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Penn Engineering CONTENT

From the Dean


From Problem Sets to Problem Solving


The Interesting Life of Osama Ahmed


Ritesh Agarwal: Accelerating Advances in Electronic Memory


Erasing Boundaries: Two New Penn Centers Integrate Science and Engineering


Penn Engineering by the Numbers


David Magerman: Going to Wall Street as an Engineer


Enlightened Engineering


Peter K. Davies: Materials Science and Engineering


Making History Through Innovation


School News


Pop Quiz with Lamont Abrams


PENN ENGINEERING NEWS SPRING 2009 THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING AND APPLIED SCIENCE 123 TOWNE BUILDING 220 SOUTH 33RD STREET PHILADELPHIA, PA 19104-6391 EMAIL PHONE 215-898-6564 FAX 215-573-2131 EDUARDO D. GLANDT Dean GEORGE W. HAIN III Executive Director Development and Alumni Relations JOAN S. GOCKE Director, Special Projects and Communications, Editor CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Amy Biemiller Amy Calhoun Jessica Stein Diamond Patricia Hutchings Olivia Loskoski Catherine Von Elm DESIGN Kelsh Wilson Design PHOTOGRAPHY Kelsh Wilson Design Jonathan Fiene


Beyond the Textbook Engineering is as old as mankind. The first ape who fashioned the first tool, or fueled the first fire, became a human being and by the same act became an engineer. This evolutionary milestone was captured very well at the beginning of Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey. An ape throws his staff into the air and through a sudden jump in time the staff becomes a spaceship. I hope you remember that compelling image. By definition, engineering is a hands-on profession. We are builders, creators, inventors. We epitomize Benjamin Franklin’s pragmatic vision for education: to provide students with the skills necessary to address the issues of the day, in the service of “Mankind, one’s Country, Friends and Family.” Our School’s heritage honors that spirit. When the Towne Building was built in 1906, classrooms were kept at a minimum. The building was a bold experiment in engineering education: you were supposed to learn by doing. At its center, below the sky lit roofs of the interior light wells, were shops where students could use the great machines. There were drafting rooms, a foundry, laboratories and two “museums.” It was in the Towne labs, under Professor Edgar Marburg, that research was undertaken that set standards for modern use of steel and reinforced concrete for construction and led to the creation of the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM), which was housed in the Towne School. Things have evolved strongly in the long century that has elapsed since then. Major changes took place in the 1960s, which advanced a post-Sputnik emphasis on applied mathematics and “engineering science.” Our profession took an interesting path, one that has placed theory and practice on parallel rather than intersecting courses. All engineering schools strive to find that proper but difficult balance. Students are expected to experience the satisfaction of mastering deep-rooted fundamentals and the joy of accomplishment from creating and building things. Traditional engineering programs pay homage to this aspect of the curriculum in a final year “capstone” project, considered to be the highest achievement in the curriculum. It would be a mistake, however, to wait until the senior year. Penn Engineering embraces that balance from the very first day

Eduardo D. Glandt / Dean

through a hands-on, practice-integrated curriculum. As soon as students arrive on campus as freshmen, they begin learning how to apply quantitative theories learned in math, physics and chemistry to real-world engineering problems. Mark Yim, the Gabel Family Term Junior Professor and MEAM Undergraduate Curriculum Chair, notes that traditional lecture and recitation classes can no longer be considered the standard. “The curriculum has to be fun, it has to be relevant, and it has to engage the students.” And our students love this approach. They realize that they have the theoretical knowledge and the ability to make things. In fact, the messiness of real-world data is enough to get students to dig a little deeper! In this issue, you will read about our remarkable Mechanical Engineering faculty who are reshaping the curriculum. Mark Yim, Jonathan Fiene, Katherine Kuchenbecker and others combine theoretical and practical experiences that expand the creative roles of engineers and encourage independent and team problem solvers. Educating Engineers, a new study funded by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, echoes the enlightened direction of Penn Engineering’s practice integrated curriculum, noting “... the technical knowledge that enables engineering problem solving is forever expanding, and... tomorrow’s creative solutions will come from engineers who revel in deep complexities.” This emphasis on design has added much to the vibrancy of our School. It is impossible to miss it as you walk the hallways, as our undergraduates pour out of laboratories to test the most amazing contraptions in the hallways. Yes, the messiness of the data is often paralleled by the messiness of the whole project, but the students’ passion is contagious and puts a smile on our faces. The spirit of our classes is a very precious thing; we have it and we cherish it. PENN ENGINEERING ■ 1


From Problem Sets to Problem Solving The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics (MEAM) has witnessed a transformation over the past four-and-a-half years. Faculty have been revising the undergraduate curriculum in order to incorporate more hands-on, real world lab work into a program already strong in theoretical knowledge. The addition of interactive, design-centered assignments is creating educational experiences that are preparing Penn’s mechanical engineers for the problems they will solve in industry and research. For generations, freshmen in mechanical engineering programs across the country have confronted the challenge of wading through a curriculum front-loaded with math, physics, and chemistry, slowly working their way toward the reward of actually applying what they’re learning to the design and building of solutions to real-world engineering problems. Mark Yim, Gabel Family Term Junior Professor, and MEAM Undergraduate Curriculum Chair, describes this previous, passive model of learning in which students were presented with information and given equations to reach a single right answer, devoid of any context beyond the classroom. “Students don’t necessarily work that way anymore. They want to see sooner how the theories they’re learning apply to the real world.” So MEAM faculty began implementing a practice integrated curriculum, designed to engage freshmen through seniors in applying theories which might otherwise be left on the pages of a textbook. In a standard curriculum, it doesn’t get more basic than 101. But MEAM 101, Introduction to Mechanical Design, breaks that mold by taking students through the entire mechanical design process from need-finding and brainstorming, to mock-up prototyping, 3-D computer-aided design (CAD) simulations, final prototyping, iteration and analysis. “It’s one of my favorite classes to teach, because it’s so creative and hands-on,” says lecturer Jonathan Fiene, who, as Director of Laboratory Programs, oversees the lion’s share of lab courses. Working in teams, students dissect “vintage” devices, such as 35-mm cameras and floppy-disk drives, use industry-standard software to create 3-D CAD models of each part, and then reassemble the (hopefully still functional) devices. “A lot of the students get so into the project that they end up learning more about the software, the tools, and the design process than we could possibly teach them in a single semester,” says Fiene, highlighting a key goal of the curricu-

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lum revisions: students are learning how to learn on their own, and seeking the tools they will need to independently solve the problems they approach. Fiene also teaches Fundamentals of Mechanical Prototyping (MEAM 150), a regularly oversubscribed course with a long waiting list, due in large part to a resurgence in the development of manufacturing and prototyping skills. Working from mechanical drawings, students design, model, machine and assemble the parts of a working Stirling engine. “You’re applying everything you’ve learned to make a physical engineering product, rather than just turning in a problem set,” says senior Chris Xydis of the final project, which students proudly display in their dorm rooms as evidence of their design and prototyping prowess. “It’s a really exciting course,” says senior Amal Rahuman, highlighting the importance of prototyping skills. “As a Penn engineer, if you can go to a company and say, ‘I have the theoretical knowledge, but I also know how to make things…’ that’s what they’re looking for. So it’s really sculpting the curriculum in the right way.” MEAM faculty are integrating real-world experiences such as teamwork and constrained design into their assignments throughout the curriculum. From day one, Katherine Kuchenbecker, Skirkanich Assistant Professor of Innovation in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, introduces the freshmen in her lab to each other, and to hands-on design challenges. Kuchenbecker developed the labs for her new Introduction to Mechanics class (MEAM 147) in collaboration with MEAM Department Chair and Richard H. & S. L. Gabel Professor of Mechanical Engineering, John Bassani, who is covering the lectures. This pairing provides an engineeringfocused alternative to the standard freshman-level physics requirement. After a quick ice-breaker, Kuchenbecker gets her students “thinking about how the constraints of the physical world affect things we design and build,” by giving each team of two or three students a copy of the Daily Pennsylvanian and challenging them to build the tallest structure that will support a tennis ball. “Teamwork is really important in the practice

