2014 fall ae magazine

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Fall 2014

Volume 24

Issue 2

engineering

DOING WHAT MATTERS Samuel Ginn College of Engineering


Auburn Engineering Fall 2014 Volume 24, Issue 2 Office of the Dean Christopher B. Roberts, dean Steve Duke, associate dean for academics Bob Karcher, assistant dean of student services Oliver Kingsley, associate dean for special projects Jeffrey Fergus, associate dean for program assessment and graduate studies Ralph Zee, associate dean for research Office of Engineering Communications and Marketing Jim Killian, director Morgan Stashick, editor Contributors Megan Burmester Valerie Cashin Gail Riese Christine Riggs Katie Haon, graphic designer Tyler Patterson, web manager Nick DiChiara, web developer Photography Katie Haon, Jim Killian and Shelby Taylor Office of Engineering Development Ed Lewis, lead development adviser Margaret Arnold, development officer Dan Bush, associate director Kori Caldwell, development officer Veronica Chesnut, major gifts officer David Mattox, development officer Jon Wilson, development officer Experience Auburn Engineering online at eng.a ubur n.edu/ ma ga zine

Capt. Doug Gordon, ‘91 electrical engineering, shows his Auburn pride on the USS North Dakota where he serves as commanding officer of the 377-foot-long Virginiaclass nuclear submarine. The ship is the newest to be delivered to the Navy and was commissioned on Oct. 25, when it officially joined the naval fleet. It is the first in a new series of Virginiaclass submarines, and will operate over the course of the next 33 years without a need to refuel.

Engineering Communications and Marketing c/o Editor 1320 Shelby Center eng.auburn.edu Auburn, AL 36849 334.844.2308 editor@eng.auburn.edu eng.auburn.edu/youtube eng.auburn.edu/flickr eng.auburn.edu/facebook eng.auburn.edu/twitter Š2014 Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, Auburn University

Photo courtesy of General Dynamics-Electric Boat Shipyard

Auburn Engineering is published twice yearly by the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. Please send news items, suggestions and comments to:


From the dean World events continue to illustrate that there is a critical need for the knowledge and expertise engineers provide in addressing the challenges that arise. Whether it is a civil engineer who works to ensure that our bridges and roadways remain safe, or a biosystems engineer who strives daily to meet the challenges and opportunities presented by the natural environment, engineers will always be essential in both the workforce and society. Not only are our faculty members involved in technological innovation and creative research outside the classroom, they are also preparing the next generation of engineers both in class and in their labs. The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering’s undergraduate program was recently ranked 28th among public institutions by U.S. News & World Report, while the graduate program was ranked 37th among public institutions – a testament to the caliber of faculty and students in our college. Moreover, the college surpassed $61 million in research expenditures, placing us in the top 10 percent of engineering colleges nationwide. In this issue of Auburn Engineering, we highlight several ways that our engineering faculty members are working to meet these global challenges. From studying innovative drugs that have the potential to impact cancer cells, to researching the extensive capabilities of unmanned aerial vehicles, to securing cyber networks to keep data safe, Auburn engineers are exploring meaningful research that will make a positive and long-lasting impact on the world. I hope as you read this publication you reflect on all of the ways that you have also contributed to our society as an Auburn engineer.

1 Auburn Engineering


Contents

16

6

Cover Story

Happenings

16 Targeting cancer

6 Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines . . .

Allan David in the Department of Chemical Engineering investigates innovative treatments to eliminate cancer cells. His research involves selective drug targeting to enhance cancer therapy without interfering with healthy cells in the rest of the body

The international Baja SAE racing competition will take place in Auburn in 2015 . . . on your mark, get set, go!

9 Not just a toy Chris Harden, ’98 electrical engineering, has brought STEM learning to life

11 Gifts that keep on giving Alumni Charles Gavin and Michael DeMaioribus know what it means to give back to Auburn Engineering

13 We asked. You answered. What was your favorite engineering class? The War Eagle BEST Robotics competition attracted 22 middle and high school teams on Saturday, Oct. 11 at Opelika High School. During a six-week period, students from East Alabama and West Georgia designed and built a prototype vehicle, called the Blade Runner, capable of transporting, maneuvering and assembling a wind turbine.

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4

14

26

Features

It's my job

5 minutes with

4 Avoiding a Dickens of a cyber surprise

14 Beth DeMaioribus Monroe

26 Kevin Cullinan

David Umphress, professor of computer science and software engineering, provides how-tos on remaining cyber-safe

Beth DeMaioribus Monroe delivers the magic to Walt Disney parks by engineering solutions

Read on to learn how this Auburn engineer went from participating in Auburn's co-op program to becoming an execution planning engineer for ExxonMobil in Japan

23 More than a tweet

Into the lab

Awards

There's more to Twitter than meets the eye – Chris Moody, ’90 electrical engineering, tells us about it

20

30 We take pride in recognizing

24 Taking unmanned flight Drones could soon be a common sight, as Chase Murray in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering is finding out

32 Keeping it cool

Take a look at a few of the excellent research projects being conducted by Auburn Engineering faculty members

Faculty highlights

the achievements of our alumni – read about this year's winners of the Distinguished Auburn Engineer Award, Outstanding Young Auburn Engineer Award, and Superior Service Award

28

Auburn Engineering faculty members are some of the most outstanding in the country – read about some of their achievements

From Auburn to Texas, find out how Steve Swinson is keeping his cool and making lives better

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Avoiding a Dickens of a cyber surprise

By David Umphress, guest contributor

If Charles Dickens were alive today, he might have purchased “A Tale of Two Cities” at Target as a Christmas gift, renovated his bathroom with vintage plumbing from Home Depot, bid for Victorian memorabilia on eBay and sought investment advice from JPMorgan Chase. In keeping with the vast majority of all adults in the U.S. and Europe, he would likely carry a cell phone loaded with an address book of all his acquaintances. He might even have taken some undignified selfies and stored them on Apple’s iCloud. It could be the best of times. Or, given recent cyber security failures, it could very well be the worst of times.

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It may be a flight of imagination to position Dickens in the modern cyber world, but it is deadly serious for all of us. The retail, financial, service, food and tech industries have reported a record number of data breaches this past year: $70 million from Target, $2.6 million from Michaels, $233 million from eBay, $56 million from Home Depot and $76 million from JPMorgan Chase. Compromised information ranges from payment information to account names to photos. The magnitude of the number of data breaches suggests each one of us has the potential to be affected. How can we minimize the chances of living in a cyber parody of one of Dickens’ cold, dark and bleak novels in which our identity has been stolen and our pockets have been picked? The answer lies in taking these three precautions: protect your digital footprint, detect when confidential information has been exposed, and take actions to minimize the damage.

Protect

Protecting your digital information is the most important action. Often referred to as “digital hygiene,” it entails identifying information you deem important and taking steps to prevent it from getting into the wrong hands. Simple, low-cost actions you can take include the following:           

Make sure the software on your computer is up to date. This includes virus-scanning software. Curb the urge to install new and exciting applications found on the Internet, especially free ones. These are a major source of spy software. Only accept removable storage devices, such as USB memory drives, from trusted sources. Manage sensitive information, such as passwords and other confidential information, with software designed to store data in an encrypted format. Back up all data regularly. Use strong passwords, where “strong” means 12-16 mixedcase characters including numbers, lowercase and uppercase letters and punctuation symbols. Make your password easy to remember by using words from a favorite song or phrase. Replacing some letters with numbers enhances the security of the password. Avoid using public computers when any sensitive data might be displayed or entered. Own your Web presence by ensuring you post nothing that would compromise your privacy or security. Know your privacy settings on all social media websites. Be cautious of Wi-Fi connections at restaurants and hotels. Always connect securely through a virtual private network. Scrutinize email before opening any attachments or selecting any embedded links. Requests over the phone or through e-mail for user account names and passwords are almost always bogus.

Detect

Masking detection is a hallmark of the most sophisticated attempts at compromising information in cyberspace. Most of industry’s major data breaches occurred during a period of months before being detected. While industry breaches may be out of your control, you can be proactive in being alerted to abnormal behavior that might suggest malicious activity, such as:    

Use credit cards from companies willing to send you a text message when the card is used. This can notify you of any unusual activity. It has the added benefit of making you aware of your spending habits. Check your credit card, phone and bank statements regularly for irregularities. An extraneous $2 charge might go unnoticed for some time. Notice when your computer runs slower than normal. This could be an indication of malicious software. Review your credit history on a quarterly basis. This will alert you of any unexpected credit inquiries or changes in credit scores.

Act

Should you be affected by a cyber crime, it is important to take aggressive action.  Find out, if possible, what information has been breached.  File a fraud alert with the credit agencies.  Report a crime, if appropriate.  Alert businesses that could be affected by the breach, such as credit card, phone or financial institutions.  Seek assistance from the company whose security failed. This can range from having the company pay for regular credit reports to having it account for fraudulent transactions made on your behalf. Insist on knowing what information was disclosed, what actions the company is taking and what the company is doing to protect itself in the future. This day and age demands we be aware of not only our physical assets, but our digital assets as well. If Dickens were here, he might point out that this is the age of cyber wisdom and this is the age of cyber foolishness. With a bit of work, we can be cyber wise. Umphress is a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering.

