Benefield B i d s Fa r e w e l l Samuel Ginn College of Engineering
Birds Eye View John Illg, graduate student in computer science and software engineering, launches an unmanned vehicle system in a portico of the Shelby Center for Engineering Technology. The blimp airframe, which is low-cost, low-power and allows for secure communication, can be launched by a soldier or first responder to patrol a hostile environment from the air. Students in David Umphress, Alice Smith and Drew Hamiltonâ€™s real-world systems engineering class, funded by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, constructed two types of vehicles using helicopter and blimp airframes.
Auburn Engineering Spring/Summer 2012 Volume 22, Issue 1
Office of the Dean Larry Benefield, dean Bob Karcher, assistant dean of student services Oliver Kingsley, associate dean for special projects Nels Madsen, interim associate dean for academics Ralph Zee, associate dean for research Office of Engineering Communications and Marketing Jim Killian, director Beth L. Smith, editor Contributors Cheryl Cobb Sally Credille Morgan Stashick Photography Auburn University Photographic Services, Josh Brinkerhoff, Katie Haon, Jim Killian
From the Dean
�atering the �orld
It's my job
A Dream Realized
Into the Lab
Learning from a Distance
Katie Haon, graphic designer Office of Engineering Development Veronica Chesnut, director Dan Bush, associate director Patrick Allen, development officer Kori Caldwell, development officer David Mattox, development officer Margaret Schlereth, development officer Jon Wilson, development officer Experience Auburn Engineering online at e n g.a u b u r n . e du / m a g a z i n e
Auburn Engineering is published twice yearly by the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. Please send news items, suggestions and comments to: Engineering Communications and Marketing c/o Editor 1320 Shelby Center Auburn, AL 36849 334.844.2308 email@example.com
Fro m th e De sk o f . . .
And the Award Goes to . . .
©2012 Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, Auburn University
From the Dea n We are all engineers, hence numbers are an important part of what we do. When becoming dean of engineering at Auburn, an assessment was made of where the College of Engineering was, and where it should be going. Numbers played an important part. Now, more than a decade later, it is time to pause and look at them again. It has been a top priority to move the college ahead in the national undergraduate and graduate student rankings, and to enhance our research productivity as well. The bottom line was quite simple: to create an atmosphere that would attract the best and brightest students; recruit and retain leading national professors; and provide the most advanced facilities and equipment. We are certainly attracting more qualified students. In the past decade, we have seen average ACT scores go from 25 to more than 28, and the number of national merit scholars increase from five to 72. At the same time, scholarship support has increased from $750,000 to more than $2 million. Our research dollars have gone from less than $20 million per year at the turn of the century to more than $57 million annually, placing Auburn Engineering in the top 50 schools nationally for the past six years. To help make this happen, we increased our faculty numbers from 123 tenure track positions and six research positions to 149 and 61, respectively. Recently, as a result of private support from our alumni, 27 new professorships have been funded. Many other benchmarks have been achieved as well, including a building program that saw the renovation of Wilmore Laboratories and Ross Hall, and the construction of the Shelby Center. Sen. Richard Shelby had much to do with the planning and funding of the center, but again, its final completion was made possible only by committed alumni who donated nearly $20 million. Our alumni are a vital component of our college, whether itâ€™s Sam Ginn with an incredible initial gift of $25 million, or graduating seniors who have become junior members of the Engineering Eagles Society with matching gifts of $250. Indeed, I canâ€™t thank our alums enough for their support of our students and our faculty. As I move into my retirement years, I can honestly say that beyond my family, the relationships that have meant the most to me have been those forged not only with the faculty and students of this great college, but with our friends and alumni. On a final note, many of you are aware that Chris Roberts has been named as my successor as dean of engineering. I have been an enthusiastic supporter of Chris during his two decades as a faculty member, and chair of our Department of Chemical Engineering. He is truly visionary and has a deep commitment to excellence. I am certainly confident that he will build on what we have accomplished in our classrooms and labs, and take us to the next level. I urge you to lend him your support as we continue to make Auburn Engineering one of the nationâ€™s top engineering programs.
2 Auburn Engineering
Auburn Engineering 3
“�ater is the drivin� �orce By Morgan Stashick
Leonardo da Vinci, also known as “the Renaissance Man,” was not the only one to recognize that water, in particular, clean water, is essential to life. Auburn Engineering students understand it as well, so much so that several of them have developed a portable water purifying system to prevent water-borne diseases in impoverished areas throughout the world. Grant Moore, a senior in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Business-Engineering-Technology (B-E-T) classmates Lauren McManus, Grant Martin and Sara Yousey developed the water purifiers for a class project that required them to create a business plan and model product. The class was part of Auburn’s B-E-T program which offers engineering undergraduates a minor focused on business. The original team developed two products — the Advanced Liquid Purification System (ALPS), and the Salt and Light Purifier (SaL). Both utilize chemical 4 Auburn Engineering
processes approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to eliminate viruses, bacteria and protozoa by dissolving a small amount of salt in water — a pinch per pint. Electricity then passes through specially coated electrodes in the water, interacting with the dissolved salt to produce chlorine compounds that sanitize the water. More salt can be added to create a strong disinfectant.
world. “Our research on world water issues was too compelling to ignore. We had to do something,” says Moore. “After many long hours and a lot of determination, we created a completely functional water purifier, going far beyond what was required for the class.”
Watering the world
Similar water purifying systems were originally created for the U.S. military, but required batteries to operate. ALPS is powered by a hand-cranked generator, while SaL is powered by solar cells. “We didn’t want them to be battery-operated, because batteries are difficult to come by or are often not of good quality in developing countries,” says Moore. Each system is optimized for its geographical area and costs $30 – $80. Larger components can treat the water faster, but cost more to build.
Moore’s team felt water purification would be profitable in the recreational camping community as well as provide a humanitarian tool for the developing
With help from electrical and computer engineering faculty member Tom Baginski, the team formed the non-profit group Innovative Humanitarian Products
“One advantage of this technology is that it is extremely simple, yet successful,” says Moore. “Chlorine tablets take four hours to kill Giardia, a hazardous type of protozoa, and the tablets don’t even touch Cryptosporidium, another type of protozoa. The ALPS system eliminates both from water quickly.”
Organization (IHPO) in order to create more devices that will improve the lives of those in need. The organization, which now has 130 members, merged the ALPS and SaL purifiers, creating a hybrid that can be powered by either a hand-cranked generator or a solar cell. It is flexible in terms of which power source it can use to best suit different parts of the world. This spring, the organization participated in a contest for nonprofit groups through SlideRocket, a web-based alternative to PowerPoint presentations. The group’s video on its purifiers and initiatives in Uganda earned IHPO fifth place out of 38 participants, as well as $5,000 towards building more purifiers. Winners were determined by the number of views their presentation received. IHPO has partnered with people in industry who want to join the fight against the world’s water crisis. “We want to
some of my teachers and workmen operate the device,” says Qualls. “I brought recommendations back to Grant on how to improve the purifier, but overall, the Ugandans were very impressed with how simple it was. They remarked how easy the device was to operate and maintain versus other solutions to sanitizing water,” he says. “Boiling water burns up their forests and sand filters are hard to maintain.”
Wood for boiling water in Uganda is scarce, she explains, so people spend several hours a day carting water back and forth and searching for firewood in order to treat their water.
Last year, Qualls took the improved ALPS purifier back to the village to conduct taste tests. The villagers recommended a concentration of salt per amount of water that they felt produced fresh water they would drink — creating a collaboration between Auburn Engineering students and the people of Uganda.
“I love helping people, and I see value in a project like this,” she says. “We don’t think this is the end-all solution to the water issue, but this could be a great solution in a lot of situations.”
Along those same lines, Emile Ewing, a graduate student in electrical and computer engineering and member of
o� all nature.”
To further the usefulness of the purifier, Ewing plans to make a picture book to eliminate language barriers faced in teaching people how to use the water purifying systems.
Although simple in nature, the purifiers are offering citizens of the world cleaner, safer water and an innovation that impacts their quality of life — a trademark of Auburn engineers.
Leonardo da Vinci
understand people’s needs and seek consumers' feedback on our products,” says Moore. “Our partners are testing the purifiers alongside the people who will use them.”
IHPO, is concentrating her master’s thesis on the real-world use of the purification systems. She traveled to Uganda last fall to field test the products and teach local residents how to use the systems.
Rodger Qualls, president of the nonprofit organization African Children’s Educational Initiative in Huntsville, has taken the ALPS purifier to Uganda to field test, as well as provide clean water for the villages his organization serves.
“In Uganda, there is an abundance of salt and light for the systems to work,” says Ewing. “The residents get it! They see the water start to bubble and they understand that it is working. It is important to show the products to as many people as possible to avoid skepticism, and let them know that it is possible for them to use the systems themselves.”
“Two years ago I took an early ALPS prototype to Luwero, Uganda, and had
(Above) Current IHPO officers, front row from left: Melanie Head and Tara Jones; back row from left: Rathan Raj, Grant Moore and Harrison Mills. (Opposite page) Ewing demonstrates a water purifier while in Uganda.