“A lot of the students get so into the project that they end up learning more about the software, the tools, and the design process than we could possibly teach them in a single semester,” says Fiene, highlighting a key goal of the curriculum revisions: students are learning how to learn on their own, and seeking the tools they will need to independently solve the problems they approach. PENN ENGINEERING ■ 3

Using a lathe to make an aluminum heat sink (MEAM 150— Fundamentals of Mechanical Prototyping)

Hockey-playing robot machined from steel and aluminum (MEAM 410/510— Design of Mechatronic Systems)

Angle grinding of wheel hub bolts (Formula SAE student project team)

Custom-built two-player crane game (MEAM 101—Introduction to Mechanical Design)

Hand-built circuitry for hockeyplaying robot (MEAM 410/510— Design of Mechatronic Systems)

Stirling engine details (MEAM 150—Fundamentals of Mechanical Prototyping)

PUMA robotic arm before dissection (MEAM 101—Introduction to Mechanical Design)

Canon AE-1 SLR camera underbody during dissection (MEAM 101— Introduction to Mechanical Design)

Soldering custom circuits (MEAM 410/510—Design of Mechatronic Systems)

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“Having design constraints actually makes you solve the problem more intelligently,” says Jonathan Bohren, whose team managed budgets for motors, solenoids, and other materials while building their entry in a robot hockey tournament for Fiene’s senior-level Mechatronics class. “It really forces you to innovate, [because] when you have less, you need to use it better,” Bohren says, indicating his readiness to do engineering in the very real world of limited resources.

integrated curriculum,” says Kuchenbecker. “We’re moving away from a paradigm where it’s just an individual student, a piece of paper, and a book, trying to figure out how to solve a certain theoretical problem.” In lecturer Bruce Kothmann’s class, Introduction to Flight (MEAM 245), students use a mock budget to purchase resources and bid on eBay for preferred time slots for their experiment, which is to float a 40 gram video camera four stories up in the Quain Courtyard to capture an image of a photo Kothmann has posted in a window. In addition to accounting for force, balance and drag on their balloons, students have to resolve the real-world issues of collaborating with colleagues, showing up on time, and coming in under budget. “Having design constraints actually makes you solve the problem more intelligently,” says Jonathan Bohren, whose team managed budgets for motors, solenoids, and other materials while building their entry in a robot hockey tournament for Fiene’s senior-level Mechatronics class. “It really forces you to innovate, [because] when you have less, you need to use it better,” Bohren says, indicating his readiness to do engineering in the very real world of limited resources. Curriculum revisions are also encouraging students to flex their creative muscle in their work. They are creating multimedia presentations to demonstrate their awareness of the laws of physics in a photo gallery outside Kuchenbecker’s lab; their understanding of weight displacement theories using balsa wood gliders; their aesthetic appreciation of how stress concentrations move through plastic shapes they’ve designed and cut; and their ingenuity in innovating solutions to life’s nagging problems, such as lost TV remotes, vending machine mishaps, and limited battery life. Fiene has created a MEAM wiki not only as a repository for the technical knowledge the students are developing, but also as a showcase for the media-rich projects that students are turning in. But just because students are having fun and getting their hands dirty in the labs doesn’t mean they’re losing a solid theoretical grounding. “We haven’t sacrificed the theory,” says Fiene. “We’ve supplemented it. It does tend to make our

students very busy.” With enrollment at an all-time high, MEAM students are eager for the challenge of integrating theory and practice. Sophomore Geoff Johnson came across Ohm’s Law in high school physics, but until Fiene assigned the task of designing and building a video game in the sophomore lab, it was just another theory in a textbook. Using a potentiometer to vary the resistance in an emitter circuit, thereby changing the current in a receiver circuit he was building for the game’s controller, Johnson could see Ohm’s Law in action. “A lot of the time, it’s hard to root the theory in solid reality,” says Johnson. “But all the [MEAM] teachers have done a great job allowing us to explore… [theories] in physical ways to help create a base that you can then work off of as you get through the curriculum.” Indeed, the same principles apply as the theory gets more complicated. “If you haven’t given a context to the problem,” says Kothmann, “I don’t think the students get the sense that it’s real. It seems like just math on the page, and it’s very hard to look at the answer and know if it makes any sense.” Kothmann helps his students make sense of some particularly difficult Navier-Stokes equations by bringing in real-world data from his work at Boeing’s Rotocraft Division, and his frequent review of published studies. These data help students contextualize the results of their calculations, allowing them to scrutinize complex aerodynamic phenomena such as turbulence and wind gusts. From the application of a simple equation such as Ohm’s Law to contextualized calculations of some gnarly Navier-Stokes equations, Penn’s mechanical engineers are getting the most from a curriculum that integrates theory and practice. Sophomore Antonio Macasieb attests to the efficacy of the revisions. “It sticks in your head, I can tell you that,” he says. “You go to some classes and just take notes, and once the semester’s over, it sticks in your notebook, but it doesn’t stick in your head. But the things I learn in lab… I could not forget.” By teaching students how to define, design, and build solutions to real-world problems, MEAM faculty are giving Penn engineers the opportunity to go beyond problem sets in their textbooks to real-world problem solving.


The Interesting Life of

Osama Early for an appointment to meet and interview Penn Engineering senior Osama Ahmed, I grabbed a table at the Green Line Café in West Philly and challenged myself to recognize him without benefit of a photo. I had learned a few scattered facts about him, but what might a break-dancing, undergraduate bioengineering researcher with a love for the novels of Garcia Marquez and Tolstoy look like, exactly? Whatever his appearance, one thing was for sure: a diversely talented, energetic young man with a nimble intellect would be walking through the door. Entering the café, he was warmly greeted (“Sama!!”) by a neighborhood friend. Their brief exchange prefigured what would soon become apparent about Sama and the trajectory of his life and times at Penn: his loyalty to the West Philadelphia community that is his family’s home; his strong and abiding friendships; and his profound respect for the mentors who have helped him shape his academic career. Sama was a member of the 264th graduating class of Philadelphia’s Central High, a magnet school with an outstanding reputation and one of the oldest high schools in the country. Smiling broadly when asked about early academic influences, he right away fired off the name of his freshman science teacher at Central, Mr. Erlick. No doubt spotting Sama’s vibrant curiosity and aptitude for the sciences, Dennis Erlick recommended him for a summer research apprenticeship at the Monell Chemical Senses Center at 35th and Market. It was a perceptive call; Sama has been at Monell ever since. Mentored there by sensory scientist Paul Breslin (“the most influential person in my life,” Sama says), he has been involved part-time in various studies on the genetic basis of taste and nutrition in humans and Drosophila melanogaster, “the elegant fruit fly.” As time to look at colleges drew near, Sama’s application process was driven by “personal and social” criteria. “I’m from an immigrant family and didn’t want to break it up,” he explained. Along with his parents, two brothers (one at Drexel), a sister, and a strong network of friends, he would stay in Philly. Penn, of course, was an obvious choice and, once accepted, he enrolled at the School of Engineering and Applied Science as a bioengineering major in the fall of 2005. SPRING 2009 ■ 6

Always at the ready for new adventures, Sama was just settling in at SEAS when he began preparing for a trip to South China with the Penn Engineering Global Biomedical Service (GBS) in the summer of 2006. (See Penn Engineering News, Fall 2006.) Bioengineering professor Dan Bogen, who led the group, was immediately impressed with Sama’s “genuine interest and enjoyment in getting to know people who are different from himself ” and his willingness to meet all aspects of the experience “head on.” As the group’s only freshman, he had to work a little harder and smarter. Alongside more experienced students from Penn and Hong Kong Polytechnic University, they designed and crafted prosthetic limbs for six Chinese amputees. For Sama, the memory of the trip is indelible; he says hardly a day goes by that he doesn’t think of his time in Hong Kong and Guangzhou. It was in Computational Neuroscience that Sama’s longtime fascination with the “magic of the brain” crystallized. Combining training in neural computation with experimental neuroscience, it was Sama’s all-time favorite class. He cites the research, counsel, and career paths of Monell researcher Alan Gelperin and Penn Bioengineering Professors Brian Litt and the late Leif Finkel as highly inspiring. A Ph.D. program is most definitely in Sama’s future, as is presiding over his own lab “sooner rather than later.” He envisions directing investigations of the brain, combining behavioral, genetic, and computational work—“really bouncing off of my experiences at Penn and Monell.” Keeping the beat all the while behind Sama’s intellectual drive and academic focus is his break-dancing club, with whom he practices up to four times a week. Freaks of the Beat, as described on YouTube, is “UPenn’s only b-boying and


