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February 2016

From the Dean

I hope your New Year is off to a great start.

Here at the College of Engineering, there is a growing buzz and bustle from the teaching, learning, and research that are leading to all sorts of incredible breakthroughs: everything from better batteries for use in deep space travel and self-driving wheelchairs, to safer tsunami evacuations, quicker climate warning systems, and longer lasting tooth fillings.

Our graduate students are busy preparing for the second annual 2016 Graduate Research Expo that will take place at the Portland Art Museum on March 1st, when hundreds of our grad students will have research displays set up and be available to interact with the public about their exciting work. The event is free and open to the public.

In addition, our new humanitarian engineering program is drawing national interest and diverse students, and the energy systems engineering degree at the OSU - Cascades campus has been accredited by ABET. Clearly, there is a lot going on this year, and it's only January!

Go Beavs!

Scott A. Ashford, Ph.D.
('83 Oregon State, Civil Engineering)
Kearney Professor and Dean
College of Engineering
Oregon State University


Landslides from Nepal quake raise parallels for Pacific NW
A new report co-authored by Ben Mason, an assistant professor of civil engineering, describes how the 7.8 magnitude subduction zone earthquake in Nepal last April triggered tens of thousands of landslides. Because the geological plate situation in Nepal is similar to the Cascadia Subduction Zone of the Pacific NW, landslides could be even more extreme during an earthquake here. Video… Story from Newsweek…

Bioactive glass could prolong life of composite tooth fillings
A team of engineers led by Jamie Kruzic, a mechanical engineering professor, have made some promising findings about how “bioactive” glass can potentially help reduce bacteria's ability to attack composite tooth fillings — and perhaps provide some of the minerals needed to replace those lost to tooth decay. More…

Faculty & Staff

Tsunami incoming: What to do if one's on the way?
Dan Cox, a professor of civil engineering, talks about Oregon State's "Tsunami Lab" and how researchers there are helping people understand what to do when the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake (aka, The Big One) hits and how best to survive as the ensuing tsunami approaches the coastline. More…

Funding to restart nuclear test facility
Wade Marcum, an assistant professor in nuclear engineering, has received a 3-year, $4 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy for a project to restart the Transient Reactor Test Facility. Marcum is an ARCS 2008-10 Portland Scholar. More…

Jonathan Hurst, an associate professor of robotics, will be one of the speakers at TEDxOregonStateU on Feb. 11, 6 - 9 p.m. at LaSells Stewart Center. More…

Using AI to predict bird migrations and more
Thomas Dietterich is a member of computer science and ornithology teams at Oregon State and Cornell that are using artificial intelligence (AI) to make predictions about continental bird migration patterns, which could be used to plan wind turbine installations, shut off turbines to protect birds, or inform the military where it might avoid flying at night. More…

The skinny on thin-film transistors and next-gen flat screens
John Wager, the Michael and Judith Gaulke Chair of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, presents a progress report on oxide thin-film-transistor (TFT) or indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) technology and touches on the advantages and challenges associated with using amorphous-metal non-linear resistor (AMNR) technology. More…


Self-driving wheelchair team named semifinalist for $1M prize
An Oregon State student robotics team developing a self-driving wheelchair has been selected as one of 20 semifinalists worldwide competing for the $1 million dollar UAE AI & Robotics Award for Good. The students, led by Bill Smart, an associate professor of mechanical Engineering, include Ph.D. candidates William Curran and Austin Nicolai, and undergraduates Benjamin Narin and Nicholaus Perry. More…

Building better batteries for deep space travel
Creating long-lasting batteries used to power deep space exploration vehicles requires Plutonium-238, which costs a whopping $8 million per kilogram. An Oregon State team of nuclear engineering students Jackson Harter, Philip Belstering, and Don Buenaventura is developing a new way to produce Plutonium-238 more efficiently and for much lower cost. More…

Event brings together engineering and business students
In just 30 hours, 11 student teams built devices ranging from fun to serious and pitched their product to a panel of judges. Team Illumin8 won the top prize for an LED device that could be controlled wirelessly for events like football games. More…


Energy engineering degree receives accreditation
The energy systems engineering degree offered at OSU-Cascades has become only the fourth of its kind in the nation to receive full accreditation from ABET, and the program is gaining national prominence with job placement and government recognition. More…

New humanitarian engineering program launched
Like few other such programs in the U.S., the fledgling humanitarian engineering program was developed at Oregon State in response to student interest, and it is already attracting a more diverse cross-section of prospective students than is typically drawn to engineering, including more women. More…

Ecampus computer science program creates standout employees
Employers participating in the biannual Computer Science Career Showcase in Portland say post-baccalaureate students studying computer science online through Oregon State Ecampus have a unique ability to work in teams online, making them stand out among their peers as exceptional candidates for firms like Garmin that expect new hires to plug into online teams straight away. More…


Alumnus helping bring 85 new weather stations to Uganda
Zachary Dunn (’12 B.S. ecological engineering), the East Africa Field Director of the Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO), is leading a $1 million project that will install 85 weather stations in Uganda to warn farmers, fishers, and others about climate-driven weather emergencies by transmitting alerts via cell phones. More…


Blunck & Niemeyer: Smoldering
Following one of the worst U.S. wildfire seasons on record, David Blunck and Kyle Niemeyer, assistant professors of mechanical engineering, have been awarded a $2 million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Defense to study the impacts of smoldering combustion, a condition that produces no visible flame but can emit higher amounts of pollutants than flaming combustion and impact soil productivity, flora survival, air quality, and public health in municipalities located many miles from fires. More…

Sustainable textile manufacturing research receives grant
Oregon State is one of five universities receiving Walmart’s $2.84 million U.S. Manufacturing Fund. The funding will allow researchers to discover new ways to decrease dye toxicity while reducing water and energy consumption and eventually saving consumers money on their clothing purchases. The collaborators on the grant include Chih-Hung Chang, Rajiv Malhotra, Hsiou-Lien Chen, and Sara Robinson. More…

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