� organizations, Emile Ewing was honored in February by Auburn’s Women’s Resource Center. She received
or her work with the water purification systems, as well as her involvement in a number of campus and civic
the 2012 Women of Distinction Graduate Student Award for her outreach and recruiting efforts. Ewing has been involved in campus recruiting events, including E-Day and Talons Day, and has also volunteered for several community organizations, including the Humane Society and the Salvation Army. She is an accomplished athlete and has served as captain of Auburn’s Swimming and Diving Team and participated in the Olympic Trials as a semifinalist. Auburn Engineering 5
bes t c ar w in 6 Auburn Engineering
Auburn Engineering hosted more than 1,000 college students from around the globe April 20-22 for Baja SAE Auburn 2012. Teams went head-to-head with their off-road vehicles on a specially designed course at Auburn’s National Center for Asphalt Technology, competing in design and technical inspection, as well as acceleration, land maneuverability, hill climb and a four-hour endurance race. Cornell University’s team placed first overall, earning 955.86 points, while Oregon State and Rochester Institute of Technology placed second and third with 936.16 points and 875.97 points, respectively. The Auburn car finished 22nd with 625.39 points as the young team struggled with fuel line problems during Sunday’s endurance race.
Taking care of friction Auburn Engineering has established a new minor in tribology and lubrication science — one of only a few programs in the nation focused on the contact, friction, wear and lubrication of surfaces. Tribology’s applications range widely, from bearings, engines and manufacturing, to human joint replacement, to nanotechnology, oil product chemistry, power generation, hard-drive technology and electrical contacts. The 15-hour multidisciplinary minor, which includes courses from biosystems engineering, mechanical engineering, polymer and fiber engineering and chemistry, will address industry demand for graduates who have a background in tribology and lubrication science.
Deta i l i n g a d i sast e r Taylor Rawlinson, doctoral candidate in the Department of Civil Engineering, was selected as one of three students nationwide to spend a month in Japan researching the massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that rocked the country last March. Rawlinson, who is concentrating his research in structures engineering, began work in November with a professor at the University of Tokyo, writing detailed reports in English on the earthquake and tsunami. “I hope this can lead to more exposure for the earthquake research being conducted at Auburn,” says Rawlinson. “The New Madrid Fault lies between the Missouri, Tennessee and Arkansas borders, and very few people realize there is a risk for earthquakes east of the Rockies. As earthquake researchers, it is our responsibility to increase awareness in the east.” Rawlinson is advised by Auburn civil engineering faculty member Justin Marshall, whose research includes earthquake engineering. Marshall traveled to Haiti and New Zealand to study damaged and collapsed structures after 7.0 and 6.3-magnitude quakes devastated those countries. Auburn Engineering 7
They came from Auburn
A new book chronicling the history of Auburn University’s College of Engineering is slated for release this summer. They Came from Auburn: A History of Engineering in the New South spans the period from 1857 to the present. “It will be the definitive history of Auburn’s College of Engineering,” says author Art Slotkin, ‘68 aerospace engineering. “It goes all the way back to the East Alabama Male College when they had just an engineering course, not a degree.” A full degree in engineering was not offered until the school became a land-grant college in 1872. This, and many other stories documenting engineering’s development as a college, as well as successes and struggles throughout its more than 100-year history, are featured in the book. When the college celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2009, Dean Larry Benefield asked Slotkin to mark the occasion by writing a history of Auburn Engineering. After retiring from a career in the computer industry, Slotkin earned a master’s degree in the history of technology from Georgia Tech.
At the helm Auburn alumna Susan Story, '82 industrial and systems engineering, has been recognized with the prestigious Institute of Industrial Engineers’ Captain of Industry award honoring leaders in business, industry and government. Story is president and CEO of Southern Company Services. She joined Southern Company in 1982 as a nuclear power plant engineer. She has served in numerous capacities with increasing responsibilities, including executive vice president of engineering and construction services, and vice president of supply chain management, as well as vice president of real estate and corporate services at Alabama Power. Story was inducted into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 2010 and was named the 2010 Woman of the Year by the Girl Scout Council of the Florida Panhandle.
Super scanner The university’s 7 Tesla MRI scanner arrived for installation at the Auburn MRI Research Center in February. It is one of two actively shielded whole-body 7T MRI scanners in the Southeast, and one of only 30 7T scanners worldwide. The unit will be used solely for research, providing dynamic images of how the brain functions. The 7T, which can provide high-resolution scans of nerves, muscles and tissue, will be used to develop new techniques for cardiovasuclar imaging and advanced technology for next generation MRI scanners. Researchers from every college on Auburn’s campus will be using the 7T. 8 Auburn Engineering
T E B
Business-Engineering-Technology as usual
Daily News Auburn Engineering received national visibility
Auburn University’s Thomas Walter Center for Technology
when faculty members Prabhakar Clement
Management, along with the Business-Engineering-Technology
and Joel Hayworth in the Department of
(B-E-T) program and the new Auburn Student Inventor’s Club,
Civil Engineering were featured in National
recently held its second annual Invention2Venture (i2v) Apprentice
Geographic daily news to discuss finding traces
Challenge workshop, a program that equips students with
of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the sands
entrepreneurial skills. Twenty-one students on five teams heard from
of Orange Beach, Ala., as recently as February.
a panel of entrepreneurs and completed a 72-hour challenge to
The researchers have been investigating the
select a product or service, sell it on a football weekend and produce
effects of the oil spill on Alabama’s Gulf coast
a profit using a $100 seed investment. Each team was required to
since 2010. “We could have collected as many
return the investment, as well as provide evidence of their net profits
tar balls as we wanted, from less than one
over costs and original investment. Teams were evaluated by a panel
centimeter up to four centimeters — or .4
of judges on profits, scalability, uniqueness and moral appeal. The
to 1.6 inches — in diameter,” Clement told
first place team was awarded $1,000 for generating income by selling
National Geographic. “And these are really
water, cookies, pretzels and milk to football fans on game day. The
soft tar balls that are decaying, so there are
second-place team received $500 selling Auburn colored bracelet
probably also millions of tiny fragments that we
shakers to football fans, a picture taken with a team member painted
can’t even see. I collected over 1,000 tar balls
as “Blue Man” and cake pops. This year’s workshop was sponsored
within [an area of] about 10 miles in five hours.
by Wal-Mart Distribution Center, Auburn Research and Technology
What does that mean? I don’t know. What are
Park, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, College of Business and
the health ramifications? I don’t know. But this
the Thomas Walter Center.
clearly demonstrates the magnitude of the [ongoing] problem attributable to Deepwater Horizon.”
Blacktop study drives s m o o t h savings Smooth pavements not only create safe driving conditions, but also save drivers money at the gas pump, even as gas prices are on the rise. A study by the National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) and the Department of Mechanical Engineering has found that smoother pavements are characterized by less rolling resistance, which requires less energy for a car when compared to a rough surface. Auburn research is developing ways engineers and contractors can construct more fuel efficient asphalt pavements. A review of past analyses suggests that improving pavement texture and smoothness could improve each driver’s fuel efficiency by 2 to 6 percent, according to Richard Willis, assistant research professor at NCAT. He and Robert Jackson, faculty member in mechanical engineering, examined several pavement characteristics and fuel efficiency studies from the U.S., Canada and Europe. Creating long-lasting, smooth pavements that will improve a vehicle’s gas mileage starts with a flexible base layer of asphalt to help prevent pavement cracking, followed by minor surface rehabilitations. These steps can help maintain smooth pavements for up to 50 years before reconstruction would be needed, saving money for budget-crunched states and drivers. Auburn Engineering 9
The numbers game Engineering has been included among several Auburn graduate programs to receive high rankings from U.S. News & World Report's “America’s Best Graduate Schools,” which was released in March. The college ranked 40th among public universities and 67th nationally, while the industrial and systems engineering program is 15th among public universities and 21st nationally, and aerospace engineering is 25th among public universities and 34th nationally. Civil engineering ranked 29th among public universities and 47th nationally, chemical engineering is 32nd among public universities and 51st nationally; electrical engineering 28th among public universities and 51st nationally; computer science and software engineering 29th among public universities and 52nd nationally, mechanical engineering 37th among public universities and 62nd nationally; and materials engineering 42nd among public institutions and 63rd nationally. “I could not be more appreciative and proud of our faculty in their quest to enhance our graduate programs,” said Dean Larry Benefield. “The College of Engineering’s overall ranking has improved 10 points over the past eight years. Given the challenge of moving ahead in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, the latest numbers are a testament to their hard work and tenacity.”
A fellow for the future Xinyu Que, doctoral student in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, was selected for the George Michael Memorial HPC Ph.D. Fellowship at the 2011 Supercomputing Conference. The fellowship program honors exceptional doctoral students throughout the world and seeks to train the next generation of high performance computing scientists and engineers. Que was recognized for his continuing research on scalable programming models for large-scale scientific applications focusing on the scalability challenges associated with supercomputers used in large-scale scientific applications. He is advised by faculty member Weikuan Yu. 10 Auburn Engineering
Read all about it
The host with the most Auburn University’s Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE) student chapter hosted the IIE Southeast Regional Student Conference in February. More than 150 industrial engineering students from 11 schools around the Southeast participated in the event, which included a technical paper competition, a tour of the KIA plant in West Point, Ga., presentations about engineering best practices and a career fair. The conference’s lunch and learn sessions featured presentations by Richard Sesek, faculty member in industrial and systems engineering; Kristin Goin, ’05 industrial and systems engineering alumna and consultant at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta; Jane Foreman, human resources manager at PepsiCo; and Heather Cross, logistics manager for Frito-Lay.
Doctoral candidate Vivek Ahuja and graduate student Jason Cary in aerospace engineering have published a new book on missile systems design. “Project SENTINEL: Design of a Long-Range, High-Speed, Precision-Strike Tactical Weapon” discusses software tools developed in the department and outlines the missile design process from basic parameters to final production review. According to Ahuja, there are dozens of books on missile systems design that discuss individual components of a system, but few that detail the entire system for a specific application for review and reference purposes. Ahuja and Cary wrote the book for aerospace and mechanical engineers while competing at last year’s Missile Systems Design Competition with a student team from Auburn.
