April 2011

From the Editor

Dear Readers,

We feel immense sorrow for the loss and devastation experienced by the Japanese people as a result of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. We honor their resilience and innovation and we stand with them as ramifications of the disaster continue to be realized worldwide.

The geologic environ of the Pacific Northwest includes a subduction zone that is remarkably similar to the source of the magnitude 8.9 earthquake that rocked Japan and unleashed a devastating tsunami. Experts predict that Oregon is about 60 years overdue for a similar earthquake, and in some ways we are woefully unprepared.

Many of Oregon State University’s engineering faculty are among the world’s foremost researchers in the science of earthquakes, tsunamis, and nuclear power. As they continue to analyze current events to aid their ability to address and solve the world’s most pressing problems, they have also been in the news a lot lately. In this issue, you’ll find several links to articles on the Web that discuss their views and ongoing scientific contributions.


Thuy T. Tran
Director of Marketing Communications
Oregon State University, College of Engineering

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Earthquake provides reality check for Pacific Northwest
The magnitude 8.9 earthquake that shook Japan on March 11 originated in a subduction zone that is geologically similar to the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which is a few miles off the United States’ Pacific Northwest coast. According to the geologic record, the Pacific Northwest has experienced major earthquakes approximately every 240 years. The last major earthquake to affect Oregon was recorded in 1700–311 years ago.

(See stories in Time, MSNBC, The Register Guard, US News, OPB, CNN, Gazette-Times, The Word Link, and Oregon Live)

Japan’s tsunami teaches what could happen in Pacific Northwest
When the sea floor dramatically shifted vertically during the earthquake on March 11, a resulting tsunami swept over much of Japan’s east coast, across the Pacific towards Hawaii, and reached the west coast of the contiguous United States. Oregon State University engineers continue to study the effects of the tsunami and to consider the implications if a similar disaster strikes closer to home. Evaluating preparedness is now top of mind throughout the Pacific Northwest, and cutting edge research by coastal, ocean, and structural engineers at the wave basin in the university’s Hinsdale Wave Research Lab is key to improved scientific understanding and public safety.

(See stories in BBC, Live Science, KVAL, Mercury News, NY Times, KEZI, Sacramento Bee, Oregon Live, Statesman Journal, Live Science, KVAL, Mercury News, NY Times)

Scientists closely monitor the nuclear disaster in Japan
Following the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, Japan declared states of emergency at the Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants in Fukushima Prefecture. Due to problems with the cooling systems and several explosions, some proactive cesium has escaped into the air surrounding the plants and beyond. People who live near the affected plants have been evacuated. Nuclear engineers at Oregon State University are among the experts who continue to assess the unfolding disaster. At this time, scientists do not expect the Pacific Northwest to be exposed to dangerous levels of radiation.

(See stories in CNN, USA Today, Google, Oregon Live, NPR, The Atlantic)

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Building a community of leaders: Peer mentoring in EECS
Tektronix is providing funds to expand the peer mentoring program in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) that provides learning support for new students while building a community of undergraduates who encourage each other. After learning from personal experience how much such a program could help, Instructor Matt Shuman started the peer mentoring program as a graduate student in EECS and has been with the program ever since. More…

Faculty & Staff
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Engineering dean named 2011 Newsmaker by the Daily Journal of Commerce
Ron Adams, dean of the College of Engineering, was recognized as a 2011 Newsmakers by the Daily Journal of Commerce. Under his leadership, PhD program enrollment has doubled, research expenditures have nearly tripled, and the number of spin-offs has increased six-fold. More…

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Klein collaborates on nuclear space hopper development
Andrew Klein, professor of Nuclear Engineering & Radiation Health Physics, is part of a team working on a nuclear powered Mars rover that is in development by the Idaho National Lab. A beryllium core in the rover stores heat created by radioisotope thermoelectric generators. This nuclear heat rapidly vaporizes carbon dioxide to create jets that propel the craft. Oregon State is working on the thermal analysis of the hopper core. More...

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Students beat competition at seismic design and ASC competitions
On February 12, Oregon State University’s College of Engineering team took first place in the 2011 Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition, which was held at the 63rd annual meeting of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute in San Diego, Calif. Oregon State student team members bested 27 other teams from top schools, including three international teams, and earned the national title. More…

View a video of how Oregon State’s winning structure withstood varying ground motions.

One week later, at the 24th annual student competition held during the 2011 Construction Management Conference and hosted by the Associated Schools of Construction in Reno, Nev., the school also enjoyed overwhelming success. More than 1,400 students from across the country participated, including 42 civil and construction engineering students from Oregon State who competed in 6-person teams in seven categories. Four of Oregon State’s seven teams brought home trophies, and Tyson Smart earned the award for Best Presenter.

Other Oregon State winners were:

  • Marine Construction Engineering: 1st place (Kyle Izatt, coach; Chad Campfield; Kodi Long; Casey Michaels; Gregory Miller; Marc Putman; Brian Sexson)
  • Mechanical Engineering: 1st place (Joe Fradella, coach; Chris Kaufmann; Kyle McCommas; Mark Pedersen; Evan Schaye; Tyson Smart; Kenneth Tyler)
  • Commercial Building: 2nd place (David Rogge, coach; Isaac Brown; Jamie Clune; Ian Dailey; Shaun Jolley; Scott Mettler; Wyatt Naegle)
  • Concrete Solutions: 2nd place (Don Peck, coach; Amanda Blackburn; Scott Butler; Stephen Lucia; Jonathan Martz; Michael Rieck; Leif Schei)


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Computer Science sophomore wins first prize for project targeted to underrepresented students
Andy Atkinson, a sophomore in computer science, won a national competition titled ‘It’s All About Inclusion,’ sponsored by the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in Information Technology. Atkinson received an award and a check for $3,000 at a special VIP reception during the 2011 Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing conference in San Francisco, Calif., during the first week of April. He developed a computing project called Music Mixer that could be used in an introductory computer science class.

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Bioengineering student named Goldwater Scholar 
Ishan Patel, a junior in bioengineering, won the prestigious 2011 Goldwater Scholarship. The $7,500 per year scholarship is given annually to approximately four students from each of the 50 states. Patel presented his research at the AIChE National Conference in Salt Lake City, Nev., in Nov. 2010 after winning the AIChE Pacific Northwest Regional Conference Paper Competition at the University of Washington in April 2010. His research paper was recently accepted for the 2011 International Society of Thrombosis & Haemostasis Conference in Kyoto, Japan. He hopes to travel to Japan in July to present his research.

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Student meets President Obama during his visit advocating industry-academic collaborations
Marlon Mejia, a participant in the Intel Engineering Summer Scholars Program at Oregon State University and the first in his family to attend college, had an opportunity to meet and talk with President Obama on the president’s recent visit to Oregon. The Intel-Oregon State partnership is just one of many programs that steer students toward careers in engineering–a goal the president fully supports. Similar programs include the Intel Summer Bridge Program, the Women and Minorities in Engineering Program, the Science and Math Investigative Learning Experience, and the Ambassador Program. More…

Making a Difference
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Engineering alumnus’ gift benefits forensics students
Milosh Popovich, an Oregon State University alumnus (’39 BS Chemical Engineering and ’41 MS Mechanical Engineering) and former Oregon State administrator, created an endowment that will support travel and scholarships for the forensics team. The gift recognizes his late wife, Jeanne, who was a standout performer in speech and debate. More…

Questions or comments about Momentum? E-mail Editor@engr.oregonstate.edu

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