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happenings 6 Auburn Engineering

Ladies and gentlemen,

start your engines . . . The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering will kick off the 2015 Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) racing season by hosting Baja SAE Auburn April 9-12 at the National Center for Asphalt Technology’s Pavement Test Track in Opelika, Ala. One hundred international collegiate Baja race teams are invited to register to compete in various static events including business presentation, technical inspection, design and cost, as well as dynamic events ranging from a hill climb, maneuverability course, acceleration test and suspension and traction course. The competition concludes with all teams participating in an endurance race to see which car can make the most laps in four hours on a muddy, obstacle-strewn, two-mile course.


Fly me to the moon 5…4…3…2…1, liftoff! This famous countdown was echoed by high school students from around the country as part of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) rocket launch and internship program which took place in Colorado in July. Brandon Reeves, senior in aerospace engineering, and Jeff Thompson, technician in polymer and fiber engineering, helped educate students on rocketry by building a 20-foot carbon fiber rocket that reached a mile in altitude. Through a generous donation from Alliance Techsystems Inc. and GKN Aerospace to the Department of Polymer and Fiber Engineering, Thompson and Reeves were able to buy the materials needed to build the 45-pound rocket. The structure is one of three used as part of ULA’s program to teach students about rockets and get them energized and thinking about a career in science and engineering. Reeves and Thompson have been working on the rocket’s construction since spring semester, and both are looking forward to ULA using it to showcase research and development for high schoolers. “Building this rocket has been a great experience. I learned a lot and am excited that ULA will be able to use it to help educate younger kids and get them excited about the field,” Reeves said.

Track meet

The National Center for Asphalt Technology at Auburn University will hold its fifth Pavement Test Track Conference March 3-5, 2015 at the Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center. Discussions will include an overview of the findings from the 1.7-mile track’s 2012-2015 research cycle, a summary of preventive maintenance treatments on Lee County Road 159, an update of work at other accelerated loading facilities and performance presentations on topics such as warmmix asphalt, tack coats, thin overlays, recycled asphalt shingles and high reclaimed asphalt pavement content mixes. Participants will have an opportunity to tour the test track and Lee County Road 159 while learning how the research translates into implementable findings. Infrastructure professionals in industry, government and academia with an interest in minimizing the life cycle cost of pavements using sustainable technologies are encouraged to attend. Event registration and additional information is available online at www.ncat.us. 7 Auburn Engineering


happenings

Movin’ on up U.S. News & World Report ranked the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering 28th among public institutions in the nation in its annual 2015 Best Colleges list, representing a two-spot jump from 2014. In addition, Auburn Engineering’s graduate program was ranked 37th among public institutions, moving up one spot from last year’s ranking.

Graduate go-getters From hybrid electric vehicles to melanoma chemotherapeutics, the college’s graduate engineering students are looking to change the world one research project at a time. A crowd of Auburn faculty, staff and alumni, including a special appearance by Aubie, turned out to interact with more than 150 graduate students during the third annual Graduate Engineering Research Showcase in October. Hosted by the Council of Engineering Graduate Students, students from all engineering disciplines presented their research posters in the Shelby Center’s courtyards and were evaluated by 75 faculty judges. First place was presented to John Maddox in mechanical engineering for his research, “Liquid Jet Impingement Cooling for Power Converters in Hybrid Electric Vehicles.” Second and third place prizes were awarded to Richard Cullum, chemical engineering, and Yuanyuan Zhang, materials engineering. Five honorable mentions and 10 departmental awards were also presented.

Best of the best Chemical engineering faculty members Robert Ashurst,

Award and the Mark A. Spencer Creative Mentorship Award.

Elizabeth Lipke and Jin Wang were selected from among

In addition, Lipke was also selected to attend the National

educators nationwide to attend the 2014 Frontiers of

Academy of Engineering’s U.S. Frontiers of Engineering

Engineering Education symposium in Irvine, Calif.

symposium.

The two-and-a-half day event hosted faculty members

Wang received the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement

from around the country to discuss innovative educational

Award and has been awarded several national grants including

approaches in a variety of engineering disciplines. The goal of

one from the NSF totaling $400,000 to study cellular behavior

the symposium was for all participants to share, learn and bring

and one from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National

back ideas relating to research and best practice in education.

Institute of Food and Agriculture relating to biofuels processes.

Ashurst has earned several accolades, including the William F.

“These three individuals truly deserve this national recognition,”

Walker Teaching Merit Award and the Outstanding Chemical

said Mario R. Eden, chair of the Department of Chemical

Engineering Faculty Award. His chemical engineering research

Engineering. “Selection to attend this symposium is highly

interests include micro and nano electromechanical systems

competitive, so this is another example of the world-class

design, novel thin film processing and semiconductor materials

quality of our dynamic faculty. I’m eager to hear what they learn

processing.

and how their newfound knowledge can be applied toward continuing to elevate Auburn’s engineering programs.”

Lipke has been recognized with the National Science Foundation‘s Faculty Early Career Development Program 8 Auburn Engineering


Not

just

a

toy

Bedtime storytelling just got a reboot. Chris Harden, ’98 electrical engineering, and business partner Jeremy Scheinberg have created TROBO, a stuffed toy robot that communicates with an interactive digital storybook iPhone or iPad app to educate children about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) topics. TROBO answers questions and explains complex subjects through fun stories and puzzles that children ages 2-7 can understand. Harden, who previously served as a development director with EA Sports in Orlando, said the idea for TROBO came after he and Scheinberg each became parents. “I am amazed by how curious children are about the world around them,” said Harden. “They are constantly asking questions about everything. What is lightning? How does my heart work? Our goal is to get children excited about the academic disciplines of STEM by using creative, interactive stories. As an Auburn Engineering graduate, I am now leveraging what I learned as a student and am passing along my passion to educate others.” The TROBO app offers an avatar builder so parents can create a look-alike of their child and insert them into the stories. As the child interacts with TROBO, he or she builds an emotional connection with the TROBO characters to encourage further learning. After launching the first TROBO in November 2013, Harden and Scheinberg completed a successful Kickstarter campaign to provide additional future funding for features including animations, sound effects and interactive apps. Two TROBO plush toys are currently available, a boy and girl named Newton and Curie. To learn more about TROBO, visit www.herecomestrobo.com.

Planes, trains and automobiles . . . People on the go and their modes of transportation are what civil engineering doctoral student Benjamin Bacon is studying. He was granted one of 10 Airport Cooperative Research Program Graduate Research Award Fellowships, an honor sponsored by the Transportation Research Board and the Federal Aviation Administration. Bacon’s research, which gained national recognition, analyzed travel behavior by looking at groups of travelers over a period of multiple travel times. By accounting for multiple trips, Bacon’s research aims to enable industry representatives to promote service and focus funds, as well as develop schedules and meet market demands more effectively.

9 Auburn Engineering


happenings

Standing out from the pack Nelda Lee, ’69 aerospace engineering, was named Woman of Distinction by Auburn’s Women’s Resource Center in April. The award was given to an alumna as part of the eighth annual Women’s Leadership Conference with the theme “Ties to the Past, Hope for the Future.” Lee served as an F-15 test program manager for Boeing and was the first female engineer in flight test engineering for McDonnell Douglas, as well as the first woman to fly the F-15 Eagle. In addition to her decorated career, Boeing named Lee a trailblazer in the industry. Lee remains active in the College of Engineering through her involvement with the 100 Women Strong program and continues to encourage female students to make their own mark in the engineering field.

The Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering earned the title of “Most Innovative” on NerdScholar’s list of six favorite software engineering programs. Clarkson University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Michigan Technological University, Milwaukee School of Engineering and Purdue University were also preferred by NerdScholar, which provides datadriven tools and tips to help students make informed decisions about their education – everything from choosing a school to paying off loans.

Wi reless Wiza rd College namesake Samuel Ginn, ’59 industrial management graduate and

wireless communications industry leader, was inducted into the Wireless Hall of Fame Class of 2014 by the Wireless History Foundation on Sept. 9 in Las Vegas. Ginn was one of four individuals honored for outstanding achievements across all disciples of the wireless industry. Only 40 individuals have been inducted into the Wireless Hall of Fame since its inception.

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Classroom legend Nels Madsen, professor of mechanical engineering, has returned to his roots after more than 10 years serving as associate dean for program assessment and special projects. Madsen was instrumental in leading the college’s national accreditation and compliance efforts. During his service, the College of Engineering achieved full accreditation status and has remained nationally recognized as a premier engineering program. “I am grateful to Nels and his unwavering dedication to the College of Engineering,” said Christopher B. Roberts, dean of engineering. “Nels went above and beyond to ensure our college was always in compliance and followed national accreditation guidelines and I always knew we were in good hands. I am excited for Nels to return to his passion of teaching mechanical engineering and interacting with our students.” Madsen teaches motion capture and engineering education, an area in which his expertise earned him an Academy Award for Technical Achievement for helping bring to life the world of Gandalf and Frodo in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and digitizing Tom Hanks’ character in “The Polar Express.” He helped create the state-of-the-art motion capture technology, Motion Reality Inc., that made the characters seem to pop off the big screen. “My time as associate dean was fulfilling and it was wonderful to help our academic programs focus on improvement,” Madsen said.“ I am energized to return to teaching because there is nothing like seeing the light come on for students when they see how the many distinct elements of their education come together in solving a real-world problem.”

Gifts that keep on giving

Distinguished Auburn Engineering alumni Michael DeMaioribus

The Gavins also made a donation to the construction of the

and wife Leta have joined Charles Gavin III and wife Carol Ann

Shelby Center for Engineering Technology, which resulted in the

in making generous gifts to bring the College of Engineering to

naming of a classroom and the dean of engineering’s office suite

the next level of excellence.

in their honor.