Ahmed funkstyles crew.” In fact, Sama wonders if he could have absorbed the pressures exerted by his demanding course load without his group—music and dancing are central to his life. “I dance all the time!” he effuses. The club has been around since 2001, but when Sama came onto the scene, it had few members and “was practically in shambles.” Now “hugely successful,” the group has given over 60 performances throughout the last four years: in- and out-of-state competitions, charities, guest performances, coffeehouses, and street gigs. Sama teaches both the dance and the history, and the majority of new members are products of his style and encouragement. For Sama, friendship is the realm in which work meets play. His three Senior Design lab partners are also his best friends, two of whom are “dedicated Freaks.” Their synergy was apparently not lost on Bioengineering Associate Professor Beth Winkelstein, their adviser, who actually approached them about a group project. Working in pairs, the four friends are conducting a study on spinal pain. Sama seems pleased with their progress, propelled by what he describes as Dr. Winkelstein’s “tough love” brand of advising. He is looking forward to the Senior Design Competition, the capstone event of the senior year. Now a seasoned performer, Sama is confident in the group’s presentation skills. Before our good-byes, Sama quickly touches on the films of Kurosawa, Russian literature, ’60s soul music, and his high hopes that Penn’s diverse cultures will one day become more integrative. As he heads up the street to a home-cooked meal, I finish my cup of tea and gather my impressions of our meeting. Dan Bogen’s fond assessment comes readily to mind: “I’m quite sure Osama has a very interesting life ahead of him.”

Keeping the beat all the while behind Sama’s intellectual drive and academic focus is his break-dancing club, with whom he practices up to four times a week. Freaks of the Beat, as described on YouTube, is “UPenn’s only b-boying and funkstyles crew.”






he race to create next-generation computer memory devices that are off-the-charts smaller, faster and more stable than current memory technologies has entered promising new territory thanks to recent innovations in Ritesh Agarwal’s lab.

Agarwal, Assistant Professor in Materials Science and Engineering, has pioneered a technique for fabricating self-assembled nanowires. His breakthrough was published in October 2007 in Nature Nanotechnology and was noted by MIT Technology Review as one of the top five biggest advances in nanoscience in 2007. The Agarwal lab’s innovative technique allows for the selfassembly of nanowires with phase-change memory that’s 1,000 times faster than conventional flash memory (typically used in digital cameras, memory cards and personal data assistants) and 10 times more energy-efficient than thin-film phase-change memory devices. Devices crafted from these nanowires will offer the advantage of terabit-level memory density in a non-volatile format, meaning that information is retained even when power is removed. Prior to Agarwal’s nanoscale discovery, the 100 nanometer barrier to miniaturization had stymied the computer industry. Nanowires created by the Agarwal lab are 20 nanometers in diameter (one thousand times thinner than a human hair) and 10 micrometers long. By comparison, the lithographic process used to fabricate phase-change memory storage on thin silicon hasn’t worked reliably for structures thinner than 100 nanometers, says Agarwal. “You couldn’t make them at that small size without damaging them.” According to Simone Raoux, Ph.D., a research staff member at the IBM Almaden Research Center, “Dr. Agarwal’s most important research contribution has been to show us that phase-change technology can be developed down to the 20 nanometer size of the element and that it will work. This is very promising for the development of phase-change memory, an emerging technology that could potentially change the memory technology landscape and market. This research is extremely relevant because it tells us how small we can build devices in the future.” Phase-change memory is of keen interest to the computer industry because it can offer an alternative to the standard binary world in which data is stored as 0s and 1s. For example, by

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adding more layers of different phase-change materials, phasechange memory can then become non-binary, capable of storing and processing logarithmically more information. Individual atoms in phase-change memory materials switch reversibly from an amorphous state with high resistance to an orderly crystalline structure with low resistance. An added benefit of Agarwal’s self-assembly fabrication technique for nanowire-based memory is that it’s significantly cheaper, easier and faster than conventional lithography. A manufacturing plant built to fabricate memory storage materials smaller than 100 nanometers using the lithographic process would cost billions of dollars. By comparison, says Agarwal, “We can make structures, take measurements and study devices in a single day using a $15,000 piece of equipment. It’s very easy to follow our recipe for the self-assembly of nanowires. That’s why we have been able to make so much progress in such a short time. We’re not limited by lithography.” According to Raoux, “The way he’s making his devices is relatively easy compared to a full-blown lithographic application process which can take many months—while his process can take hours. Plus, his structures are very pure and well-controlled which is important because crystal structure and composition influences the properties of a material.” In her work at IBM, Raoux is exploring multiple methodologies for creating nanoscale phase-change materials (other research groups use chemical vapor and atomic vapor deposition techniques). Raoux has planned research collaborations with Agarwal’s group to explore potential applications for his nanowire fabrication techniques. Agarwal’s nanowire fabrication technique involves heating powdered germanium, antimony and tellurium in a furnace through which argon gas flows from temperatures of 650˚ Celsius upstream to 400˚ C downstream where the mixture

The dual allegiance of Penn Engineering faculty to scientific discovery and undergraduate education proved useful to Agarwal as he refined his nanowire fabrication techniques further. Building upon the Nature Nanotechnology publication, the Agarwal group’s subsequent goal was to engineer a nanowire with a core-shell structure, like a coaxial cable. The extra layer of the shell around the core would add logarithmically more data storage. Creating that coaxial cable nanowire was critical to proving the usefulness of the nanowire breakthrough because it would further demonstrate that complex core-shell nanoscale phasechange memory could be reliably fabricated by self-assembly. Enter the intrepid undergraduate, Andrew Jennings. After sitting in on the very first lecture of the first class (Introduction to Functional Nanoscale Materials) that Agarwal taught (and continues to teach) at Penn, Jennings asked Agarwal if he could work in his lab. “Sure,” Agarwal told the student that day in February of 2006, “just show up.” Jennings, a sophomore at the time, did more than show up. He set up complex instrumentation in Agarwal’s then new lab, and then accepted a research assignment to engineer a nanowire with a core-shell structure. Unbeknownst to Jennings, Agarwal’s two graduate students and post doc had previously put this technologically-challenging project on the back burner because it seemed like such a long shot. Jennings recalls a moment when this quest to create a core-shell nanostructure stalled out. “This work was really difficult and time-consuming. After we tried four times to do this, the research team wondered ‘should we keep trying?’ I remember























vaporizes and cools onto gold nanoparticles that act as catalysts that seed wires comprised of the three elements.

thinking there are plenty of other things to try to make this work. It was complicated. There were definitely a lot of hours with the furnace.”

young faculty. “We’re not limited by ideas, materials or techniques. Our only limitation is the current funding environment for science,” he says.

Eventually, after working for a year with support from a graduate student and a post doc in Agarwal’s lab, Jennings prevailed. “Undergraduate research is just as valuable for faculty as it is for students,” says Agarwal. “I give the most impossible problems to undergraduates because they’re at the stage where they don’t know if the odds are long for something to work.”

Agarwal has additionally pioneered easily replicable techniques for controlling nanowire composition, shape, size and alignment by tweaking the temperature, composition and amount of vapor in the furnaces in which the materials self-assemble. These techniques are so easy, in fact, that a Philadelphia high school student, Amy Lam, has spent the past year in his lab fabricating wellcharacterized nanowires.

