Displaying MatSci mastery… topping the poster competition at AIChE… on the run at the NCAAs… MORE >
Rolling out The Numerette… Beefing up the Verrazano-Narrows… A laser breakthrough…
Lewis B. Stillwell, Class of 1885, designed for the nascent Niagra Falls power plant the so-called “Stillwell regulator,” preventing the plant from producing excess power … the first Lehigh Engineer to go green? MORE >
Lehigh's Energy Research Center has been recognized by Power Engineering magazine for improving the efficiency of coal-fired power plants while reducing harmful emissions -- using waste heat from the plant to remove moisture from the coal.
Dear Lehigh Engineers:
Over the coming decade, Lehigh made important strategic commitments to address some of the most significant challenges facing our world — health, energy, environment, and infrastructure. It should be clear that scientists and engineers play critical roles in addressing these challenges; it should be also clear that these are complex, interrelated challenges that require a multi-faceted approach involving many disciplines.
The engineering faculty recently held a one-day retreat to explore ways to link efforts and seek answers to these big questions. In kicking off the retreat, I used an analogy that describes traditional academic research as “rock collecting”-- intellectually interesting, but fragmented. In order to make monumental and long-lasting impact, we must aspire to “move boulders.” Moving boulders requires not only curiosity and technical ingenuity but also well-engineered processes — careful planning, strategic team building, and coordination.
Along these lines, the retreat was organized to explore opportunities for internal collaboration and external partnership and to turn our collective attention from “rock collecting” to “boulder moving.” During the retreat, faculty members came forward with brief, ten-minute overviews of their efforts addressing specific aspects of the grand challenges. These short presentations served as fuel for lively debate and discussion, with the goal of seeking synergy across seemingly disparate ideas.
By the end of the day, we successfully identified collaborative themes that could be evolved into high-impact, “boulder moving” activities. For instance, a systems-perspective on healthcare delivery is being developed to complement ongoing research in precision diagnostics and therapies. Another is forming around the notion of smart grid technologies and efficient energy storage. Other ideas are coming together in environmental sustainability, advanced computing, and particle engineering.
One of the emerging themes involves a smarter, greener, more sustainable approach to infrastructure development – a topic that will be covered in detail in the upcoming (Spring 2011) issue of Resolve magazine. Since the days of “The Steel,” Lehigh developed major capabilities not only in structural and materials research, but also in energy systems, communications, advanced computing, systems engineering, and environmental science and engineering. This allows us to tackle sustainable infrastructure development with a holistic approach.
For more on this topic, please stay tuned for next month’s publication of Resolve; if you would like to be added to the Resolve mailing list, use our online request form.
Please drop me a line with your feedback, and thank you, as always, for your support of Lehigh Engineering.
S. David Wu, Dean and Iacocca Professor
- Greg Capece, Mike Harm, and Nick Rocha, all of the Class of 2011, are featured prominently in Scientific American Magazine's review of the 20th Annual Collegiate Inventors Competition, held in Alexandria, Va., in late December 2010. As students of Lehigh's Integrated Business and Engineering program, the trio devised and designed the so-called "MPlug" to assist elderly persons with arthritis or weak grip strength, reducing the force necessary to plug and unplug an appliance.
- Michelle Spicer '12, a junior in the department of chemical engineering, took first place in the undergraduate student poster competition for her research work exploring CO2 capture by solid adsorbents. Michelle spent this past summer deeply engaged in the lab, along with graduate student-mentors Kevin Doura, Chris Keturakis, Julie Molinari, and Chip Roberts, learning the fundamentals of catalysis research, associated equipment and technology, and the world of graduate studies in general. And, although the Salt Lake conference was Michelle's first "real engineering presentation," according to her advisor Professor Israel Wachs, many attendees commented on the quality of her presentation and her research work overall.
- The department of materials science and engineering renewed its claim as one of the nation's best when its undergraduate students swept the awards at the International Metallographic Contest for the second year in a row. Two Lehigh teams tied for first place in the category for undergraduate student metals and metal alloys, and another team came in third. No second prize was awarded this year. The contest, sponsored by the International Metallographic Society (IMS), was held recently in Portland, OR. Daniel Grande, Nicholas Greybush, Bryan Hernandez and Kylie Ford shared first place for their poster, which was titled "Metallographic Examination of an Endoprosthetic Knee." Their first place finish was shared by the Lehigh team of Paul Sihelnik, Anthony Spizzirri, Marianne Sullivan and Ukrit Thamma with their poster, "Metallographic Analysis of a Trumpet Valve." Completing the sweep were Lehigh's Austin Baker, Tiffany Chen, Christopher Chew and Jacob Bumgardner, who placed third. All of the students are members of the Class of 2011.