Auburn Engineering hosted its annual
They received top honors at the
student recruitment open house, E-Day, in
national competition behind
February. The event offers an opportunity for
Georgia Tech, beating the
middle and high school students to chat one-
Naval Post Graduate School
on-one with engineering students and faculty
for second place overall.
members and learn about Auburn’s campus,
Auburn’s team was at a distinct
engineering programs, research projects and
advantage due to power missile
organizations. Nearly 3,000 students from
systems design software tools
across the Southeast were in attendance,
developed over the years by
with some traveling from as far as Illinois,
the department for academic
Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York and Texas.
and research purposes. They
For the first time at E-Day, department
are advised by faculty member
tours originated from Shelby Center, and an
Roy Hartfield, the Walt and
online form was available for quick and easy
Virginia Woltosz professor of
Auburn Engineering 11
Sum m er of fl i gh t Saad Biaz, faculty member in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, and Gilbert Crouse, faculty member in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, have received more than $320,000 from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense to continue hosting an NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) on smart unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for three more years. This is the 10th summer for the REU site, which was focused on pervasive and mobile computing until changing topics to smart UAVs two years ago. Auburn’s REU site on UAVs will offer a diverse group of undergraduate students from universities across the country the opportunity to research and design algorithms to fly six to 12 UAVs autonomously, safely and efficiently within a limited space. Smart UAVs alter their course to avoid conflict without requiring intervention from human operators. “Hosting an REU site brings more attention and recognition to the university and its programs,” said Biaz. “We have an established history of undergraduate research at Auburn and in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.”
Recognizing a good thing Hector Galicia, a graduate student in chemical engineering, has been awarded one of five Computing and Systems Technology (CAST) student travel grants from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). The grants are awarded each year to assist promising graduate students with travel expenses to the organization’s annual meeting. Galicia also received the CAST Directors’ Student Presentation Award for his research. He will be recognized at the 2012 AIChE annual conference, the largest meeting worldwide for chemical engineers, later this year. Galicia’s research focuses on statistical process monitoring, which improves process safety and efficiency, as well as product quality in industries such as microelectronics and pharmaceuticals. Four other recipients included students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Wisconsin, Carnegie-Mellon University and McMaster University in Canada.
Father of the airbag Thanks to George F. Kirchoff, a 1955 engineering physics graduate, we can drive easy. Kirchoff worked for 35 years — with Thiokol Inc., Morton International and Autoliy Inc. — to develop a successful airbag, and he has the patents to show for it. He didn’t invent the airbag, per se, but he did perfect it, working long and hard through hundreds of trials to create a bag of gases that would explode, contained, in 35 milliseconds. At the same time, it had to keep us safe. Read the full story about Kirchoff from the Mobile Press-Register online at e n g.a u bu r n . e du / a i r b a g 12 Auburn Engineering
The many faces of engineering For the second year in a row, an Auburn biosystems engineering student has been named one of the “New Faces of ASABE” by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers and National Engineers Week. Doctoral student Nourredine Abdoulmoumine was selected as one of 15 honorees. He is currently working under the direction of Sushil Adhikari, faculty member in biosystems engineering, conducting research on softwood biomass gasification and pyrolysis. Originally from Niger, Abdoulmoumine earned a bachelor’s degree in paper and bioprocess engineering from SUNY Syracuse and a master’s in biological systems engineering from Virginia Tech. “I look at this honor as an indication that I am moving in the right direction,” said Abdoulmoumine. “It is a confirmation that I am in the right place, both at Auburn University and in my major. It is also encouraging and serves as a motivation to work harder.”
Kristin Hermann Goin, an ‘05 industrial and systems engineering alumna, has also been named a New Face of Engineering by National Engineers Week. Goin is a consultant at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, working to determine the best way to deliver care, improve patient outcomes and enhance services. She collaborates with clinicians to use systems thinking to develop effective, efficient processes and improve quality and operations. Goin has published two papers in the Society for Critical Care Medicine that won 2010 Scientific and Administration awards. She participates in national forums through the Institute of Industrial Engineers and Society for Health Systems to present projects and mentor students in applying engineering skills to the healthcare industry. Goin earned a master’s degree in health systems engineering from Georgia Tech.
Linda Figg, a 1981 civil engineering graduate and president and CEO of FIGG Bridge Engineers, was recognized as a Woman of Distinction by Auburn’s Women’s Resource Center this February for her many professional and civic accomplishments. Figg has established new bridge technologies that are invaluable to the long-term viability of our nation’s infrastructure and has pioneered a unique program that involves members of the community in selecting aesthetic features for local bridge projects. With construction values totaling $10 billion, FIGG bridges have been completed, are under construction or are being designed in 38 states. She seeks to share her engineering knowledge and consideration for others by volunteering, along with many other FIGG team members, for Habitat for Humanity, as well as several other organizations. Figg serves on the board of directors of the Construction Industry Round Table, an advocacy group comprised of 100 CEOs of America’s leading engineering, architecture and construction companies. She is a former board Recognized as the crown jewel of Boston’s Big Dig, the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge provides a modern signature to the city's skyline. The structure is the widest cable stayed bridge in the world at 183 feet, and carries ten lanes of traffic.
member of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association and serves on the executive committee of the American Segmental Bridge Institute. She is also a member of the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council.
Auburn Engineering 13
14 Auburn Engineering
Photo courtesy n-Space
Pictured from left: O’Leary and “Ghost,” a character from Call of Duty’s Modern Warfare series at the n-Space office. Call of Duty is among the largest entertainment properties of all time with annual revenue exceeding $1 billion. n-Space created five Call of Duty games for the Nintendo DS. The statue, one of only a few in the world, was purchased from Activision’s studio, Infinity Ward, as part of a Play for Japan charity auction following the tsunami that occurred there in March 2011.
It’s my job
Interviewed by Sally Credille
Dan O’Leary ’92 mechanical engineering CEO, n-Space Orlando, Fla. Typical day . . . managing and overseeing three product development
groups; meeting with customers, problem solving with teams, building concepts and proposals for new business and working through receivables
Engineering challenge . . . talking intelligently with design
staff, engineers and customers. Our games require complex physically modeled systems that update in real-time, and our teams tackle problems my professors would be proud of — from collision systems and particle emitters to vehicle dynamics and player motion analysis
Current projects . . . finishing Heroes of Ruin for the Nintendo
3DS, a top-down loot-based dungeon brawler; fitness-based titles for the Microsoft 36O with Kinect, a camera-based system that provides 3D tracking of a player’s body; an innovative title for the explosive Facebook / iOS market
My Auburn Engineering . . . taught me how to dissect
problems and work with others to solve them; showed me how to model complex systems on a computer; rekindled my passion for programming; exposed me to advanced 3D computer graphics, courtesy of Dr. Madsen’s Silicon Graphics Indigo workstation; helped me land a job in the simulation industry that ultimately led to founding n-Space Geek moment . . . I’ve always embraced my inner Geek — I grew
up building rockets and RC planes, and drawing schematics of the Six Million Dollar Man in elementary school
Turning point . . . n-Space lost a business partner to cancer in 2OO8; he ran the company, while I was in charge of development —
Are YOU smarter than a freshman? Try your hand at this freshman engineering problem and find out for yourself.
Question: To send astronauts back to the Moon from Earth orbit, a rocket engine must supply a change in the velocity (a deltaV) of an orbiting vehicle that makes the vehicle’s new apogee approximately equal to the lunar distance. Although an actual lunar transfer is more complicated than two-body motion, an estimate of the deltaV required can be obtained by using the energy equation for twobody motion (1/2)V2 - μ/R = - μ/(2a)
In Eq. (1), V is the magnitude of the velocity of the orbiting body; μ = G(m Earth+ m vehicle). Also, mEarth and m vehicle are the mass of the Earth and the vehicle, respectively; R is the distance to the vehicle from the center of the Earth; a is the semi-major axis (length) of the vehicle’s orbit about the Earth. First, calculate
his death forced me to take on different responsibilities, develop a new outlook towards the business and trust our great employees
the value of V before the impulsive change,
Early on . . . none of us had a clue about running a business; I
call it VC. Then, find the speed at perigee, VP,
Sense of pride . . . the team of more than 6O that we have built
and the products they have created — almost 4O games in less than 18 years; shipping games for every major handheld and console platform; working with iconic brands, organizations and properties such as Activision, Call of Duty, Pixar, Toy Story, LucasArts, Star Wars, EA and James Bond
RC for the vehicle, from Eq. (1) with a = RC and in the transfer (subscript T) ellipse with perigee radius, RP = a T(1- e T) = RC, and apogee radius, RP = a T(1 + e T) = RMoon, the mean distance from the Earth to the Moon. Finally, find deltaV. Data: μ = 368,000 km3/s2, RC = 6778 km, and RMoon = 384,400 km. Solution: VC = (μ/RC)1/2 = 7.368 km/s; VP = [(2μ/RC)(1 - RC / (RC + RMoon)]1/2 = 10.330 km/s; deltaV = 2.961 km/s.
turned 25 a week after we started n-Space; we were passionate about making games; we failed often and learned quickly from our mistakes, and we worked hard — really hard
by assuming a circular waiting orbit of radius
Auburn Engineering 15
A Drea m R e alize d
By Beth Smith
What began in 2000 as an ambitious, and undoubtedly challenging, vision by a newly appointed dean of the College of Engineering became a reality in January. With the completion of Phase II of the Shelby Center for Engineering Technology, Auburn Engineering’s vision to construct a state-of-the-art engineering complex with the latest in instructional and research technology has come to fruition. In 2008, Phase I of the complex was completed and became the new home to the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering. The center also houses administrative offices, the Office of Student Services and the Alabama Power Academic Excellence Program, as well as a 150-seat auditorium and a number of computer classrooms, laboratories and student study galleries. The recently completed second phase includes Wiggins Mechanical Engineering Hall, home to the college’s largest academic unit. It provides a central location for administration and faculty offices, as well as laboratories, designated student study areas and much-needed space for student design projects and collegiate competition teams. Phase II also includes the Advanced Engineering Research Laboratory designed to create space for both ongoing and emerging research, transforming the future of many of the college’s research efforts. It contains new clean rooms as well as specialty lab space. The laboratories within this new facility have been named, by resolution of the Auburn University Board of Trustees, as the Benefield Laboratories in recognition of Dean Larry Benefield’s leadership, bold vision and distinguished service to the College of Engineering. 16 Auburn Engineering
Phase II of the Shelby Center includes the Advanced Engineering Research Laboratory Building (left), the Carroll Commons (center) and Wiggins Hall (right).
