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Summer 2014

From the Dean

The College of Engineering continues to attract and retain talented and persistent scholars, as evidenced by another record-breaking year in terms of degrees conferred. In particular, we have nearly doubled the number of master's degrees and tripled the number of doctorates granted since 2008.

A new academic year begins on September 29, 2014, but that doesn't mean our faculty and students have all been taking it slow and easy this summer. They've been keeping busy, and you'll see what we mean when you read this month's issue. They've been seeking solutions for the sepsis epidemic, inventing a miniature radiation detector, studying geckos for clues to adhesion, and much more.

And don't miss reading about the success our student teams are having in formula racing, rocket science, and solar vehicle construction. These major achievements — including three international wins by the Global Formula Racing team — show the value of fostering a culture of collaboration throughout our academic experiences here at Oregon State.

For an in-depth look at some of the amazing research projects in progress at the water-energy nexus, see the latest issue of our Momentum! magazine.

We eagerly anticipate another year filled with big ideas, new discoveries, and effective teamwork. We'll keep you posted as the excitement unfolds!

Go Beavs!

Scott A. Ashford, Ph.D.
Kearney Professor and Dean
College of Engineering
Oregon State University


Discovering how geckos turn their stickiness on and off
In a breakthrough that could lead to new adhesive technologies, Alex Greany, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and collaborators have discovered how geckos use the remarkable anatomy of their toes in combination with a phenomenon known as the van der Waals force. More… (see also Washington Post, LA Times, Forbes)

Tiny radiation detector developed in response to Fukushima public demand
Partly in response to confusion following the nuclear incident in Fukushima, Japan, where people were unsure about radiation levels and exposure, Abi Farsoni, an associate professor of nuclear engineering, has developed an inexpensive, portable radiation detection device that is smaller than a golf ball and can determine the type, intensity, and whether or not the radiation poses a health risk. More…
(see also Innovation Toronto, Engineering.com, KTVZ)

Wind turbine life cycle assessment determines 5-8 month payback
In a life cycle assessment of 2 MW wind turbines, OSU researchers Karl Haapala and Preedanood Prempreeda have concluded that in terms of cumulative energy payback — the time to produce the amount of energy required during production and installation — a wind turbine with a working life of 20 years will offer a net benefit within five to eight months of coming online. More… (see also Green Building Elements, Product Design and Development)

Researchers tap microchannel technology to fight "hidden killer" sepsis
The National Science Foundation has awarded $200,000 to a research team led by Adam Higgins, an assistant professor in the School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering, to develop a new microchannel based technology that could revolutionize the treatment and prevention of sepsis, a condition commonly called "blood poisoning" that kills more people in the U.S. than AIDS, prostate cancer, and breast cancer combined. More… (see also MedGadget, Bio-Medicine)

Radiation testing along U.S. coast shows no need for concern
Although some West Coast residents in the U.S. are choosing to pay for radiation testing of seawater three years after the Fukushima nuclear incident, samples taken by Kathryn Higley, head of the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics, and colleagues show nothing of concern. "It has diluted. It has decayed. It has dispersed,"" Higley said. "We're not concerned about it." More…

Saving U.S. manufacturing jobs: Innovating better injection molding techniques
OSU engineering professors Sundar Atre and Rajiv Malhotra will use a $590,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation and work with the Microproducts Breakthrough Institute and the OSU Advantage Accelerator to help restore lost U.S. manufacturing jobs by developing improved injection molding techniques. More…
(see also Yahoo Finance, Manufacturing.net, CNN.Money)

Designing sustainability into manufacturing from the start
Karl Haapala, an assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering, is working with small and mid-sized businesses to design sustainability into the manufacturing process from the beginning, rather than waiting until the end. More…

Microwave heating could impact electronics manufacturing
A research team led by Greg Herman, an associate professor of chemical engineering, has successfully shown that a continuous flow reactor can produce high-quality nanoparticles by using microwave-assisted heating. More…
(see also Microwave Engineering Europe, Industrial Info Financials)

Robotics humans, phase one
Ravi Balasubramanian, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is designing a mechanical implant for attaching muscles to tendons that provides a more efficient and responsive solution for patients with hand disabilities. More…


Scaffidi's first paper named most influential
The first peer-reviewed paper written by Christopher Scaffidi, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science, was named the "Most Influential Paper" at the IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing in Melbourne, Australia. The paper addresses end-user programming. More…

Harper receives NSF grant to study ecotoxicity in nanomaterials
Stacey Harper, an assistant professor of environmental and molecular toxicology, has received a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to improve the ability to predict nanomaterial behavior in aquatic environments and forecast the potential to impact living systems and ecosystem function, specifically the ecotoxcicity of nanomaterials in aquatic systems. More…

Wildenshild appointed associate dean of graduate school
On August 1, Dorthe Wildenschild, a professor in the School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering, began her appointment as associate dean of the Graduate School, where she will serve as OSU's Director of Postdoctoral Programs, the liaison between the Graduate School and the Research Office, and contribute to the enhancement of graduate student training, support, and professional development opportunities on campus. More…


Global Formula Racing continues winning streak
After taking first place at the Formula SAE competition in Michigan in May, OSU's Global Formula Racing (GFR), an international collaboration between Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg-Ravensburg in Germany and Oregon State University, won first place at the Formula Student (FS) competitions in both Germany and Austria. FS Germany and FSAE Michigan are the two most competitive FSAE/FS events in the world. GFR beat the best teams from around the world at FS Germany, including the Australian champions (Monash University). Watch the video of the top five cars in the endurance race and the GFR's video. FS Germany and FS Austria results show impressive margins of victory. Results are in and GFR has also won FS Spain this past weekend! Follow GFR on Facebook and Twitter and learn more about the team.