- Evans Kosgei '11 finished 112th out of 246 at the NCAA Championships, hosted by Indiana State, in late November 2010. The Mountain Hawks' first ever men's qualifier in the new selection format, he became Lehigh's first runner to compete at NCAA's in five years. Kosgei, a member of the Integrated Business and Engineering program with a concentration in computer science and engineering, finished the 10,000M race with a time of 31:17.8, within seconds of cracking the top 100.
- Five seniors in the Integrated Business and Engineering program have spent a year developing a new "smart gun" technology they believe will help safeguard the lives of police officers. The student team of Andrew Dutcher, Peter Wopperer, Sushan Zheng, Ethan Baer and John Thompson devised the Everlokt device to "personalize" a gun to its owner with a voltage tag attached to the owner's body. The safety is unlocked only if the person holding the gun is wearing the voltage tag or touching the person who is wearing it.
Faculty & Programs
On November 15, in the center of Lehigh's Asa Packer campus, a 29-foot speedboat designed and built by Joachim Grenestedt, professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics, was unveiled and named The Numerette by Lehigh President Alice Gast to a crowd of some 150 students, faculty and staff. From concept to construction, the project was carried out entirely at Lehigh and funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research.While the vessel may appear to the untrained eye as a sleek speedboat, it is in actuality a "slamming load test facility" -- a research system that monitors the impact of waves and varying water pressures upon the ship's composite panels and stainless steel frame. According to Grenestedt, the vessel contains more than 120 strain gauges; in the near future, plans call for the installation of 100 pressure sensors, a wave altimeter, a inertial measurement unit, and other devices to create an integrated picture of the impact upon a vessel's hull. Grenestedt hopes this work will one day influence shipbuilding design codes and lead to lighter, stronger watercraft, for both military and civil usage.
- Along with award-winning student representation, faculty of Lehigh's department of chemical engineering put on a strong showing at the 2010 AIChE conference in Salt Lake City. Professors James Gilchrist, Jeetain Mittal, Mayuresh V. Kothare and Xuanhong Cheng led conference sessions during the event. Along with session leadership, many submitted abstracts for the meeting as well. A complete listing of Lehigh contributions to this annual gathering of chemical enigneering leadership is available via the AIChE Web site.
- Professor Chris Kiely of materials science and engineering helped lead an international research team seeking a more environmentally-friendly method of producing benzyl benzoate, a chemical compound used widely in the food, pharmaceutical and chemical industries. The researchers reported their findings in mid-January in Science magazine in an article titled "Solvent-Free Oxidation of Primary Carbon-Hydrogen Bonds in Toluene Using Au-Pd Alloy Nanoparticles." The article was coauthored by Kiely, Graham Hutchings of the University of Cardiff in Wales, and 10 other researchers, including Ramchandra Tiruvalam, a Lehigh Ph.D. candidate working with Kiely.
- The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently named Zhiyuan Yan, assisstant professor of electrical and computer engineering, as a 2010 winner of the agency's prized CAREER Award. The 5-year, $400,000 award will allow Yan to advance his work developing algebraic universal error controls for network coding.
- Sushil Kumar recently reported on his efforts toward a "breakthrough for terahertz seminconductor lasers" in the magazine Nature Physics. Working with researchers at MIT and Sandia National Laboratories, Kumar, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, has made a semiconductor laser, also called a quantum-cascade laser (QCL), that emits terahertz radiation at higher operating temperatures than ever before.
- Peter Simpkins, an adjunct professor in the department of mechanical engineering and mechanics, has recently been named a Fellow of the American Physics Society. According to the citation, Simpkins was recognized for "incisive analytical and experimental studies of two-phase flows, natural convection, and various aspects of electro-optical materials processing."
- Lehigh received a $600,000 research commercialization grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development to support the university's energy and environmental research initiative. Through the grant, Lehigh will expand research and related educational programs in energy-related technologies. The university received a second $600,000 DCED grant to support the Pennsylvania Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at Lehigh and its research, commercialization, and outreach efforts in the field of nanotechnology.
- In mid-December 2010, the editors of Power Engineering magazine announced that the Lehigh-DOE-Great River Energy project had been named the 2010 Coal-Fired Project of the Year. Research scientist Nenad Sarunac and Ed Levy, professor of mechanical engineering and director of Lehigh's Energy Research Center (ERC), have helped develop technology that improves the efficiency of coal-fired power plants while reducing carbon dioxide and other harmful emissions. The team developed a low-temperature coal-drying system that removes moisture from coal by using waste heat from the power plant itself. This enables more efficient coal handling and combustion while lowering emission levels -- and drastically cuts the amount of water required for plant cooling. The research progressed from early feasibility studies at Lehigh, to a pilot-scale facility at GRE's Coal Creek Power Plant in North Dakota, to a full-scale demonstration at Coal Creek. Given that low-rank coals constitute more than half the world’s coal reserves, the technology could potentially be used on a global scale.