A Son's Tribute In a ceremony in April, the college dedicated the new Dwight L. Wiggins Mechanical Engineering Hall. The building was named through a generous contribution from Dwight L. Wiggins Jr., a 1962 and 1967 mechanical engineering graduate, in honor of his father Dwight L. Wiggins Sr. “Dwight reminded me that he did his graduate research in the attic of Ross Hall because there was no other space available,” said Larry Benefield, dean of engineering. “With the dedication of Wiggins Hall, we now have state-of-the-art instructional and research facilities that Dwight never dreamed possible at Auburn. His generosity will provide future generations of mechanical engineering students the best facilities available.” Wiggins’ gift represents not only a tribute to his father whose values, work ethic and initiative contributed to his own personal and professional success, but also his commitment to Auburn Engineering. “When Dean Benefield outlined his vision for new engineering facilities, I knew it was something that we needed to make happen,” said Wiggins. “I am honored to play a part in seeing this dream become a reality. These facilities are critical to making Auburn Engineering one of the top programs in the nation.”
From left: Sally and Dwight Wiggins, Auburn University Trustee Jimmy Sanford and Auburn President Jay Gogue
Auburn Engineering 17
A Family's Le gacy Although Wiggins Hall is a new, modern facility, it will house a the clock ran sporadically, and upon his death, it stopped number of nostalgic reminders of the Department of Mechanical altogether. It has served as a silent tribute to his dedicated Engineering’s past. In particular, the historic grandfather clock that service to the college. now resides in the administrative office. The clock was recently refurbished through the diligent work of For nearly 37 years, mechanical John Hendricks, a 1964 Auburn engineering professor John Curtis graduate and owner of Old McKinnon kept the clock, which Timers & Chimers Antique Clock was responsible for ringing all of Shop in Opelika, Ala. Hendricks the bells on campus, accurate to oversaw the repairing of a within seconds. This was a feat that number of parts, secured new only he could accomplish due to the ones including a pendulum, and clock’s intricacy and temperamental refinished the clock’s surfaces, all nature. The clock was installed the while appreciating its sensitive in Ramsay Hall in 1925 and disposition. professor McKinnon’s devotion and scrupulous attention to it received The clock’s new life, and its national recognition. continued maintenance, have been made possible through a generous McKinnon graduated from contribution from McKinnon’s Alabama Polytechnic Institute in daughter Marjorie McKinnon Hale From left: Anne Hale Craft, Marjorie McKinnon Hale, Mary 1923 and provided the College ’43, and grandchildren Anne Hale Curtis Hale Schroth and Ben Hale of Engineering with significant Craft ’70, Mary Curtis Hale Schroth leadership and expertise from 1924 until his death in 1962. He ’75 and Ben Hale ’76, in honor of his devoted service to the was known as a devoted educator and admired for his mechanical College of Engineering. In recognition of their gift, a faculty ingenuity, teaching ability and broad range of scholarship that office in Wiggins Hall has been named the John C. McKinnon included history and languages. When McKinnon grew ill, Faculty Office.
What's in a Name? Additional spaces in Phase II of the Shelby Center will be recognized in dedication ceremonies in the coming months. Each of these areas has been named through generous contributions from alumni and friends — benefactors without whom this project would not have been accomplished. These areas include:
W ig g i n s Mech a n ic a l E ng i neer i ng H a l l Bill and Martha Ward Student Gallery William B. and Elizabeth Reed Conference Room Charles M. and Rosemary S. Jager Library Clarence H. Hornsby Jr. Mechanics of Materials Laboratory Phillip and Margaret Forsythe Personal Computer Laboratory Yndalecio A. Elizondo Faculty Office
Adv a nced E ng i neer i ng Resea rch L abor ator y Bu i ld i ng American Tank & Vessel Gallery Larry D. Benefield Laboratories
Ca r rol l C om mon s 18 Auburn Engineering
The End of an Era By Jim Killian
It seems an unlikely story. He grew up in a mill village, 45 twisting miles of twolane blacktop from the Auburn plains. An only child, he was raised by parents who worked in the local mill, and never finished high school. It was their passion to make sure their son went to college. And so he became an Auburn man from the time he was old enough to know what it meant, and he considered his time here an opportunity, perhaps a destiny, and certainly a gift. Now he's moving on.
Auburn Engineering 19
His biggest dream, always, was to teach at Auburn . . .
Metz was a specialist in structures, and so impressed Benefield that he made a decision as an undergraduate to pursue the doctorate, and to teach . . . at Auburn.
It was a dream that came true for Larry Benefield in 1979 — one that took seed in the early 1960’s when the graduate from rural Handley High School showed up on the Auburn campus as a freshman. The campus was only about 45 miles south of his home in Roanoke, and Benefield had grown up as an Auburn football fan. A starting tackle on his high school squad, he came to Auburn regularly with his parents on football Saturdays.
It would not be a straight path. When Benefield graduated, in 1966, it was the height of the Vietnam war, and he had a military obligation to fulfill. Rather than being drafted, he volunteered for Air Force officer candidate school, and then went to ’Nam as a combat engineer attached to a Red Horse unit (Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron). There he worked on air fields, and was awarded the bronze star medal.
It was, of course, a different Auburn than the one we see today. Benefield remembers the War Eagle Supper Club as the only place you could buy pizza, the Bonanza Burger as home of the first double decker hamburger, and the Kopper Kettle as the only convenient place for late night eating. The commercial strip between Auburn and Opelika did not exist then — at times it was home to a dairy farm, at others a golf course, amid a widely-spaced scattering of homes. South of Samford Avenue, College Street was a sleepy twolane that was only lightly developed. Then as now, the campus was a friendly place. As an undergraduate, the courses could sometimes be less so. Benefield remembers being grateful for a D in Chemistry 103 because it placed him inside the 20 percent of students who passed the class. He relished the classes that clicked for him. While he did not immediately go into civil engineering — considering mechanical or electrical first — he found in civil engineering professor Gene Metz a mentor, whose every class he took.
When he returned stateside, Metz — the professor who had made such an impact on him — had retired. Benefield had also been exposed to environmental issues in the service, and as a result, turned his attention to environmental engineering. He completed his master’s degree at Auburn in 1972 in that field. Following the advice of his peers, and his professors, he went on to receive his Ph.D. elsewhere — at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. The institution later inducted him into the Via Department of Civil Engineering’s Academy of Distinguished Alumni, in ceremonies held in the fall of 2004. It was 1975 when he graduated, and married his fiancée Mary in Blacksburg, Va. He hoped to return to Auburn to teach. However, the civil engineering department head at the time, Rex Rainer, insisted that Benefield get some experience at another university before he would think about hiring him. Disappointed, he took a job at Mississippi State instead, although he only stayed a year.
1979 B e n e f ie ld b e com e s a s soc ia te p rofe s sor of c ivil e ng in e e ring a t Au bu rn
1985 B e n e f ie ld b e com e s A lu m ni Profe s sor of c ivil e ng in e e ring
1992 B e n e f ie ld is na m e d a s soc ia te d ea n for a c a d e mic s
20 Auburn Engineering
The Mississippi State position did, however, cement his ties to a researched-focused academic career, rather than the consulting model that was prevalent at the time. Indeed, as a new assistant professor, he ran the department’s research program, which he would eventually do on a college-wide basis for Auburn.
In 1989 Benefield became the college’s interim associate dean for research, a position he relinquished a couple of years later to return to teaching as Feagin professor of civil engineering, an endowed position that he would hold until 1992, when he returned to administration as associate dean for academics.
In 1976, he and Mary moved to the University of Colorado, but he had mixed feelings about making Colorado their permanent home. In 1979 he got a call from a friend who said that a faculty position in environmental engineering had opened at Auburn. When he interviewed with Dean Vincent Haneman and Rainer, who was still department head, he was offered a position as assistant professor. Uneasy with a lateral move, he turned it down.
He held the latter position under engineering dean William F. Walker, who would later become provost, and ultimately, president of the institution. Benefield became a familiar sight with Walker, absorbing what he could from the dean in his office, in faculty conferences, and even as a regular lunch partner, often in their favorite restaurant in Hurtsboro, a small town across the line in Chambers County.
When Rainer countered with an offer as associate professor, Benefield accepted it, and he and Mary returned to Auburn with their six-month-old daughter Brynna. It was 1979, and only the beginning of a more than three-decade career at Auburn.
His tutelage under Walker would place him in good stead when his mentor moved to Samford Hall. Benefield was first named interim dean in 1998, moving into his position as dean in 2000.
