awards

Four faculty win early-career awards

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Early-career investigator award winners for 2022.

Four faculty in the Oregon State University College of Engineering have received prestigious early-career investigator awards from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy. Houssam Abbas, Yue Cao, and Xiao Fu are the recipients of the Faculty Early Career Development, or CAREER, awards from the NSF. Kelsey Stoerzinger is the recipient of an award from DOE’s Early Career Research Program.

The grants cover a wide array of engineering projects: developing computational ethics for autonomous systems; incorporating currently overlooked “virtual” resources, such as HVAC systems or water heaters, into energy storage systems; advancing unsupervised deep representation learning, and designing and testing catalysts that facilitate the conversion of nitrate into ammonia more efficiently and sustainably than current methods.

“These early career awards demonstrate the importance of our research and how the College of Engineering continues to innovate and lead in so many fields,” said Scott Ashford, Kearney Dean of Engineering. “On a personal note, I couldn’t be happier for these faculty members.”

Increasingly, autonomous systems — such as self-driving cars, unpiloted aerial vehicles, and assistive robots in medical facilities — interact with people on a daily basis. Houssam Abbas, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, will use his five-year, nearly $500,000 NSF CAREER award to further develop computational ethics as an engineering and scientific discipline to be used in the design of such systems.

For example, a self-driving car may encounter a situation where it needs to make an ethically laden decision: Given no other choice, does it run into a wall and potentially injure its passengers, or run into a pedestrian? While this question cannot be resolved with purely technical solutions, there is an urgent need for an engineering process to model, verify, and analyze autonomous systems’ behaviors in such situations.

Abbas aims to develop engineering tools to allow system designers to formalize, program, and verify the implementation of ethical principles.

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A picture of Houssam Abbas.
Houssam Abbas wants autonomous systems, like self-driving cars, to make ethical choices when faced with difficult decisions.

Traditional energy storage systems encompass what Yue Cao, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, calls “real” storage, which includes batteries, supercapacitors, and fuel cells. He plans to use his five-year, $500,000 NSF CAREER award to figure out ways to also incorporate currently overlooked “virtual” resources, such as HVAC systems or water heaters.

“I call those systems ‘virtual,’ because storing energy is not their primary purpose, but they consume electricity and are tied to the grid or other energy resources,” Cao said.

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A picture of Yue Cao.
Yue Cao’s work could lead to widespread use of nontraditional, hybrid energy storage systems.

The purpose of Cao’s research will be to create a universal equivalent circuit for multiple energy storage systems that are controlled by connected power electronics. Cao will then develop a design approach to optimally size the hybrid energy storage systems and increase their life and reliability. By dynamically regulating virtual energy mass, this new approach aims to modulate energy usage from the grid.

“For example, if I have rooftop solar panels on my house, and it’s a sunny day and the air conditioner is on, and in the next minute a cloud blocks the sun, solar power will be reduced,” Cao said. “Current systems would use power from the grid to keep the air conditioner running. With an integrated energy system, however, the power used by the air conditioner, or the virtual resource, could be adjusted temporarily to match the reduced power of the solar panels, without my noticing a difference in temperature.”

Cao is already working on research projects that involve energy storage problems including fast charging stations for heavy-duty trucks on rural highways, electrification of locomotives, and wave energy.

Xiao Fu, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and artificial intelligence, will use his five-year, $500,000 NSF CAREER award to develop a suite of nonlinear factor analysis tools and contribute to a deeper understanding of unsupervised machine learning and sensing systems.

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A picture of Xiao Fu.
Xiao Fu plans to gain a deeper understanding of unsupervised machine learning and sensing systems.

Factor analysis tools are cornerstones of many sensing and learning applications, such as document analytics, hyperspectral imaging, brain signal processing, and representation learning. They’re designed to detect meaningful information hidden in large data sets, such as prominent topics within a large collection of documents.

