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March 2015

From the Dean

Just last week we celebrated the success of our stand-out alumni at the 2015 Oregon Stater Awards, where we inducted 13 individuals into our Engineering Hall of Fame, Academy of Distinguished Engineers, and Council of Outstanding Early Career Engineers.

You can read more about the awards and the 2015 inductees here:

Our students, faculty, industry partners, and alumni continue to innovate and make headlines. Below, are stories about new landslide maps that will improve coastal communities' resilience following an earthquake, underwater drones that can be deployed for weeks at a time to study marine life, the impacts of a tsunami surge up the Columbia River, the risks of artificial intelligence, a special invitation for our bipedal robot ATRIAS, and more.

As always, thanks for being part of our community.

Go Beavs!

Scott A. Ashford, Ph.D.
Kearney Professor and Dean
College of Engineering
Oregon State University

Research

New landslide maps show best post-earthquake travel routes
New landslide maps created by Michael Olsen, an assistant professor in the School of Civil and Construction Engineering, and the Oregon Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries will help ODOT determine which coastal roads and bridges are most likely to be usable following a major subduction zone earthquake. The mapping is part of ODOT's ongoing efforts to preserve critical transportation routes to facilitate response and recovery. More…

Tsunami surge could impact Columbia River communities
A new analysis by Oregon State researchers including David Hill, an associate professor in the School of Civil and Construction Engineering, shows that if a tsunami occurs during high tide, large lowland areas within the Columbia River estuary could see sudden flooding, with the surge pushing miles inland and raising water levels as much as 13 feet at the river's mouth. More…

Developing underwater drones that "think like a fish"
Using a $1 million grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation, a team of Oregon State researchers that includes Geoff Hollinger, a robotics expert and assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is outfitting a pair of unmanned underwater gliders, or drones, with special sensors and software so they can be deployed for weeks at a time and "think like a fish" to study the behavior of a wide range of marine life. More…

Faculty & Staff

The risks behind artificial intelligence
Recent articles about artificial intelligence in the Wall Street Journal and Digital Trends reference the research and writing of Tom Dietterich, a professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, who says the three major risks related to the rapidly growing field of AI are software bugs, cyber-attacks, and user interface issues. Read more in the Wall Street Journal and Digital Trends.

Bipedal robot to step into national spotlight
Jonathan Hurst, an associate professor of robotics in the School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering, has been invited to showcase his bipedal robot, ATRIAS, at the DARPA Robotics Challenge in June. ATRIAS, a human-size robot designed to walk and run outdoors, is one of only two invited dynamic demonstrations and will perform for thousands of industry professionals and spectators. Read more here and here.

Students

Student-built robot outmaneuvers crowd at basketball game
The OSU Robotics Club scored a half-time win at a recent men's basketball game with a demonstration of its robot, the Mars Rover, which moved around the court as volunteers from the audience took turns trying to score baskets on a two-sided backboard mounted on the Rover. Watch the video.

Sponsors support solar vehicle team's Middle East race
Call it the experience of a lifetime. Or just call it part of a great education at Oregon State. In January nine Oregon State students took a solar vehicle they designed and built to the United Arab Emirates to participate in a four-day, 1,200-km race, an experience made possible by generous underwriting by the race sponsors — including air shipment of the vehicle, aptly named the Phoenix (which the camels found intriguing). More…

Programs

Nuclear forensics: Helping ID rogue radioactive materials
The Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics has launched a unique, new interdisciplinary graduate emphasis in Nuclear Forensics, a Sherlock Holmes-sounding program that aims to identify how and where confiscated nuclear and radiological materials were created. Researcher Camille Palmer coordinates the new program. Read more here and here.

Alumni

Alum helps $63 million ballpark recycle rainwater
Thanks in part to alumnus Brian M. Davis, a 2009 inductee into the Council of Outstanding Early Career Engineers, the new $63 million Saint Paul Saints Baseball Park opens will feature an extensive rainwater harvesting system that irrigates the ball field and grounds, flushes some of the stadium’s toilets, cuts demand for potable city water, and reduces runoff to the Mississippi River. “It’s a win-win for everyone and a great demonstration project for future developers,” said Davis, an environmental scientist with the Metropolitan Council. Watch the video, and read the story...

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