Benefield was remembered as a congenial teacher, but also one who assigned a great deal of work to his students. At the same time, he appreciated the subtleties of teaching as an art. “You can’t cram it down their throat” he once remarked. “It just serves to alienate them. Then they become resentful and upset about the workload — and then they become critical.”
His transition as dean was not an easy one insofar as its timing came in one of the ‘bust’ cycles of state funding to higher education. Deans across campus were instructed by the central administration to find ways to stretch budgets, and the task fell to Benefield to make savings where he could find them. That he endured in this seminal period of his administration probably made a mark on the balance of his administration.
Good teaching, Benefield understood, requires a tremendous amount of time in developing techniques for effectively presenting any topic you have to cover. It also required, he noted, the ability to be an entertainer, at least to some degree, as well as being a conveyor of knowledge. His skill in the classroom earned him an Alumni Professorship in the mid ’80s.
Unable to access funding from strapped state budgets while keeping tuition and fees accessible to students as well, Benefield turned to fundraising, building an efficient development office that would meet, and then exceed campus and college goals during the fund raising campaign held in the first decade of the new century. The fruits of this campaign would ultimately
20 0 0 B e n e f ie ld na m e d Dea n of Eng in e e ring
20 01 Sa mu e l Gin n ma ke s a $25 million g i f t a nd th e coll e g e is na m e d th e Sa mu e l Gin n Coll e g e of Eng in e e ring
20 02 Au bu rn Eng in e e ring of fe r s th e na tion’s f ir s t w ire l e s s e ng in e e ring d e g re e
Auburn Engineering 21
allow the college to finish construction of the Shelby Center for Engineering Technology by providing more than a third of the funding required to complete its second phase. It would also build on earlier efforts to renovate facilities such as Wilmore Laboratories and Ross Hall. In addition to the bricks and mortar projects that revitalized Auburn Engineering, Benefield was an astute communicator who shared a message of deliberate and goal-oriented progress in all facets of the college’s operation. While aware of the critics of such arbiters of national rankings as U.S. News & World Report, he was keenly interested in moving the College of Engineering ahead in both instruction and research. To this end, he saw Auburn’s undergraduate engineering program rise as high as 28th, and graduate program rankings increase by 10 points over eight years, to 40th among public institutions. As well, the faculty’s efforts have placed Auburn in the top 50 in research expenditures in each of the past six years. Indeed, Benefield always had a vision goal, and he never left it. In moving Auburn up in the national rankings, he was keenly aware that there would always be a cluster of wealthy, private schools that could use a halo effect to populate the upper levels of the rankings — and that other engineering deans were working to move their institutions along as well. It was a tough assignment, but he stuck to it. “There’s no question that it’s going to be difficult to move into the top 20 engineering programs, but that’s where I want Auburn to be,” Benefield often said. “If we haven’t yet reached that goal in terms of how the ranking agencies see it, I want us to be at least performing at that level. If we perform at that level consistently, we will move up in the eyes of our peers and one day, we will find ourselves there.”
He brought the same focus into fundraising for facilities and programs, moving the College of Engineering’s stated goal of $105 million to a total of $116.7 million during the ‘It Begins at Auburn’ development campaign. Beyond the statistical story, Benefield sees his Auburn journey as one of enriching relationships that have followed him throughout his career at Auburn. “I certainly have to look at [former civil engineering colleagues] Joe Judkins and Joe Morgan as being influential in molding my academic career. Just as my parents had a lot to do with bringing me to Auburn to learn, they had an outsized part in bringing me back to Auburn to teach,” Benefield has said. “At the same time, I have to look toward the many relationships that I have made with Auburn alumni,” he adds. “I can’t name them here because I don’t want to leave anyone out. However, I have to mention Sam Ginn, whose influence on the college began just as I was heading into the deanship.” He is a little uncomfortable as he prepares for retirement, “just because I don’t know what lies ahead.” Indeed, Benefield showed up at the office nearly every Saturday morning when he wasn’t on the road, to find time to think and strategize in relative peace and quiet, or simply to take the week in review as he planned for the upcoming one. “I plan to support Chris Roberts, the incoming dean, with any kind of help that is requested,” he has commented. “But beyond that, I don’t want to be around to second-guess the programs, goals and planning that he will bring to the table. I see it as counterproductive.” He and Mary are relatively new grandparents, so he does plan to take more time with his family, which includes Brynna, her
20 02 W ilmore L a bs a re re nova te d T h e u nive r si t y u nd e r ta ke s th e “It B e g in s a t Au bu rn” c a m paig n w i th Eng in e e ring se t ting a goa l of $10 5 million
20 03 Au bu rn of fe r s th e f ir s t f ib e r e ng in e e ring d e g re e in th e s ta te
20 06 Re nova tion s of his toric Ros s Ha ll com pl e te d
22 Auburn Engineering
husband Richard, their daughter Zosia and his son Bryan, who was born in Auburn in 1983. He may consider consulting on a schedule that he feels represents a good balance between his professional abilities and personal opportunities. And he will take the time, at homecoming this fall, to attend a ceremony in which the laboratories in the new Advanced Engineering Research Laboratories will be collectively named as the Benefield Laboratories. It will be a fitting tribute to one whose belief in research — and whose love of Auburn — has never wavered.
Ta k i n g t he Re i n s At the end of June, Larry Benefield will officially relinquish his duties as dean of the College of Engineering, and will hand the reins over to Chris Roberts, department chair and Uthlaut professor of chemical engineering at Auburn. “I have had the opportunity to watch Dr. Roberts develop from a dynamic young faculty member who excelled in both instruction and research to a very efficient and effective department chair,” says Benefield. “He is brilliant, innovative and creative with incredible personal skills. He will bring these attributes to his new position as dean and without question will do an outstanding job.” Roberts, who earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Missouri and a master’s
and doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Notre Dame, came to Auburn in 1994 as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, and has been chair of that department since 2003. He has a strong record of scholarly and academic achievement in nanotechnology and synthetic fuels, and has published more than 110 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters in leading chemical engineering, chemistry, materials and related journals. In addition, he has been the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on more than $16 million in extramurally funded research contracts and grants at Auburn University from agencies such as the National Science Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, Department of Defense, Department of Agriculture, and National Energy Technology Lab, as well as industrial sponsors and others. “Dr. Roberts has an outstanding record of achievement in teaching and research and has demonstrated exceptional leadership as chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering,” said Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Timothy Boosinger. “I am confident that he has the ability to significantly advance the college’s mission.” Roberts will become dean effective July 1. “I am extremely pleased and humbled to have been appointed as the new dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering,” he said. “I certainly look forward to assisting our students and faculty to reach our full collective potential, and we will continue our trajectory of becoming one of the truly premier colleges of engineering in the nation.”
20 08 Pha se I of th e Sh e lby Ce n te r for Eng in e e ring Te c h nolog y com pl e te d “It B e g in s a t Au bu rn” c a m paig n conc lu d e s w i th Eng in e e ring raising $116.7 million
20 09 T h e Mag n e tic Re sona nce Imag ing Ce n te r, loc a te d in th e Au bu rn Re sea rc h Pa rk, op e n s
2011 Pha se II of th e Sh e lby Ce n te r com pl e te d
Auburn Engineering 23
Into the lab
C he m ic a l Jin Wang, Buddy Redd associate professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, is applying systems and control engineering principles to predict complex chemical processes. Wang and her team focus on two areas — systems biology and manufacturing process modeling and control — applying their work to early cancer detection and semiconductor manufacturing processes. Their systems biology research includes exploring cell functions and fundamental molecular properties to improve control engineering used in manufacturing, such as chemical plants. Wang is also using clinical proteomic research to study early prostate, pancreatic and breast cancer detection by identifying biomarkers that can distinguish between cancer patients and healthy patients. Her group is looking at disease detection for clinical research and fault detection in systems engineering by applying similar principles. In addition, Wang’s team is studying semiconductor manufacturing process modeling, monitoring and control to improve productivity and quality. They are working on algorithm development required by the industry’s increasing chip density and smaller device dimensions, which make these processes more difficult to operate and control.
24 Auburn Engineering
Into the Lab Ae ro s pa ce Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by a sound’s power, as well as the amount of time it is heard — an occupational hazard for military pilots. Brian Thurow, W. Allen and Martha Reed associate professor, is working to reduce this risk along with researchers from the University of Mississippi’s National Center for Physical Acoustics, the University of Texas and Combustion Research and Flow Technology Inc. The team has been awarded a collaborative $1 million grant by the Office of Naval Research Jet Noise Reduction Program (ONR-JNR), which funds research
that explores jet noise to address pilot health and safety issues, as well as technology that can increase stealth capabilities for military jets. Thurow’s work includes taking high speed flow visualization measurements of up to a million frames per second in a supersonic jet facility at the National Center of Physical Acoustics. He will also use near and far field microphone array measurements to study the aeroacoustics of heated shockcontaining jets and computational modeling of air flows to reduce jet noise.
Bio s y s te m s Faculty member Sushil Adhikari and doctoral student Nourredine Abdoulmoumine have developed a portable, compact and fully lab-scale integrated system that can be used in conducting pyrolysis and gasification research. It is a valuable and rapid screening tool that can be used to assess the potential of various biomass feedstocks for biofuels and bioenergy production, including, pine, canola cake and a mixture of poultry litter and pine. It is currently being used to investigate the potential of southern pine as a feedstock for the future biofuels and bioenergy industry.
