Auburn Engineering Spring/Summer 2013

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Spring/Summer 2013

Volume 23

Issue 1


Teaching to Learn Samuel Ginn College of Engineering

Auburn Engineering Spring/Summer 2013 Volume 23, Issue 1


Office of the Dean Christopher B. Roberts, dean Bob Karcher, assistant dean of student services Oliver Kingsley, associate dean for special projects Nels Madsen, associate dean for assessment Ralph Zee, associate dean for research Office of Engineering Communications and Marketing Jim Killian, director Beth L. Smith, editor Contributors Rachel Cole Sally Credille Clay Omainsky Morgan Stashick

From the Dean


Teaching to Learn




It's my job


Into the Lab


Payton's Place


Beyond Borders


Hovering Tigers



Katie Haon, graphic designer Tyler Patterson, web manager Photography Josh Brinkerhoff, Jim Killian and Brennen Reece Office of Engineering Development Ed Lewis, lead development adviser Dan Bush, associate director Patrick Allen, development officer Kori Caldwell, development officer Veronica Chesnut, major gifts officer David Mattox, development officer Margaret Schlereth, development officer Jon Wilson, development officer Experience Auburn Engineering online at eng.aub ur n. ed u/ m a g a z i n e Auburn Engineering is published twice yearly by the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. Please send news items, suggestions and comments to: Engineering Communications and Marketing c/o Editor 1320 Shelby Center Auburn, AL 36849 334.844.2308

minutes with

Fro m th e d e sk o f . . .


Hall of Fame

34 Š2013 Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, Auburn University

2 Auburn Engineering

From the Dean As I near the completion of my first year as dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, I am even more aware of the potential that Auburn Engineering holds in impacting the world. While we are in the business of educating students, what we do here is more important than just that. We are producing engineers who will make contributions far beyond these walls, and our role is to equip these students not only to meet the changing needs of the world in which we live, but to anticipate them. We are committed to education, research and service that prepare our graduates for productive careers — careers that empower them to contribute to the global workforce in ways that truly benefit our society. As you read these pages, you will see examples of Auburn engineers who are making a difference. Some of them are current students who are sharing their passion for learning or continuing their education in order to pursue research that translates into meaningful applications. Some are alumni who are putting their Auburn Engineering degree to use beyond our borders. All of them share a common experience. They began their engineering journey at Auburn. I believe it is our collective responsibility to provide a challenging, relevant and rewarding engineering educational experience to our students. We accomplish this because of the high caliber and dedication of our faculty. We are fortunate to have faculty members who exemplify excellence and innovation, and who engage in research that truly matters. You will see in this issue some of the hallmarks of their achievements, from their role in keeping our academic programs at the highest level to their leading-edge research, as well as the national recognition they have received for contributions to the field of engineering. I am excited about the work that we will continue to do together. We know what lies behind us ­â€” more than a hundred years of excellence in engineering education. And now, we see what lies before us, continuing our tradition in creative ways that move us to the frontier of engineering education. I am proud to be a part of it.

Dean Christopher B. Roberts Auburn Engineering 3

4 Auburn Engineering

photography courtesy of Kyes Stevens

By Morgan Stashick

Two Auburn Engineering graduate students are participating in a different kind of educational experience in Alabama’s correctional facilities. What they have found is that education goes both ways, and that they are learning as much as they are teaching. Auburn Engineering 5


Sciences, APAEP offers 14-week courses in subjects including poetry, creative writing, literature, performance, Alabama history, drawing and photography to prisoners. For the first time, engineering was added to the slate this spring.

Aubrey Beal, an electrical and computer engineering graduate student, had never instructed his own class before he pulled up to Easterling Correctional Facility in Clio, Ala., a medium security men’s prison, to teach an "Introduction to Vocational Electronics" class to more than 20 students. Nearly 80 inmates signed up to take his class — an overwhelming response.

Passion for education

t was an average Tuesday in Elmore, Ala., when Eliza Banu, mechanical engineering graduate student, arrived at Elmore Correctional Facility, a men's medium-minimum security facility. A graduate teaching assistant at Auburn with pure enthusiasm for educating, she was there to teach her first solo course, "Introduction to Engineering and Mechanics Concepts," to inmates.

Banu and Beal are the first engineering students to participate in the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project (APAEP), a grant-supported outreach initiative that has brought education and creativity to several of the state's prisons since it was established in 2003. Administered by the College of Human

“We decided to open a university-wide search for graduate students to teach in our program,” says Kyes Stevens, director of APAEP. “We were originally looking for only one student, but both Eliza and Aubrey applied from engineering, and there was no way we could not accept them both.”

Stevens knew Banu was the perfect fit to teach for APAEP when her response to instructing in a men's facility was "Oh, that’s OK. I just love teaching." "And that was that,” Stevens says. “Both of these students have such heart and passion for education and teaching.” Banu’s passion for education — seen in her commitment to every one of her students at both Auburn and Elmore Correctional — is undeniable as she describes why she applied to teach a course with APAEP.

I wanted to do this because I believe in the power of education. — Eliza Banu “I wanted to do this because I believe in the power of education,” she says. “I believe in the power of reading and being informed. I believe in second chances. I knew this was something I wanted to participate in.” Having already assisted graduate-level labs and courses in Auburn’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, Banu had an idea of how to run a class. This time, though, she backed up her introduction of engineering concepts to the beginning, explaining the various fields and disciplines of engineering, and describing to her students what an engineer generally does. “I talk about how a main part of being an engineer is being able to work in a team, because the students had to do a lot of group projects,” she says. “We talked about what it means to be a member of a team; how each person has his own role and has to help other members to fulfill the team’s goal.” Students incorporate engineering concepts in a team project.

6 Auburn Engineering

In lessons about vectors, velocity, acceleration, forces and equilibrium, Banu put the students’ lesson on teamwork to the test as they constructed bridges made of straws and built towers made of pasta to demonstrate engineering design. “I think they enjoyed the competition,” she says. Many of Banu’s students are in trade school through the prison, but as she explains, the students’ levels of experience vary in the same way they would in any other classroom. Every student’s prior knowledge and experiences differ from the student next to them in some way, with some students even having a background in engineering. One student showed Banu his CAD drawings he made in trade school. “I am ga “This material is hard, and they tell me how hard it is,” Banu says. “They tell me they are struggling, so I try and help them as much as I can. They’ve made amazing progress. It puts a big smile on my face. I have students who are learning and getting excited about understanding something.”

ining valua ble experience on how to build a co urse, outline the goals and expecta tions for a class, and adjust them accor ding to the students’ k nowledge.” ­— Banu

The art of teaching Beal saw the call for graduate students to teach in APAEP posted on a friend’s Facebook page. Though he didn’t think courses outside of the arts would be accepted, he wrote a proposal for an electronics course and sent it to Stevens.