Thanks to an endowed faculty chair established by Charles and

For Michael and Leta DeMaioribus, giving back to Auburn

Carol Ann, the Gavins will assist in retaining the talented faculty

Engineering runs in their blood, and both have been significant

that are such an integral component of the instructional and

contributors to the college. To honor their generosity, the

research missions of Auburn University. The inaugural recipient

College of Engineering has named the arches located at

of the chair is Bruce Tatarchuk, director of Auburn’s Microfibrous

the Shelby Center for Engineering Technology between the

Materials Manufacturing Center and professor of chemical

central building and west wing as the Michael Arthur and Leta

engineering.

Hornbuckle DeMaioribus Archway.

Gavin, ’59 textile management, chairman of the board for

DeMaioribus graduated from Auburn with bachelor’s and

MFG Chemical, and Carol Ann, have been active supporters

master’s degrees in electrical engineering in 1976 and 1977,

and contributors of the College of Engineering. In addition to

respectively, and began his career at Dynetics, headquartered

their generous gift of the endowed faculty position, the Gavins

in Huntsville, Ala. His nearly 40-year career at the company

funded the Charles E. Gavin III Textile Chemistry Scholarship,

earned him the title “engineering renaissance man,” with his

established through the Alabama Textile Education Foundation,

involvement in working with transmitters, antennas, signal

as well as scholarships in the Department of Polymer and Fiber

processors and control systems to overseeing the construction

Engineering and the Department of Chemical Engineering.

of buildings totaling more than 450,000 square feet. 11 Auburn Engineering


Follow us . . .

eng.auburn.edu/youtube eng.auburn.edu/flickr eng.auburn.edu/facebook eng.auburn.edu/twitter eng.auburn.edu/instagram 12 Auburn Engineering


On Facebook . . .

We asked. You answered.

Angela Fannéy: Pop quiz time in Dr. Elton’s Geotech! Beth Wages Johnson: I met my husband in Engineering Economics so that class was special, but my favorite classes were Electromagnetic Field Theory and Logics. Jackie Holliday Hundley: Many years ago, my husband and I took Engineering Economy together, too. Yes, I was the only girl in the class . . . an extra motivation to make an “A.” Two of my favorite classes were with Troy Nagle using typed copies of his unpublished book as a text. I’ve forgotten the course name . . . digital or computer logic. I thought those “and” and “or” gates were fun. It was exciting watching the display in the lab do what we had designed on paper. Another course that I liked was queuing theory with Dr. Grady Cox. I had never thought about how a bunch of people standing in line had anything to do with a mathematical model. I guess I was a nerd before I knew what it was. Brian Dennig: Aerodynamics II with Brian Thurow Lindsay Tucker: Natural Resources Engineering with Dr. Yoo! Raymond Benton: Anything Dr. Gross taught. John T. Stricklan: Hydraulics with Dr. Oktay Guvan or Soils with Dr Elton (Circa 1993). War eagle! Mallory Stanhope: Thermodynamics with Dr. Maples! Kristin McGuinness: Civil - Airport Design and Hydraulics! Pre Civil - Statics and Mechanics of Materials! War eagle! Laura Clenney: Principles of ChemE Frank Orona: Intro into Materials Science & Thermodynamics Justin Harrison: Mech 3140 system dynamics

13 Auburn Engineering


It’s my job

by Jim Killian

Beth DeMaioribus Monroe, ’04 industrial and systems engineering Project Development Project Manager Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Industrial Engineering Team Jacksonville, Ala. Typical day . . . I almost want to say that in a sense, none of my days are typical. My team supports ‘internal clients’ at Disney with a focus on continually improving how our guests experience the parks. As a result, we are called in to observe and study, and to measure and analyze – at least that’s typical of what an industrial engineer would do. As an example, we might be called in to evaluate the queue needs at an existing attraction. We would spend time in the area, measuring the physical space, pathways and evaluating guest flows. We then take that data to the office and prepare our results and recommendations to provide decision support to leadership. Engineering challenge . . . dispelling the notion that all of the creative efforts are on the performance side of the Disney equation. My dad is an electrical engineer, and he has always pointed to the impact that engineering has on real creativity, no matter how or where you practice it. Engineers have to be no less creative than other Disney cast members – we have to look at the company’s engineering, process and business needs to make sure the bottom line is met. If it isn’t, there would be no Disney magic! Living the life . . . when people learn that I work for Disney, they always ask me what my favorite ride is. I tell them that while I love the rides, the shows and spectaculars are my favorite of the experiences we offer. I love the shows we have in the parks; my favorites include the Broadway stylings of "Lion King" and "Finding Nemo." They’re each about 40 minutes long and fully immerse guests in the story. I grew up participating in the fine arts, so it’s a natural favorite for me. When I was at Auburn I sang in the concert choir and danced in "West Side Story." My children each have such an interesting take as well. My two-year-old ‘gets’ Mickey while my three and five-year-old can grasp the whole story . . . any parent could relate. Geek moment . . . the Disney experience is becoming more and more interactive, and it’s all about using new technology. Engaging our guests can now be done even before they arrive on the property through the ‘My Disney Experience’ technology that helps them plan and schedule their experience pre-arrival. This technology allows the guests the flexibility to plan their experiences to the level they desire. Our team has the unique opportunity to be part of evaluating the feasibility and impact that these changes have on the guest experience. Sense of pride . . . we focus on the ‘Disney Difference’ which is really a push to seek excellence in all things, and to build pride of ownership. That’s a quality we feel extends beyond the frontline cast and performers, to the cast who support the magic backstage, and to the people like myself, whose scope of work lies even beyond that. I felt this same kind of desire for excellence and ownership as a student at Auburn. My Auburn Engineering . . . I chose Auburn because I was born and bred an Auburn fan. When I was a senior in high school I looked at a few other schools, but the more I saw of them the more I became convinced that Auburn should be my home. I enrolled as an electrical engineering student, just because it felt right. I already had my eyes set on becoming an engineer for Disney and when I took the intro to engineering class, I realized that industrial and systems engineering would be a better fit for me. I’ve loved the opportunity to blend my creative and technical skill sets to contribute to our team in a way that’s gratifying and fulfilling.

14 Auburn Engineering


Are YOU smarter than a freshman?

NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, operates the nation’s most modern facility for zero-gravity research. It consists of an evacuated shaft 510 feet deep, with a diameter of 28.5 feet. The vacuum helps eliminate air drag effects. The free fall distance is 432 feet. Experimental platforms loaded with test rigs to evaluate fire safety, fluid/heat transfer, and cryogenic propellant management are released from rest at the top of the shaft. These platforms are decelerated by absorbing the kinetic energy in a large cart filled with polystyrene pellets. You may assume that the gravitational field is uniform over the free fall distance. Calculate (a) the speed, in mph, of the experimental platform when it hits the deceleration cart, and (b) the free fall duration.

s = free fall distance, and t = time): (a) vf2 = vo2 + 2 a s = 02 + 2[(-32.2 ft/s2) (-432 ft)] Therefore, vf = 166.8 ft/s = [(166.8 ft/s) (3600s/hr) (1 mile/5280 ft)] = 113.7 mph (b) s = v0t + ½ a t2 -432 ft = [0 + ½ (-32.2 ft/s) (t2)] Therefore, t = 5.18 seconds

Question:

Solution: For a constant acceleration, with vf= final velocity, vo = initial velocity, a = acceleration due to gravity,

Try your hand at this freshman engineering problem and find out for yourself.

15 Auburn Engineering


Targeting Cancer By Jim Killian

16 Auburn Engineering


F

inding the right fit in terms of teaching and research is an important component of a faculty member’s ability to make a contribution in academia – and it’s often a daunting task, particularly for those who are beginning their careers. For Allan David, it was all about finding an academic home that mirrored his interest in nanomaterials that have applications in the field of biomedical engineering. He was excited, then, when he arrived in Minneapolis for the American Institute of Chemical Engineer’s annual meeting in 2011. A graduate from the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s and doctoral degree in chemical engineering, he had been running a pharmaceutical sciences lab at the University of Michigan, first as a post doc and then as a member of the research faculty. Earlier in the week he had received an email from then chemical engineering chair (and now, dean), Christopher Roberts, suggesting they talk Sunday evening about opportunities on the Auburn faculty. It would be before the conference began in earnest the following morning, and David was eager to follow the lead, if a little unsure about the career move. “I was looking for a tenure track position in engineering, but didn’t really know much about Auburn, even though ‘it had a name’,” David explains. “I thought I knew where it was, which is to say it was in Georgia, and just about on the Alabama state line.” As he approached Roberts, he saw Elizabeth Lipke and his heart sank, if only a little, to think that he was not the only candidate the department had invited to chat with the chemical engineering chair from Auburn. It rose when he discovered that she was in fact already on the faculty, and he had a clear shot. “The three of us sat down together,” he recalls. “When we got up, Auburn became my first choice, with anything else a distant second. Dr. Roberts’ comments were such that I knew the campus not only had everything I was looking for, but also that there was energy and enthusiasm.” He would join the faculty in 2012 as the John W. Brown assistant professor of chemical engineering. “I wanted to make a difference, not a name,” David recalls, “with people that I would be excited to work with, and in an environment that encouraged collaboration. I also saw in Auburn the opportunity to work in a growing department with unique opportunities, such as the presence of state-ofthe-art MRI scanners.” David has since put into place a nanoparticle and nanocomposite lab that is focused on highly selective drug targeting to enhance cancer therapy. “Our work is not too difficult to explain,” he points out. “What we are trying to do is target cancer cells in a highly 17 Auburn Engineering


selective way so that the therapeutic goes to the diseased site and does not interfere with healthy cells in the rest of the body.” For example, achieving a therapeutic concentration in a tumor could require gram-level doses of a drug that distributes through the entire body. The ‘smart nano’ approach, David explains, places the drugs where they can be effective. They are contained within nanoparticles and nanocomposites that target, and ‘stick’ to the cells that need to be treated. It’s an approach that will allow for much greater treatment efficacy at lower delivery doses, and a resulting reduction in side effects. He cites as an example pH responsive nanoparticle-based carriers that can be guided to certain sections of the stomach or intestines, and deliver drugs into a limited area at high concentrations. “A good example of where this can be effective is in the treatment of peptic ulcers, which are bacterial infections in the stomach,” David notes. “In current treatment, patients are given oral antibiotics that are ingested, move through the stomach, and into the intestines where they are absorbed into the bloodstream. “The bloodstream then moves the drug back to the site in the stomach, but only a small portion, since the balance is distributed throughout the body. In fact, these antibiotics also end up destroying a lot of ‘good’ bacteria in the gut, which results in side effects such as diarrhea in the patient. “So what we are looking at here is to encapsulate such antibiotics in ‘smart’ nanotechnology-based carriers that are responsive to the microenvironment in the stomach, where the drugs can be specifically targeted.” He adds this area holds great promise for insulin therapies in diabetics, since insulin cannot be delivered orally and must therefore be injected.