A bench-scale bubbling fluidized bed reactor
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Electric Power Research Institute and the Southeastern SunGrant has funded the systematic investigation of process variables on producing clean synthesis gas and “drop-in” liquid fuels from regionally appropriate biomass types. Investigators on this project also include Steven Taylor and Oldiran Fasina from the department, and Chris Roberts and Mario Eden from Auburn’s Department of Chemical Engineering.
Civil Doctoral student Sam Keske and faculty members Robert Barnes and Anton Schindler have conducted research to evaluate a new type of self-consolidating concrete (SCC) for the Alabama Department of Transportation. It has not been previously used for bridge girders in the state of Alabama. SCC resembles a stable fluid when poured in a formwork and then hardens like traditional concrete. Advantages of SCC include its ease of placement, decreased construction cost, reduced construction noise and improved formed surface finish. Auburn researchers have completed several evaluative programs during a five-year period, which culminated in the production of full-scale bridge girders at Hanson Pipe & Precast of Pelham, Ala. The girders have since been used in a new bridge spanning Hillabee Creek near Alexander City, Ala. Keske and the team have been monitoring the girder behavior and will test the bridge under its full, expected load to confirm that the SCC girders perform as well as traditional girders.
Keske at the bridge site over Hillabee Creek in Alexander City, Ala.
Auburn Engineering 25
Into the Lab
Screenshot of the SATS group's application
E le c t ric a l a n d C o m p u te r Faculty members Shiwen Mao and Prathima Agrawal have been awarded a National Science Foundation grant for their project, “Collaborative Research: Fundamental Research on Adaptive Wireless Video Systems,” to develop enabling technologies for wireless video streaming that can be applied to 4G wireless, as well as legacy cellular networks. The project seeks to address the ongoing smartphone revolution that is drastically increasing demand for video services on wireless devices.
A polling-service based medium access control testbed
The continual changes in user demand, network traffic, hardware and wireless environment pose significant challenges to allowing efficient exchanges of video data using wireless devices. In this project, Mao and Agrawal are exploring wireless technologies able to adapt to changing communication system states.
In d u s t ria l a n d Sy s te m s Faculty members Kevin Gue and Alice Smith have been chosen as lead investigators for a three-year, $255,000 National Science Foundation grant with University of Arkansas faculty member Russ Meller. Their project, “Collaborative Research: NonTraditional Designs for Order Picking Warehouses,” includes developing new warehouse designs that improve order picking operations. Picking aisles and cross aisles are traditionally built into a right-angled grid. The team’s new designs allow picking aisles and cross aisles to be configured into unique patterns that optimize the order picking process. Their research uses simulation models that wholesale and retail distribution centers can then use to cut labor costs. Results of their research will be featured on an interactive warehouse design website used by students, researchers and practitioners. U.S. companies spend an estimated $13 billion annually on order picking labor costs. An example warehouse design including aisle structures that will be considered by Smith, Gue and Meller
26 Auburn Engineering
Into the Lab Me c h a nic a l Faculty member Bryan Chin has been awarded a National Science Foundation grant to investigate and develop autonomous sensors that detect and capture pathogens in food. In his research, “Autonomous Sentinels for the Detection and Capture of Invasive Pathogens,” he looks at a system that mimics the function of naturally occurring biological defenses,
such as white blood cells, by detecting and removing invasive bacteria, spores and toxins in liquid environments. Chin’s project could be used to identify contamination of foods before human consumption, as well as provide a significant impact on devices for food safety, biosecurity, point of care, home care and environmental monitoring.
Po l y m e r a n d Fi b e r Faculty member Xinyu Zhang is developing a new concrete recipe that would recycle common waste products, lessen greenhouse gases, and even melt snow from roadways and bridges. Working in conjunction with researchers from the University of Alabama under a $450,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, Zhang and his colleagues note that concrete comprises nearly 70 percent of all construction materials on a global basis, which points to the potential significance of their research. High on their list of priorities is the use of coal ash as an additive in concrete. Though this material is used occasionally as a concrete additive, most of the material ends up being stored in landfills or ponds, in which state it can leach toxic compounds into the environment. Recycling this waste, a by-product of coal-burning power plants, could have significant environmental advantages. Their research also involves the production of nanotubes through the use of an iron compound that is heated in microwaves in what the team calls the “poptube” approach. Unlike traditional nanotube development, it does not involve expensive, high temperature chambers filled with inert gases. The resulting carbon nanotubes give concrete additional strength and durability — and even conducting properties. The result could be a concrete recipe that can melt ice from roadways and bridges through the flick of a switch, instead of conventional methods such as plowing and salting.
Coal ash as a concrete additive
Auburn Engineering 27
Going the Distance for 28 Auburn Engineering
By Cheryl Cobb
The reasons for wanting to earn an advanced degree are as varied as the individuals who seek them, but all have one thing in common: they want a quality classroom experience. With a history of engineering excellence dating back to 1872, Auburn knows how to deliver that quality — both on-campus and, now more than ever, to distance education students. In fact, a new course delivery system, developed within the college, is providing distance students with an online classroom experience rivaling that of their on-campus peers. “A few years back, we started looking for off-the-shelf software solutions to enhance the delivery of classroom content to our online customers,” says Greg Ruff, director of engineering outreach and continuing education for the College of Engineering. “We soon realized that the only way to meet our goals was to build something in house.” With the help of Auburn Engineering instructional technology specialist Ken Williams, information technology specialists Zeb Whitehead and Jeff Walker, and a small Auburn-based programming firm, Ruff developed a leading-edge recording and delivery system that works with existing infrastructure and improves the experience for students and professors, as well as the staff that administers the program. “I love this new system,” says Robert Thomas, faculty member in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, who teaches a number of distance education classes. “Engineering instruction requires a lot of visuals. This system adapts to the tools I use on campus — overheads, PowerPoints, spreadsheets and video, and blends them seamlessly into the online video stream via split screen technology. This means that I don’t have to do a separate set of visuals for distance classes, and that these students get an experience similar to that of my on-campus students.”
side note Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report released its first ever rankings for graduate distance education programs. Auburn Engineering was selected as one of the top programs in the nation and was one of three engineering programs highlighted.
According to Walker, the system works well with almost any device anywhere, anytime. “We work on PC’s, Macs, iPads, iPhones, Android phones and MP3 players. We also work behind U.S. Department of Defense firewalls — something that is critical for our many military clients.” On the delivery side, the system also sports an impressive list of administrative tools and is currently used by the college for its academic credit, certificate and non-credit continuing education offerings. “Students can register and access classes within minutes,” says Ruff. “Tests are also done online in a professional and convenient way. Customer satisfaction is higher and my staff loves the back-end functionality and digital records.”
Sharing a Good Thing Given that track record, it is not surprising that others have taken notice. The software development team behind the new tools recently formed a company, Blended-Tek, to market the product. As a partner in the firm, Auburn University and the College of Engineering will get a share of the profits. “We are beginning to get serious inquiries about the products and we are looking forward to bringing this tool to other
colleges,” explains Walker. “We are also seeing interest from K-12 schools where administrators are looking for ways to allow a single teacher to deliver class content to students at a number of locations within a district.” Walker also noted that they are seeing benefits for oncampus students. “Some of our traveling sports teams are using it to allow students to keep up when they are on the road. Others are offering the content to oncampus students who don’t speak English well, or just want to review what they heard in the classroom,” he said. Lately, Thomas has been experimenting with short video modules that provide detailed discussions of fundamental engineering concepts. He creates them on his computer and then posts them for students to review before they pull up the next lesson. Students are reporting that this approach is extremely helpful and that they want more of these videos. “The new delivery system has enhanced student learning and provided us with more time to search out and test other tools,” says Ruff. “Distance education is here to stay. My goal is to make sure that Auburn is providing the best education possible. These new technologies are helping us meet that goal — on and off campus.”
Engineering Education Auburn Engineering 29
minutes with Jessica Dewberry Interviewed by Morgan Stashick Jessica Dewberry is the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering’s undergraduate student recruiter, serving the college since July 2011. A 2009 graduate of Auburn University, she is constantly on the go, traveling to college fairs across the region in support of Auburn Engineering. With an engineering degree of her own, Dewberry knows first-hand what it takes to be an Auburn engineer, and she is using that knowledge now to recruit the finest prospective students to the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.
MS: What brought you to Auburn?
MS: You went in a completely different direction for your master’s degree. Tell us about that decision.
JD: I’m from Alexander City, Ala., and I come from a family that bleeds orange and blue. My parents both went to Auburn and my grandfather played football here. I grew up loving Auburn — the university, the community and the sense of pride in the school. I visited the university and an engineering alumnus gave me a tour of the College of Engineering my senior year of high school, and that was it for me. I knew this was where I was going to go to school.
JD: I went on to get my master’s degree in public administration because I was active in the Student Government Association for the four years I was completing my undergrad, and served as an executive officer my senior year. I found my niche, as they say, and wanted leadership skills that would complement my engineering. I am also a people person and love interacting with others.
MS: You have a bachelor’s degree in engineering. How did you choose your major?
MS: How does being a recruiter for engineering tie your two degrees together?
JD: I knew I wanted to pursue engineering because I had always been strong in math and science. At first, I thought I wanted to go into a medical field, but when I toured the College of Engineering I was instantly hooked on polymer and fiber engineering. Julia Freeman, the department academic adviser at the time, talked to me about how polymer and fiber can make a difference in the medical community, because prosthetics and heart stints are made from polymer and fiber. I was sold. It is a small, close-knit department and I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world.