Eliza Banu discusses engineering concepts with inmates at Elmore Correctional Facility.

“Kyes said my class needed to be accessible,” Beal says. “It’s difficult because my students have diverse educational backgrounds. Some people have graduated high school and some have a GED, while others have taken a semester or two of community college.” After meeting his students, Beal developed a course to introduce science using a fun, question-and-answer approach while utilizing electronics problems and demonstrations as examples. For many students, this was their first science class. “I reinforced remedial mathematics by sneaking topics into the electronics problems, so they had a motivation to add, subtract, use exponents and understand algebra,” he says.

“I have talked to the students about the fundamentals, as well as the advantages of using the binary number system in machines and circuits,” he added. But Beal quickly learned that making concepts accessible did not necessarily mean making them easy. “At first, I made the mistake of making the problems too easy, thinking that it would make the material more accessible. Students had to read for them and find them, but the answers were there,” he explains. “There wasn’t a whole lot of critical thinking; it was basically whether they could fish through the material, and give me an answer on an assignment easily.” Beal was not getting thorough homework submissions, although the assignments were easy. He began reading about

Auburn Engineering 7

adult education and found that the material does not need to be easy. If it is, it is less challenging and less valuable to the students. “Part of making it accessible was helping them to formulate a good question,” he says. “I’d say, ‘Let’s reword your question so you get more out of your answer.’ Your answer can only be as th learned good as your question.” “I have

“If you want to teach that to somebody without much math background, and you have this rule of why that is true, the rule doesn’t mean anything to them,” he explains. “You can tell them to just remember the rule, or show all these theories and ways to prove that it’s true, but that gets too complicated for teaching remedial mathematics, so I just used a circuit to show them. I have to have so many examples ready for each lecture and concept.” e e valu

Because of the varying educational backgrounds, Beal was often challenged with explaining concepts in different ways to meet everyone’s needs. “Someone asked me, ‘So why is it that whenever you multiply a positive number times a positive number you get a positive number, a positive times a negative is a negative, a negative times a positive is a negative, but a negative times a negative is a positive?’” Beal recalls.

in the visation of impro tured and nur , m o o r s clas exible y to be fl the abilit lems, ple prob m a x e h wit l with s playfu as well a key to l. This is l materia materia difficult making le.” accessib — Beal

Then . . . Beal started giving his students the hard problems. “I saw results from that, which was counterintuitive to me,” he says. “I thought I was making it less accessible, but they weren’t coming to class to learn something easy. I almost underestimated the students.” Pushing the limits more, and proving what he found to be true, Beal gave his students a hard take-home test — and one student scored better than he did. “I was so proud,” he says.

The appreciation of knowledge As Banu and Beal describe their teaching experiences in their respective facilities, you would not know that their students were state prisoners unless you asked. Both spoke of their hard-working, excited, eager-to-learn students with smiles on their faces as they told of their successes. “It is so important to teach in prisons, specifically because you are enabling graduate students to teach in an atypical setting,” says Stevens. “Think about students at Auburn. Some are a little distracted because they have a lot going on in their life, or some may take for granted that they are here in college. Prison students don’t take [APAEP] classes for granted. They see education as a mechanism to turn their lives around.” “I se Sometimes, APAEP truly does ignite a spark for learning. Banu tells of a student who let her know that he hated trigonometry and math. But, through her class, he was challenged and is eager to go back to trade school and take a math class because he saw the practical applications of math.

Aubrey Beal, an electrical and computer engineering graduate student, serves as an instructor for the APAEP electronics class.

8 Auburn Engineering

e how im portant second c hances a re, and that any age is a good age to educa te yourself . It takes courage to inves t in yourself and edu c ate yourself , even w hen things h aven’t w o rked out perfe ctly for y ou.” — Beal

Banu recalls another student who could hardly wait to solve the next problem or attend the next class. “He would just understand everything,”

she says. “He would take the assignment I gave the class that was written for two weeks, and I would tell them to do only half of it, and he would do the whole thing. He wanted more work.”

Stevens hopes to find funds to support more engineering courses taught by the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project, so more graduate students can have the same opportunity as Banu and Beal. “Teaching with APAEP has transformed the lives of graduate students, as well as the students they educate,” she says. “We want to make this teaching opportunity available for other gifted graduate students.”

. . . now that we have taken that barrier away and they are comfortable with the material, it’s a huge victory for them.

— Eliza Banu

“I have b


een wor

of my te


aching zone. Th is has given m e the con fidence to be the kind of te acher I want to be. I wan t to teach facts an d explain , but I also wan t to insp ire.” — Banu comfort

Students have asked Banu if there is going to be a part two of her class. “I was surprised!” she says. “It took them a long time to get used to the math and learn to focus on the concepts, so now that we have taken that barrier away and they are comfortable with the material, it’s a huge victory for them. They used to get discouraged during the math part and I would give them the ‘don’t quit’ speech, and they would tell me ‘I’m not going to quit! This is too fun!’ Now they compete with each other to answer questions.”

As Banu and Beal saw in their classrooms, and as Auburn engineers have experienced for generations, there are hurdles in life that can be overcome, no matter what barriers stand in the way.

In Beal’s classroom, huge strides have been made with his students, and the vocational electronics class is the highlight of their week.

For more information on the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project, visit

“They really look forward to coming to class and learning more, and they come with a lot of great questions,” Beal says. “They think about the concepts and there’s a lot of discussion. There seems to be a different type of enthusiasm about the material than the undergraduate labs that I have experience assisting. Students at a university have more distractions and take mandatory classes in contrast to prison students who have an entire week to work with the material and treat it more recreationally,” Beal says. “The APAEP students ask different types of questions, more for the sake of the material and the science as opposed to a means to an end," he adds. "An excited amateur has very fruitful work whereas an adult professional may be a little jaded because it’s mandatory. Any time something’s mandatory, I think people may tend to lose interest.” Beal’s students are hoping for a follow-up course as well, in addition to the same course, so their friends who could not enroll can have the same opportunity they had. “There was a high demand for this class, and I think it’s because it’s from Auburn University. Auburn’s name seemed to carry weight, and they appreciated that it was from Auburn,” Beal says. “We have a positive reputation and it gave a lot of value to the material.”

Students at Elmore Correctional Facility construct a bridge using straws.