That breakthrough technique (adding a shell structure comprised of germanium telluride around a nanowire comprised of a germanium-antimony-tellurium alloy) and the resulting nonbinary memory storage capability was published in the June 2008 edition of Nano Letters, a publication of the American Chemical Society. For Jennings, this research experience was a springboard to his professional future. Back when he first volunteered to work in the Agarwal lab, Jennings actually was ambivalent about studying engineering; so he decided to work in a lab at Penn to learn more about the field. “My grades shot up after I worked in the lab,” he recalls. “Then, as I became more interested in my research, I recognized how relevant my courses were.” Jennings, now in his first year at Cal Tech’s Materials Science doctoral program, says “The influence of working in Agarwal’s lab has been huge. Had I not joined that lab I would not be at Cal Tech right now. It was a great opportunity; I marvel at how lucky it feels in retrospect.” Currently, Agarwal’s research group is comprised of three graduate students and two post docs. He holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, and moved from India to the U.S. in 1996 for a master’s program in chemistry at The University of Chicago. Agarwal received an NSF CAREER Award in 2007, a prestigious award for junior faculty, and is currently engaged in teaching and research plus the classic grant-writing bootstrap experience of


“What is emerging is that we can convert cadmium sulfide nanowires into other highly complex nanostructures such as well-defined zinc cadmium sulfide alloys, striped patterns of zinc and cadmium sulfide, and even hollow nano structures that are almost impossible to make by other means,” says Agarwal. Stripes of alternating materials are especially useful because they are potential connecting points between nanoscale semiconductor components and metal connections for electrically addressing the devices at the nanoscale. Ultimately, Agarwal’s goal is to develop techniques for harvesting his nanowires and packing them in perfect alignment on a piece of silicon to build a memory device that would achieve the ‘holy grail’ of the memory industry—fast, non-volatile and dense memory storage. “If this works, we would have in principal an ideal memory device,” he says. “Commercially that market is in the tens of billions of dollars. This form of memory would solve virtually all of the problems associated with flash memory, magnetic memory and hard disks. The incompatibility of memory devices would not exist.” Agarwal expects it will take at least a decade for scientists to reach this goal. However, he won’t bet on the odds of his research group achieving this feat. “You cannot predict breakthroughs,” says Agarwal. “You just have to do what you think is exciting work. Whoever solves that problem will solve so many other problems. How to assemble nanostructures to make real-world devices is a question that’s at the core of all nanoscale research.” In the meantime, Agarwal eagerly looks forward to the planned Krishna P. Singh Nanotechnology Center at Penn, which will offer Penn scientists access to shared nano-scale instrumentation and clean rooms. This 80,000 square foot nanotechnology facility, planned for the 3200 block of Walnut, will be adjacent to Agarwal’s current laboratory space at the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter. Groundbreaking is expected to begin in 2010. The building will be designed by the architectural firm Weiss/Manfredi along with M+W Zander, an engineering and construction firm that specializes in projects with a scientific focus.




“The emphasis on centers promotes a stronger culture of collaboration among students and faculty,” says George J. Pappas, the Joseph Moore Professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering and Deputy Dean for the School of Engineering and Applied Science. As Deputy Dean, it is Pappas’s top priority to launch centers like CECR and PRECISE.

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Science is a discovery-driven culture. Engineering is an innovation-driven culture. To be able to tackle the challenging issues of our times, it is imperative that different knowledge and expertise cultures integrate across academic disciplines. At Penn Engineering, two new centers are promoting this integration of cultures with enhanced partnership geared to define new educational offerings, advance science and engineering, and transfer innovation to industry. The Center for Engineering Cells and Regeneration (CECR) and the Penn Research in Embedded Computing and Integrated Systems Engineering (PRECISE) Center are both pursuing broad intellectual and research agendas, at a level they expect will achieve international impact and visibility. Both centers are founded on the premise that collaboration between scientific disciplines nets common goals. “The emphasis on centers promotes a stronger culture of collaboration among students and faculty,” says George J. Pappas, the Joseph Moore Professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering and Deputy Dean for the School of Engineering and Applied Science. As Deputy Dean, it is Pappas’s top priority to launch centers like CECR and PRECISE. But how is a center first conceived? Does the collaborative idea inspire, or does particular synergy between faculty act as the catalyst for defining the center? “I begin to identify areas of opportunity for research centers by looking for educators who demonstrate teamwork and value partnership,” says Pappas. “I try to identify areas of interdisciplinary excellence within all engineering departments, looking for teams of outstanding faculty and students.” Pappas commends both Christopher Chen, the Skirkanich Professor of Innovation of the Department of Bioengineering, director of CECR; and Insup Lee, the Cecilia Fitler Moore Professor of the Department of Computer and Information Science, director of PRECISE, for their intellectual breadth and ability to combine research agendas of different faculty across different departments or schools for common goals. “Their leadership is key to getting both these centers off the ground,” says Pappas.

At the CECR, collaborative focus is on engineering cells and tissues. Research projects delve into how cells, tissues and organs undergo adaptive or maladaptive responses to aging, stress or injury; and how selecting, modifying and reprogramming cells can help heal wounds, restore tissues or be applied to conditions like diabetes, heart failure and paralysis. This is a new science that challenges current understanding about how cells work. That challenge needs to be answered via the combination and cooperation of intellect. “This science is not a single discipline, but requires the multidisciplinary integration of engineering, biology, chemistry, physics and medicine,” says Chen. This team effort is breaking ground in the interface between bioengineering technologies like biomaterials, cell engineering and quantitative cell biology, and is positioning Penn as a national leader in the field. “No existing center or institute nationally appears to have captured this space quite the way that Penn has,” says Chen. Key to the impetus of the center is the renowned faculty membership, with wide-reaching experience in polymeric biomaterials, molecular engineering, molecular imaging, orthopaedic biomechanics and cell biology and physiology. “Penn boasts arguably the most decorated and noted collection of researchers in the world in mechanobiology, which encompasses the study of cell mechanics, tissue mechanics, cell adhesion to materials, and how mechanics impacts biological processes,” says Chen. “We are also highly visible in our work on stem cell engineering. These strengths will be capitalized upon by the CECR.” Chen, who is also a faculty member of the Cell Biology and Physiology Program, Cell Growth and Cancer Program, and


At the CECR, collaborative focus is on engineering cells and tissues. Research projects delve into how cells, tissues and organs undergo adaptive or maladaptive responses to aging, stress or injury; and how selecting, modifying and reprogramming cells can help heal wounds, restore tissues or be applied to conditions like diabetes, heart failure and paralysis.

director of the Tissue Microfabrication Laboratory, sees his director responsibilities for CECR as part of his overall dedication to goal achievement: identifying the underlying mechanisms by which cells interact with materials and coordinate with each other to build tissues, and to apply this knowledge to engineer cells to heal tissues.

research projects over many years. We have come to see ourselves as a group in which each member is considered a ‘leading expert’ in his area of specialty. With cohesiveness provided by the center, the center becomes much more than just the sum of its individual members,” says Lee.

At the PRECISE center, research and advances in cyber-physical systems (CPS) are allowing teams to coordinate computing and communications to interact with the physical world. This is a discipline that requires reintegration of the physical and information sciences to produce technology on which people can bet their lives. Advances could transform the world with systems that respond predictably faster (collision avoidance systems in automobiles), are more precise (robotic surgery) and work in dangerous environments (autonomous search and rescue).

“This center is unique in that it is a joint program of computer science and electrical engineering,” says Lee. “The core courses teach students fundamentals in embedded systems design and implementation from two disciplines.”

Members of the center sport an impressive list of credentials in computing and communications, including real-time computing, formal methods, hybrid systems, software architectures and sensor networks. “Our mission is to be a world-class center of excellence. We will leverage our members’ expertise to establish the missing theoretical and engineering foundations for cyber-physical systems,” says Lee.

Innovations in both centers are expected to impact curricula and disseminate into industry, says Pappas. “Development of programs like the MSE degree in Embedded Systems is a very powerful way that the research mission of the centers can be translated into innovative departmental education, and transferred via our excellent students to industry,” he says.

