July 2011

From the (Stand-in) Editor

Dear Readers,

While our regular editor is fly fishing in the sun-soaked tropics, I am delighted to serve as the Momentum stand-in. A month ago, I joined the College of Engineering to help build its communications and marketing efforts and facilitate its goal of becoming a top-25 college. Already I have noticed the dynamism among the people and programs here. Faculty, students, and research associates alike build, re-tool, and re-imagine. They transform the smallest spark of an idea into inventions that change the way we live and work. In short, the college brims with Momentum.

I am excited to share the July issue of this appropriately titled online magazine, where you will see ample evidence of our momentum. It's this same momentum that propelled a group of eager students to cross the finish line and win the SAE formula racecar championship—not once, but twice. It's the same momentum inherent in the students who built a next-generation Mars rover and placed third at an international competition. Our faculty, too, add to our momentum with their research that solves some of our most pressing problems, including turning environmentally un-sound waste heat into usable, clean energy. And of course, our alumni exhibit momentum with their sustained commitment to ensuring our facilities and learning spaces stay on the cutting edge.

Like me, you'll discover it doesn't take long to feel the momentum at the College of Engineering. I hope you'll join us on our journey toward continued excellence.


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

Solar collectors

New prototype uses waste heat to generate clean energy
Researchers are one step closer to harnessing wasted energy from tailpipes, factories, and power plants for cooling and powering other machines. Hailei Wang, a research associate in the School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, led the team that developed a prototype that could one day transform our global energy use. The technology successfully converted 80 percent of every kilowatt of waste heat into a kilowatt of cooling capability, thus recovering waste heat that would otherwise dissipate into the atmosphere unused.
(See stories in BioScholar, KVAL, DNA, , Huffington Post, Earth Techling, Gaia News, Tendencias de la Ingeniería, RAC, Laboratory Equipment, KGW, and Industry Week)

Solar collectors

Tornadoes raise questions about building practices, code enforcement
This spring's rash of tornadoes in the United States raised fundamental questions about our construction standards—namely, whether we can build structures to withstand such disasters. New research by Rakesh Gupta, graduate faculty in the School of Civil and Construction Engineering, reveals that better building practices can in fact mitigate damage from lesser storms. As part of a research team supported by the National Science Foundation, Gupta reports that much of the damage could be linked to weak connections in critical locations, such as trusses or rafters to supporting walls. (See stories in National Science Foundation and Buildings)

Solar collectors

"Ultrawideband" could be future of medical monitoring
Research by Patrick Chiang, assistant professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, could one day allow health care professionals to monitor patients in real time. Chiang has confirmed that a technology, called "ultrawideband," is a key element to this sophisticated monitoring, which could reduce the onset of degenerative diseases, save lives, and cut health care costs. The ideal device would be worn on the body while transmitting vast amounts of health information in real time. The challenges are complex, Chiang admits, but he is hopeful to see the first commercialized system in five years. More…

Faculty & Staff

Thermodynamics professor takes a refreshing approach
Materials science and engineering graduate student Kirsten Brookshire never thought she would use "fun" and "thermodynamics" in the same sentence—until she took the course from Professor Bill Warnes. Even Warnes is surprised by his teaching evaluations and how many students say they enjoy the course. It might help that he tailors his lessons to students' research interests and keeps abreast of modern technology trends. Or it could be his unique ability to engage all different learners. As Brookshire attests, "I feel Warnes is aware of all learning styles (visual, auditory and hands-on), and his lectures reflect his desire to engage across all of these." More…

Robert Paasch wins mentorship award
When the OSU student Global Formula Racing team took the SAE national championships (see related story below, under Students section), they weren't the only ones to walk away as winners. Robert Paasch, OSU Boeing Professor in mechanical engineering, received the 2011 Carroll Smith Mentor's Cup by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), which recognizes the most outstanding Formula SAE adviser. Jeff Delany, the senior captain of the OSU Global Formula Racing team, applauded Paasch for his role as project mentor, calling him an "outstanding adviser." The Mentor Cup is a lifetime award and the highest honor of the organization.