Auburn Engineering 9

happenings Heart of the matter Elizabeth Lipke, faculty member in the Department of Chemical Engineering, has received a five-year, $400,000 grant through the National Science Foundation’s prestigious Faculty Early CAREER Development Program for her research designing engineered cardiac tissue and developing cardiac regeneration techniques. “Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States each year for both men and women,” says Lipke. “Through regenerative engineering, we can improve the ability to repair damaged or diseased hearts and provide patients the opportunity for both a longer and potentially better quality of life.” Her project, “Injectable Biomimetic Scaffolds to Direct Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocyte Differentiation,” includes designing injectable biomaterial scaffolds, which are templates for cell attachment and tissue formation, an essential aspect of cardiac regeneration. In Lipke’s research, these scaffolds are used to guide stem cells into becoming cardiomyocytes, the contracting cells that make up cardiac muscle, millions of which die following a heart attack. This research could offer improvements to tissue engineering strategies and provide insight to fundamental fields such as transport phenomena, electrical signal processing and developmental biology. Lipke joined the Auburn faculty in 2008. She earned her doctorate in chemical engineering from Rice University in 2005 and a bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in 2000. She is the department’s third CAREER award recipient, following Mario Eden, department chair and McMillan professor, and Virginia Davis, Sanders associate professor in chemical engineering, who received CAREER awards in 2006 and 2009, respectively. 10 Auburn Engineering

On call Auburn Engineering alumnus Samuel Ginn, ‘59 industrial management and namesake of the college, has been appointed to lead a 15-member board of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). As the board’s chairman, Ginn guides development of the new broadband network, which enables first responders and public safety officials to communicate within and across jurisdictions. “The board has a wealth of public safety expertise and members who thoroughly understand state and local communications needs. With Sam Ginn in the lead, we have an exceptional roster of wireless industry veterans who know how to build a network and develop a product that offers the applications desired by the public safety community at an affordable price,” said Lawrence E. Strickling, assistant secretary for communications and information and administrator with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). FirstNet serves millions of first responders and is an independent authority within NTIA. The network was created by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. Congress has allocated $7 billion of spectrum auction proceeds, as well as spectrum bandwidth towards deployment of the nationwide network, and has also provided $135 million for a new state and local implementation grant program administered by NTIA to ensure the network meets wireless public safety communications needs. Ed Reynolds, ‘70 electrical engineering, was also appointed to serve on the board. He received Auburn's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering's 2013 outstanding alumni award at the college’s spring awards ceremony in April. In addition, he and Ginn are both members of the State of Alabama’s Engineering Hall of Fame.

Eww, the Oobleck Auburn Engineering recently hosted 60 third graders from the Chambers County accelerated and gifted program. After a tour of the engineering facilities, the students created oobleck, the gooey green substance that falls from the sky in Dr. Seuss’ book Bartholomew and the Oobleck. A mixture of cornstarch, water and green food coloring, oobleck is a nonNewtonian fluid, resembling a liquid when poured, but a solid when a force is exerted upon it. “It was really cute,” says Jessica Dewberry, engineering student recruiter. “The students loved the oobleck, and they wanted to take home the recipe.” Undergraduate students from the Alabama Power Academic Excellence Program assisted with the experiment. Just another way kids are learning that engineering is cool.

Auburn Engineering 11


Who's the man? Tj Nguyen, a senior in mechanical engineering, received the National Student Employee of the Year Award from the National Student Employment Association — the first Auburn student to win the award at this level. Nguyen has worked for Auburn’s College of Sciences and Mathematics Outreach Office for four years, where he has served as technical director for the War Eagle BEST robotics program, counselor for the Science Matters summer program for children, and instructor of a new robotics academy, to be held this summer. Nguyen was also honored with Auburn’s Student Employee of the Year Award and the Southern Association of Student Employment Administrators Regional Student Employee of the Year Award — Auburn’s first regional winner since 2002. Outside of work, Nguyen is a member of the college’s Cupola Engineering Ambassadors and service and outreach chair of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), where he is serving his third term and is the only active male. Nguyen is helping SWE become involved with the local community by leading an engineering exhibition at Auburn’s Drake Middle School that he has helped organize the past two years. The event showcases the college's departments to seventh grade students. Recently, Nguyen organized a tie-dye event for local Girl Scout troops where SWE volunteers explained chemical processes, efficiency, light and color to more than 200 Girl Scouts.

Auburn Engineering's

in the country,” said Christopher B. Roberts, dean of

online graduate program

engineering and Uthlaut professor. “These rankings confirm

was recently ranked sixth

that we offer strong graduate instruction with a leading-edge

by U.S. News & World

delivery system that ensures our distance students receive an

Report’s 2013 "Best Online

experience comparable to that of their on-campus peers.”

Engineering Education Programs." The graduate

Wait, there’s more...

computer information

The college’s graduate programs ranked 38th among public

technology program,

institutions offering doctoral programs, and 67th overall,

housed in the Department

according to the U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Graduate

of Computer Science and Software Engineering, was ranked

Schools 2014” publication. The overall rankings also include

seventh among online graduate computer information

several of the college’s programs, with industrial engineering

technology programs. Combining traditional instruction with

at 31st, aerospace engineering ranking 43rd and chemical

modern delivery methods, the program enables students to

engineering ranking 50th. Civil engineering received a ranking

advance their education by pursuing a master’s degree in

of 50th, while electrical engineering ranked 51st, computer

engineering from home or at work.

engineering 62nd, materials engineering 66th and mechanical engineering 77th. Biosystems engineering, a program

“The college is well known for providing one of the nation’s

within both the College of Engineering and the College of

top engineering graduate distance degree programs, and

Agriculture, ranked 20th.

we are proud to take our place among the finest programs 12 Auburn Engineering

SEC, SEC! Pradeep Lall, Thomas Walter professor of mechanical engineering and director of Auburn’s National Science Foundation Center for Advanced Vehicle and Extreme Auburn Engineering’s annual student recruitment open house, E-Day, saw the largest turnout to date with more than 3,000 students, parents and teachers visiting from as far as Connecticut, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio and Texas. The event, held in February, offered middle and high school students the opportunity to tour engineering facilities, as well as the Auburn campus. Participants viewed research projects and departmental displays, and also chatted one-on-one with engineering students and faculty members.

Environment Electronics, has been honored with the SEC’s Auburn University Faculty Achievement Award. Lall specializes in electronic packaging and his research interests include thermomechanics of electronics in harsh environments, behavior of electronic materials and multi-scale modeling of nanostructures. He holds three U.S. patents and has written two books, 13 book chapters and more than 325 journal and conference papers on electronic packaging, as well as design, modeling and predictive techniques. “I am truly honored and humbled to receive the SEC Faculty Achievement Award, given the esteemed company of faculty at the SEC universities and the stiff competition for this award,” said Lall. “The award is a testament to the strong research and education environment at Auburn University that provides students with world-class learning opportunities.”