18 Auburn Engineering

“It degrades in the acidic environment that it would have to move through, as well as other factors,” David explains. “However, if we protect it with a nano-based carrier, we may be able to deliver insulin orally in the future, which has many advantages.” David notes that the benefits of nanotechnology will ultimately lead to what is called personalized medicine – targeted therapies that reduce dosage amounts and frequency, which results in better treatment at lower cost. It is also anticipated that patients treated in this way will recover more quickly, and become productive again in a shorter amount of time. “We are also focusing on magnetic nano particles, which act as contrast agents in MRI scans,” David notes. “This approach is very helpful in diagnostics, and we are using it in a Department of Defense grant to track prostate cancers. “Some of these cancers grow very slowly, while others are very aggressive. We can potentially monitor how smart materials change due to the biological activity within a tumor. This would allow us to quantify what is happening – that is, determine how quickly the tumor is growing – by mapping its volume non-invasively.” David notes that the research in his laboratory is often collaborative, and has included peers within his department, such as Elizabeth Lipke, but also faculty from curricula outside the College of Engineering, including Robert Arnold in the School of Pharmacy, and Valery Petrenko in the College of Veterinary Medicine. “And, of course, we are involved with the Auburn University Research Initiative in Cancer as well as faculty members such as Tom Denney and Ron Beyers at the Magnetic Resonance Imaging Research Center,” David adds. “I find this kind of interdisciplinary mix not only a very exciting way to conduct research, but absolutely imperative if we are to challenge the health care issues that are facing us.”


Alan Hanley and Allan David investigate a Janus particle solution that may have a promising outcome on medical research.

Nanoparticles: tiny fighters In addition to research into targeted drug delivery, David’s team is also working on nanoparticles that illustrate how promising – and varied – this field can be. Janus particles represent one such area. They are so named from the Roman god often depicted in art with two faces, one looking to the left and the other to the right, or more temporally, one looking forward and one looking back (think of January in the calendar). These particles can, for example, exhibit both hydrophilic and hydrophobic action, that is, they both attract and repel water at the same time. “These kinds of nanomaterials may be able to act as antimicrobial barriers because of these properties,” David explains. “Research has indicated that some nanoparticles have proven effective against bacteria, so it represents a logical direction to take as we look to move forward with nanotechnology applications.” The technology can be taken a step further in the energy and biomedical sectors by ultimately changing how self-assembled materials are manufactured. “We are really at the forefront of this technology,” David notes. “The direction we can take is almost limitless.” 19 Auburn Engineering


Into AEROSPACE

Anwar Ahmed, professor of aerospace engineering, is using an optical diagnostics technique that was modified to accommodate multiple laser beams to measure the optical path length and convective velocities in high speed flows that are dominated by eddy rotation in addition to translation. The four-beam Malley probe was developed with support from Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico for use in aero-optical research at the Air Force Research Labs (ARFL) in Dayton, Ohio, to improve feedback response of adaptive optics used for laser beam delivery through the atmosphere over long distances. The quality of light source plays an important role in several applications that include communications, light detection and ranging for weather and environmental mapping, remote sensing, portable scanners for detection of chemical hazards, and spectroscopy. For defense related purposes such as airborne lasers, a beam has to pass through the atmosphere with clouds, moisture and dust particles before reaching its target. The cumulative effects of the less than ideal conditions result in rapid changes in the refractive index which scatters the beam and lowers the intensity and focus on the intended target. For astronomical observations, the optical distortions caused by the atmosphere 20 Auburn Engineering

are corrected using adaptive optics with relative ease because observation times remain large compared to the shorter reaction times of lasers mounted on airplanes. The use of adaptive optics to correct the laser beam and retain its full energy requires instruments that can react to the changing environment rapidly. A two-pronged strategy to overcome these shortcomings involves careful flow control measures around the turrets using active and passive means. Development of the multiple-beam Malley probe is a part of an ongoing ARFL supported effort to conduct benchmark experiments for the understanding of locally induced turbulence generated noise, broadband influence of disturbances on the refractive index, vibrations and fluid-optical interactions. Research also includes determining the influence of flight conditions such as aircraft speed and altitude.

BIOSYSTEMS

The Department of Biosystems Engineering has renovated the courtyard adjacent to the department’s main classroom building to serve as a multipurpose research and recreational area for students and faculty. The Corley Courtyard retrofit, supported in part by a grant from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, provides two landscaped areas that are designed for ecological stormwater remediation. Planted bioremediation cells (BRCs) are integrated into new inlaid brick and

concrete surfaces to demonstrate an innovative urban practice to protect the environment by improving stormwater quality. The new courtyard offers current and future biosystems engineering students the opportunity to monitor and evaluate design options for ecological stormwater control within the local Parkerson Mill Creek watershed. Students and graduates of the department played vital roles from conception to design of the new Corley Courtyard. The BRCs present a unique opportunity for hands-on learning, as well as demonstration and research in the area of green infrastructure. Proposed student and faculty research activities include determination of contaminant reductions through BRCs, design of self-contained recirculation systems for sustainable irrigation of BRC plantings, and capture and reuse of rainwater using cistern storage coupled with renewable solar or wind energy.

CHEMIC AL

James Radich, assistant professor of chemical engineering, is researching the interfaces between different nanomaterials. Technologies rarely use only one type of material, and understanding the interaction between nanomaterial interfaces, especially relating to sustainable energy systems, is the core focus of Radich’s research.


the Lab Semiconductor nanomaterials capture sunlight and can convert it to electricity or chemical fuels. Radich’s lab includes a femtosecond laser spectroscopy system to map the electrons and holes that are created when semiconductors absorb light. Some materials transport electrons effectively, while others are better at transporting holes. Since both types of materials are required for efficient solar cells, studying their interfacial behavior is an important engineering problem relative to commercializing nanomaterial-based solar cells.

CIVIL

J. Brian Anderson, associate professor of civil engineering, is collaborating with the Alabama Department of Transportation for the next three years to investigate solutions to remediate swelling clays found under roads in western Alabama while keeping routes open. Shrinking and swelling soils, sometimes called expansive soils, are typically the result of the presence of high plasticity clays. The consequences of swelling can be significant, with moderate swelling pressures high enough to heave roadways. Expansive soils are an issue in many areas in the United States. Locally, these soils are common in the southern and western portions of Alabama. Many roads in this part of the state follow farm to market routes that were cut and built from materials in the immediate area.

These roads typically serve rural areas and many have become key routes for commercial traffic. Typical permanent solutions to this problem involve closure and reconstruction of the roads from the bottom up. However, closure or detouring of these roads is often not feasible from the standpoints of economics and safety. Anderson and his team are looking at the application of a method to arrest the shrinking and swelling of these clays in place, with minimal interruption of traffic.

COMPUTER SCIENCE AND SOF T WARE

Alvin Lim, associate professor of computer science and software engineering, is developing a mobile system that will provide accurate GPS positioning and navigational information for mobile devices in environments that currently disrupt data transfer, such as indoors, in urban canyons and under tree canopies. Other positioning systems require sophisticated hardware that is not costeffective, or use positions of dedicated infrastructures, such as cellular base stations or wireless access points, which are grossly inaccurate. Another approach uses signal strength which has been found to be inaccurate because of multipath and fading effects. Lim’s positioning system does not require special hardware, and instead relies on commercial, off-the-shelf mobile devices to work with each other.

With Lim’s system, a GPS-denied target node with no position information communicates opportunistically with a number of in-range mobile peer nodes with some positioning capabilities. Data exchanges between the target node and peer nodes are used by the target node to refine its position estimation using three algorithms: enhanced time of arrival, mathematical constraints solver and barycentric algorithms. The mathematical constraints solver determines the raw device position from a set of inequalities while the barycentric algorithm combines the raw positions to generate more accurate positioning.