However, many classic factor analysis models can be thwarted by phenomena known as nonlinear distortions, which frequently cause inaccurate results. To address the problem, Fu must first establish a deeper theoretical understanding of the so-called nonlinear factor analysis models, which are not well understood.

One of his goals is to use nonlinear factor analysis to understand and advance unsupervised deep representation learning, which is considered a critical tool to alleviate the high demand for labeled data in modern AI systems.

Supervised machine learning algorithms learn through exposure to labeled inputs that correspond with specific outputs. But the training process can be costly and time intensive, because reliable data annotation must be done by experienced workers.

Fu hopes to “reverse engineer” the data generating/acquisition process, so that machine learning and sensing algorithms can recognize and categorize unlabeled data — images, for instance — without being trained, by identifying and interpreting essential factors hidden within the data.

Kelsey Stoerzinger, assistant professor of chemical engineering, plans to use her five-year, $750,000 early career award from the DOE to develop a deeper understanding of electrochemical processes used to convert nitrate into ammonia, and to design and test catalysts that target this reaction.

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Kelsey Stoerzinger with some students.
Kelsey Stoerzinger with former students Prajwal Adiga and Cindy Wong. Her work could lead to sustainable production of ammonia, one of the world’s most important chemicals.

Ammonia is among the most widely used chemicals in the world. But industrial-scale ammonia production relies on the Haber-Bosch process, in which hydrogen and nitrogen are combined at high temperatures and pressures. The practice requires enormous amounts of energy and produces huge volumes of carbon dioxide.

Meanwhile, nitrate from untreated wastewater and agricultural runoff overwhelms streams, rivers, and groundwater in many areas of the country. Ingesting excessive nitrate has been linked to a number of serious health risks in humans, while an overabundance in aquatic ecosystems can devastate plant and animal life.

Stoerzinger, who won an early career award from the National Science Foundation in 2021, will investigate an electrochemical option for ammonia synthesis in which an electric current is passed through a device containing nitrate-contaminated water. “We want to take this waste nitrate and transform it into a usable form, ammonia, and we’ll do that by applying electricity from renewable energy sources,” she said.

However, widespread implementation of an electrochemical approach will be feasible only with catalysts that select for, or favor, the reaction that produces ammonia rather than a competing reaction that produces hydrogen from the water molecules. Competing reactions can occur when the same starting materials combine to create undesired products.

Stoerzinger’s goal is to identify effective catalytic materials that result in high yields of ammonia. She intends to focus on materials made from abundant elements, like nickel, iron, and cobalt, because precious metal catalysts, while potentially useful, are too expensive for large-scale production.

“We want to find sustainable solutions that allow us to recycle nitrate by upgrading it to something valuable,” Stoerzinger said. “Developing the most selective and efficient catalysts is the linchpin that will allow us to move the technology forward.”

Sept. 20, 2022

Realistic virtual labs are key to expanding online engineering degree programs

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Jeff Nason and engineering student in lab uniform observing.

Photos by Johanna Carson.

Jeff Nason, professor of environmental engineering and associate head for graduate programs in the School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering, has been awarded a two- year, $200,000 National Science Foundation grant to gauge differences in how physical and virtual laboratories prepare students for an engineering career. In particular, he and co-principal investigator Milo Koretsky — an emeritus professor of chemical engineering at Oregon State University who now has a joint appointment in engineering and education at Tufts University — intend to determine if the two modes of learning foster the development of different but complementary skills.

The knowledge gained will better position engineering educators to design and establish virtual and physical laboratories, including labs for situations where students are place-bound and may not have access to physical equipment, according to Nason.

“As more engineering classes and degree programs move online, we need ways to ensure that virtual labs can accomplish the same goals as their physical counterparts,” Nason said.

The grant proposal emerged from the inaugural cohort of projects funded by the Center for Research in Engineering Education Online, or CREEdO — a collaboration between the College of Engineering and Oregon State Ecampus. The other projects from this cohort focused on making online courses more inclusive and incorporating extended-reality simulations and learning tools into online classes.

Nason explains that laboratory work provides an important opportunity for engineering students to form skills that will be essential in their profession, such as working effectively in teams, considering problems in context, making evidence-based decisions, and persisting and learning in the face of failure.

“Engineering is about solving problems, but we’d like to know if students approach problems differently depending on whether the lab is virtual or physical,” he said. “Does one environment lead to a high number of evidence-based decisions while the other promotes decisions based more on the quality of the team’s social interactions? How do students in each type of lab respond to being stuck? Does one foster more tolerance for failure more than the other?”

The CREEdO study protocol calls for four teams of three students each to conduct jar testing in both physical and virtual labs. Jar testing is a laboratory procedure commonly used by design engineers and drinking water treatment plant operators to optimize physical and chemical conditions for the effective coagulation, flocculation, and settling of particulate contaminants from water. The first round of lab work has been completed, and the NSF funding will allow the researchers to conduct a second round of observation and analysis.

Based on their lab results, the students, acting as teams of engineers, must deliver a recommendation by the end of the day. Virtual experiments can take just minutes to run, so each team is given a realistic time budget that adjusts for the length of time it would take to complete a set of jar tests in the real world.

“That means that students in the virtual lab can’t just endlessly or mindlessly repeat tests if things aren’t working out,” Nason said. “We want them to face the same realistic constraints they would encounter in a lab where they might work one day. Thus, students need to use data from their prior runs with first-principles knowledge and engineering judgment to converge on a process recommendation.”

Study data will come from three primary sources: video records and researcher observations of the teams as they complete their assignments, semistructured stimulated recall interviews of the students and laboratory instructors, and the students’ experimental results.

Though the study focuses on a process that is specific to environmental engineering, the results should be applicable to teaching and learning practices across other engineering and science disciplines that incorporate lab work, according to the researchers.

“If we’re going to be effective at offering online courses and degrees in these disciplines, we have to figure out a way to design effective virtual laboratories,” Nason said. “So, we need to offer the best possible simulation-based lab experiences, no matter where students are located.”

Sept. 14, 2022

Kelsey Stoerzinger earns Department of Energy early career award

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Kelsey Stoerzinger, assistant professor of chemical engineering.

Kelsey Stoerzinger, assistant professor of chemical engineering, has been granted an award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Early Career Research Program. She will use the five-year, $750,000 prize to develop a deeper understanding of electrochemical processes used to convert nitrate into ammonia, and to design and test catalysts that target this reaction.

Ammonia is among the most widely used chemicals in the world. But industrial-scale ammonia production relies on the Haber-Bosch process, in which hydrogen and nitrogen are combined at high temperatures and pressures. The practice requires enormous amounts of energy and produces huge volumes of carbon dioxide.

Meanwhile, nitrate from untreated wastewater and agricultural runoff overwhelms streams, rivers, and groundwater in many areas of the country. Ingesting excessive nitrate has been linked to a number of serious health risks in humans, while an overabundance in aquatic ecosystems can devastate plant and animal life.

Stoerzinger, who won an early career award from the National Science Foundation in 2021, will investigate an electrochemical option for ammonia synthesis in which an electric current is passed through a device containing nitrate-contaminated water. “We want to take this waste nitrate and transform it into a usable form, ammonia, and we’ll do that by applying electricity from renewable energy sources,” she said.

However, widespread implementation of an electrochemical approach will be feasible only with catalysts that select for, or favor, the reaction that produces ammonia rather than a competing reaction that produces hydrogen from the water molecules. Competing reactions can occur when the same starting materials combine to create undesired products.

Stoerzinger’s goal is to identify effective catalytic materials that result in high yields of ammonia. “Ideally, the catalyst should be highly selective for the nitrate-to-ammonia reaction and not for hydrogen production,” she said. “And it should be efficient, so that every electron flowing through the water creates ammonia, not hydrogen, even at low energy input.”

She intends to focus on materials made from abundant elements, like nickel, iron, and cobalt, because precious metal catalysts, while potentially useful, are too expensive for large-scale production. Stoerzinger will combine electrochemical studies, spectroscopy, and microkinetic modeling to gain a better understanding of how the electronic structure of catalysts determines competition between ammonia and hydrogen production under reaction conditions, thereby supporting the design of the most selective and efficient catalysts.

“We want to find sustainable solutions that allow us to recycle nitrate by upgrading it to something valuable,” Stoerzinger said. “Developing the most selective and efficient catalysts is the linchpin that will allow us to move the technology forward.”

June 7, 2022

Xiao Fu earns NSF CAREER Award

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Xiao Fu in front of his computer.

Xiao Fu, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and artificial intelligence, has received a Faculty Early Career Development, or CAREER, award from the National Science Foundation. Fu will use his five-year, $500,000 award to develop a suite of nonlinear factor analysis tools and contribute to a deeper understanding of unsupervised machine learning and sensing systems. 

Factor analysis tools are cornerstones of many sensing and learning applications, such as document analytics, hyperspectral imaging, brain signal processing, and representation learning. They’re designed to detect meaningful information hidden in large data sets, such as prominent topics within a large collection of documents.

Xiao Fu
Xiao Fu, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and artificial intelligence.

However, many classic factor analysis models can be thwarted by phenomena known as nonlinear distortions, which frequently cause inaccurate results. To address the problem, Fu must first establish a deeper theoretical understanding of the so-called nonlinear factor analysis models, which are not well understood.

One of his goals is to use nonlinear factor analysis to understand and advance unsupervised deep representation learning, which is considered a critical tool to alleviate the high demand for labeled data in modern AI systems. 

Supervised machine learning algorithms learn through exposure to labeled inputs that correspond with specific outputs. A system may be trained to recognize dogs through exposure to a huge archive of labeled images of dogs. Eventually, the system will learn to independently identify dogs. But the training process can be costly and time intensive, because reliable data annotation must be done by experienced workers.  

Fu hopes to “reverse engineer” the data generating/acquisition process, so that machine learning and sensing algorithms can recognize and categorize unlabeled data — images, for instance — without being trained, by identifying and interpreting essential factors hidden within the data.   

“I’m envisioning important theoretical advances and breakthroughs to understand this inverse learning process that does not require labeling. From there, I might be able to build systems with many new functionalities,” Fu said. For example, unsupervised machine learning algorithms might be used to interpret satellite images of remote places. “Those images don’t come with any labels, so an unsupervised machine algorithm could be used instead to figure out what they contain.” 

May 19, 2022

Public works leader earns national recognition

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Construction workers at a construction sites.

Delora Kerber, B.S. civil engineering ’83, director of public works for the city of Wilsonville, Oregon, was selected as a 2021 Top Ten Public Works Leader by the American Public Works Association.

The honor recognizes leaders’ professionalism, expertise, and dedication to improving the quality of life in their communities through the advancement of public works services and technology.

Kerber was cited for advancing the profession through her “leadership talent, engineering knowledge, desire to serve, willingness to take risks, and interpersonal skills” over the course of her 38 years in public works. As director of public works for Wilsonville, Kerber provides management and strategic planning for infrastructure in the fast-growing community of some 25,000 residents, about 17 miles south of Portland. She oversees a $14 million budget and manages 26 full-time employees.

“One of the most exciting projects has been the expansion of our wastewater treatment plant,” Kerber said. Completed in 2014, the $44 million project is among the largest public capital investments the city has ever made. Its contracting featured an innovative “design-build- operate” delivery model — the first of its kind in Oregon, Kerber says — with the firm CH2M Hill, now Jacobs

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A women sitting on a chair and talking on a stage.

Delora Kerber, B.S. civil engineering ’83, director of public works, Wilsonville, Oregon.

Nominators emphasized that Kerber’s leadership style has played a key role in her many achievements.

“She has that rare combination of expertise and passion for public works and engineering, strongly coupled with her passion for helping people succeed,” said Steven Hartwig, a former colleague who is now a deputy county executive in Sacramento County, California.

For herself, Kerber says she’s proud of her ability to serve as a mentor, that she can share her experience and knowledge with others.

“I had mentors, and those relationships were very valuable to me and helped clarify which things I should be concerned about,” she said.

She’s also quick to credit Oregon State University for setting her on a path to success.

“I love OSU and I always have,” she said. “The College of Engineering prepared me well for going into my career, and I have very fond memories. It was a great time to be there.”

May 5, 2022

Oregon State Engineering students, alum earn NSF fellowships

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Portraits of Ethan Copple, David Evitt, and Melanie Huynh.

Two engineering graduate students at Oregon State University and one recent alum have been selected as fellows in the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

The five-year fellowship includes three years of financial support, including an annual stipend of $34,000 and a cost-of-education allowance of $12,000 to the institution. The program recognizes and supports outstanding students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees. Only 10% of applicants receive fellowships.

Melanie Huynh, B.S. bioengineering ’21, will begin pursuing her doctorate in chemical engineering in the fall at the University of California, Berkeley. Working extensively with her mentor Cory Simon, assistant professor of chemical engineering, she has co-published three papers, including one as first author, on metal-organic frameworks for gas storage and separation. Huynh envisions using MOFs to deliver insulin to diabetics orally, like a vitamin, as an alternative to injections.

“Diabetes affects nearly 35 million Americans, with treatment costing over $9,500 in medical expenses per patient annually,” Huynh explained. “Daily insulin injection remains the most common treatment method, which many find painful and inconvenient. Drug-delivery MOFs may solve this.”

Huynh aims to use molecular simulations coupled with supervised machine learning techniques to create an efficient model that predicts insulin selectivity in biocompatible MOFs. The results will guide the design of successful insulin-storing materials, cutting down on time and cost.

Beyond contributing to research in chemical engineering and computer science, Huynh seeks to expand opportunities in STEM for students from minority communities, attributing her own undergraduate success to encouragement from mentors and networking with College of Engineering students and professionals.

“The NSF funding will help me further my career as an academic and allow me to provide exciting STEM opportunities to traditionally underrepresented communities,” she said.

Ethan Copple is pursuing dual master’s degrees, in industrial systems engineering and applied anthropology. In 2018, he researched health care access in Guatemala, blending systems engineering tools with ethnographic insights to discover hidden, yet crucial, complexities. This experience propelled him to seek NSF funding to support his career goal of systems consulting to identify and solve problems in health care and beyond in international development contexts. Copple says his motivation also stems from the Catholic social principle of aiding the poor and vulnerable, and from his father’s career as an engineer in the nonprofit sector.

“I’ve always been interested in humanitarian applications of systems engineering,” Copple explained. “One of my undergraduate mentors, Dr. Jessica Heier Stamm, has done much work with humanitarian and public health logistics systems, showing me how my technical skills could be applied outside of industry.”

Now that he has received NSF funding, Copple is considering his long-term options.

“The NSF award has reoriented a number of my future plans. I’m evaluating Ph.D. opportunities and looking at a few different future visions with my advisors to see what paths and timelines make most sense,” Copple said. 

David Evitt will soon earn his master’s degree in mechanical engineering, advised by Nordica MacCarty, associate professor of mechanical engineering. He will remain at Oregon State for his doctorate, starting in the fall with advisors MacCarty and David Blunck, associate professor of mechanical engineering. Evitt hopes to bridge “cutting-edge combustion science and practical implementation” by developing cleaner biomass-fueled cookstoves. Biomass is the primary energy source for an estimated 3 billion people around the world, concentrated mostly in rural areas in low- and middle-income countries.

“Affordable, high-performance appliances delivering robust emissions reductions are needed for biomass to take on an expanded role as a low-carbon fuel in the U.S. and in resource-constrained settings around the world,” Evitt said.

Evitt’s interest in humanitarian engineering started when he worked for a nonprofit organization in Guatemala following his undergraduate education, aiding rural families with technology solutions. Later, he co-founded a clean cookstove manufacturing business and helped finalize the Jet-Flame design at Aprovecho Research Center, where he has worked for three years. His NSF funding supports his ongoing mission to help build basic infrastructure for a sustainable world.

“My Ph.D. research will apply advanced combustion diagnostics, exploring how injected turbulent air jets interact with wood logs to influence the combustion process and emissions formation,” Evitt explained. “Assuring super-clean combustion with fuel of varying properties over different operating conditions is an exciting engineering challenge that can benefit many.”

Nordica MacCarty, who works with both Copple and Evitt, both of whom are Evans Fellows, knows their research fellowships will benefit society through engineering.

“The fact that two graduate students in Oregon State’s small humanitarian engineering program are NSF Fellows speaks to the caliber and commitment of the students we have been able to attract, as well as the relevance of engineering for social good in the eyes of NSF,” MacCarty said. “These students bring their rich experience and interdisciplinary approach to work on problems like burning wood more cleanly so that it remains a viable, affordable, and sustainable fuel; and applying a systems approach through a social science lens to bring health care access to underserved populations.”

April 25, 2022

Yue Cao earns NSF CAREER Award

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Three engineers working on machine

Yue Cao, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering in the Energy Systems research group, has received a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation. The award includes a grant of nearly $500,000 over five years.

Traditional energy storage systems encompass what Cao calls “real” storage, such as batteries, supercapacitors, and fuel cells. Cao’s research aims to also incorporate currently overlooked “virtual” resources, such as HVAC systems or water heaters.

“I call those systems ‘virtual,’ because storing energy is not their primary purpose, but they consume electricity and are tied to the grid or other energy resources,” Cao said.

The purpose of Cao’s research will be to create a universal equivalent circuit for multiple energy storage systems that are controlled by connected power electronics. Cao will then develop a design approach to optimally size the hybrid energy storage systems and increase their life and reliability. By dynamically regulating virtual energy mass, this new approach aims to modulate energy usage from the grid.

“For example, if I have rooftop solar panels on my house, and it’s a sunny day and the air conditioner is on, and in the next minute a cloud blocks the sun, solar power will be reduced,” Cao said. “Current systems would use power from the grid to keep the air conditioner running. With an integrated energy system, however, the power used by the air conditioner, or the virtual resource, could be adjusted temporarily to match the reduced power of the solar panels, without my noticing a difference in temperature.”

Cao is already working on research projects that involve energy storage problems including fast charging stations for heavy-duty trucks on rural highways, electrification of locomotives, and wave energy.

March 21, 2022

Houssam Abbas earns NSF CAREER Award

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A picture of Houssam Abbas together with three students.

Houssam Abbas, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, has received a Faculty Early Career Development  (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation. The award includes a grant of nearly $500,000 over five years.

Increasingly, autonomous systems — such as self-driving cars, unpiloted aerial vehicles, and assistive robots in medical facilities — interact with people on a daily basis. Abbas will use his grant to further develop computational ethics as an engineering and scientific discipline to be used in the design of such systems. Because these machines interact with people in their daily lives and in their lived spaces, Abbas wants to ensure that ethics are built into the systems in a traceable and rigorous manner.

For example, a self-driving car may encounter a situation where it needs to make an ethically laden decision: Given no other choice, does it run into a wall and potentially injure its passengers, or run into a pedestrian? While this question cannot be resolved with purely technical solutions, there is an urgent need for an engineering process to model, verify, and analyze autonomous systems’ behaviors in such situations. This is particularly true in more ambiguous situations, which are likely to form the majority of cases encountered in practice.

Abbas notes that ethics have different definitions in different communities.

“It is not enough that these systems are probably safe,” Abbas said. “We also expect that they abide by the community’s ethical principles.”

Abbas aims to develop engineering tools to allow system designers to formalize, program, and verify the implementation of ethical principles. 

“When philosophers and policy makers are debating these questions, there will be a way to experiment with the consequences of different ethics rule sets,” he said.

March 21, 2022

Barbara Simpson earns NSF CAREER Award

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A woman with a protection hat and glasses working on a project.

Barbara Simpson, assistant professor of structural engineering, has received a Faculty Early Career Development, or CAREER, award from the National Science Foundation. The award includes a grant of nearly $600,000 over five years. 

Simpson proposes to lay the algorithmic foundations for high-fidelity simulations of complex structural systems using graphics processing units, or GPUs. Her research could significantly advance the fundamental understanding of the risks posed by natural hazards to the built environment. For example, soil-structure interaction is critically important for how tall buildings respond to earthquakes, but the variable is often neglected in building design because of high computational costs and physical testing constraints. 

“We intend to harness the massive parallelism of GPUs to overcome computational bottlenecks in structural simulations, specifically real-time hybrid simulations,” Simpson said.  

In hybrid simulations — a powerful tool for analyzing structural systems — physical tests are combined with numerical models. They’re typically applied to systems that are too large or complex to undergo conventional physical testing alone. 

“We can already do some hybrid simulations in real time,” Simpson said, “but for very complicated problems, like soil-structure interaction, it’s just not feasible from a computational standpoint. If your numerical model is slow, it’s difficult to couple experimental and numerical components in real time.” 

That’s where GPUs come in. As their name suggests, GPUs were originally designed for graphics rendering. But their ability to simultaneously execute numerous discrete calculations has proven valuable for a growing number of applications, including high-speed simulations. 

Simpson will be using GPUs in Oregon State’s NVIDIA DGX-2 computing cluster, as well as GPUs in the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

“By leveraging the computational power of GPUs,” Simpson said, “I want to reduce computational times from hours down to minutes and seconds and use this technology to support real-time hybrid models of very complex structural problems.”

March 7, 2022

Graduate Student Receives Predoctoral Achievement Award

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Close up photo of a circuit board.
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Portrait of Arun Natarajan in snowy environment.

Just one of 23 students selected from across the world, Robin Garg, a doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering at Oregon State University, was recently selected to receive a prestigious 2020-21 Predoctoral Achievement Award from the IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society. This award is based on academic record, promise, and quality of publications.

Garg’s work in the High-Speed Integrated Circuits Lab at Oregon State focuses on building advanced integrated circuits for millimeter-wave wireless communication links. His research on scalable and reconfigurable multiple-input multiple-output arrays speeds up wireless communications by enabling multiple streams of data between users. As more 5G networks are deployed and devices that take advantage of this technology become ubiquitous, this research provides solutions to handle the resulting massive surge in demand for data.

Garg received his B.Tech. degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras and then worked in industry before returning to school to work on cutting-edge research. “I am passionate about solving the challenging problems that make an impact,” Garg explained. “Recently, we designed a new millimeter-wave full-duplex IC that will allow more users to access 5G networks, as well as reduce the cost of deploying the technology.”

Garg’s advisor, Arun Natarajan, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering, finds Garg’s work impressive. “Robin has developed innovative techniques that make it easier to increase wireless link data rates that coexist with other radios operating at the same frequency while lowering power consumption,” Natarajan said.

The Solid-State Circuits Society is not the only one noticing Garg’s work. In 2020, he was recognized with the Outstanding Student Designer Award from Analog Devices. He also brought home the student paper award (2nd place) at the IEEE Radio Frequency Integrated Circuits Symposium in 2020. “It is encouraging to see the wider community recognize Robin’s research, and I look forward to his future contributions in this area,” Natarajan said.

Jan. 20, 2021
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