Grazie, Auburn engineer

It’s not news when American manufacturers turn to Italy for help in designing cars — they have done it for decades. It is news, however, when it is the other way around. Rob DeBardeleben, ‘81 mechanical engineering, is head of Evocativo LLC, a Denver area engineering and design firm that is working with Bellarosa G. Giovanni s.r.l. of Gardone Valtrompia, in Lombardy, Italy. DeBardeleben has been the principal designer of a high-performance sports car for the Italian company, which manufactures Wolf racing cars and operates the Avelon Formula race team that competes worldwide. The joint venture could be the first example of an American firm providing design services for a high-performance sports car manufactured in Italy and sold throughout the world. The racers cost $400,000 or more. While the exotic sports car is designed for racing purposes only, Wolf Race Cars is also planning a version for use on public roads and DeBardeleben expects to be involved. Evocativo specializes in mechanical and electrical engineering design. DeBardeleben says his mission is to merge engineering practices with high-level design that reflects “passion and creativity.” He sees his exotic sports car design as the signature example of the firm’s capabilities. For more information, visit Auburn Engineering 13


John Cochran, department head of aerospace engineering, was presented the 2012 Walter Gilbert Award from Auburn Athletics in October at Jordan-Hare Stadium prior to the Tiger’s game against Texas A&M. The Gilbert Award is presented annually in memory of the Tigers’ three-time All-America center Walter Gilbert, who later became vice president of Texaco’s European oil operations. Cochran, a former Auburn football player, lettered at linebacker from 1963-1965. He was named to the Academic All-SEC team and the National Football Foundation’s Scholar-Athlete team in 1965, when he had an A+ average in aerospace engineering. He also was awarded Auburn’s Cliff Hare Award and the President’s Award in 1965. Cochran graduated from Auburn in 1966 and earned his master’s in 1967. He obtained his doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas in 1970, and then a law degree from the Jones Law School in 1976. After more than two decades as a faculty member at Auburn, Cochran was named head of Auburn’s Department of Aerospace Engineering. His tenure of teaching and research has included astrodynamics, guidance, control and stability of motion, and he has developed simulations of aerospace systems including towed maneuverable atmospheric flight vehicles, missile launchers and tethered satellites. Following a 20-year tenure as head of the department, Cochran will retire on July 1.

Hotel Impossible, possible Orlando “Tito” Carlo, ’01 civil engineering, appeared on the December 2012 season premiere of the Travel Channel’s hit series “Hotel Impossible,” a show known for revamping struggling hotels. Carlo, who was working for his family-owned company, Orlando Carlo Inc., in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, at the time, served as a contractor to transform Caribe Playa Beach Resort in Puerto Rico from a chaotic, cluttered hotel into a renowned travel destination in just four days. “We demolished the existing front desk and built a custom desk with tile inserts and a wall-to-wall storage unit,” says Carlo. “We also created hanging bookshelves that had a nautical theme, as well as remodeled one of the hotel guest rooms using a plan by [show designer] Blanche Garcia. It was designed to be economical so the hotel could duplicate the work in the other rooms after we left.” Carlo was contracted by "Hotel Impossible" again this year to remodel the Casa Verde Hotel in Rincon, Puerto Rico, where he worked with designer Alison Victoria from the DIY Network’s “Kitchen Crashers.” In this episode, Carlo and his team remodeled the hotel’s wild surf bar and converted it into a sleek wine lounge. The project included a light fixture consisting of more than 200 wine bottles. Carlo is now working for Volkert Inc., as a project manager in Birmingham. 14 Auburn Engineering

Woman of distinction

Making us proud

Carol Godfrey, ’86

Several Auburn Engineering alumni have been recently appointed

of marketing and

to significant leadership roles for the university. The Alabama Senate approved Mike DeMaioribus, ’76 electrical engineering, to the Auburn University Board of Trustees. DeMaioribus is senior vice president of Dynetics in Huntsville and will represent District 8, which stretches across north Alabama. Ron Dykes, ’69, and Jim Hoskins, ‘81, both electrical engineering graduates, were named to the Auburn University Foundation Board of Directors. Dykes is retired chief financial officer of BellSouth Corporation, while Hoskins is chairman and CEO of Scitor Corporation. Jeff Stone, ’79 civil engineering, was named board chair. Stone is chief operating officer of Birmingham-based Brasfield & Gorrie. The foundation is charged with managing the university’s endowments to provide a perpetual source of funding for the future. In addition, Bill Stone, ’85 electrical engineering, was elected president of the Auburn Alumni Association. Stone is vice president of business development for Mayer Electric Supply Co. Inc. in Rainbow City, Ala. The alumni association cultivates lifelong relationships between Auburn University and its alumni and friends in order to support the advancement of the university.

industrial engineering and vice president product development for Southwire’s Energy Division, was recognized as a Woman of Distinction by Auburn’s Women’s Resource Center in April. Godfrey helps maintain Southwire’s presence in the power and renewable energy industry, and works to expand its markets in North America. She has led the development of new product and service offerings, including strategic partnerships, new product manufacturing and acquisitions. Godfrey has served in leadership positions of several organizations, including Southwire Company, Hubbell Incorporated, Alcan Aluminum Corporation, Ralston Purina Company and Tampa Electric Company. In addition, she has collaborated with Southwire employees and their local Carrolton, Ga., school system to establish the Southwire Engineering Academy, which enables high school students to gain valuable hands-on experience while working with one of the largest

One last roll

wire and cable manufacturers in the world. On Saturday, April 20, Auburn's beloved oak trees were rolled for the last time following the annual A-Day football game. Thousands of dedicated Auburn alumni and fans descended upon the downtown corner at College St. and Magnolia Ave., as generations of fans have done before them. Andy Todd, ’87 mechanical engineering, who is a reliability leader with Georgia-Pacific, came prepared, toting nearly 400 rolls of

Godfrey is an active member of the 100 Women Strong program, which assists Auburn Engineering in the recruitment and retention of female engineering students. She also serves as a mentor to three female freshmen pursuing engineering degrees at Auburn.

tissue donated by the company for students in the College of Engineering and the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences to use for one last roll. Headquartered in Atlanta with nearly 35,000 employees worldwide, Georgia-Pacific is one of the world's leading manufacturers of tissue, packaging, paper, pulp, building products and related chemicals. The company produces familiar consumer brands, as well as various building products.