ELEC TRIC AL AND COMPUTER

Shumin Wang, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, has been awarded a $407,000 National Institutes of Health grant to develop a new technique that will combine transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to facilitate the treatment of neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and epilepsy. As the principal investigator, Wang is joined by neurologist Jerzy Szaflarski in the Department of Neurology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

21 Auburn Engineering


Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2008, TMS is a noninvasive procedure that uses an insulated electromagnetic coil placed against a patient’s scalp to deliver magnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells in specific regions of the brain. The localization of stimulation sites requires an MRI scan, which utilizes another strong magnetic field to create detailed structural images of the body. According to Wang, past studies have combined the unique uses of MRI with TMS by placing a conventional TMS coil inside a MRI receiver coil. However, since both MRI and TMS use strong magnetic fields, compatibility issues severely limit the functionality of TMS.

development of occupational safety research, associate professors of industrial and systems engineering Sean Gallagher, Richard Sesek and Jerry Davis are conducting research suggesting MSD risk is the result of fatigue failure in affected tissues.

“For the first time, we propose a new technique that will fully integrate TMS with MRI and will allow us to more effectively direct TMS to specific regions of the brain by using MRI,” said Wang. “Our innovation is that we will use the same set of coils to generate an enhanced image of specific regions of the brain and to deliver individually tailored nerve stimulation pulses for that region. Our design will be seamlessly adaptable to existing clinical or research MRI machines and will eliminate the need for stand-alone and MRI-incompatible TMS instruments.”

Results of the study supported the fatigue failure theory through demonstration of a force-repetition interaction in the inflammatory response in the muscles caused by eccentric exercise. Furthermore, MRI use in the examination of inflammation in muscle tissues following an eccentric exercise protocol holds promise as an effective research technique that may be used in future studies.

The study is expected to enable advanced neuroscience research and the development of effective therapies for patients who are physically sound but have neurological issues, and whose standard medications are no longer beneficial to them.

INDUSTRIAL AND SYSTEMS

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and low back pain are among the single largest category of workplace injuries according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and account for nearly 30 percent of all workers’ compensation costs. To advance research in the reduction of workplace-related injuries and the 22 Auburn Engineering

The team authored a paper, “Effects of Force and Repetition on Inflammation due to Eccentric Muscle Contractions,” which examines the fatigue failure theory by measuring inflammation in muscle tissue using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), isometric strength, and other measures of inflammation after participants completed sets of repetitive eccentric exercises.

MECHANIC AL

Robert Jackson, associate professor of mechanical engineering and director of the tribology and lubrication science minor, has been awarded a National Science Foundation grant of $245,781 to improve the performance and reliability of electrical connectors. The project is in collaboration with Columbia University and Tyco Electronics. Electrical connectors are crucial in any electronic and power system to provide a direct path for electronic signals and power connections. If not designed and fabricated properly, the connectors can succumb to corrosion which can lead to degraded performance. Jackson’s research will investigate the use of graphene, an extremely thin sheet of carbon, as a sandwiched interlayer in electrical connectors to prevent corrosion and improve reliability of the electrical device. By studying the mechanical implications of graphene in electrical

connectors, the project has the potential to lead to the development of lowcost, high-performance connectors for next-generation electronic and power systems, as well as flexible electronics and bendable solar cells.

POLYMER AND FIBER

Ed Davis, faculty member in the Department of Polymer and Fiber Engineering, has received a two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to study how controlled release methods can be used to improve understanding of how mercury exposure affects brain development. Davis is collaborating with Chris Newland, faculty member in the Department of Psychology. Mercury accumulation in fish, shellfish and animals that eat fish poses a significant potential human health risk, particularly in children and pregnant women. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration draft recommendation states that pregnant women should avoid eating tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico and all shark, swordfish and king mackerel. According to Davis, mercury exposure in humans compromises the development of the central nervous system, particularly in the fetus during the last trimester of pregnancy. However, the mechanism and other details of this mercury toxicity remain largely unknown, as it is impossible to directly study the effects of mercury on human fetal development. Because the development of the central nervous system of a mouse up to 10 days after birth mimics late-stage fetal development of the human central nervous system, Davis is creating a nanocomposite that will enable sustained delivery of mercury to young mouse pups. This strategy will facilitate the steady, sustained mercury concentration typically observed in human fetuses exposed to mercury in utero. Thus, Newland and Davis will be able to duplicate the effects of prenatal human exposure to mercury, thereby revealing critical details of mercury toxicity in humans.


More than a tweet By Megan Burmester

F

or Chris Moody, ’90 electrical

Twitter to resyndicate its data, allowing

of his innate curiosity in combining

engineering and vice president

Twitter to concentrate on building its

business applications to scientific

of data strategy for Twitter,

advertising business. Because of the great

principles. After graduating, he

analyzing 500 million tweets

working relationship established between

began his career as a consultant with

the companies, Twitter acquired Gnip in

Engineering Data Systems and climbed

May and Moody transitioned over.

his way up the ladder in the data systems

every day is just another day on the job.

industry until he landed at Gnip.

Moody resides in Boulder, Colo., and previously served as chief executive

“I often tell people the team at Twitter is

officer of Gnip, one of the earliest social

working with the largest archive of human

While his passion has always revolved

data providers. Gnip tracks every tweet

thought that ever existed,” Moody said.

around data and business, Moody’s

delivered as part of the Twitter “firehose”

“Using our data is like putting on a pair

influence has been his family,

and helps companies find the exact tweets

of glasses that gives you a super power

specifically his father, Thomas Moody,

they’re requesting. This enables companies

because the data allows you to know

’61 engineering physics.

such as IBM, Adobe and Microsoft to build

exactly what the world is thinking on just

analytics products on top of Twitter data to

about any topic at any moment in time.”

‘Auburn,’ and my dad was proud that I

help brands better understand what their customers are saying about them.

“The very first word I could spell was

Moody sees his new role at Twitter as not

earned my engineering degree at Auburn

just a job, but a way of making a difference

University,” Moody said.

Gnip was formed in 2008 when the

and delivering valuable data information

concept of social media was still in its

to companies who seek to improve a return

Auburn blood runs thick in the family.

infancy and people did not realize the

on investment.

His brother Michael Moody, ’84 electrical engineering, and his two

impact it would have around the world. “Today, I am responsible for Twitter’s

nieces who currently attend Auburn,

By the time Moody joined in 2011, the

data strategy and it is a dream job. I get to

all have deep ties to the university. In

company was gaining traction and

work with some of the smartest and most

fact, Chris and his brother recently

within three years, Gnip grew to serving

innovative people on the planet.”

created the Thomas and Ernestine Moody Scholarship for the College of

customers in 42 countries. Its data distribution network included more than

Moody’s interest in this platform began

95 percent of Fortune 500 companies.

while he was studying electrical and

Gnip was the first company to partner with

computer engineering at Auburn because

Engineering in honor of their parents.

23 Auburn Engineering


Taking

(unmanned)

flight

By Gail Riese

From robots to smartphones that are becoming smarter than humans, technology is rapidly and seamlessly making an impact in our everyday life. The newest advancement zipping around towns and cities involves parcel deliveries – by drones. While this technology is poised to revolutionize the service and delivery industry, several technological and regulatory challenges need to be addressed, including the Federal Aviation Administration’s restrictions prohibiting the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for commercial purposes. 24 Auburn Engineering


Delivery via drone To help provide an efficient blueprint for companies to follow into the future, Chase Murray, assistant professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, is examining operational execution associated with drone parcel delivery. His research has led him to develop algorithms he hopes will benefit the dronebased delivery of goods, as well as implement or improve military drone operations that maximize performance and minimize human intervention. “There are many researchers working to overcome the technical hurdles associated with making robots fly safely for the purposes of parcel delivery,” said Murray. “Although I’m fascinated by recent technological advances, my interest is figuring out how to leverage those technologies to make logistics systems more efficient. It seems counterintuitive to think of UAVs requiring human assistance, but they require significant manpower to monitor and direct their operations.”

Amanda Chu, a senior in industrial and systems engineering and founding president of Auburn’s student chapter of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, partnered with Murray on this research and helped develop and test the mathematical models. “This was my first research project, and I was excited Dr. Murray asked me to assist,” said Chu. “The best parts of this experience included learning new programming languages and knowing that my contributions advanced the research. After taking the model, formulating it into code and testing and experimenting with dozens of sets of data, I learned the problem was solvable. It was gratifying to see the results of my work. This experience has opened my eyes and helped me understand what research is about. I feel much more confident about my decision to attend graduate school in the near future.”

Military drone manpower

As UAVs become more prevalent, especially for military use, it’s inevitable UAV operators will experience occupational burnout One of the fundamental constraints of battery-powered UAVs because of the increasing number of flights placed under a single involves their relatively short flight capabilities, with most limited controller. Murray’s research seeks to address this challenge to 30 minutes in the air. Another is in the size and weight of by incorporating operator workload parcels being delivered. Indeed, not all considerations into the routes assigned to deliveries can be carried by UAVs, and “It seems counterintuitive UAVs, thereby increasing operator efficiency some parcels will always require delivery to think of unmanned aerial and limiting operator stress. by conventional means. Murray’s work addresses these constraints by minimizing vehicles or drones requiring “One challenge is to make sure operators flight distances, and by looking at human assistance, but do not become overwhelmed with an distribution centers that are located in close untenable number of activities to perform proximity to customers in densely populated they do require significant simultaneously,” said Murray. “Our urban areas. manpower to monitor and optimization models seek to balance workload direct their operations.” by properly scheduling both the operator and “In cases where the distribution center is the UAV’s tasks.” located far from customers, an alternative is to pair the UAV with a traditional truck. These optimization models break down multiple, simultaneous The delivery truck departs from the distribution center carrying UAV missions into component tasks and account for the a UAV and all customer parcels,” said Murray. “The challenge complexity and the time sensitivity. An algorithm then derives is to determine which customers should be visited by a delivery the number of operators necessary based on the number of tasks truck, and which should be served by a UAV. We have developed needed to be simultaneously directed. This minimizes the number algorithms that optimize the coordinated delivery schedules of of operators required for UAV direction while ensuring operators both vehicles, allowing the UAV to take off from and return to a are not overloaded at critical points in the UAV mission. mobile delivery truck.” Murray used the traveling salesman problem (TSP), a traditional computational mathematics theory used for optimization research formulated in 1930. The TSP finds the shortest route for a person to visit each customer and then returns the salesman back to a starting point. For Murray’s research, named the flying sidekick traveling salesman problem, optimal customer assignments must be determined for a UAV working in tandem with a delivery truck. By allowing the UAV to launch from a truck rather than from a warehouse, the UAV’s range is effectively increased. Such a delivery system is expected to provide faster receipt of customer orders at less cost to the distributor with reduced environmental impacts. Routes generated by Murray’s algorithm are also expected to reduce the miles driven by delivery trucks.