Student formula racing team wins back-to-back SAE national championships
Last year, OSU's Global Formula Racing team took top honors at the Formula SAE national competition. This year, they had a remarkable repeat performance, making them only the third team to claim back-to-back national championships. The group of mostly engineering students dominated in the three most coveted areas—design, endurance, and the overall win. Throughout the process, they cultivated skills in chassis construction, aerodynamics, mechanical engineering, fundraising, project management, and, perhaps most valuable, the true meaning of teamwork. (See stories in KVAL and Gazette Times)

Student's research on concrete earns recognition from industry
Whether we realize it or not, concrete is everywhere—from the bridge decks we drive across to the buildings we do business in. Tengfei Fu, a PhD student in the School of Civil and Construction Engineering, is on the forefront of concrete research that could improve some of our most valuable infrastructure. After receiving a $20,000 fellowship from the Portland Cement Association Education Foundation, Fu is developing an efficient procedure to determine shrinkage limits to minimize cracking of high-performance concrete. The end result? More durable buildings, less construction waste, and fewer costly repairs. More…

OSU team takes third at 2011 University Rover Challenge
Sometimes the journey—not the finish line—teaches us the most important lesson, and a group of College of Engineering students may have realized this fact at the international 2011 University Rover Challenge. The competition tasked students with designing and building the next generation of Mars rovers. The OSU team had hopes of taking first place, as they had the year before, but instead came in an upsetting third. Despite the disappointment, team members said the rover had more functionality than last year's model, and everything was custom built to minimize weight and improve performance. There were no pre-engineered parts, and nothing was borrowed or bought. "The other teams at the competition were awed, amazed, and impressed at what we had built," said Jesse Grimes, a mechanical engineering graduate. "They recognized that the level of craftsmanship, the design, the functionality and the aesthetics of our robot were way beyond the standard." In other words, the OSU Mars rover team may have placed third in the overall competition, but their engineering was first rate. (For photos of the event, click here. You can see the rover in action here.)

Students receive University Honors College scholarship
Two College of Engineering students in the University Honors College (UHC) received a $5,000 Honors Promise Finishing Scholarship. Simone Fobi (environmental engineering) and Marsha Lampi (bio-engineering) were chosen by a faculty committee from a field that included many of the UHC's most dedicated and accomplished students. This scholarship —new to this year—is the highest dollar value scholarship awarded by the UHC. It is awarded to students in support of their senior thesis and completion of their undergraduate program.


Alumni recognized by Environmental and Water Resources Institute
The Environmental and Water Resources Institute (EWRI) honored several College of Engineering alumni for their service and scholarship. The most prestigious of the awards—the Hunter Rouse—went to Darrel Temple (BS '73, Civil Engineering) for his lifetime of achievements as a hydraulics professional. Jeffrey Bradley (BS '75, MS '77, Civil Engineering), received the 2011 Service of the Institute Award, adding to his long list of accomplishments. The award acknowledges his enterprising role as founder of WEST Consultants, a water resources engineering firm, as well as his many engagements on advisory boards. Finally, Steven Stockton (BS '71, Civil Engineering), director of civil works for the Army Corps in D.C., served as keynote speaker.

College of Engineering alumnus shoots for the stars
Few people can say they shoot for the stars and really mean it. Don Pettit (BS, '78, Chemical Engineering) is one who can. In November of this year, the NASA astronaut and chemical engineering graduate is scheduled to go into space on the International Space Station Expedition 30. The mission is hardly his first. During his mission on the ISS Expedition 6, Pettit constructed a device that takes sharper high-resolution images of city light from the orbiting space station. He also invented the zero-g cup, allowing astronauts in a weightless environment to drink coffee from a cup, rather than through a traditional straw.