Auburn Engineering 15


And the award goes to... Each year, the college recognizes the achievements of our faculty, students and alumni by hosting a spring awards event. This year’s ceremony and reception were held in the auditorium at the Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center in April. This exceptional group of individuals represents the best in engineering scholarship and practice. For the complete list of this year’s recipients, please visit

Ready, set, launch Xinyu Zhang, faculty member in the Department of Polymer and Fiber Engineering, is working with a team to develop stronger composite materials using carbon nanotubes, such as more durable wind turbine blades. Zhang’s team, which includes Adam Ficken, a

Smarty pants . . . Jimmy Kaczmarek, ‘13 chemical engineering, was recently selected as a finalist for the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship funded by Bill and Melinda Gates through the Gates Cambridge Trust. Last spring, he was named a Goldwater Scholarship honorable mention, a national recognition for undergraduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. He was also chosen to receive the 2013 Edgar C. Gentle III award, a recognition given to the top graduate student in Auburn’s Honors College. Kaczmarek conducted research under the direction of Mark Byrne, Breeden associate professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering. He graduated in May, and will begin his doctoral studies in chemical engineering at MIT this fall. Of all the nation’s public universities, only four — Auburn, UC-Berkeley, UCLA and Rutgers — can claim two finalists per institution this year. Paul Bergen, a 2012 finalist who graduated in microbiology and German, was also selected. 16 Auburn Engineering

recent graduate of Auburn's MBA program and former intern in Auburn’s Office of Technology Transfer (OTT), and OTT’s Brian Wright, recently earned a prize in the Alabama Launchpad competition. The team’s proof of concept to solve mechanical failures in composite materials used by the wind energy industry was one of three chosen among 13 finalists to receive a portion of $100,000 in funding. Their company, Carbon NanoTube Engineered Surfaces, or CNTES, was formed to explore continuous production of the team’s microwave approach to growing carbon nanotubes on carbon fiber materials, which can be expensive and difficult to reproduce in large quantities. The team conducted small-scale tests with sections of 6-inch-long composite material that showed an improvement in interlaminate strength by as much as 40 percent. Their work on surface modification using carbon nanotubes could also help to improve a material’s thermal and electrical properties. The Alabama Launchpad competition was formed seven years ago as part of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama Foundation.

Mistaken Identity? When 1947 civil engineering graduate Harold Meeks saw the photo of two young surveyors on page 17 of the spring/summer edition of Auburn Engineering, he felt that it was misidentified, and wanted to set the record straight. The Montgomery resident explained that the photo was taken in 1946 when he was leaning over a plane table with fellow student Howard Losey standing behind him. Looking back more than five decades can sometimes make identifications such as this one difficult — another alum had also thought himself to be in that photo. However, following investigative work with a number of old Glomeratas, it appears in fact that it is Harold Meeks in the photo. As he pointed out, the photo was “flipped” at It was one of hundreds of pictures we sifted through, looking for a cover shot for the fall/ some point, making it appear as if he is winter 2009 edition of Auburn Engineering that celebrated the college’s centennial. It had left-handed. the look of a classic engineering scene, but we never thought we would be able to identify “I began a career with the Highway Department, as they called it back then, moving from junior engineer to associate engineer over a period of seven years,” Meeks recalls. “When I was transferred to a job in the Department of Materials and Testing in Birmingham, my work took me to the local office of Choctaw, Inc., a Memphis-based pipe fabricator — and I agreed to join the firm to run its Birmingham operation.” Meeks eventually went on to become a city engineer for Gadsden and Dothan, and Montgomery county engineer, but returned to Choctaw as a sales engineer. When he looks back on his career in civil engineering, he points with pride to his accomplishments, noting that “I enjoyed every minute of it . . . particularly when I was involved in bridge engineering and precast work.” He says he did not know he was being photographed at the time, and was surprised to see his photo in the junior class section of the ’46 Glomerata, then again later in Auburn Engineering — but he says he knows that he was probably running a highway end curve exercise at the time, in an area bounded by Samford, Ross Hall and the old Alumni Gym. It was, he says, a normal civil engineering project repeated many times before and since. Following his career and raising three children, Meeks retired in 1995. He now lives in Montgomery.

the two subjects, one making a notation over a surveying table and the other looking into the distance. When Muse E. Mann, ’53 electrical engineering, received the magazine he was surprised and amused — and enjoyed showing his copy to relatives. Not one to call attention to himself, he never contacted us about the cover, but we recently visited with him by circumstance. “When that magazine came to my home, I immediately knew it was me, and showed it to a couple of old classmates in Huntsville [where he lives] who agreed," recalls Mann. "I had transferred to Auburn after a semester at Clemson and was wearing the Clemson sweater they made me buy as part of my uniform. I always wore that floppy-eared hat, and my hair was cut in the style of the day — a half inch to an inch off the ear. “The other guy in the picture is Professor Haltiwanger . . . I never knew his first name, because no student would ever think of calling him anything but 'professor.' He was looking for volunteers to do a profile survey at the intersection of Donahue Drive, which was dirt at the time, and Magnolia Avenue, which was paved. We set the surveying table up next to a driveway and started to work when someone came out of the house with what I could tell was an expensive camera. He took several shots. “I didn’t have far to go to make the survey. I lived in the house on the corner, which was owned by a TKE housemother and is now a restaurant [Momma G’s]. I remember my Auburn days well. I never studied much in high school, and just took it as it came. When I got to Auburn, I found some classes easy, but others very difficult. I had to take 20-hour quarters, and it was rugged — all day long every day, that’s what I recall. But what I learned put me in good stead after graduation," says Mann. While at Auburn, Mann worked for WRBL radio and television in Columbus, Ga., and was a ham radio enthusiast, sometimes working with a friend at Ft. Benning who could phone patch him through to his mom for a free long-distance call. Following graduation and three years of enlisted service in the U.S. Army Security Agency, he found a high-tech career working with RCA, which served as a contractor to the nation’s early space efforts. Mann recalls those days, saying that the technology they used — a 10 GHz tracking system and 10 MHz digitizer — were years ahead of the world of commercial electronics available at that time. He moved to Huntsville while with RCA, later transitioning into a two-decade hitch with Marshall Space Flight Center. He finished his career with SAIC in Huntsville, working through his seventies. Now retired, he lives south of Huntsville in Owens Cross Roads, and devotes his time to his granddaughter and grandson.

Alumnus Muse Mann with grandson Parker Lopresti and granddaughter Courtney Lopresti

Auburn Engineering 17

Are YOU smarter than a freshman? Try your hand at this freshman engineering problem and find out for yourself.

Question: Albert Einstein had an abdominal aortic aneurysm in 1948. It was

surgically treated by wrapping the abdominal aorta in cellophane to induce fibrosis and restrict the growth of the aneurysm.

That repair lasted approximately

seven years before the aneurysm ruptured. Today, these issues

are treated with endovascular grafts, or tubes placed inside

the aorta. They are made from a woven polymer fabric. The goal is to induce local blood clotting and allow new artery walls to

grow on the surface of the fabric. Which of the following two

materials would be better suited to this application, Teflon (PTFE,

Polytetrafluoroethylene) or Dacron (PET, Polyethylene terephthalate)?