“While this research has been motivated by military operations and missions executed by Predator and Reaper unmanned aircraft systems, the models developed may be adapted to other applications where man and machine interact,” added Murray. “One example is a manufacturing environment where a single worker must manage multiple machines. Proper scheduling of the jobs assigned to each machine can reduce a worker’s mental workload.” Through Murray’s continued research in drone efficiency and endurance, the TV show “The Jetsons” may not be too far off from our future reality.

25 Auburn Engineering


minutes with Kevin Cullinan Interviewed by Gail Riese He thought he’d attend college at another school – not Auburn. He thought he’d pursue another career – not engineering. Thanks to Auburn University’s cooperative education (co-op) program, Kevin Cullinan is an ’09 chemical engineering graduate who is enjoying life in Japan as an ExxonMobil execution planning engineer. He is giving back to his alma mater as an Engineering Keystone Society member.

GR: Why did you choose Auburn? KC: Strangely enough, having grown up a stone’s throw away

from Auburn, the decision to attend Auburn University was a late one. I guess familiarity breeds a certain level of complacency, and as a result I always thought I would attend college in another location. That being said – once it came time to seriously consider what I wanted to study and what I might be interested in doing, it became clear Auburn was the perfect fit.

GR: Why did you want to be an engineer? KC: Again this is another decision that I came to in a rather

circuitous fashion. My father is an engineer and growing up it only seemed natural I would do something different. However, when I began seriously considering my interests and the fields of work that might be a good fit, it became clear engineering was right for me. I was particularly attracted to the flexibility of career paths that could be pursued with an engineering background. Following high school I still had a fairly wide interest in potential careers, and after meeting individuals in the engineering program who entered law school, med school and industry, engineering was appealing.

GR: How has Auburn Engineering made an impact on your career? KC: Auburn Engineering has had a huge impact on my career.

It taught me technical concepts and problem solving skills that are directly transferrable and effective in industry. Equally, if not more important, were the experiences – particularly the co-op program – and the great contacts and friends made along the way. One of the strongest qualities about Auburn and Auburn Engineering is the sense of family and camaraderie in the student body and even with the faculty. 26 Auburn Engineering

GR: How did you decide to work for ExxonMobil? KC: As a freshman, I entered chemical engineering with an

interest in specializing in pre-med. During my freshman intro class, a member of ExxonMobil came to speak and my interest was piqued. Not shortly thereafter someone from the coop program came to speak and I realized I might have the opportunity to try something that would help with my studies, break up my schedule and offer some income. I was fortunate to be offered a co-op position with ExxonMobil and realized I enjoyed the style of work and the opportunities more than I would have pursuing a career in medicine. I was privileged to receive an offer of full-time employment after completing my coop. It was such a great opportunity for me to try out a career and to find something I enjoyed.

GR: What circumstances led to you working in Japan? KC: After two years in my initial role as a project engineer/

manager, I transitioned to our development company which is responsible for major projects, particularly development of new fields and resources. I was assigned to the execution planning group and began working on a development which was in its early stages of conceptual study. We enlisted the help of two engineering contractors, the lead of which is headquartered in Japan, to support the design and execution planning work for the concept. I was fortunate to be one of the individuals to relocate my office in Japan to help guide their work.

GR: You are an execution planning engineer. What does this mean and what does your job entail? KC: In the field of oil and gas projects, engineers are typically concerned with the “what:” what kind of facility, what types of equipment, what specs, et cetera. My role as an execution


planning engineer is to be concerned with and optimize the “how.” Given a particular concept or design, it is my job to determine how it will be built, what the contracting strategy will be and how long it will take to design, build, install and start up.

GR: What is it like living and working in Japan, and what has been the biggest adjustment? KC: Japan has been a great place to live and work. Living in Tokyo has been a fantastic experience. I’m a big fan of the food. The culture is interesting and the sights, sounds and experiences are one of a kind. I think the biggest adjustment was simply getting used to the hustle and bustle of Tokyo/Yokohama. There is an unbelievable amount of people in this area and rarely is there a time in a public setting when you are not in a crowd. A close second to this is learning to order food and distinguish what it is you’re ordering at restaurants, as well as navigating Japanese grocery stores. I’ve had several meals that were very good but slightly unnerving as I wasn’t sure exactly what it was that I was eating.

GR: Do you know how to write or speak Japanese? KC: I’ve developed a certain level of functionality in speaking

Japanese and have begun taking lessons to hopefully become a better conversationalist. The writing side is a different story. There are three different alphabets used by the Japanese: Hiragana, the phonetic alphabet used for Japanese words; Katakana, the phonetic alphabet used primarily for foreign

words; and Kanji, the non-phonetic writing system which uses an individual character for everything resulting in thousands and thousands of Kanji characters. It is a daunting challenge, and as most of the writing tends to be a mix of Kanji and Hiragana, I’ve chosen to focus on learning to speak and not so much on learning to read . . . not being literate is a big adjustment.

GR: You have become a member of the Engineering Keystone Society. Why have you chosen to financially support the college? KC: I have benefitted in such a large part due to the kindness of others, particularly those who are affiliated with Auburn and the College of Engineering. Having the opportunity to contribute in some way and enabling others to have similar and hopefully even better opportunities than I did is particularly gratifying. I’m also in the position of having an employer who will match my contributions, providing a benefit to the college I would be remiss not to facilitate. ExxonMobil values charitable donations, particularly in the area of higher education and matches contributions at a rate of three to one.

GR: Do you know how to write “War Eagle” in Japanese? KC: Despite what I said about my writing abilities I do know how to pen “War Eagle” in Japanese . . . 戦争ワシ

27 Auburn Engineering


From the desk Joshua Batterson,

assistant research professor of aerospace engineering, and his contract partners have received more than $2.5 million from NASA and the Department of Defense during the past three years to predict, model and analyze combustion instability in rockets, jet engines and scramjets. Batterson is currently working with industry and government partners in an effort to model the effect of acoustic oscillations on optical and thermal sensors in rocket guidance systems.

Gopikrishna Deshpande, assistant

professor of electrical and computer engineering and researcher at Auburn’s Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Research Center, has received a grant of nearly $997,000 from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for a project titled “Functional Imaging for Developing Outstanding Service Dogs.” The project aims to perform MRI scans of dogs before and after they are trained to carry out detection tasks in order to identify baseline neural features which predict better detection performance post training. This will enable researchers to scan the canine’s brain before recruitment and determine the likelihood of success, given the capital investments involved in detector dog training.

Mario Eden, department

chair and Joe T. and Billie Carole McMillan professor of chemical engineering, has been recognized with the 2014 Outstanding Young Researcher national 28 Auburn Engineering

award from the Computing and Systems Technology division of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. The annual honor is awarded to an individual under 40 who has made outstanding and significant contributions to chemical engineering computing and systems technology.

John Evans, professor

of industrial and systems engineering, was appointed interim director of the Thomas Walter Center (TWC) for technology management. Evans will lead TWC’s initiatives including the BusinessEngineering-Technology program and will develop plans for future programs within the center.

Xing Fang, professor of

civil engineering, has been selected as a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers and a fellow of the Environmental and Water Resources Institute. Fang is honored for his contributions to lake water quality modeling research and education.

Jeffrey Fergus,

professor of materials engineering, has been named associate dean for program assessment and graduate studies in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. He will be responsible for managing the assessment and enhancement processes associated with all aspects of the College of Engineering’s mission. In addition to oversight of ABET and SACS accreditation compliance, Fergus will also coordinate the college’s assessment activities with Auburn University’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment.

Oladiran Fasina,

professor of biosystems engineering, was inducted as a fellow of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. This is the highest honor awarded to members of the society who possess 20 years of active experience in or related to the field of agricultural, food or biological systems engineering.

Pradeep Lall, Thomas

Walter professor of mechanical engineering and director of Auburn’s National Science Foundation Center for Advanced Vehicle and Extreme Environment Electronics, has been selected as a fellow of the Alabama Academy of Science, the academy’s second highest honor. Lall was also honored with the Exceptional Technical Achievement Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Components, Packaging, and Manufacturing Technology Society for his contributions to the field of electronics reliability and manufacturing.

Elizabeth Lipke,

assistant professor of chemical engineering, has been named among the nation’s brightest young engineers and was invited to attend the National Academy of Engineering’s 20th annual U.S. Frontiers of Engineering symposium. Lipke, among 82 engineers from around the country, gathered in September at the National Academy’s Beckman Center in Irvine, Calif., to discuss cutting-edge developments in four research areas: next-generation robotics, frontiers in materials for batteries, shale gas and oil,


of... and technologies for the heart. Engineers from industry, academia and government participated in the discussion, which is expected to influence national policies in science and engineering.

