August 2011

Dear Readers,

At the College of Engineering, we always try to focus on the "Now" while keeping pace with the "Next Generation." Doing so helps us deliver a top-notch program and also plan for what is ahead.

For example, right now we are proud to report that 795 engineering students graduated in the class of 2011. These students will one day fuel prosperity in Oregon and the world as they develop into capable practitioners and visionaries. Also right now, we have faculty and students who are researching living systems—from bats to diatoms—to gain insights into our built and engineered systems. Investments in education and innovation such as these will pay dividends that benefit the next generation.

Our focus on the future comes through in our outreach efforts, including Outside the Box and SESEY, two precollege programs that teach engineering and science to tomorrow's leaders. And many of our breakthroughs today, such as creating solar devices with an inkjet printing process, have a strong promise in changing industries in the up-and-coming.

I hope you enjoy reading about our people and programs and the many ways they are improving the "Now" and the "Next Generation."


Abby P. Metzger
Marketing Communications Specialist
Oregon State University, College of Engineering

inkjet solar panels

Inkjet printing could change the face of solar industry
Printers and solar arrays may seem like unlikely allies. But engineers at Oregon State, including lead investigator, Chih-hung Chang, have discovered a way to fabricate functional solar devices with inkjet printing, which could significantly reduce manufacturing costs and raw material waste.
(See stories in UPI, Science Daily, R&D, Bio-Medicine, San Francisco Chronicle, BBC News, Yahoo News, Reuters, PBS, and Gazette-Times)

changing tides

Ancient tides much more variable
While ocean tides are generally considered to be one of the more stable events on the planet, research by David Hill in the School of Civil & Construction Engineering is challenging this assumption. Hill and his research team discovered that tides have changed dramatically over the last millennia, a fact that could inform our current understanding of climate change, geology, and marine biology. More…

Solar collectors

Not such a batty idea: Researcher takes cue from bats
Often technological breakthroughs take inspiration from nature. Belinda Batten in the School of Mechanical, Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering is applying research done on bats toward making flying objects more maneuverable. Bats use tiny hairs to sense the speed and direction of air flowing over their wings. Batten envisions making artificial versions of bat wing hairs that could, among other things, help drones fly into buildings to search for people trapped after earthquakes, or hover over forest canopies to count bird populations. More…

Faculty & Staff

Professor-student research team wins ASEE Joseph J. Martin Award
Philip Harding and Milo Koretsky in the School of Chemical, Biological & Environmental Engineering, along with graduate student Erick Nefcy, have received the ASEE Joseph J. Martin Award for their paper, "Characterization of Student Model Development in Physical and Virtual Laboratories." The research is based on two innovative virtual laboratories that have been developed at OSU to provide an authentic, industrial context for student learning. The J. J. Martin Award is given to the most outstanding Chemical Engineering Division paper presented at the ASEE Annual Conference. This is the third time in the past six years that the Engineering Education Research Group at OSU has been recognized with the award.


A teachable moment: Students lose solar car in fire
It took only a few moments for the OSU Solar Vehicle Team to lose their $100,000 car after a short in a battery cell triggered an explosion. But one thing students didn’t lose was the lesson. Team members discovered they had engineered a car with optimal safety features. "Our battery ventilation system helped our driver from getting smoke/chemical inhalation burns, and our rapid egress system allowed him to quickly escape with relatively little harm," said Hai-Yue Han, co-captain of the team. Already, the Solar Vehicle Team is working on improvements, including re-structuring the pack to give batteries more space and visibility with an extra layer of transparent firewall. They are also launching a fundraising campaign to rebuild the solar car and compete in the 2012 North American Solar Challenge.

PhD student's research makes cover of top materials journal
What if there was a way to use living organisms in the fabrication of cell phones and other display devices? PhD candidate Debra Gale in the School of Chemical, Biological & Environmental Engineering has been asking this very question. So far, she has come up with at least a preliminary answer—one that earned her a cover spot on the Journal of Materials Chemistry. In her research, Gale looks at diatoms, or single-celled algae that possess unique photoluminescent properties on account of their silica shells. Gale has figured out a way to metabolically insert germanium into the shell, which creates a more intense photoluminescent signal. Industry has been doing something similar, but only by using extreme pressure, heat, power, and sophisticated equipment. According to Gale, the study represents a unique use of biological processes to fabricate materials that could one day be used in our optoelectronic devices.

Internship with Center for Coastal Margin Observation & Prediction teaches viable skills
Nathan Hinkle, an environmental engineering major, has a very bright future ahead of him. Through an internship with Coastal Margin Observation & Prediction, the OSU sophomore has been using a solar simulator to determine the rate at which crude oil components are degraded by sunlight. His research is important in helping to potentially track and detect toxic materials from oil spills, such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. More…

Student on international team studying effects of Fukushima disaster
Three hundred kilometers off the coast of Japan, OSU graduate student Jarvis Caffrey rides the waves in a tiny, windowless laboratory deep inside the research vessel Kaimikai-o-Kanaloa. Caffrey is using a purpose-built device to collect seawater and feed it through a digital radiation detector that measures concentrations of Cesium-134 and Cesium-137. The device was constructed by OSU scientific instrument technician Steve Smith, using a state-of-the art detection system supplied by Avicenna instruments, an OSU spin-off company. Cesium is a radioactive isotope produced by fission and one of the contaminants released by the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in March. Caffrey, a doctoral student in the Department of Nuclear Engineering & Radiation Health Physics (NERHP), was the only nuclear scientist on board and served as the radiation safety officer for the group. More…


Launching careers
When Jeff Klemann graduated from OSU in 1984 with a degree in mechanical engineering, he immediately launched his career at Boeing and has been cruising at a high altitude ever since. Along with several other OSU alumni, Klemann is assigned to the 747-8 program, which recently revealed a striking red-to-orange paint job on the first 747-8 Intercontinental. In total, several hundred OSU alumni work at Boeing, and OSU sends more than 20 engineering students to the company through the MECOP program. More…


Inaugural research conference takes place at OSU
Oregon State University hosted the inaugural American Society of Mechanical Engineers/Society of Manufacturing Engineers/Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers Manufacturing Research Conference, which explored the role of manufacturing in innovation and economic development. The first of its kind, the conference combined the 2011 ASME Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference, SME North American Manufacturing Research Conference and JSME/ASME International Conference on Materials and Processing in one venue. Nearly 500 researchers gathered to discuss manufacturing research, representing the highest total attendance of affiliated conferences for at least 15 years. More…


Thinking outside the box: Outreach program engages middle school students
This summer, a group of eager middle school students participated in Outside the Box, a two-week innovative program designed specifically for TAG and high-ability 7th and 8th graders. Supported by OSU Precollege Programs and the College of Engineering, Outside the Box engages students through a unique combination of in-depth, challenging academic explorations and social interaction with other high-ability learners. More…

Program for underrepresented students celebrates 15 years
Since 1997, the Summer Experience in Science and Engineering for Youth (SESEY) has empowered underrepresented high school girls and ethnic minorities from across the globe and exposed them to science and engineering as a viable career path. Participating students come to the OSU campus for a one-week residential summer camp where they pair up with faculty and student mentors in engineering for a mini-research project. This year's 43 participating students had a chance to learn complex scientific and engineering concepts, work with sophisticated lab equipment, and interact with top researchers. More…

Questions or comments about Momentum? E-mail

Important links: