Great strides

In a dramatic breakthrough for robotics, researchers in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University used a reinforcement learning algorithm operating in a simulated environment to train a bipedal robot to walk, run, hop, skip, and climb stairs in the real world.

The “sim-to-real” learning process represents a transformation in robotics control, according to Jonathan Hurst, professor of mechanical engineering and robotics.

Alumni spotlight: Alex Hagmüller '09

In 2015, Alex Hagmüller (’09 B.S. Mechanical Engineering) co-founded Aquaharmonics, a wave energy converter company, with Max Ginsburg (’10 B.S. Electrical Computer Engineering). After winning a $1.5 million Wave Energy Prize, they were awarded up to $5 million in U.S. Department of Energy funding to enhance and test their energy-converter concept in the ocean.

Where did your interest in wave energy come from?

Pushing 3D metal printing further

Additive manufacturing (AM)—also known as 3D printing—is rapidly disrupting the manufacturing sector, providing freedom of design, allowing a transition from rapid prototyping to real commercialization, decreasing material waste, and reducing time and cost of manufacturing. Furthermore, AM methods can be utilized for manufacturing of functionally graded materials (FGMs).

Sewers provide COVID-19 data

Courtesy of Kevin Miller, Oregon Stater

OSU researchers are looking in sewer systems for genetic evidence of the virus that causes COVID-19, in an effort to help determine the virus’ prevalence in an area.

Starting in Bend, researchers analyzed samples from multiple sewer line locations, looking for genetic material from the novel coronavirus that traveled from infected people into the city’s wastewater system. Researchers will also look at water samples from the city’s treatment plant.

Beavers Care Initiative helping engineering students in need

College of Engineering students at Oregon State University who are beset by financial woes caused by the COVID-19 health emergency are getting fast and crucial relief from the college’s Student Emergency Fund.

The fund is part of the Beavers Care Initiative, which was created in partnership by the OSU Foundation and the university to raise money to help students meet their basic needs and stay on track to graduate.

Collaborative Learning in the Time of COVID-19

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic hit Oregon State University in mid-March, near the end of the winter term. Faculty members scrambled to deliver final exams remotely as social distancing protocols were implemented.

Then the university announced that remote instruction would be required for all courses throughout the spring term, possibly longer. With classes adjourned for “spring break” — the mother of all misnomers for anyone teaching this term — instructional faculty and staff had just over a week to move their entire classroom-based curriculum into the virtual sphere.

Undergrads get hands-on research experience

Since it was launched in 1998, the Peter and Rosalie Johnson Internship Program has provided paid research opportunities for hundreds of students in the School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering.

Created at the initiative of Peter Johnson (’55 B.S., Chemical Engineering) and his wife, Rosalie, the program was endowed with a $2.4 million gift in 2008. Each spring, about 25 qualified first-year students are matched with research labs on campus, or with one of Oregon State’s academic partners.