Joseph Majdalani,

department chair of aerospace engineering, was honored with the Konrad Dannenberg Educator of the Year Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics greater Huntsville section. The award is given to a section member who has exemplified outstanding service to education and promotion of math and science within the community.

Daniela Marghitu,

comp 1000 coordinator in computer science and software engineering and founding director of Auburn’s Laboratory for Educational and Assistive Technology, published her sixth textbook on information technology titled “Exploring Microsoft SharePoint for Office 2013.” The book is published as part of the international award-winning Pearson Higher Education Exploring series.

Cheryl Seals, associate

professor of computer science and software engineering, has been appointed acting director of the Alabama Power Academic Excellence Program in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. Seals is responsible for leading the program’s academic support and professional development activities for students as they transition and adjust to the Auburn Engineering environment.

faculty highlights Anthony Skjellum

joined the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering in June as the COLSA cyber security and information assurance professor in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, and director of the Auburn Cyber Research Center. He comes from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he served as chair and professor in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences since 2003.

Alice Smith, W. Allen

and Martha Reed professor of industrial and systems engineering, has authored a paper, “Multiobjective optimization using genetic algorithms: a tutorial,” that is the top cited article in the journal, “Reliability Engineering & System Safety.” The paper, which has been cited in more than 400 publications, focuses on evolutionary methods used to obtain solutions to multiple goals in complex design problems.

Robert Thomas,

professor emeritus of industrial and systems engineering, was honored with the William H. Weems Lifetime Achievement Award at the 27th annual Alabama Governor’s Safety and Health Conference. Thomas was recognized for his dedicated service to the occupational safety and health industry.

Force Office of Scientific Research and Sandia National Laboratories. Thurow is serving as a co-principal investigator on a $2.7 million grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to study three dimensional shock/boundary layer interactions and is leading an effort to introduce plenoptic camera technology to scientists at Sandia National Laboratories.

Jose Vasconcelos,

assistant professor of civil engineering, received the 2014 James M. Robbins National Excellence in Teaching Award from Chi Epsilon, the national civil engineering honor society. He was nominated in recognition of his teaching from Auburn's chapter of Chi Epsilon and was selected as the Southeast district winner before being chosen from a larger pool of all district winners from across the country.

Weikuan Yu, associate

professor of computer science and software engineering, was awarded a grant totaling more than $298,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his big data research. Yu’s project, titled “EAGER: Tadoop: A Dual-Purpose Framework Taming the Bipolarity of Storage and Communication for High-Performance Computing and Data Analytics,” will focus on how to unify bipolarity issues in storage and communication management in data analytics. This is his fourth NSF grant.

Brian Thurow, W.

Allen and Martha Reed associate professor of aerospace engineering, received research grants from the Air 29 Auburn Engineering


From Left, K-Rob Thomas, Charles Gavin III, Saeed Maghsoodloo, Charlie Ping and Larry Monroe. Not pictured is Sanjay Govil.

And the winner is . . . In September, the college honored six alumni who have served as outstanding representatives of both Auburn University and the College of Engineering at the annual Auburn Alumni Engineering Council awards banquet. Each of these individuals set themselves apart in the engineering profession, going above and beyond in their field. This year, three recipients were presented with the Distinguished Auburn Engineer Award, two were named Outstanding Young Auburn Engineers, and one was recognized with the Superior Service Award.

Charles E. Gavin III

Distinguished Auburn Engineer Charles E. Gavin III graduated from Alabama Polytechnic Institute in 1959 with a degree in textile management, as well as an Executive MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1977. At Auburn, he was a member of the Auburn Rifles, Phi Psi Textile Honorary and Pi Kappa Phi fraternities. In a career that covered 20-plus years in the carpet industry, Gavin worked his way through a range of assignments including shift supervisor for carpet dyeing, color formulation chemist, laboratory manager, manager of chemical services and plant manager. He was then promoted to senior technical and management positions including vice president of carpet manufacturing for Columbus Mills, Inc., and later vice president and director of dyeing for Coronet Industries. He was responsible for numerous technical achievements within the carpet industry, including the development of the use of acid dyes to replace disperse dyes, which gave carpet improved light and wash fastness. This soon became the industry standard and remains so today. His second career began in 1981 when he formed MFG Chemical, Inc., to develop and market improved chemical auxiliaries for dyeing and finishing of carpets. Today, MFG 30 Auburn Engineering

has grown from a husband-wife team to a four-site chemical manufacturer serving a broad segment of the chemical market. MFG provides custom and toll manufacturing of specialty polymers, surfactants, esters and other specialty chemicals to numerous Fortune 100 and major international companies. Gavin, who presided over tremendous growth of the company, remains chairman of the board. Gavin has maintained a strong commitment to Auburn University through his leadership, support and philanthropy. He was named Auburn’s Outstanding Textile Engineering Alumnus in 2003, and continues to serve as an adviser to the Department of Polymer and Fiber Engineering. Since 2009, he has been an active member of the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council, and is also a member of the Auburn Engineering Eagles Society and the Auburn Engineering Keystone Society, where he and his son, Chuck, are represented as the only father-son members. In addition, Gavin and his wife, Carol Ann, are lifetime members of the Auburn Alumni Association, as well as members of the exclusive Auburn University 1856 Society. (Continued page 34)

Sanjay Govil

Distinguished Auburn Engineer Sanjay Govil graduated from Auburn in 1987 with a degree in electrical engineering and continued his education at Syracuse University where he earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering. He later obtained a degree in advanced management from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was named a fellow. Govil founded Infinite Computer Solutions in 1999, a global IT outsourcing provider for Fortune 100 companies worldwide. In 2011, he founded Infinite Convergence Solutions, a leader in utilizing communication-related intellectual property to develop


a range of mobile messaging products. Under Govil’s leadership, Infinite has grown to nearly 5,000 employees located in offices around the world. Three years after founding Infinite, Govil was recognized as Entrepreneur of the Year by both Forbes and Ernst & Young. That year, he also received the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council’s Outstanding Young Auburn Engineer Award.

the engines that powered the winning car in the Indy 500. He continues to demonstrate a sincere dedication to Auburn Engineering. Ping began giving back to the college early in his career through membership in the Engineering Eagles Society. His philanthropy is a direct reflection of his commitment to remain connected to his alma mater and to Auburn Engineering.

In addition to his substantial business success, Govil is actively engaged in his community through both his time and philanthropic involvement. As the son of a long-time Auburn professor, Govil remains dedicated to education and devotes much of his time to supporting education initiatives and the Boys and Girls Club of America.

K-Rob Thomas

Larry Monroe

Distinguished Auburn Engineer Larry Monroe earned his bachelor’s degree in 1979 in chemical engineering from Auburn and earned his doctorate in chemical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined Southern Company in 1998 as a program manager in the environmental affairs department. He held numerous leadership positions within the company, and in 2014, was named chief environmental officer and research and environmental affairs senior vice president. His work with research and development has earned him a number of leadership and technology awards, including the Electric Power Research Institute’s Environment Sector Delivery and Application Research Champion Award. In 2013, he was ranked 16th among the top 25 most influential people in the power industry during the past 25 years according to Power Engineering magazine. Monroe uses his passion for pollution control as a way to actively contribute to his community. He is a board member of the Atlanta Clean Air Campaign, and has held leadership positions with the Utility Air Regulatory Group, Electric Power Research Institute and the Coal Utilization Research Council. He has also remained a dedicated alumnus of Auburn University for many years, serving as a past president of the Chemical Engineering Alumni Council and as a member of the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council and the Auburn University Research Advisory Board.

Charlie Ping

Outstanding Young Auburn Engineer Charlie Ping earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Auburn in 2004, at the same time obtaining a certificate in automotive engineering. While at Auburn, Ping was a member of the Formula SAE race team, serving as captain in 2003 when the team received two top-five finishes against 140 international teams. He began working in professional motorsports in 2005 when he joined the race team at Honda Performance Development as an associate engineer. Ping went on to work for Pratt & Miller Engineering in Michigan, where he serves as project manager of IndyCar Race Operations. He is the liaison between Chevrolet and five race teams, for a total of 12 cars, providing support for chassis development and engine-chassis integration. Last year, Ping and his team provided

Outstanding Young Auburn Engineer K-Rob Thomas earned his degree in civil engineering from Auburn in 2001 and obtained his professional engineer license in 2006. His career began as a transmission lines and planning supervisor for Mississippi Power Company. After two years, he returned to Alabama to work for Alabama Power Company, and later at Southern Company, leading efforts to design and implement solutions for special projects. In 2013, he returned to work with Alabama Power Company in Mobile where he is currently the area transmission maintenance manager. His commitment to the education of future engineers has resulted in his involvement and financial support of the college’s Alabama Power Academic Excellence Program, as well as his service on its advisory council. In addition, he was instrumental in establishing the Dennis Weatherby Annual Scholarship Award by facilitating a golf tournament that raised more than $12,000. Thomas has also remained dedicated to furthering the reach of Auburn University. His understanding of the importance of engaging young alumni helped lead to the establishment of the Young Alumni Council, and he serves in several roles on the Diversity of Multicultural Affairs Leadership Council. In 2012, he was selected as a member of the Auburn Alumni Association’s Board of Directors. Thomas is also a member of the Engineering Eagles Society and the university’s Petrie Society.

