May 2011

From the Editor

Dear Readers,

To fulfill our mission of delivering some of the best engineering talent in the world, the College of Engineering integrates authentic engineering experiences into the core of our curriculum. Come see how our students thrive when provided with such opportunities at the 12th annual OSU Engineering Expo and Robo*Palooza to be held Friday, May 20 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Kelley Engineering Center.

The expo provides excellent demonstrations of the hands-on learning opportunities offered to Oregon State engineering students. Each year, we display diverse and undeniable evidence of mind-boggling talent among our undergraduate engineers. For example, the Senior Design Showcase features more than 100 student-built projects from across the breadth of Oregon State's engineering disciplines and includes a special exhibit of clean technology and green energy solutions at the Expo's Sustainability Showcase.

Another exciting part of the expo includes this year's Robo*Palooza, which features the TekBot® Triathlon (think agility trials for robots), an award-winning student-constructed Mars rover, and first-place award-winning robots from local high schools. You'll also see many other inspiring engineering innovations. Individuals of all ages will find their intellects piqued, and prospective students with a penchant for science and technology are sure to be intrigued. Learn more about the 2011 OSU Engineering Expo at

When you read this issue of Momentum, please pay special attention to the outstanding accomplishments highlighted in the Students section. Our students are truly the showcase of our success.


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

Solar collectors

Addressing potential structural damage caused by liquefaction
A massive Cascade Subduction Zone earthquake similar to the one Japan suffered on March 11 would make parts of Oregon vulnerable to extreme soil liquefaction, according to Oregon State University professor Scott Ashford. Structures such as buildings and bridges may shift, sink, or even slide downhill in certain areas, which would significantly magnify any structural damage produced by the shaking itself. Data provided by analyzing the Japanese earthquake will help scientists to better understand this soil phenomenon. New construction and retrofitting may use techniques known to reduce liquefaction and mitigate risks, but probable damage can also be anticipated. In areas where this additional risk is anticipated, it is a good idea to establish contingency plans for repairs and the protection and care of residents. More…

Solar collectors

New "nanobead" approach could revolutionize sensor technology
Sensor technology could be revolutionized by tapping into the capability of tiny magnetic pieces of rust called “nanobeads” that have been incorporated into a system of integrated circuits capable of detecting chemicals with sensitivity and selectivity. These microfluidic sensors were developed through the collaborative studies of Oregon State University researchers, including Professors Vincent Remcho (Chemistry) and Pallavi Dhagat (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science). These nanobeads are 1,000 times smaller than particles now being used in common diagnostic tests, which greatly improves portability. It’s like having a whole diagnostic laboratory on a single chip. The system could be used to detect almost anything of interest in air or water, including chemical toxins used in bioterrorism. More…

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One of the country's coolest engineering classes
According to eGFI, a resource for promoting and enhancing efforts to improve K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education, Oregon State’s College of Engineering is definitely on the “cool” list. The organization’s publication, made available by the American Society for Engineering Education, recently featured Oregon State’s tsunami research class in its series of stories about the country’s coolest engineering classes. At the O.H. Hindsdale Wave Research Laboratory, students can build, test, and witness first hand the destructive powers of tsunamis. More…

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Partnering in Iraq to improve sustainability through engineering
The March 2011 issue of the National Society of Professional Engineers magazine highlighted Oregon State's unique collaborative partnership with the State of Oregon, the Michael Scott Mater Foundation, and the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education to develop a model for sustainable engineering in the Middle East. Many of Oregon State's advancements in sustainable research and technology will be shared during this five-year collaboration, with the aim of rebuilding a greener Iraq. More…

Faculty & Staff
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Brekken named this year's Outstanding Young Engineer
Ted Brekken, assistant professor in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, was recognized by the by the IEEE Power and Energy Society for his outstanding achievements in teaching, research, and outreach to the community. The award comes with a $2,000 scholarship fund payable at the engineering college of his choice, and he will designate it for distribution to Oregon State students. As co-director of the Wallace Energy Systems and Renewables Facility at Oregon State, Brekken is working to advance wind and wave technologies, energy storage, and the large-scale integration of renewable energy onto the grid. He is a member of the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center, which recently announced a new ocean-wave energy test program to be located near Newport, Ore. In addition to teaching at the university, Brekken lectures for the Corvallis-Benton County Library series on renewable energy and teaches a course at Linn-Benton Community College.


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Engineers Without Borders completes El Salvador water systems project
The Oregon State student chapter of Engineers Without Borders finished an ambitious international outreach effort the group initiated in 2005. Students engineered and installed efficient water catchment and filtration systems to provide safe, potable water to two rural communities in El Salvador. Over the course of ten trips to the region, 26 student volunteers completed the project in March 2011, delivering a sustainable, accessible, and centralized site for the long-term storage and purification of rainwater. The solution ensures a reliable water source for farming, washing, and drinking. More…

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Oleksak awarded lottery scholarship
Chemical Engineering graduate student Richard Oleksak received a $3,300 scholarship from the Oregon Lottery that will support his education during the 2011-12 academic year. Oleksak's research focuses on solution-based synthesis and deposition of nanostructure thin films for photovoltaic applications. Associate Professor Gregory Herman made the nomination based on Oleksak's academic excellence and the potential impact his research will have in solar energy. More…

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Engineering students ask State legislators to fund education
Environmental engineering student Kristina Schmunk and biological engineering student Robin Wagner represented the School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering in Salem during Oregon State’s fifth “Day at the Capitol.” More than 200 Oregon State students met with legislators to lobby for protecting the current education and general fund budget and supporting Senate Bill 242, which would restructure and support further financial independence for the Oregon University System. Schmunk and Wagner advocated for stabilizing university funding and avoiding budget cuts that would adversely affect the university’s ability to attract top faculty and support individualized course study. More…

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Gilbuena to be honored at ASEE Annual Conference 
Debra Gilbuena will receive a $500 grant from the Chemical Engineering Division of the American Society for Engineering Education’s Graduate Student “Future Faculty,” which will be presented at the 118th Annual Conference and Exposition in Vancouver, B.C., on June 27, 2011.