Student team's first trip to rocket competition brings 1st place win
A first-year team of OSU engineering students beat 22 others from around the world with an almost perfect launch of 10,280 feet at the ESRA Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition in Utah to take home the $1,000 prize in the Basic Category and the $100 Payload Prize. More…

Solar vehicle team shines bright at international competitions
Competing against teams from around the world, the OSU Solar Vehicle Team fared well in two collegiate competitions in Austin, Texas, winning 2nd place overall in the Formula Sun Grand Prix (with 124 laps), 6th place overall in the American Solar Challenge (a 1,700-mile, 8-day race from Texas to Minnesota), and additional awards for safety and teamwork. More…

Doctoral student selected for summer glacier school in Alaska
Thomas Mosier, a doctoral candidate studying water resources engineering and mechanical engineering, is one of only 15 students in the U.S. accepted to participate in the prestigious International Summer School in Glaciology in Alaska this summer. Read his blog post.

Student beats overwhelming odds to succeed, lands Google Lime scholarship
Although Charles Hill experienced abuse, neglect, and hunger during his childhood, had no family support to attend college, spent 17 years in foster care, and copes with ADHD and depression, he graduated from OSU with a computer science degree in June and will pursue a doctoral degree as one of only 13 people in the U.S. given Google Lime Scholarships. More…

"Girls Get IT" summer camp creator lands $60,000 scholarship
Savannah Loberger, a current computer science major at Oregon State who launched a summer camp for girls to explore information technology (IT), has been awarded the Navarrette Women in Engineering Scholarship, which provides $60,000 for one extraordinary student over the course of four years. More…

Making a Difference

Johnson Hall groundbreaking to be held on Sept. 15
Thanks in part to a generous $7 million gift from College of Engineering alumnus Peter Johnson ('55) and his wife Rosalie, construction will soon begin on a new building to house the School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering. A construction launch event is scheduled for Sept. 15 at the intersection of NW Monroe Avenue and SW Park Terrace Place. More…

Alumni, friends give through scholarships and professorship

  • Through a gift establishing a charitable remainder trust, Bert Loughmiller ('64, Civil Engineering) and Kaye Bailey Loughmiller ('54, Elementary Education) have created "his and hers" scholarships in their respective colleges, engineering and education, as well as a Presidential Scholarship through a bequest. More…
  • Cecil and Sally Drinkward have made a $1 million gift commitment creating an endowed professorship in structural engineering. Cecil is a past president of Hoffman Construction Company and said, "This is payback for the training OSU provided to the engineers who helped me build Hoffman into the premier Oregon general contractor." More…

PGE Foundation announced scholarship grant
In honor of PGE reaching its 125-year milestone of powering Oregon, the PGE Foundation is highlighting its recent $25,000 grant to the College of Engineering for scholarships. Scholarship award winners will be matched with PGE mentors to increase student-industry connection. More…


New graduate programs launched in robotics and engineering management
The School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering has launched two unique, new programs: master's and doctoral degree program in robotics and an online master's degree in engineering management.

College preps to launch humanitarian engineering program
Responding to growing demand by engineering students to make a lasting, positive impact on our world, the college is working to launch a new Humanitarian Engineering program focused on the co-development of science- or engineering-based solutions that improve the human condition through better access to basic human needs and improve quality of life and community resilience. More…

NSF grant to help boost retention and graduation rates
A joint effort between the College of Engineering, College of Science, and the Division of Student Affairs has received a $1.5 million NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education grant to launch a new university-wide program called the Oregon State University STEM Leaders Program. More…

Summer camp at Oregon State inspires minority and female students
OSU's Summer Experience in Science and Engineering for Youth (SESEY), a six-day camp intended to inspire minority and female students to enter science, technology, engineering, and math fields, drew some 60 students to campus, where they tested different plastics (to solve a fictional murder mystery), explored recycled plastics as building materials, and used an automobile simulator to devise ways to avoid crashes. More…

Open Source Lab and Business Solutions Group merge, join college
The Open Source Lab and the Business Solutions Group (formerly in the College of Business) have merged and are now part of the College of Engineering's School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, under the direction of Carlos Jensen.


Don Pettit: Space Station photography guru (and didgeridoo player)
OSU engineering graduate and NASA astronaut Don Pettit ('78, Chemical Engineering) is arguably the guru of photography at the International Space Station (where he has spent a total of 370 days over three visits). Here, he discusses the many challenges — and mind-bending solutions — behind space photography (he also "dresses as a musician" to play a didgeridoo fashioned from a Space Station vacuum hose). More…

Alex Polvi's startup company announces $8M Series A funding round
CoreOS, a company founded by OSU engineering grad Alex Polvi ('07, Computer Science) that offers a Linux operating system for massive server deployments, recently announced its $8 million Series A funding round, as well as the release of CoreOS Managed Linux, which will provide businesses with optional support subscriptions. More…

Award-wining documentary by alumnus to debut
Walter Kortschak ('81, Civil Engineering) and his son Andrew Kortschak co-produced "Print the Legend," a 3D printing documentary that captures a tech in the midst of its "Macintosh Moment" and a compelling tale about what it takes to live the American Dream. The film won the Special Jury Recognition Award for Editing and Storytelling in the Documentary Feature Competition at the 2014 SXSW Film Festival. "Print the Legend" will debut exclusively on Netflix on September 26. More…

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