Solution: As the goal is to induce clotting, Dacron would be the preferred choice. PET is typically more prone to forming clots than PTFE, due to higher surface energy. 18 Auburn Engineering

It’s my job

by Jim Killian

Charlie Ping, ’04 mechanical engineering Project manager, IndyCar race operations Pratt & Miller New Hudson, Mich. Typical day . . . making the partnership between Pratt & Miller and

Chevrolet work for all of the race teams running our engines. Chevrolet has tasked us to characterize the IndyCar vehicle and support Chevrolet powered teams in vehicle dynamics and simulation. When I get to the track, I coordinate with the trackside engineers in the race paddock, and we look at software, vehicle dynamics, testing and development issues. Every team has an embedded engineer, and each team has different needs, even though they are running essentially the same engine and chassis.

Engineering challenge . . . every team is trying hard to get a competitive advantage, and there’s always a lot of backchannel talk in the pits about who is doing what with the engine and chassis. Even little changes in your setup can make a lot of difference in track times . . . like when I hear a driver say, “I don’t understand this new tire!“ You know, it could be the track surface, the downforce on the racecar, the tire compound, or the temperature. The challenge is that the interaction of many factors comprises total vehicle performance and it is sometimes difficult to identify which areas are the most performance sensitive. Living the life . . . in this kind of job, it can’t just be a job. It’s good if it is your hobby too . . . and your life. The travel schedule is demanding. Last year I took more than 1OO flights testing the new car and engine at different tracks, because they all treat the car differently. The track at Sebring is not like the one at Texas, and Texas is not like the oval at Fontana, it’s that simple. We don’t race in the snow, so racing generally follows good weather . . . which also means that I am not in Michigan often in the summer, which is the nicest time of year in the Midwest . . . sometimes I get tired, but I don’t really get tired of being at the track. Geek moment . . . don‘t ask me how smart you have to be for this job. I can feel pretty stupid around here, if you want an honest answer. In this business, you can get humbled really quick, because a vehicle and its interaction with the circuit is such a complex problem . . . you have to be analytical . . . and you have to pay your dues. Sense of pride . . . I have such a deep appreciation of technology and engineering, and I love what I call ‘pure engineering development‘ . . . the kind that I am exposed to during the off-season. It gets a little crazier at the track because the emphasis is so much on immediate results. It has to be – that‘s why we have the jobs we have. My Auburn Engineering . . . I was lucky to have some great experiences at Auburn with the Formula SAE team including one of its best-ever finishes in collegiate competition . . . that allowed me to jump into this difficult business and hold my own . . . and I‘m having a blast.

Few professions are so overtly competitive as auto racing – the cameras follow the leaders and it’s all about winning. Finding a spot on a good team or support organization is just as hard in the small fraternity of race engineers who fly from track to track during the season. Like most of his colleagues, Ping has not only moved from team to team learning the craft, but has been professionally active in different kinds of racing series as well – from LeMans Prototype to his current home in the IndyCar Series. We caught up with him at Birmingham's Barber Motorsports Park. Auburn Engineering 19

Into the lab

20 Auburn Engineering

A E ROSPACE Faculty member Gil Crouse and doctoral student Brian Reitz are developing a method to make aerobatic flight by autonomous aircraft possible. Their research explores the limited flight envelope and simple maneuvers unmanned aircraft are currently able to perform on missions. Today, due to the highly nonlinear nature of aerobatic flight, traditional methods of autopilot design are being modified to include a technique that can determine the appropriate control inputs to accomplish each maneuver. Conventional guidance laws for most autopilot settings are based on small changes from a steady-state, trimmed flight condition with a relaxed constraint on the exact flight path, which

Into the Lab often create operational challenges for the aircraft. Crouse’s team is looking at how to control an aircraft at speeds near, and even slower than, stall speed — speeds at which aircraft control surfaces are much less effective. Increasing the capabilities of unmanned aircraft could also make automatic recovery from stalls and spins in manned aircraft possible, helping to improve safety. Crouse and Reitz are going beyond traditional research on guidance control laws to construct a test aircraft platform and autopilot hardware they can use to demonstrate the capabilities of their system. They began testing it this spring.

B I OS YS TEMS Department head Steven Taylor and faculty member Sushil Adhikari are collaborating with colleagues from North Carolina State University, the University of Georgia and the University of Tennessee on a $15 million bioenergy project funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The initiative, called the Southeast Energy Development (SEED) Fellowship program, is a part of the Southeast Partnership for Integrated Biomass Supply Systems (IBSS) project. The goal of IBSS is to demonstrate realworld solutions towards economically and environmentally sustainable production and conversion of biomass-to-biofuel in the Southeast. As a SEED fellows working at the Rentech Bioenergy Center of Excellence in Commerce City, Colo. From left: Kelvin Smith, Will pilot project in summer 2012, five undergraduate students were selected Chaplow, Jacob Wadkins, and Liana Wuchte, all of biosystems as SEED fellows from Auburn University and Tuskegee University, including engineering; and Frank Armstead, chemical engineering student three biosystems engineering students. The group spent three weeks in the at Tuskegee University field learning different facets of biofuels production and the remaining seven weeks at Auburn conducting research, including gasification using southern pine biomass, analysis and fuel production, supercritical phase Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, biomass fractionation, flowability of ground southern pine biomass feedstocks and rapid characterization of biomass feedstocks. Two biosystems engineering students will serve as SEED fellows this summer. The program will continue for four more years.

CHEMI C A L Bill Josephson, chemical engineering lecturer, is using a mobile papermaking device designed and built in the department to teach local K-12 students how paper is made. He conducts several workshops a year for fourth-grade students at Wrights Mill Road elementary school in Auburn and 3- to 6-year-olds at the Children's House, a local Montessori school. "It's not a typical science kit," says Josephson. "It enables us to show the kids something in depth and realistic about how paper is made." The papermaking cart has two components. A cylinder with a screen base is attached to a fish tank used as a white water basin. A pump and series of pipes are used to fill the cylinder from the tank. Pulp fiber is then added to the cylinder and hand mixed,

and a separate valve pumps the water back out. The fibers left on the screen are then pressed and dried. The mobile device uses a similar lab technique that Josephson uses to teach Auburn Engineering students about pulp and paper engineering. Chemical engineering students in the pulp and paper program take a lab course in which they use the technique to make hundreds of paper hand sheets, or small-scale batches of paper, and conduct experiments on fiber quality and various types of fibers, additives and wet strengths. The department's mobile papermaking device has a long history. It was built by professor emeritus Gopal Krishnagopalan and former lab technician Joe Aderholt. Josephson remembers using the device as a graduate student, and still has hand sheets from his lab course during the '90s. Auburn Engineering 21

Into the Lab CI V I L Faculty member Jose Vasconcelos is studying and characterizing the motion of entrapped air pockets in storm water collection systems to prevent sewer and tunnel overflow. Damaging surges and geysers during heavy rainfalls have led to investigations aimed at identifying the causes of these problems. Vasconcelos and researchers at the University of Michigan, Ryerson University and the University of New Orleans have determined that

entrapped air pockets in pressurized water flows have a major impact on the dynamics of tunnel flows. To improve safety and effectiveness of storm water systems, Vasconcelos’ research is aimed towards safe removal of air pockets by identifying the best locations and sizes of ventilation structures in storm water tunnel systems.