JD: Being a recruiter for engineering is the best of both worlds for me. I served as a student recruiter and graduate assistant in Auburn’s admissions office while I was an undergrad and a graduate student. I realized there is nothing better than telling people about Auburn and all that it has to offer. It is a very rewarding job to share information about Auburn’s College of Engineering with prospective students and their families. The most rewarding thing I have seen firsthand is finding highachieving students who get to take advantage of the same wonderful experiences that I had as a student.
30 Auburn Engineering
From left, Joe Morgan, his wife Rita and their son David
MS: So, tell us, what all do you do as a recruiter? JD: I travel to high school fairs, transfer fairs and national college fairs to recruit students and represent the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. On campus, I help plan and organize the college’s annual events for high school and prospective students such as E-Day, Tiger Camps and the phonathon, and I attend and represent the College of Engineering at admissions events and receptions for prospective students. Each week, Monday through Friday, the college has visitors on campus and they are welcome to attend information sessions with me about the college. I am also responsible for maintaining relationships with prospective students through mailers, social media correspondence and our web presence.
MS: As someone who was a student just a few years ago, what do you tell students now who are interested in the College of Engineering? JD: I tell them about student services and the extremely accommodating faculty members in this college who go the extra mile for their students. I tell them about the college’s new facilities, our wide variety of instructional programs
and that we have the largest and highest ranked engineering program in the state. I also tell them about the extracurricular activities that engineering students participate in, in addition to their engineering studies — whether it's the marching band or Cupola Engineering Ambassadors or student competition teams. We do a really good job of producing well-rounded engineers, and I know employers find that appealing.
MS: What can Auburn Engineering alumni do to help recruit new students? JD: Auburn’s more than 40,000 engineering alumni and friends play a crucial role in the continued success of our college and the student body. Our graduates span the globe, and students are eager to speak with alumni about their experiences, or how the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering prepared them for the workplace. Our alumni bring enthusiasm, experience and a unique perspective to a new generation of prospective students, which further strengthens our recruitment program. Alumni can refer prospective students, attend recruitment events, visit local high schools and communicate with prospective students. I am looking forward to working with alumni, so we can continue to recruit bright and well-rounded prospective students — tomorrow’s Auburn engineers.
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From the desk of... Sabit Adanur, faculty member in polymer and fiber engineering, recently gave the commencement speech at Marmara University’s College of Engineering graduation ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey. He was invited to speak by M. Zafer Gul, the university’s president. With a student population of 60,000 and 3,000 faculty members, Marmara is one of the largest universities in Turkey. Maria Auad, assistant professor in polymer and fiber engineering, has been awarded a five-year, $350,000 National Science Foundation grant to develop a center for biorenewable nanobiomaterials research, exploring the synthesis and performance of nanobiocomposites, an alternative to non-biodegradable synthetics. The collaborative center includes researchers from Auburn, Tuskegee University, Cornell University and the University of AlabamaBirmingham.
Sushil Bhavnani, faculty member in mechanical engineering, doctoral candidate Naveenan Thiagarajan and undergraduate student Travis Wheeler were chosen to fly on NASA’s Zero-G reduced gravity aircraft, affectionately known as the “Vomit Comet.” The team’s project, “Fluid Lateral Motion using Surface Microstructures-Channel Flow from a Large Array,” was selected for the flight to study the effects of microgravity on boiling. The flight took off from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston in May.
J T. Black, professor emeritus in Auburn University’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, has edited the 11th edition of DeGarmo’s Materials and Processes in Manufacturing, the leading textbook on manufacturing processes. The book was originally published in 1957 by E. Paul DeGarmo.
Prabhakar Clement, Arthur H. Feagin professor in civil engineering, has been invited to serve as associate editor of Water Resource Research, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. Clement’s research includes analysis of flow and reactive transport in groundwater systems, laboratory-scale visualization of porous media flow and metal transport in groundwater. He is also a principal 32 Auburn Engineering
investigator for a study on Alabama beaches that have been impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in June 2010.
Virginia Davis, Mary and John H. Sanders associate professor in chemcial engineering, has received the Women of Distinction Leadership Award from the Auburn Women’s Resource Center, a division of the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, for demonstrating exemplary leadership abilities. Davis was recognized at the Women’s Leadership Conference on Feb. 24 at the Auburn University Hotel and Conference Center.
Bill Goodwin has been named director of the college’s Nuclear Power Generation Systems program. He joined the college in January to help promote the program’s career opportunities and 17-hour minor, as well as co-ops, internships and scholarships. He also teaches the minor’s introductory course in nuclear power operations. Goodwin retired from the U.S. Navy after 35 years of service.
faculty highlights students the opportunity to conduct research in information assurance. Auburn is a National Security Agency Center of Academic Excellence in information assurance education and research. The university’s outreach activities in Huntsville and Montgomery allow SFS scholarship recipients opportunities to work with federal agencies and complete federally recognized certificate programs.
Daniela Marghitu, faculty member in computer science and software engineering, has received Auburn’s Campus Community Enhancing Student Success award for providing outstanding service and accommodations to students with disabilities. Marghitu directs the college’s K-12 Robo Camp, Computer Literacy Academy and robotics and game development outreach programs. In addition to encouraging girls to participate in engineering, Marghitu also strives to make all programs accessible to children with disabilities.
Victor Nelson, faculty member in Ram Gupta, Walt and Virginia Woltosz professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, has been named program director for the National Science Foundation’s Energy for Sustainability program, which supports research and education for the sustainable production of electricity and sustainable transportation fuels, such as biomass conversion, biofuels and bioenergy.
Pradeep Lall, Thomas Walter Professor in mechanical engineering, has been named a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for his contributions to reliability prediction for electronic packaging. Lall’s research includes failure mechanism models and prognostication health management techniques. He has identified leading indicators of failure for electronic equipment that have enabled safe repair and replacement of damaged modules.
Drew Hamilton, Kai Chang and Eric Imsand, faculty members in computer science and software engineering, have been awarded a four-year National Science Foundation grant of more than $1.3 million for their Scholarship for Service program (SFS), which offers
electrical and computer engineering, was selected as a commission member of the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET). He will serve as team chair during the 2012-13 ABET visit cycle. Nelson has served as an ABET program evaluator since 2002. An Auburn faculty member since 1978, he serves as assistant department head in electrical and computer engineering, as well as director of the department’s wireless engineering undergraduate program and committee chair of the department’s executive committee.
P.K. Raju, Thomas Walter professor in mechanical engineering, and Chetan Sankar, Advisory Council professor in the College of Business, have led Auburn’s Laboratory for Innovative Technology and Engineering Education (LITEE) to be selected by the National Academy of Engineering to appear in its Real World Engineering Education publication. LITEE was one of 29 programs selected from more than 95 nominations for being an exemplary program that infuses realworld experiences into engineering undergraduate education. The program brings real-world issues into engineering classrooms through multimedia case
studies and hands-on projects in order to provide students opportunities to solve practical problems.
Chris Roberts, department chair and Uthlaut professor in chemical engineering, has been awarded the Southeastern Conference faculty achievement award. The award honors professors from SEC universities with outstanding records in teaching and scholarship who serve as role models for other faculty and students. In presenting the awards, the SEC becomes the only Division I conference within the National Collegiate Athletic Association currently recognizing university faculty for their achievements unrelated to athletics or student-athletes.
Alice Smith, faculty member in industrial and systems engineering, has received the Albert G. Holzman Distinguished Educator Award from the Institute of Industrial Engineers, Smith is the first woman and first Auburn faculty member to receive the award. Smith was also recently selected by the J. William Fulbright scholarship board as a candidate for the organization’s specialist roster, which sends U.S. faculty overseas for two to six weeks to serve as expert consultants on curriculum, faculty development and institutional planning.
There goes my baby … Are you the parent of a future Auburn engineer? If you have a child enrolled in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, now is the time to join the Engineering Parents’ Association. This program provides a means for parents to interact with one another, participate in their child’s college experience, keep up to date on events and happenings within the college and support the future of Auburn Engineering. We welcome the opportunity to partner with you in providing your student the best possible engineering education. For more information, please contact us or visit eng.auburn.edu/parents
Brian Thurow, W. Allen and Martha Reed associate professor in aerospace engineering, has been featured by Vision Systems Design, which highlighted his work with next generation nonintrusive laser diagnostics for 2-D and 3-D flow measurements and pulse-burst laser systems capable of repetition rates greater than 1 megahurtz.
Xinyu Zhang, assistant professor in polymer and fiber engineering, has published a paper in Chemical Communications discussing a one-pot solution reduction synthesis approach to produce advanced metal-polymer core-shell structures, such as polypyrrole coated copper nanowire, which is used to fabricate next generation, highperformance electronics, nano devices and chemical sensors.
Engineering Parents' Association Mindy Street Office of Engineering Development 334.844.7741 firstname.lastname@example.org Auburn Engineering 33
And the Winner is . . .
State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame In February, Auburn Engineering saw three of its alumni, and one project made possible by an alumnus, inducted into the prestigious State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame.
assembly, transport and launch pad systems used in the space program today. In 2007, the Auburn University Board of Trustees named the Aerospace Engineering Building as Davis Hall in recognition of a significant contribution from Davis and his family. He is a member of the university’s George Petrie Society and the Engineering Keystone Society.