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Oregon State students win Bechtel video contest
Environmental engineering junior Justin Chi and biological engineering sophomore Cassandra Loren earned the grand prize in the Bechtel Student Engineering Video Contest during Engineers Week. Engineers Week aims to spark interest in engineering and technology careers among students and raise public appreciation of engineers' contributions to society. Engineering students from the United States and Canada were asked to describe in two minutes or less why they want to become engineers. Entries were judged on personal story, originality, creativity, and inspiration to others. For their prize, Chi and Loren will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to visit the Dulles Metrorail extension project in Washington, D.C. Watch the winning video...

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Becoming a catalyst
Mikkel VandeBergh, an Oregon State senior majoring in environmental engineering, has found a platform for community outreach at this year’s Oregon State University Engineering Expo. She will be demonstrating a biodiesel cart built by the Sustainable Energy Initiative’s Biodiesel Outreach Project. The portable mini-fuel synthesizer catalyzes waste vegetable oil into fuel capable of powering diesel engines. “Biodiesel is not the only solution, but part of the solution,” says VandeBergh, who is vice president of the Sustainable Energy Initiative and one of four national co-chairs to the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel. More…

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Videos highlighting distinguished alumni
The Oregon State University College of Engineering honored some of its most distinguished alumni at the 13th annual Oregon Stater Awards in February. Alumni were asked to share their impact on Oregon and beyond through their leadership, innovations, discoveries, and service, and to reflect on how Oregon State has influenced their path. The Division of University Relations and Marketing produced a series of videos highlighting award recipients' responses. You can view the 2011 Oregon Stater Award Citations, Photo Gallery, and YouTube Playlist, here…

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OSU alumnus elected president of the Structural Engineering Institute
Sarmad (Sam) A. Rihani, ('77 BS Civil Engineering) of Reston, Va., was elected president of the Structural Engineering Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers and will assume his new role in October 2011. Rihani is principal of REI Structural Consultants, a structural engineering consulting firm. He specializes in the structural analysis and design of steel framing systems and buildings, and has acted as the lead structural engineer on more than 700 projects.


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BPA honors engineering legacy of 100-year-old Harrington
The Bonneville Power Administration recently released a story celebrating 100-year-old Oregon State College of Engineering graduate Ev Harrington ('34), a retired BPA engineer. Harrington spent more than 30 years testing and pursuing ways to improve transmission reliability in the Northwest. He is a member of the internationally recognized Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and was chair of the institute's power circuit committee. Forty years after his retirement from BPA, his discoveries are still contributing to the reliability of the power grid. More…

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Intel helps bring open-source programming to freshman
The School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science is working in collaboration with Intel Corporation to give students more opportunities to learn open-source programming early in their college careers. Fourteen high-achieving incoming computer science students in Oregon State's Intel Open Source Learning Company worked hands-on with instructors and mentors this year to develop new open-source learning materials and programs that will become part of the computer science curriculum next year and contribute to open-source projects and research. Oregon State innovations are the foundational building blocks of the program. Students use Intel's emerging version of Linux, called MeeGo, and next-generation Intel hardware, and any improvements they make will be shared with MeeGo's open-source community. More…

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Enhancing tsunami preparedness through industry partnerships
Enhancing human preparedness for tsunamis and hurricane-level storms can be achieved by developing wave- and erosion-resistant coastal structures and better evacuation plans. Large-scale simulations at the George E. Brown, Jr., Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation Tsunami Research Facility at O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory have been made possible in part through MTS Systems Corporation's contributions during its 40-year partnership with Oregon State. Enhancements were made possible in key areas, such as facility planning, hardware and software specification, system integration, and ongoing maintenance. "MTS was especially helpful in making user-defined long wave capabilities available through our Large Wave Flume," said Solomon Yim, professor of ocean and structural engineering at Oregon State. The Large Wave Flume enables accurate simulation of shallow-water hurricane conditions, tsunamis, long waves, and long-term coastal erosion. More…

Making a Difference
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Generous funding supports green research in engineering
Faculty members in the School of Civil and Construction Engineering and the College of Forestry can support undergraduate students in their efforts to get involved in research on campus, thanks to scholarships and internships offered by the Lora and Martin Kelley Family Foundation. The one-time gift of $200,000, to be spent over four years, is split evenly between scholarships awarded directly to students and internships for students to work on faculty research. Aid is specifically designated for underrepresented students and students interested in renewable materials. Internships are in research areas related to green building materials and renewable energy. Scholarship recipients and interns are future leaders in the College of Engineering, as indicated by their various on-campus activities and participation in student organizations. Read more here and here.

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Student showcase to be held May 24 in Portland, Ore.
The Business and Engineering Student Showcase will be held on May 24, 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. in the Union Bank Building lobby, 407 SW Broadway, Portland, Ore. The event is co-sponsored by Oregon State University and Union Bank. Highlights include a demonstration of the Oregon State University Robotics Club's entry into the 2011 University Rover Challenge and the unveiling of the Oregon State chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers' 2011 Baja and Formula cars. Attendees also will have opportunities to learn how members of Students in Free Enterprise are fighting hunger across the U.S. and how students in Engineers Without Borders provided clean water to remote communities in El Salvador and Kenya. The event is free and open to the public, but space is limited. Register online or reply to Darla Meyers at 541-737-8563.

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