A faculty member of the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering, Lee is also an Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Fellow and a member of the Technical Advisory Group of President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Networking and Information Technology. In the process of developing the plan for PRECISE, his concern was for the future educational prospects of a science that is just developing. “The center will allow us to develop forward-looking educational programs to train a future workforce that will require interdisciplinary education,” says Lee. The idea of the center came about naturally, Lee explains. “PRECISE members have a long track record of working together on many

SPRING 2009 ■ 14

Lee anticipates the PRECISE center will deliver multiple benefits to Penn, including research and development activities with industry sectors, a new master’s program in embedded systems, and potential ties to Asian industries and universities where the embedded systems industry is strong.

The centers will not only expand the reach of science and engineering, notes Pappas, but are initiatives that deliver on the Penn Compact to propel the University from excellence to eminence. “Cutting-edge engineering happens at scientific interfaces and therefore helps to maintain Penn Engineering as a leading research institution, and elevates it still further in distinction.”

Penn Engineering BY THE NUMBERS

DEMOGRAPHIC DATA FOR CLASS OF 2012 Number of Applicants

GENERAL INFORMATION Founded as the School of Mines, Arts 1852 and Manufactures Number of Faculty



Number Offered Admission




Average SAT Math (matriculated)


Percent of Women


Under-represented Minorities


Number of National Academy of Engineering Members


Number of Chaired Professors


Countries Represented


Number of Current CAREER Awards


States Represented


Academic Departments Research Institutes and Centers

6 10

Declared Majors Upon Entry to Penn Engineering: MAJOR








Total Number of Undergraduates






Student/Faculty Ratio


















Undergraduate Majors Bachelor of Science in Engineering Bachelor of Applied Science Student Clubs & Organizations

9 5 31





Grand Total





A gift from my employees, this globe rotates by creating a stable magnetic field.


The economy is in shambles. What can Penn Engineering do to help? David Magerman, Eng’90, C’90, offers an unusual and useful perspective. His career path includes a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford, work as a research scientist for IBM in computational linguistics, and 13 years at hedge fund management company Renaissance Technologies Corporation where he was head of production for all trading. According to Magerman, “Many of the problems in the world today could be solved by engineers if only they would stay in engineering. It is unfortunate that many forsake careers in engineering for the allure of jobs in the financial industry.” Magerman appears to be criticizing his own career choice, but he makes a critical distinction: he worked as a practicing engineer in SPRING 2009 ■ 16

Going to Wall Street as an Engineer

the financial industry. “All of the skills I learned in my coursework at Penn Engineering came into play in my job at Renaissance. I was one of the few people there who had the ability to address all aspects of the problems we faced—to do the theoretical work, applied work, hardware, software and all aspects of the design process,” he says. “I contributed to the statistical modeling algorithms and the betting algorithms, built the trading and accounting software, and even debugged the C++ compiler that had been preventing us from trading.” Penn Engineering’s hands-on approach to engineering education was key. He recalls, for example, “a computer hardware class where I built and programmed a piano controlled by a microchip. I had to wire the entire system from scratch, including running the wires from the power source to the different chips on the board. I occasionally made mistakes in my wiring and burned my hands

A replica of a menorah by 18th century artist Joahnn Adam Boller. Jewish observance is an important part of my life.

A working calculator, one of the early pieces in the collection of Aaron Adding Machines by artist Andy Aaron.

Penn founder Benjamin Franklin—Personifying innovation and commitment to the public good.

a few times. The lessons I learned in that class stuck with me for a long time.” Magerman, who has served on Penn Engineering’s Board of Overseers since 2003, says, “Engineering has traditionally been about solving problems in the tangible world, such as renewable energy, global warming, famine and health care. In today’s information economy, we need to train leaders who can create infrastructure that strengthens rather than undermines the financial world—for the bits and bytes in the financial markets are where assets really are these days.” Magerman attributes some of the problems in the economy today to engineering problems in the financial markets themselves. “Many problems in financial markets today come from people taking advantage of inefficiencies in the structure of markets,” says Magerman. “They profit from them in what has now become

5th place prize from “Math4America” a charity poker event. Each chip sports the name and face of a famous mathematician.

a gamblers’ arena. The structure of the market allows that; but this takes away from the intended goals of financial markets to capitalize companies, to identify the value of those companies and to help companies hedge their exposure to future needs.” Dialogue about scholarships among members of the Board of Overseers is especially compelling for Magerman, who received scholarship support as an undergraduate at Penn. “The Board of Overseers values the school’s economic diversity and is dedicated to helping qualified students who need financial support,” he says. Given the current economic climate, Penn Engineering’s role as a leader in research and education is even more compelling, says Magerman. “The great thing about an institution like Penn is that it can really be a shining light in this time—keeping educational opportunities for America’s future leaders intact.” PENN ENGINEERING ■ 17



Engineeri Like many engineers, Alfie Hanssen was born with a fascination about the way things work. As a child he played with Legos and built model planes, and by high school he was absorbed in painting and architecture. Painting brought him to Penn, but it was a spontaneous trip to Tanzania that would define his ultimate career path as an engineer determined to save the world. “Those two weeks changed my life!” Hanssen says. As an undergraduate Hanssen majored in fine arts and began to pursue a dual degree with Digital Media Design, but found the joint natural science requirements a bit daunting. Hanssen flourished as a painter and was admitted to an MFA program, but found that it didn’t suit his interests. “I guess the engineer in me wanted the process and product to be more robust and practical,” he says. “I also wanted to feel more of a connection with my peers.” So Hanssen left art school and began exploring other options. He took a job in construction management, which satisfied his practical nature, but not the creative and compassionate aspects of his personality. One day a friend from Penn called and SPRING 2009 ■ 18

asked if he would come to Songea, Tanzania, for two weeks to provide construction advice on a project run by Miracle Corners of the World (MCW), an international non-profit devoted to youth education and global community development. “The trip offered everything I was looking for,” he says. “It was an amazing cause coupled with construction and project management work, and I could work with an incredibly diverse team of people while immersing myself in a new language and culture.” When he returned to Philadelphia, Hanssen realized his desk job could never provide such opportunities, so he quit and moved to Songea to lead the project.

Hanssen began working locally to help community stakeholders envision solutions that were viable and economically sustainable. He led laborers and volunteers through the project’s construction.



Southern Tanzania is beautiful but challenging: many villages are so remote that basic health and educational needs cannot be met. Identifying the most immediate problems and focusing on specific and participatory solutions requires a critical eye and the ability work with a wide variety of people. Hanssen began working locally to help community stakeholders envision solutions that were viable and economically sustainable. He led laborers and volunteers through the project’s construction. “In four months, we built a multi-functional community center, a stateof-the-art dental clinic, and staff housing. The community center houses a library, English language classes, information technology classes, a pre-school program, and a youth group. The programs are entirely youth led and 100% of the construction materials and labor came from Songea, providing a huge boost to the local economy,” he says. In August 2005, with the project finished, Hanssen returned to the U.S. and enrolled in the Penn’s master’s program in Computer

Graphics and Game Technology (CGGT). The goal of the program is to teach students state-of-the-art graphics and animation technologies, as well as interactive media design principles, product development methodologies and engineering entrepreneurship. CGGT might seem an odd choice for a grassroots community organizer, but as Hanssen explains, “Graphics and programming are tools that can be applied to many things, not just the movies. I didn’t know where CGGT would lead me, but I wanted a graduate school experience that combined lab, team and field work, and I wanted to understand social simulation research. CGGT allowed me to incorporate courses in city planning and business and to spend time in Brazil working on a game project.” So while peers in his game design course built projects aimed toward catching the eye of industry recruiters, Hanssen worked on a social simulation game whose goal was to replace the glut of violence-ridden video games with one based upon relationships and the allocation of community resources in Rio’s “informal” neighborhoods or favelas. PENN ENGINEERING ■ 19

Miracle Corners of the World Rwanda Community Planning Committee

Clockwise from left: Henriette Mukanyonga, Janvier Mujaribu, Ferdinand Muriyesu Ishimwe, Alfie Hanssen, Solange Uwimbabazi and Didier Sagashya

Hanssen represents a new breed of enlightened engineers, and there are many to follow in his footsteps. According to Penn Dean of Admissions Eric Furda, “Our engineering applicants demonstrate an impressive commitment to community service, and frequently cite Penn Engineering’s outreach programs in their essays.” As these students immerse themselves in courses that teach tangible and transformative skills, they too will envision a world that has never existed and bring it to reality. Hanssen also taught a series of courses focused on community outreach. “Design and Construction for Community Development” was a course inspired by his own experience in Tanzania. Students were tasked with envisioning projects that would benefit their communities, and then, using computer graphics software, create 3-D models of their proposed ideas. “Students had to understand the needs of their projects’ beneficiaries and how they could be met, and then use this information to design their projects’ physical structures and spaces,” says Hanssen. The course encapsulated the blend of art, technology, visualization and applied problem solving that Hanssen was seeking, and led him to teach subsequent courses with community service components. CGGT gave Hanssen the opportunity to hone his analytical and programming skills while enhancing his teaching experience. “I was looking for opportunities that would allow me to explore as many of my interests as possible,” he says. “I knew engineering and CGGT would be the best environment in which to do this, and it was. The process that CGGT students go through to create a product involves artistic sensitivity and engineering acuity. CGGT was the perfect fit for me.”

SPRING 2009 ■ 20

Hanssen is now the associate executive director of Miracle Corners of the World, where he has directed leadership and entrepreneurship education projects in Rwanda, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, and Ethiopia. His unique background offered MCW something rare: a leader with technical, teaching, applied and social skills. Hanssen represents a new breed of enlightened engineers, and there are many to follow in his footsteps. According to Penn Dean of Admissions Eric Furda, “Our engineering applicants demonstrate an impressive commitment to community service, and frequently cite Penn Engineering’s outreach programs in their essays.” As these students immerse themselves in courses that teach tangible and transformative skills, they too will envision a world that has never existed and bring it to reality. For information about Miracle Corners of the World and its ties to Philadelphia and Penn, please visit their website at: To find out more about the CGGT program, visit the website at:


Peter K. Davies loves a challenge. An expert in solid state chemistry and properties of electronic ceramics, Davies came to Penn in 1983 by way of Oxford and Arizona State to teach thermodynamics, a class which, he says with a smile, “nominally, nobody’s going to want to take.” Hinting at the dedication and creativity that have helped him win numerous teaching awards, Davies adds, “That’s perfect for me. I love teaching. And if it weren’t a challenge, I don’t think I’d enjoy it as much.” Davies took on leadership of the Materials Science and Engineering department in 2002, toward the beginning of the nanoscale revolution. Working in an inherently interdisciplinary field that integrates knowledge from physics, chemistry, math, biology, and all aspects of engineering, materials science engineers have long examined the properties of atomic scale structures in order to engineer materials that are part of our everyday lives, from bridges and bicycles to computer chips and medical implants. But nanoscale research is enabling the assembly of new structures of atoms, with properties as yet uninvestigated. While larger than the atomic structures with which materials science engineers traditionally work, nanoscale materials present a greater challenge because, as Davies puts it, “Trying to tell thousands of atoms to do one thing is harder than dealing with a single atom.” Using what Davies calls “some very clever chemistry and instrumentation,” such as electron and scanning probe microscopes, “we can now start to organize materials in ways that were unheard of 10 years ago. We’re at the beginning of engineering a whole new set of materials.” While yet to catch up to the pace of retirements in the department, Davies’ recent faculty hires represent expertise in the construction of nanowires with unique, semi-conducting and optical properties; responsive polymer-based nanostructured

PETER K. DAVIES Materials Science and Engineering materials; multiscale materials modeling and computation; mechanical properties at the nanoscale; molecular electronics; and the fabrication of artificial atoms, or quantum dots. Davies has also set his sights on the courses offered in the department. “I wanted to translate all of these really exciting changes in research and potential applications into education,” he says, “and to provide a cutting-edge academic program.” The result is the first undergraduate program in the country to focus on the fundamentals of nanoscale research. In the four years since the new curriculum was implemented, Davies has seen a significant increase in the size of the graduating class, and has watched overall undergraduate enrollment grow from 25 to 120 students. This is in addition to the department’s 80 graduate students, 15 post-doctoral fellows, and 11 faculty members. Complementing and facilitating the work of Penn’s materials science engineers will be the Krishna P. Singh Nanotechnology Center, which, as Davies says, “will provide us with an outstanding infrastructure for the techniques we use to look at nanoscale phenomena.” The Singh Nanotechnology Center will feature a vibration and magnetic field isolated environment, where microscopes can perform perfectly, and a nanofabrication facility, where students and faculty will have all the tools necessary to translate advances in nanoscale research into revolutionary new materials, particularly for energy applications, computing and communications devices, and biomedical materials.




Penn Engineering Capital Campaign Keeps Pace Astonishing achievement is nothing new to the School of Engineering and Applied Science. But considering the troubled economy, managing to be ahead of the projected goal to reach $150 million in capital campaign commitments by 2012 is especially rewarding. Designated as Making History Through Innovation, Penn Engineering’s capital campaign has drawn positive support from donors world-wide. “We’ve raised $93.5 million to date, with a significant contribution from Kris and Martha Singh of $20 million,” says George Hain, Executive Director of Engineering Development. The Singh’s naming gift will underwrite construction of the Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology. Their gift, part of the $50 million campaign goal for facilities, will also help renovate spaces throughout the Towne Building, The Moore School and Hayden Hall. Along with facilities, the campaign targets giving goals to benefit students and faculty: $40 million is the goal for student support, which includes program enhancements and fellowship aid in order to attract gifted students from all walks of life. To continue to attract and retain world-class faculty, $50 million is the goal to endow professorships and underwrite faculty research. An additional $10 million is the goal for unrestricted funds to sustain the quality of the school’s programs.

But will current economic pressures negatively hamper achieving campaign goals for the University or the School of Engineering and Applied Science? Echoing University President Amy Gutmann’s sentiments, Glandt is equally optimistic. “To be sure, the current state of the economy does cause us some concern, and we should expect that our current pace toward goal achievement in raising funds may slow. But most certainly it will not stop,” he says. “Our alumni are very much emotionally invested in the success of the School and I have every reason to believe we will achieve our goal of $150 million.” To gain the greatest visibility with the widest audience, alumni events are hosted around the world to help interested donors better understand the significant impact their donations have on Penn Engineering and the world. “Since July 1, 2008, we’ve hosted events in Los Angeles, Mumbai and London, and are looking forward to events this spring in San Francisco, Seoul, Beijing, Hong Kong and Singapore,” says Hain. Typically, an international event starts with contacting alumni and asking them to host the event. This is not for the faint of heart: events can attract upwards of 70 attendees, and often are hosted in their homes.

“We are doing particularly well with facilities and unrestricted donations,” says Hain.

Along with facilities, the campaign targets giving

Campaigns are only as effective as their leadership, and the school’s campaign is expertly led by J. Peter Skirkanich (W’65) and Andrew S. Rachleff (W’80). Both are University Trustees, as well as Overseers for Penn Engineering. “Both Andy and Peter have been generous with their time, leadership and donations,” says Hain. “The Rachleff donation of $3 million will endow an undergraduate scholar’s initiative (Rachleff Scholars Program) and the $2.26 million Skirkanich donation will endow faculty support in bioengineering.”

the goal for student support, which includes program

Both Skirkanich’s and Rachleff ’s vision for achievement is crucial to the success of the campaign, says Eduardo Glandt, Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. “They are leading a shared enterprise. By setting the tone of this campaign, they are inspiring others’ actions.” The Making History Through Innovation campaign is running in tandem with the University’s Making History: The Campaign For Penn, a campaign for strategic investment across the University designed to fuel ideas, empower people, and inspire pursuits that will change the way we think about higher education. Like the School of Engineering and Applied Science’s campaign, the University campaign is also on track to meet its goal—$3.5 billion by 2012.