Gerald Smith, a 1961 and 1970 aerospace engineering graduate, spent much of his career designing and Wendell Mead, a 1963 and 1966 aerospace developing propulsion projects for NASA’s Marshall engineering graduate, is a pioneer in the field of Space Flight Center. He led efforts to design, build, ballistic missile defense and aerospace systems qualify and fly the redesigned solid-rocket motor for engineering. He is CEO and chief technical director of NASA following the Challenger accident in 1986. He Associate Group later served as for Research deputy director and Innovation of NASA’s Stennis (AGRI, Inc.), a Space Center, company he the federal founded in 1990. government’s The cornerstone largest rocketof AGRI’s engine test facility. success is Mead’s Upon retirement, proprietary Smith directed Ballistic Missile enterprise strategy Defense Technical and research Requirements operations at Assessment & the Georgia Design Evaluation Tech Research Simulation (BMD Institute, served TRADES) – a as president of From left: Buddy Davis, Gerald Smith, Wendell Mead and Julian Davidson model that uses Thiokol Corp. and engineering and physics equations, information on was named executive director of the National Space missiles and trajectories, as well as data from radar, Science and Technology Center. He holds the Auburn sensors and satellites to determine collision points at Alumni Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which to intercept launched missiles. Mead donated NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal and NASA the simulation software, and its crucial source code, to Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest honor Auburn’s Department of Aerospace Engineering – a that NASA confers on a non-government individual. gift with a commercial value of $5 million. The model He was also named a NASA Distinguished Executive, provides students with hands-on training in ballistic and received the NASA Outstanding Leadership missile defense analysis, simulation and evaluation, in Award, NASA Exceptional Service Medal and an Army addition to a means for faculty to research defense Commendation Medal for his many contributions to scenarios. Mead holds the 2010 Distinguished Auburn those organizations' projects and programs. Engineer Award, and serves on the Department of Aerospace Engineering Advisory Committee and the Davidson Center for Space Exploration is a Auburn Alumni Engineering Council. 75,932-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility located Charles E. “Buddy” Davis, a 1959 electrical engineering graduate, made groundbreaking contributions to electrical and aeronautical engineering during his decades in the aerospace industry. His work with the Thor rocket, Harpoon missile and KC-10 aircraft aerial refueling platform played a vital role in the evolution of U.S. defense systems. He also played an important role in the Apollo rocket program as the country embarked upon its quest to put a man on the moon. His design contributions are still evident in the
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at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. It is named for Julian Davidson, a 1950 electrical engineering graduate and founder of Davidson Technologies in Huntsville. He was the first director of the U.S. Army Advanced Ballistic Missile Defense Agency. Davidson and his wife, Dorothy, whose careers have both centered on the development of space exploration technology, noted during the dedication of the facility that the Davidson Center is a tribute to the men and women who have engineered the rockets that have put Americans in space and on the
moon. The center opened on Jan. 21, 2008, on the 50th anniversary of the launch of America’s first satellite, Explorer 1. The $22 million facility serves as a magnificent exhibition space for the nation’s historic Saturn V rocket and as a unique event space that celebrates Alabama’s contributions to space exploration technology.
Auburn Alumni Engineering Council Awards At the fall meeting of the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council, four alumni were recognized for their engineering contributions, while long-time mechanical engineering professor and associate dean Nels Madsen was honored for his service to the college.
to the Shuttle Space Operations Directorate. His decades-long knowledge of payloads has been relied on heavily in both the public and private sectors to move the space program to new levels. He continues to serve as a representative for the NASA public affairs office as liaison to VIP guests. He also holds the National Intelligence Certificate of Distinction. Hal Pennington, 1959 Industrial Management Pennington began a five-decade long tenure with retailing giant Genesco Inc. in 1949 as an industrial engineer trainee. In 2000, he was named president and chief operating officer of Genesco, which has sales in the $1.6 billion range. Genesco has more than 2,000 retail outlets in the sporting fashions and footwear markets, including Johnston and Murphy, Dockers, Journeys and Hat World. Pennington has held 18 positions at Genesco encompassing distribution, manufacturing, materials management, operations and wholesale. He was particularly adept in Genesco’s role as a pioneer in the modernization of information systems — leading Genesco’s efforts in
Distinguished Auburn Engineer Wayne Owens, 1964 Mechanical Owens began his career as a student with co-op assignments at NASA and Marshall Space Flight Center. After graduation, he worked at Kennedy Space Center as a design engineer for high-pressure pneumatic and cryogenic systems in support of the Saturn V launch vehicle in the Apollo program. He then moved to the space shuttle program, designing ground support facilities and equipment for processing payloads scheduled to fly aboard STS missions. He was selected as the From left: Wayne Owens, Dick Quina, Nels Madsen, Stephen Franklin and Hal Pennington point person for the shuttle payload contractors, from arrival at the space center, to the installation of the payload into everything from marketing to distribution, acquisition the shuttle, and on to launch logistics. After being assigned to the Payloads Operations Directorate, to manufacturing, and information technology to Owens served as the launch site support manager, capitalization. In 2004, he was named chairman and and was subsequently selected by NASA to spearhead CEO of the company, and in 2008, he moved into the classified military payloads being assembled at chairmanship. He has retired from the company, but Vandenberg Air Force Base. He processed the still remains active in a consulting role. Pennington has Department of Defense payload for STS-33, for which been recognized by many organizations, and received Auburn’s 2010 Department of Industrial and Systems he was awarded the National Medal of Achievement by the National Foreign Intelligence Community. Engineering Outstanding Alumnus Award. He serves Owens also served as the ground operations manager on a number of industry and community boards, for the International Space Station project office, and including the Nashville Symphony Board of Directors, was responsible for all ground-based operations for and his past activities include service to Nashville’s both launch and landing sites. In 1997, he retired Chamber of Commerce, the Boy Scouts and the from NASA and joined Boeing in its operations at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Museum of Art. Kennedy Space Center to work on projects related Auburn Engineering 35
Dick Quina, 1948 Mechanical Following graduation, Quina worked his way through the pulp and paper industry, spending much of his professional life in south Alabama. He is known by his colleagues for his work with Jefferson Smurfit Corporation, where he was named to the board of directors in the late 1980s. He was also vice president and general manager of the company’s containerboard mill division located in Jacksonville, Fla., as well as its affiliate, Container Corporation of America. Although he retired in 1993, he has retained many ties to the industry. Quina has served as a leader of the Longleaf District (Monroe, Conecuh, Escambia, Covington, Butler and Crenshaw counties) and of the charity group Log-a-Load, helping raise funds from loggers, foresters, mills and landowners for Children’s Miracle Network affiliated hospitals. Quina has also made significant contributions to Auburn Engineering, including a professorship through the Auburn Pulp and Paper Foundation and an investment in the Shelby Center for Engineering Technology to name the Quina Atrium in the central building.
Outstanding Young Engineer Stephen Franklin, 1998, 2000, Civil Franklin began his career with LBYD in Birmingham as a structural engineer. In 2004, he joined Brasfield & Gorrie as an operations manager, and this year was named by the firm as vice president and division manager of facilities. His colleagues note that Franklin has become a well-respected and increasingly knowledgeable expert in the field, not only at Brasfield & Gorrie, but in the civil engineering field as a whole. He served as a member of the test group that took the final version of the National Construction Professional Engineering exam before its release. He was the only one in the group to successfully pass the exam, and as a result, was asked to join the board of the National Council of Engineering Examiners. In addition, he is associated with a number of other professional groups in the construction engineering trade and has been actively involved with the construction of several projects on Auburn’s campus, including veterinary medicine's small animal hospital which is under construction, the planned Center for Advanced Science, Innovation and Commerce, and Auburn Engineering’s own MRI center. He was also the lead engineer on a $65 million football expansion project that faced challenges associated with cost, quality and coordination, and an aggressive schedule that involved 200,000 man hours of construction, a land-locked site with little room for materials storage, and an anxious client — the University of Alabama. Franklin’s success with that project earned him considerable respect and acknowledgement of his credentials as an Auburn engineer.
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Superior Service Nels Madsen holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in mechancial engineering from the University of Iowa. He came to Auburn in 1978 as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, moving into his current position as Thomas Walter associate professor in mechanical engineering. He serves as the associate dean for assessment and special programs for the college, ensuring that the college is prepared for, and efficiently moves through, the accreditation process, on which Auburn Engineering stakes its fundamental credibility. Through the years, Madsen has done a remarkable job in this area resulting in his being called on more than once to lead national presentations on the ABET accreditation process, and how to successfully prepare for it. With the recent retirement of Joe Morgan, he has also accepted the role of interim associate dean for academics. In addition, Madsen serves the university in a variety of other roles, including chairing the Program Review Committee, serving on the Retention Committee, Graduate Council, and Mechanics Division of the American Society for Engineering Education. He is vice chair of engineering’s faculty council, and is active in a number of areas related to administration and university governance. He remains one of Auburn Engineering students’ favorite professors, finding time to counsel and provide additional instruction when needed. It is a frequent occurrence to see students in his office, around his table, or more commonly, solving problems at his white board. Madsen is also vice president for research and development for Motion Reality Incorporated, and the College of Engineering’s singular academy award winner — having picked up this distinction in Hollywood for his work on motion capture in films such as the Orient Express and Lord of the Rings, as well as video games and sports conditioning.
Call for Nominations Every fall, the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council seeks nominations for the Distinguished Auburn Engineer Award and the Young Engineering Award. If you know of someone deserving of the Councils’ consideration, please submit a letter of nomination along with biographical information describing the candidate’s credential to: Jim Killian, Director Engineering Communications and Marketing 1320 Shelby Center Auburn, AL 36849 334.844.4218 email@example.com
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That's How We Roll Auburn engineers are always looking to make things more efficient â€” even rolling the historic oaks at Toomer's corner. Students (from left) Alec Bolton, Matt Sanchez and Austin McElroy test their toilet paper launcher, a project for materials engineering faculty member Tony Overfeltâ€™s Intro to Engineering course.
Auburn Engineering Spring/Summer 2012