COMPUTE R SCI E N CE A ND SOF T WA R E Faculty member David Umphress and graduate students Matthew Hardwick and Matthew Swann are developing mobile software for teaching middle-school children physical science. The team is using a suite of educational programs called FutureLab as its inspiration, which was written by Auburn Engineering alum Walt Woltosz, ‘77 aerospace engineering, and his company in the 1990’s as part of a National Science Foundation grant to teach science to students with physical challenges. The original software featured a simplified interface

that could be operated by children with limited manual dexterity. Umphress and his team are modernizing FutureLab so that it will run on Android tablets and cell phones. The software simulates elements of physical science using four learning modules — optics, circuits, gravity in space and gravity on Earth ­— and is being designed with a programmable interface so that educators can develop their own learning modules. Once software is written for Android devices, the team will implement the software for Apple iPads and iPods.

E LEC TR I C A L A ND COMPUTE R Electrical and computer engineering seniors working in faculty member Lloyd Riggs’ mine detection lab are constructing a senior design project with major real-world objectives — an Autonomous Nautical Radiation Assessment Vessel, or ANRAV, that can be used for tracking radiation spills in the ocean and other bodies of water. Powered by solar energy, the autonomous boat is designed to measure radiation levels throughout a designated area and serve as a tracking tool for radioactive waste following a nuclear disaster. ANRAV’s navigation system uses inertial measurement and GPS to navigate and collect sensor data over vast geographic areas. Riggs' team presented the system at ADTRAN’s senior design showcase in Huntsville April 12. The ANRAV team consists of James Core, Antwan Evans, Katie Hamlin, James Hogg, Markus Kreitzer, Daniel Norton, Kyle Owen and Sarah Preston.

22 Auburn Engineering

ANRAV used to track radiation spills in large bodies of water


Into the Lab

Working under the direction of faculty member Richard Sesek, Celal Gungor and Ruoliang “Rio” Tang studied the relationship between lower back geometry to a subject’s gross anthropometry, or characteristics such as their height, weight, gender or age. Gungor and Tang studied 3T MRI scans taken at Auburn’s MRI Research Center to better understand these relationships, which can be used to help improve ergonomic modeling that often relies on average values for the size and position of low back structures. Their early testing with a database of jobs that have known health outcomes indicated promising improvements in risk estimation. They also investigated the intervertebral disc cross-sectional area as further means to improve ergonomic modeling. Their work was funded by two grants from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Lumbar scan using 3T MRI (NIOSH) and was named the best research presentation among fellow Dillon-Carnahan programs at the Deep South Center for Occupational Health and Safety’s research symposium in April. The center’s Dillon-Carnahan Research Program promotes and expands support for new investigators’ research. Gungor and Tang successfully defended their dissertations in April and plan to continue this line of research as academicians.

MECH A N I C A L Sushil Bhavnani, Henry M. Burt Jr. professor of mechanical engineering, has been awarded a NASA Space Technology Research Opportunities ­— Early Stage Innovations grant to construct condenser surfaces for use in spacecraft thermal control systems. His project, “Enabling self-propelled condensate flow during phase-change heat rejection using surface texturing,” is in collaboration with Oregon State University.

Condenser surfaces turn vapor into liquid. Bhavnani’s microtextured surfaces, which are designed with drainage channels, create a closed loop thermal management system for heat transfer and condensate flow. The system could result in a self-regulating, lightweight cooling system for spacecraft electronics that does not use additional power while pumping fluid through the system.

POLY ME R A ND FI BE R David J. Branscomb, ’12 doctoral graduate in polymer and fiber engineering, recently won the “Best and Brightest” student poster competition at the American Composites Manufacturers Association’s Composites 2013 conference in Orlando, Fla. Branscomb’s poster, “Design Process for Open Architecture Composites,” describes his research exploring a process to design and manufacture a high strength-to-weight composite truss structure using 3D computer-aided design, finite element analysis and conventional braiding technology. His research was directed by Roy Broughton, professor emeritus in polymer and fiber engineering, and David Beale, faculty member in mechanical engineering. Broughton’s research interests

include the chemistry of polymers and fibers, antimicrobial materials, fiber extrusion, microscopy, computer aided design of fabrics, statistical analysis of fiber properties and nonwovens engineering. Beale’s research looks at virtual and physical machine prototyping; the design, simulation and construction of automatic machinery and mechanisms; and applications to manufacturing equipment for composites and braiding machinery. Vladimir Quinones, graduate student in polymer and fiber engineering, and Austin Gurley, senior in mechanical engineering, assisted Branscomb with his poster presentation. His was one of 15 entries from eight universities with research concentrations in composite materials.

Auburn Engineering 23

Payton's Place

By Jim Killian

It’s tucked into a corner of Wiggins Mechanical Engineering Hall, but it’s far from small. It serves every department in the College of Engineering, and has even seen students from Auburn’s art department. Known to students as the DML, it is more formally named the Design and Manufacturing Laboratory. To faculty member Lewis Payton, who runs the lab, it’s a place where students are given a hands-on feel for basic and advanced machine tool practices. “Our machine labs have evolved,” notes Payton, who won the college's William F. Walker Superior Teaching Award this spring. “In the past, they were used as job shops, fabricating parts for departmental projects. The DML is now purely a teaching lab. Our students schedule it for a semester and come out of the experience with a baseline set of skills that allows them to interact with the technicians who will be a part of their career. So while we are not in the business of making tradesmen, we give our students a vocabulary that allows them to move their design projects forward.” Payton notes that the DML is fully Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliant, not only for the safety of the students, but again, to instruct them in how to recognize and work within the context of a safe laboratory experience when they move into industry. Students who become highly proficient also find themselves in a position to help faculty members build projects, which Payton notes brings both the professor and student closer together. “When we give students this kind of opportunity, they see their instructors less as ‘homework assigners’ and more as education partners. They also start talking to faculty about graduate school . . . and I think that’s a win-win situation.” The DML lab represents a huge upgrade for the College of Engineering, Payton adds. “We use a model of one machine, one student,” he says. “This makes the lab more representative of a real working environment when you don’t have students stacked up, waiting for their turn on equipment. It is also more conducive to an atmosphere of high precision and accuracy, with our tooling benchmark in the DML at a minimum of five thousandths of an inch.” The lab still has room to improve, he explains, pointing to the need for electric buses to power some of the larger pieces of equipment. “That’s one of the upgrades that will come in time, and will move us to an even higher level.”