goals to benefit students and faculty: $40 million is enhancements and fellowship aid in order to attract gifted students from all walks of life. “Our January event in Mumbai was quite a success,” says Glandt. “The event, graciously hosted by Penn Engineering Overseer Hital Meswami, offered a small-village feeling to the big city, and attracted Penn alumni who were looking for a sense of community and a personal update on what has been happening at the School.” While Glandt often reaches out to do one-on-one alumni visits, he finds that people are very receptive to a group get-together. “Penn alumni enjoy being with each other. When I speak to a group, that’s the overwhelming sense I experience: it’s a big family.” While the purpose of this year’s events is to share the vision of the capital campaign, Glandt also realizes that school alumni are interested in news about what has been happening on campus. “It’s a very powerful thing to have someone from Philadelphia visit their hometown and tell then what is happening back on campus. I feel this a very special privilege, and when I speak, it’s not me, but Penn speaking.” PENN ENGINEERING ■ 23

School NEWS Pieces of Penn History Return from Space Dr. Garrett E. Reisman, NASA Astronaut and Penn alumnus, returned to Penn Engineering in February as the distinguished speaker for the Business, Technology and Government Lecture Series. Reisman’s inspirational lecture, “Living Aboard the Space Station—One Quaker’s Journey,” detailed his three-month mission on the International Space Station. Reisman is a graduate of the Penn Management and Technology Program and holds a B.S. in both Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics from Penn Engineering and in Economics from the Wharton School of Business. After graduating from Penn, Reisman went on to earn his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology. Reisman served with both the Expedition-16 and the Expedition-17 crews as a flight engineer aboard the International Space Station. He launched with the STS-123 crew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on March 11, 2008, and returned to Earth with the crew of STS-124 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery on June 14, 2008. During his three month tour of duty aboard the Space Station, Reisman performed one spacewalk totaling more than seven hours of extra-vehicular activity and executed numerous tasks with the Space Station robotic arm and the new robotic manipulator, Dextre.

SPRING 2009 ■ 24

Reisman told a packed auditorium of Penn Engineering students, faculty and staff that he is “standing on many people’s shoulders” and that his success is the result of professors and mentors who inspired him to become an engineer. While at Penn, Reisman explored many possible career paths, but a class with the late Dr. Ira Cohen, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, caused him to become “hooked on fluid mechanics.” Earlier in the day on the first floor of The Moore School where ENIAC was built and now displayed in part, Reisman re-attached a control knob from the world’s first large scale, general-purpose, electronic digital computer. Reisman had taken the knob into space as a tribute to Penn Engineering’s contribution to computing and technological innovation, without which space flight would not have been possible. At the end of his talk, Reisman presented Dean Eduardo Glandt with a Penn pennant, which he had proudly displayed on the wall of the Space Station during his three months in orbit.

Dr. Reisman’s full lecture is available for viewing at

Honors and Awards Robert Ghrist, the Andrea Mitchell University Professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering and of Mathematics, has been awarded the S. Reid Warren, Jr. Award. The award is presented annually by the undergraduate student body and the Engineering Alumni Society in recognition of outstanding service in stimulating and guiding the intellectual and professional development of undergraduate students in SEAS. Dr. Ghrist, one of the world’s leading mathematicians, is the seventh “Penn Integrates Knowledge” (PIK) Professor. Susan Margulies, Professor of Bioengineering, has been awarded the Ford Motor Company Award for Faculty Advising. This award recognizes dedication to helping students realize their educational, career and personal goals. Robert Carpick, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics and Penn Director of the Nanotechnology Institute, has been named a Penn Fellow by the

Office of the Provost. Appointment to Penn Fellow allows for opportunities in leadership development and is provided to select Penn faculty members in mid-career. Fellowship includes opportunities to build networks across the university, meet with distinguished academic leaders, think strategically about university governance, and participate in monthly dinners with prominent speakers from within Penn and beyond.

Stephan Zdancewic, Associate Professor of Computer and Information Science, has been awarded a prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship. Sloan Research Fellowships seek to stimulate fundamental research by early-career scientists and scholars of outstanding promise. These two-year fellowships are awarded yearly to 118 researchers in recognition of distinguished performance and a unique potential to make substantial contributions to their field.

Nader Engheta, the H. Nedwill Ramsey Professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering, has been elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society “for development of concepts of metamaterial-inspired optical lumped nanocircuits, and for ground breaking contributions to the fields of metamaterials, plasmonic nano-optics, biologically-inspired imaging, and electrodynamics.” This distinct honor signifies recognition by professional peers and is limited to one half of one percent of the APS membership.

Daniel Koditschek, the Alfred Fitler Moore Professor and Chair of Electrical and Systems Engineering, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for his work in the fields of information, computing and communication. Election as a Fellow of AAAS is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers, and Fellows are recognized for meritorious efforts to advance science or its applications.

School NEWS Honors and Awards (continued)

Lecture Notes

George J. Pappas, Deputy Dean and the Joseph Moore Professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering, has been selected as an IEEE Fellow for his contributions to design and analysis of hybrid control systems. This is the highest grade of membership in the IEEE.

The George H. Heilmeier Faculty Award for Excellence in Research was named in honor of alumnus and Overseer George H. Heilmeier, and recognizes his extraordinary research career, his leadership in technical innovation and public service. Professor Scott Diamond, the Arthur E. Humphrey Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, was selected as the 2009 recipient of the award. The distinction associated with the Heilmeier name has set very high standards for this award, and Dr. Diamond’s discoveries and innovations in high throughput screening and micro-array technology were noted by the Awards Committee to have “revolutionized the field” and met the high standards of creativity and impact associated with George Heilmeier’s name. Dr. Diamond’s seminar, “High Throughput Biotechnology” was presented on March 4, 2009.

Jason A. Burdick, the Wilf Family Term Assistant Professor of Bioengineering, has received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for his work on “Spatially Controlled Cellular Behavior in 3-D Hydrogels: An Integrated Research, Teaching, and Outreach Approach.” Boon Thau Loo, Assistant Professor in Computer and Information Science, has received a National Science Foundation CAREER award on “Towards a Unified Declarative Platform for Composable Verifiable Networks.” The CAREER award is the NSF’s most prestigious award in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. Insup Lee, the Cecilia Fitler Moore Professor of Computer and Information Science, has received the Technical Achievement Award from the IEEE Technical Committee on Real-Time Systems for his outstanding technical achievement and leadership. George Heilmeier, Penn Engineering Alumnus and Overseer, has been inducted Into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Dr. Heilmeier pioneered the first liquid crystal displays eventually used in computer screens and televisions. He is among 15 new members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame. “CKBot,” a creation of C.J. Taylor, Associate Professor of Computer and Information Science, Mark Yim, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics and their students, was named as #81 of Discover Magazine’s Top 100 Science Stories of 2008.

SPRING 2009 ■ 26

The Saul Gorn Lecture Series was established in honor of the late Professor Saul Gorn who played a key role in the establishment of the Department of Computer and Information Science. The 2009 distinguished speaker was Professor Peter Lee, Head of the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University, who presented a lecture on April 16, 2009, entitled “Programming a Million Robots.” The 2009 John A. Quinn Lecture in Chemical Engineering honors the pioneering contributions that Professor John Quinn has made in bringing chemical engineering science to problems in human health, pharmaceutical production and nanotechnology. On March 25, 2009, this year’s distinguished Quinn lecturer, Robert A. Brown, President, Boston University, spoke on the topic, “A 21st Century View of Chemical Engineering.”