Saeed Maghsoodloo

Superior Service Award Saeed Maghsoodloo earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from Auburn in 1962, as well as a master’s degree in applied mathematics in 1963. Upon receiving his degrees he began teaching as an instructor in the Department of Mathematics and Department of Industrial Engineering. Since then, Maghsoodloo has been teaching in some capacity at Auburn for nearly five decades. He earned his doctorate in applied statistics in 1968 and soon became an assistant professor of industrial engineering. His impact goes far beyond the classroom. In addition to producing countless publications during his 50 plus years as a professor, he has served as a counselor and mentor to his students and is a five-time recipient of the Industrial and Systems Engineering Outstanding Faculty Award. He has been unwavering in his dedication to students and to their development as engineers and professionals. While acknowledging his demanding expectations in the classroom, his colleagues applaud him for his unquestionable dedication to excellence in the education of his students. Although he retired in 2007, Maghsoodloo continues to teach and mentor students, as well as other faculty members, and maintains a deep commitment to the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. 31 Auburn Engineering


Keeping A story about one mechanical engineer’s journey from the Loveliest Village on the Plains to the world’s largest medical center, and the legacy he left at Auburn where his career began.

S

teve Swinson, ’81 mechanical engineering, lives in Houston, Texas, but he began his career working at Auburn University, in the town where he was raised. He was not the first of his family to be an Auburn mechanical engineer, or the last – his dad, Frank Swinson, taught mechanical engineering from 1960 until he retired in 1989. Both Steve and his brother Mike, ’85 mechanical engineering, were taught by their father, whom Steve credits as “the best teacher he ever had.” Most recently, Steve’s son Mitch became the family’s third generation Auburn mechanical engineer, earning his degree in 2006. It comes as no surprise how the Swinson family arrived at Auburn University. The story of how Steve made it to Houston, and what he is doing there now, is a rather cool one – no pun intended. ”I originally came to work at Auburn in 1983 as an HVAC engineer,” Steve recalls. “I hadn’t been there long when my boss walked in one day and said ‘We want to put in a central chilled water plant system for the campus,’ and I had no clue what he was talking about.” He quickly learned, though, because Steve did just that – he and his group installed the university’s first central chilled water system that air conditions buildings on campus. The plant was installed on engineering’s side of campus on Wilmore Drive, with plans to build a second plant in the future. “The plants produce chilled water at 40-43 degrees, and pump it through pipes into the buildings,” he explains. “The buildings use that cold water for air conditioning, and then recirculate the water back to the plant to be re-cooled. It’s a less expensive, more efficient, reliable and aesthetic way to cool multiple buildings in a concentrated space.” 32 Auburn Engineering

Previously, most buildings had individual chillers, or individual air conditioning units, Steve points out. “Those buildings were old – maybe they had first been air conditioned 20-25 years earlier and were getting to where the equipment needed to be replaced. It was more cost-effective to supply chilled water to buildings throughout the campus than to install individual air conditioning units.” Steve and his team at Facilities didn’t stop there – they also installed a new steam system on campus, renovated engineering’s Wilmore Laboratories and Ross Hall, constructed the new chemistry and business buildings, raised the upper deck on the stadium, built the new baseball stadium, renovated all the campus dorms, and last but not least, air conditioned Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. “That was kind of an interesting time,” he recalls with fondness. “It was when George Wallace was governor back in the middle ’80s, but he wouldn’t travel much so he would send Henry Steagall, the state finance director who later became an Alabama Supreme Court justice, to be his representative at university board meetings and at events like commencement. “This was probably June of 1986 – Mr. Steagall called me the day after he had been at commencement in the coliseum. There’s no air conditioning in there, it’s 100 degrees, they’re wearing robes and it’s very uncomfortable. He said, ‘Steve, I want to air condition the coliseum.’ I didn’t know why he was calling me – I was like 16 layers down. I told him he probably needed to speak to someone else about that, and he said, ‘No. How much will it cost?’ I told him I didn’t know, and he said he would call back tomorrow to find out. I hung up the phone and called my boss, who told me, ‘Sounds like you better get him a price!’” The university master plan that Steve recalls from that time proposed that a second chilled water plant system be installed by Auburn’s baseball field – right across from the coliseum – but it


it cool By Morgan Stashick

was 15-20 years away from being built. He considered the task of air conditioning the coliseum alone and thought it did not make sense to do the single building without engineering the whole chilled water plant. “Sure enough, the next day at the same time, Mr. Steagall called and asked how much the project would cost,” Steve says. “I told him, ‘Well Mr. Steagall, we have this master plan for chilled water….’ and he said ‘Steve, I don’t want to know how you’re going to do it, I want to know how much.’” He remembers it was going to cost nearly $2 million to air condition the coliseum, plus another $6 million to build the first phase of the new chilled water plant. Steagall told Steve to get started, with just one requirement – to have the coliseum air conditioned by next June’s commencement.

It was the same concept of contributing to the greater good that brought Steve to TECO and Texas Medical Center, where he is supplying energy to more than 100,000 employees and 40,000 students every day, as well as to the patients in the 6,800 beds that the hospital’s campus provides. TECO owns and operates a combined heat and power-based district energy system that serves the 54 institutions that make up the campus of the Texas Medical Center, as well as the area’s several universities and medical schools including the University of Texas’ MD Anderson Cancer Center, Texas A&M, Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Houston. “It’s fulfilling to be back doing what I began at Auburn. It’s cool to help people out.”

“We had less than a year; 361 days to get it done,” he says. “And we did.” These days, Steve, who is now president and CEO of Thermal Energy Corporation (TECO), is overseeing the largest district energy chilled water system in the country at Texas Medical Center in Houston – the world’s largest medical complex. It is similar to the system he installed in 1987 at Auburn. “In a lot of ways, I’m here at the Texas Medical Center because of that graduation ceremony a year after speaking to Mr. Steagall,” he says. “I didn’t go to my own graduation. I had never been to a university commencement exercise – until that day, a year later. I was standing back behind the stage, making sure everything was working right, watching, and it struck me as I looked out at all the families how cool it was that Auburn University Facilities Management doesn’t teach one class or do one bit of research, but we contributed to those students graduating that day. If we were not air conditioning buildings and keeping them clean and powered, the professors couldn’t do what they do.” 33 Auburn Engineering


Nonprofit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Permit # 5377 Denver, CO

Samuel Ginn College of Engineering 1301 Shelby Center 735 Extension Loop Auburn, AL 36849-7350

– Gavin named Distinguished Auburn Engineer (Continued from page 30) Gavin and Carol Ann have made significant philanthropic gifts to the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, including faculty endowments, an auditorium named in their honor and the naming of the Dean of Engineering’s administrative suite in the Shelby Center for Engineering Technology. More recently, they created a $1 million endowed scholar chair within the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering to support faculty excellence in instruction and research. The inaugural recipient of the Gavin Chair is Bruce Tatarchuk, director of the Center for Microfibrous Materials Manufacturing and professor of chemical engineering. The Gavins established their first scholarship program in support of the industry through the Alabama Textile Education Foundation in 1997 at Auburn University for students in Textile Chemistry and Textile Engineering. As a former trustee, Gavin assisted in transitioning this scholarship program to the Auburn University Foundation, where the program’s more than $1 million corpus continues to support scholarships in the area of polymer and fiber engineering. In 2000, Gavin and Carol Ann formed the Gavin Family Scholarship, which is administered by the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) and provides two-year scholarships in textile engineering, textile chemistry, polymer and fiber engineering and chemical engineering. This scholarship is awarded to Auburn twice during a rotation that also includes Georgia Institute of Technology, Clemson University and North Carolina State University. Gavin, who is tireless in his efforts to match scholarship opportunities with deserving students, has led efforts in the past two years to bring high-scoring ACT students to Auburn who have successfully competed for the prestigious Heritage Scholarship program. When asked about these efforts, his usual response is, “I work for students, helping them to obtain scholarships.” Gavin is a past president and treasurer of the AATCC, the world’s largest textile chemistry association, which was formed in 1921.

His leadership during two terms as president, 1999-2000, led the association's move to the international arena. AATCC's membership reached nearly 10,000 members and remains engaged and active today. Gavin joined AATCC as a student member at Auburn and has served in many capacities. In 2003 he received the prestigious Chapin Award for his outstanding service to the association and to the textile industry – an honor that is only considered for members with 20 or more years of service. Gavin was instrumental in forming the AATCC Foundation in 1997 and has served as treasurer and CEO. Upon his retirement he was named treasurer emeritus for both the association and the foundation and was recognized for his philanthropic endeavors. The Gavins’ generosity extends beyond Auburn University. In 2012, Gavin and Carol Ann endowed a fellowship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to provide special-care training in the Trauma Surgical and Critical Care Division. Carol Ann’s surgeon, Richard S. Miller, was named as the inaugural honoree for this fellowship after he provided Carol Ann with lifesaving care. In the Dalton, Georgia, community, Gavin and Carol Ann have been named Westcott Fellows of Distinction for their strong support for the Hamilton Health Care System. Moreover, their support for the homeless, children's needs, programs for senior adults, and support for local churches, including their own, remains a significant focus of their generous spirit. The Gavins remain residents of Dalton, Georgia, but spend much of their time at their Belle Meadow Farm near Wartrace, Tennessee, where they once raised world champion Tennessee walking horses. Today, Gavin concentrates his retirement energies on producing purebred Angus and Hereford cattle, as well as farming a few hundred acres of corn and soybeans. He is an avid vegetable gardener, while Carol Ann maintains huge varieties of flowers and boxwood gardens.