OSU-industry partnership results in ranking on R&D Magazine's top 100 technologies
An instrument used in OSU's Oregon Process Innovation Center (OPIC) for Sustainable Solar Cell Manufacturing was among R&D Magazine's 100 most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace over the past year. Established in 1963, the R&D awards have identified some of the world's most revolutionary technologies, including the automated teller machine, the fax machine, the Nicoderm anti-smoking patch, and HDTV. College of Engineering researchers partnered with industry to integrate the instrument, called the Real-Time Quantum Efficiency system, into OPIC. Developed by Oregon-based Tau Science, the technology is among the most fundamental techniques used to characterize solar cell performance and to determine the root cause of cell defects. "OPIC's role in this has been as a beta partner, providing us with the means to validate the technique across a variety of photovoltaic material systems and in providing a location in their multi-user facility where we can get broader exposure to the PV industry," said Jamie Hudson, president of Tau Science. "We have and will continue to work with the OPIC team to refine the equipment and explore the applications of the technique to next-generation manufacturing processes and materials."(See stories in R&D Magazine and Scientific Computing)

Three Corvallis startups announce $20 million in venture backing
Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI), a research center in partnership with Oregon universities, industry, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, announced three Corvallis-based nanotech companies received $20 million in startup capital. Inpria Corp, a thin film company; Perpetua Power Source Technologies, a developer of renewable energy solutions for the wireless sensor network community; and ZAPS Technologies, a water quality monitoring enterprise all received venture backing. The companies also participate in ONAMI's GAP Fund program, which provides research grants to promote commercialization. More…

Glumac opens office in Corvallis
Forty years ago, Dick Glumac took $6,000 in savings to open an engineering firm in San Francisco. Now, the company that helped design OSU's 150,000-square-foot Kelley Engineering Center has opened an office in Corvallis. Glumac recently celebrated the opening of the new space at 1555 NW Monroe Ave., alongside employees, community members, and staff from Oregon State University. The company hopes the proximity to Oregon State will foster greater collaboration and attract bright engineering students who are interested in energy-efficient design. More…
(photo by Andy Cripe/Corvallis Gazette Times)

Making a Difference

Kearneys honored for philanthropic spirit
The Kearneys became a household name on the OSU campus after the ailing Apperson Hall received a facelift and was transformed into Kearney Hall. The $12 million renovation was made possible in part by a generous lead gift from OSU alumni Lee (BS, '63, Civil Engineering) and Connie ('65, College of Education) Kearney. In honor of their philanthropy—to OSU and other nonprofit organizations—the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington awarded the Kearneys with their top prize—the 2011 Philanthropist of the Year award. The couple was noted for the financial support of numerous local facilities, including the LEED-certified Kearney Hall, which now serves as the home of the School of Civil and Construction Engineering. More…


ETIC gets a new leader
The Engineering and Technology Industry Council (ETIC) has a new leader. The Oregon University System appointed Eric C. Meslow (BS, '91, College of Education), president and CEO of Timbercon, as chair for a two-year term, citing his vast experience in fiber optics, data communications, data storage, software, and high-technology industries. ETIC is a public-private partnership launched by the Oregon Legislature in 1997. The collaborative entity brings together state universities and industry with the goal of expanding research and graduating more and better engineers, computer scientists, and technologists.

Women & Minorities in Engineering program honors high school teacher
In celebration of National Teachers month, the Women & Minorities in Engineering program honored high school educator Rob Waite with the Distinguished Mentor Award. Waite is a former superintendent and math teacher at Echo School District in eastern Oregon. His nominator, Cierra Eby, is a recent graduate of the OSU Honors College and civil engineering program. Eby writes that growing up in a small rural community in eastern Oregon, she was unlikely to pursue college. Mr. Waite volunteered to teach higher-level math classes, putting Eby on an accelerated track and laying the foundation for success in civil engineering. This fall, she will be attending graduate school at UC Berkeley.

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

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