- On February 18, the 2011 Fazlur R. Khan Distinguished Lecture Series will kick off with David Scott, of Arup, Americas, giving a talk on "Extreme Engineering." Scott is an award winning structural engineer, internationally recognized for his leading role in the design of long span lightweight structures and tall buildings. In 2001, David was one of the team leaders working with the contractors in the search, recovery and clean-up of the WTC disaster. The Lecture Series, co-sponsored by the Departments of Civil & Environmental Engineering and of Arts & Architecture, honors Dr. Fazlur Rahman Khan's legacy of excellence in structural engineering and architecture.
- The Lehigh Board of Trustees voted to reappoint President Alice P. Gast to a second five-year term through 2016. "President Gast's commitment to academic excellence, to ensuring the success of our students and to building upon our historic strengths while charting an exciting new course for the future have invigorated the university," says Board of Trustees Chair Daniel Smith. "We are delighted that Alice has agreed to build upon the tremendous progress of the last four years." Earlier this Fall, Gast was named one of three science envoys to the Muslim world, a prestigious new U.S. State Department position created in 2009 by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In this capacity, President Gast will seek to "deepen existing ties and foster new relationships with foreign counterparts and gain insights from other nations about potential areas of collaboration that will help address global challenges and realize shared goals," according to the State Department.
- Associate professor Kristen Jellison and her students are developing low-cost biosand water filtration systems (BSFs) for use especially in developing countries. "Smaller, lighter BSFs," says Jellison, "would be cheaper, easier to transport and available to a broader global market." According to Jellison, who is affiliated with the university's STEPS (Science, Technology, Environment, Policy and Society) initiative as well as the department of civil and environmental engineering, preliminary research has shown the potential for smaller systems to remove most disease-causing organisms.
- The Verrazano-Narrows, the largest suspension bridge in the U.S., opened in 1964. Five years later, to accommodate increased traffic, a lower deck was added. Now, New York City's Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA) has decided to replace the original upper deck -- a grid of steel beams overlaid with concrete -- with a steel orthotropic deck. Sougata Roy, a senior research scientist in Lehigh's ATLSS (Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems) Research Center, is testing a full-scale prototype of the orthotropic deck that will be used as the Verrazano-Narrows' replacement deck. The experiments are taking place in the ATLSS structural testing lab, whose test floor and fixed reaction walls, among the world's largest, impose multidirectional loads that simulate the demands that structures sustain from traffic, wind and earthquakes.
- The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) will be hosting their annual Lehigh Valley Section Holiday Banquet on Thursday, Dec. 2. During the event, Dan M. Frangopol, holder of Lehigh's Fazlur Rahman Khan Chair professor of civil engineering at Lehigh, will be acknowledged for the ASCE Distinguished Member Award he received this past October. As ASCE's highest accolade, Distinguished Membership recognizes eminence in a branch of engineering, and is currently comprised of only 192 of the Society's 144,000 members worldwide. Frangopol serves as the first Fazlur R. Khan Endowed Chair of Structural Engineering and Architecture at Lehigh, and is one of 13 new distinguished members of ASCE, the world's premier organization for civil engineers.
- The December 2010 issue of the magazine The Economist features the work of Shamim Pakzad, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering. The article "Superstructures" described a 2006 project involving Pakzad, as part of a review of broader efforts to add sensors and other devices to bridges, tunnels and buildings to turn them into "smart structures" capable of sensing and responding to problems.
- Dr. Xiaohui (Frank) Zhang, professor of mechanical engineering, was awarded the NCRP Fall 2010 Scientist Development Grant by the American Heart Association (AHA). The grant, which gives over $300,000 in funding for research, supports Zhang as a "highly promising" scientist, according to the AHA Website. Zhang's research project that will be funded by the award is entitled "Single-molecule study of leukocyte integrin-ligand interaction." Zhang's past research has explored biomechanical and biochemical properties of proteins, development of new experimental and diagnostic approaches based on single-molecule manipulation and detection techniques, as well as application of these tools to study cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Zhang is also a Professional Member of the AHA.
- As part of the Fall 2010 Spencer C. Schantz Distiguished Lecture Series, Dr. Stephen P. Boyd of Stanford University will be giving a public lecture on Dec. 7 at 3:30 p.m. in Perella Auditorium. The lecture, titled "The Role of Embedded Optimization in Smart Systems and Products," will explore the importance of sophisticated, mathematical algorithms that support many of the systems and products that are used daily. The focus of the talk will be to discuss the development or learning of mathematical models, the role of uncertainty, the idea of feedback or recourse, and computational complexity.