15, 2020) … Demonstrating the diverse and exceptional undergraduate research in the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, Associate Dean for Research David A. Vorp recently released the sixth edition of Ingenium. This edition features a collection of 26 articles that highlight work performed throughout the 2019-20 academic year and during the school’s 2019 summer research program. Ingenium mirrors the peer-review process of scientific journals by inviting undergraduate researchers to submit manuscripts to a board of graduate students. The review board provides feedback to which the undergraduates are required to respond before their work is accepted. The co-editors-in-chief for this edition were Monica Liu, a bioengineering graduate student, and Jianan Jian, an electrical and computer engineering graduate student. “I think Ingenium is a great experience for undergraduates,” said Liu. “They have been diligently working on research all year, and Ingenium is a great way for them to present it to a larger audience and get experience writing a scientific paper.” While the publication is designed to help prepare undergraduates, members of the graduate review board also benefit from a different point of view in the academic writing process. “Graduate students spend so much time writing about their research and incorporating feedback,” said Liu. “Ingenium is a great way to experience the other side of things -- taking the time to review others' work gives us a broader perspective when we review our own work.” Ingenium features research from each department in the Swanson School and is divided into five categories: experimental research, computational research, device design, methods, and review. The publication is sponsored by the school’s Office of Research. “With each year and with each edition of Ingenium, we continue to see notable and impressive academic and professional growth and development in our undergraduate students when given opportunities to engage in scientific research,” said Vorp. “We witness students taking the knowledge, skills, and information that they learn in their coursework and apply it in a meaningful and intentional manner outside of the classroom. These thriving students are our future -- of both our highly accredited institution and our world.” ###

Apr
6
2020

Two Swanson School Projects Win University of Pittsburgh Scaling Grants

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (April 6, 2020) — Two projects from the Swanson School of Engineering have received University of Pittsburgh Scaling Grants.The first, tackling the global problem of plastic waste, is headed by Eric Beckman, PhD, Bevier Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and co-director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. The second project, which will support the push for artificial intelligence innovation in medical imaging, was also awarded a Scaling Grant and is led by Shandong Wu, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Radiology. The Scaling Grants provide $400,000 over two years to support detailed project planning, gathering proof-of-concept results, and reduction of technical risk for teams pursuing an identified large extramural funding opportunity. The Scaling Grants are part of the University’s Pitt Momentum Funds, which offer funding across multiple stages of large, ambitious projects. Addressing the Global Waste Challenge The problem of plastic waste is growing on a global scale, with an annual global production rate of more than 500 million tons per year and predicted to triple by 2036. The project, “Attacking the Global Plastics Waste Problem,” seeks to create a convergent academic center welcoming expertise from across the University that will focus on the circular economy as a solution. “For most new technologies, one group creates the technology in the lab as a pilot, then at full scale. The group launches it, and only later decides if there are environmental and/or policy and/or legal issues,” says Beckman. “We're proposing to do these analyses in parallel, so that each section of the work informs the others. Further, the technology we are proposing to develop is a mixture of chemical engineering, chemistry, and materials science.” The interdisciplinary team will take advantage of its deep expertise in both the science of plast ics recycling and the legal and governance frameworks that will help governments implement a circular economy for plastics. In addition to Beckman, the team consists of Melissa Bilec, PhD, Roberta A. Luxbacher Faculty Fellow, associate professor in civil and environmental engineering (CEE), and deputy director of MCSI; Vikas Khanna, PhD, Wellington C. Carl Faculty Fellow and associate professor in CEE and Chemical and Petroleum Engineering; Gotz Veser, PhD, professor in chemical and petroleum engineering; Peng Liu, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry; Amy Wildermuth, professor and dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law; and Joshua Galperin, visiting associate professor in the School of Law. “Recycling can only do so much. A circular economy framework is a promising solution to the complex, urgent problem that plastic pollution presents,” says Bilec, who is part of a five-university team that received a two-year National Science Foundation grant for $1.3 million to pursue convergence research on the circular economy as a plastic waste solution. “Our proposed center will integrate the science and engineering of plastics recycling, using a novel approach on both the recycling and manufacturing sides, into frameworks tracking its environmental and economic impact.” Applying Artificial Intelligence to Medical Research The second project to receive a Scaling Grant is the “Pittsburgh Center for Artificial Intelligence Innovation in Medical Imaging,” a collaboration between the Departments of Radiology, Bioengineering, Biomedical Informatics, and Computer Science. This work, led by Wu, aims to use artificial intelligence (AI) to reshape medical imaging in radiology and pathology. Through the Pittsburgh Health and Data Alliance, the region is already at work using machine learning to translate “big data” generated in health care to treatments and services that could benefit human health. "The advancement in AI, especially in deep learning, provides a powerful approach for machine learning on big healthcare data,” said Wu. “Deep learning enables large-scale data mining with substantially increased accuracy and efficiency in data analysis." The multidisciplinary research team will work to develop AI imaging methodology and translational applications with the ultimate goal of creating tools that are clinically useful, accurate, explainable and safe. “AI can substantially improve quantitative analysis to medical imaging data and computational modeling of clinical tasks using medical images for disease diagnosis and outcome prediction," explained Wu. David A. Vorp, associate dean for research and John. A. Swanson Professor of Bioengineering, will help facilitate this collaboration in engineering. “Artificial intelligence nicely complements bioengineering and medical research,” said Vorp. “My lab uses AI with CT scans to help predict the prognosis and improve treatment of aortic aneurysm, and that is just one example of how this cutting-edge technology can be applied to medical images. Rather than relying on the naked eye, we can use AI to analyze these images and have a more sensitive detector to identify disease, improve health and save lives.” The group’s long-term vision is to combine the computational expertise and clinical resources across Pitt, UPMC and Carnegie Mellon University to build a center for innovative AI in clinical translational medical imaging. ###
Maggie Pavlick and Leah Russell

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