In Memoriam Edward K. Morlok, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering, died on April 18, 2009, at the age of 68, following a long battle with cancer. At the time of his death, Professor Morlok was Penn’s UPS Foundation Professor of Transportation Emeritus. Professor Morlok was born in Philadelphia and graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1962 and a doctorate from Northwestern in 1967, both in civil engineering. He began his career that year as an Assistant Professor at Northwestern University and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1969. Dr. Morlok came to Penn in 1973 as Associate Professor of Civil and Urban Engineering, appointed to the UPS Chair and promoted to full professor in 1976. Professor Morlok was a researcher whose work encompassed diverse analytical approaches to transportation systems. His colleague Vukan Vuchic recalled that Dr. Morlok “was an expert in all aspects of transportation systems engineering: highways, railroads, airlines.” While he covered many aspects of transportation, from the role of manufacturing to applications of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) and environmental aspects and impacts, most of Dr. Morlok’s work focused on economics and logistics of freight transportation. Dr. Morlok made significant contributions to theoretical and analytical studies of freight transport and applied many of his studies to operations of actual transportation systems. Thus, his optimization studies of intermodal transportation (truck-rail-piggybacking, containerization and others) were modeled on and applied to actual intermodal transportation companies. Professor Morlok taught engineering economics, logistics and manufacturing, and supervised numerous doctoral students. He was the author of four books, and served as the editor of McGraw-Hill series on transportation. Professor Morlok was the recipient of many prestigious honors, such as the Von Humboldt Award, the Transportation/Logistics Educator of the Year Award, and the Distinguished Transportation Researcher Award. He served as Chair of Penn’s first graduate group in Transportation and on numerous committees at both the School and University levels. Dr. Morlok is survived by his wife, Patricia Campbell Morlok; a daughter, Jessica Prince; a stepson, John Conboy, and stepdaughters Patricia Kuzyk, Elizabeth Sheslow, Peggy Wagman and Nancy Burke.

Remember Penn Engineering... Beneficiary designations and bequests have been fundamental to Penn Engineering’s stability and expansion for more than 150 years. Throughout times of accelerated economic growth and despite periods of unpredictability, alumni and friends of the School have provided for our future in this meaningful way. We hope you will include Penn Engineering in your estate plans and help to ensure our long-term strength and vitality.

“It was 1954. Could my family afford to send me to college? Then ‘the letter’ came: A full scholarship to Penn. For me, it is important to make that happen for someone else.” Norm Rosenfeld, EE’58

Help keep us strong

For more information on gift planning to Penn Engineering, please contact Eleanor Brown Davis at 215-898-6564 or or visit

pop quiz with Lamont W. Abrams, Jr.

As a Network Specialist for the Computing and Educational Technology Services (CETS) at Penn Engineering, Lamont Abrams supports the installation, maintenance and monitoring of computer hardware and software that comprise the School’s computer network. This sounds like an interesting position. Can you talk about your specific responsibilities? The IT field is constantly changing, and in the ten years that I’ve been at Penn, my responsibilities have also shifted. I started as an IT Support Technician and my duties were simpler—I would fix computers, printers, and assist with the multimedia equipment in the auditorium. Today, my responsibilities are more broadly-based throughout the School. I work on a portable video conferencing unit and other web conferencing technologies that allow people to collaborate on projects or hold meetings without leaving the comfort of their office. I convert video files from one format to another for Mac and Windows. I offer A-V tutorials and assist with multi-media presentations for major School events. I also attend the Penn Engineering Overseers meetings to provide trouble-shooting expertise for presentations. It sounds like you are the wizard behind the screen, taking care of our technological needs without us even knowing! At CETS, we try to provide a seamless interface between the user and technology. That means we also maintain certifications, place orders, monitor inventories, perform routine checks—we’ll do whatever it takes. When we have large projects, I coordinate with other departments, contractors, and various vendors. I often try to find ways to integrate new trends in technology with equipment currently existing in our inventory. Can you give an example of one of these new technologies? Just this spring, I was able to setup and configure the Quicktime Streaming Server that was used during the Technology, Business and Government Distinguished Lecture featuring NASA astronaut and Penn Engineering alumnus Garrett Reisman. We provided a viewing alternative for the overflow crowd by streaming the live video to another auditorium. This is one of the benefits of being on Team CETS; if you have an interest or idea that would benefit Penn Engineering, you are encouraged to explore it! What do you like to do outside of work? Nighttime photography is something I really enjoy. At least once a month I find a scenic place to photograph at night. I plan to go to White Sands, New Mexico, and photograph the desert by moon light. I have been once before and it was so beautiful. Now that I have the skill and equipment, I’m ready to capture it.

PENN ENGINEERING BOARD OF OVERSEERS Mr. Andrew S. Rachleff, W’80 [Board Chair] Partner Benchmark Capital Menlo Park, CA The Honorable Harold Berger, EE’48, L’51 Managing Partner Berger and Montague, P.C. Philadelphia, PA Mr. David J. Berkman, W’83 Managing Partner Liberty Associated Partners, L.P. Bala Cynwyd, PA Dr. Katherine D. Crothall, EE’71 Principal Liberty Venture Partners, Inc. Philadelphia, PA Mr. Richard D. Forman, EE'87, W'87 Managing Partner Health Venture Group New York, NY Mr. Douglas M. Glanville, ENG’93 President G.K. Alliance, LLC Glen Ellyn, IL Mr. C. Michael Gooden, GEE’78 Chairman and CEO Integrated Systems Analysts Inc. Alexandria, VA Mr. Paul S. Greenberg, EE’83, WG’87 Principal Trilogy Capital LLC Greenwich, CT Mr. Alex Haidas, C’93, ENG’93, WG’98 Portfolio Manager Credaris (CPM Advisers Limited) London, UK Dr. George H. Heilmeier, EE’58 Chairman Emeritus Telcordia Technologies, Inc. Piscataway, NJ

Dr. John F. Lehman, Jr., GR’74 Chairman and Founding Partner J. F. Lehman & Company New York, NY Dr. David M. Magerman, C’90, ENG’90 President and Founder Kohelet Foundation Gladwyne, PA Mr. Sean C. McDonald, ChE’82 President, CEO Precision Therapeutics Pittsburgh, PA Mr. Hital R. Meswani, ENG’90, W’90 Executive Director and Member of the Board Reliance Industries Limited Mumbai, India Mr. Rajeev Misra, ME’85, GEN’86 Children’s Investment Fund London, UK Mr. Ofer Nemirovsky, EE’79, W’79 Managing Director HarbourVest Partners, LLC Boston, MA Mr. David Pakman, ENG’91 Partner Venrock New York, NY Mr. Mitchell I. Quain, EE’73, parent [Board Chair Emeritus] Senior Director ACI Capital Co., LLC New York, NY Mr. William H. Rackoff, C’71, MTE’71 President and Chief Executive Officer ASKO Inc. Homestead, PA Mr. Allie P. Rogers, ENG’87, W’87 Co-Founder Triple Point Technology, Inc. Westport, CT

Mr. Jeffrey M. Rosenbluth, ENG���84 Private Investor Sands Point, NY Ms. Suzanne B. Rowland, ChE’83 Managing Director Energy & Environmental Enterprises Philadelphia, PA Mr. Theodore E. Schlein, C’86 Partner Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Menlo Park, CA Mr. Roger A. Shiffman President and CEO Zizzle, LL Bannockburn, IL Dr. Krishna P. Singh, MS’69, Ph.D.’72 President and CEO HOLTEC International Marlton, NJ Dr. Rajendra Singh, parent Chairman and CEO Telcom Ventures LLC Alexandria, VA Mr. J. Peter Skirkanich, W’65, parent Managing Partner Renard Partners South, L.C. Rumson, NJ Mr. Robert M. Stavis, EAS’84, W’84 Partner Bessemer Venture Larchmont, NY Mr. Frederick J. Warren, ME’60, WG’61 Founder Sage Venture Partners, LLC Winter Park, FL Ms. Sarah Keil Wolf, EE’86, W’86 Retired Investment Banker Bear Stearns and Company Scarsdale, NY Dr. Michael D. Zisman, GEE’73, GR’77 Managing Director, Operations Internet Capital Group Wayne, PA

UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA NONDISCRIMINATION STATEMENT The University of Pennsylvania values diversity and seeks talented students, faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds. The University of Pennsylvania does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, or status as a Vietnam Era Veteran or disabled veteran in the administration of educational policies, programs or activities; admissions policies; scholarship and loan awards; athletic, or other University administered programs or employment. Questions or complaints regarding this policy should be directed to: Executive Director, Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs, Sansom Place East, 3600 Chestnut Street, Suite 228, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6106 or by phone at (215) 898-6993 (Voice) or (215) 898-7803 (TDD). PENN ENGINEERING ■ cIII


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Penn Engineering Magazine: Spring 2009