As one of the college's most utilized labs, the DML often accepts new and used equipment. For information on donating, contact Lewis Payton at 24 Auburn Engineering

Pictured above, Lewis

Payton in the lab; insets from top, Wes Hunko and Kellie Coker, seniors in mechanical engineering; doctoral student Vishnu Chandrasekaran.

Auburn Engineering 25

By Clay Omainsky

One Auburn chemical engineer’s journey from the sugar cane factories of Sudan to an award winning lab in Qatar Don’t ask Engineering Dean Chris Roberts about Auburn graduate students

unless you’re ready for a deeply devoted reply about the quality of research they conduct, the innovation and expertise they bring to campus, and their numerous contributions to the changing global economy as alumni. You really shouldn’t

ask him about Nimir Elbashir, one of his early doctoral students, unless you have

some time. Roberts couldn’t be prouder of his former student and colleague, and he is eager to highlight his accomplishments as an Auburn alumnus and fellow engineering educator. And they are many. 26 Auburn Engineering

Elbashir, ’04 doctoral graduate in chemical engineering, received a $100,000 award during the third annual Qatar Foundation Research Forum held in October. His team was recognized as having the best program to conduct energy and environmental research for its work to advance Fischer-Tropsch reactors in gas-to-liquid processes, a technology he began pursuing as a doctoral student at Auburn. Today, Elbashir is an associate professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University at Qatar in the Arabian Peninsula. “Nimir was enthusiastic when he joined our department,” says Roberts. “He came to Auburn with the industrial expertise and maturity to tackle big things, and he did.” Elbashir was born in Moscow, Russia, where his father was pursuing a master’s degree in chemical engineering. Afterward, Elbashir’s family returned to Sudan, his parents’ home country, and his father took a job as a chemical engineer in the sugar cane industry. Sudan is one of the largest African sugar producers, following South Africa and Egypt. “I used to work in the sugar cane factories during summer breaks growing up, and that allowed me to learn about the industry and about chemical engineering,” Elbashir recalls. He attended the University of Khartoum, the largest and oldest university in Sudan — an extension of the British education system, modeled after University College London and Cambridge University. He studied chemical engineering and graduated with first class honors, going on to pursue a master’s degree in the field at the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia in Johor, Malaysia.

had experience with these processes in the development of new fuels and energy technologies. As a graduate research assistant, Elbashir was interested in using light hydrocarbons as supercritical fluids media in FischerTropsch synthesis, a reaction that converts a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen into liquid hydrocarbons. In addition to his coursework and research, Elbashir taught principles of chemical engineering, a course that explores the application of multicomponent material and energy balances to chemical processes involving phase changes and chemical reactions. In 2002, he was awarded a graduate research fellowship, a recognition for superior work that he held through 2004. In addition, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, or AIChE, and the Gordon Research Conference recognized the quality of his research work. It was a reflection not only of his superb work ethic, but also his ability to think outside the box and develop new processes in the lab. “He was fearless with equipment,” says Roberts. “With his background in industry, he had seen how innovation worked — how projects could evolve — and he took on impactful work beyond the norm. He was the sort of serious-minded graduate student who set aside typical, rudimentary catalysis in order to address current challenges facing industry.”

His interests led him across borders again in 1998 when he joined King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as a research scientist. His project sought to advance catalyst design to convert inexpensive gasses obtained from Saudi Arabia’s crude oil fields into more valuable petrochemical precursors. He worked in collaboration with the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of chemicals, fertilizers, plastics and metals. It was there that Elbashir learned about the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering from one of his supervisors, Ahmed Abasaeed, an ’87 doctoral graduate in chemical engineering, who spoke favorably about the Plains and about research being conducted in catalysis and reaction engineering.

Elbashir, second from left, celebrates commencement with (from left) Said Elnashaie, former faculty member of chemical engineering, Chris Kitchen, an ’04 doctoral graduate, Roberts, and Chandler McLeod, also an ’04 doctoral graduate.

“I consider it the best advice I received in my life,” says Elbashir. He took to heart his colleague’s advice, entering Auburn Engineering’s doctoral program in August 2001. He selected Roberts — then a faculty member in the Department of Chemical Engineering — as his adviser based on mutual interests in gas-toliquid technology reactors and synthetic fuels processing. Roberts

Upon completion of his doctoral work, Elbashir served as a postdoctoral fellow at Auburn from December 2004 to July 2005, supervising the high-pressure reactor laboratory and co-supervising a research team in the fields of gas-to-liquid technology, green chemistry processes and hydrogen storage in liquid fuel carriers. While Elbashir and Roberts knew each other first as mentor and student, they later became colleagues, writing award-winning research proposals and a number of articles and papers for Auburn Engineering 27

peer-reviewed publications, such as the Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research and the AIChE Journal, published by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

He is a prime example of what we hope for all of our graduate students to achieve — success by their own definition. Roberts was later instrumental in Elbashir’s petition for permanent residency, which he attained based on his outstanding research at Auburn, where he was a proven asset in the advancement of ultra-clean fuels and utilization of coal and natural gas in energy markets. Elbashir returned to industry for nearly three years as a researcher for BASF Catalysts, but ultimately set his sights back on academia and was named assistant professor of chemical engineering at Texas A&M at Qatar, a position he held from 2008 to 2012, when he was promoted to associate professor. “I found myself more connected to teaching, which led me to go back to academia and join Texas A&M at Qatar,” he says. “The campus was only five years old at the time, in a small country that has a significant wealth of natural gas. I envisioned that this would be an excellent opportunity for me to make a real difference based on the experience that I garnered in academia, as well as industry, and to initiate research programs that could advance this technology further.”

“Nimir’s contributions to such an evolving industry are exemplary,” says Roberts. “His award-winning research demonstrates a dedication to developing new technologies that can improve our world today, as well as tomorrow. He understands the significance of practical research applied to industry problem solving.” As a researcher turned industrialist turned academician, Elbashir understands the need for practical applications in energy and fuels research better than most, which is why he established the Nimir Elbashir and Family Annual Graduate Travel Award in Chemical Engineering at Auburn. His support of graduate student travel ensures that Auburn’s outstanding students are afforded opportunities to present their groundbreaking research to peers and industry leaders. Elbashir is much more than a classic Auburn success story; he’s a product of the state-of-the-art education and training he received as an Auburn engineer. “Whatever he sets his mind to, that’s what he’ll accomplish,” says Roberts. “He is a prime example of what we hope for all of our graduate students to achieve — success by their own definition.”

His interests during his time at Auburn have carried over to his current research on reactor technology and catalysts for the production of ultra-clean fuels and value-added chemicals from natural gas, for which he was recognized by the Qatar Foundation. Elbashir’s team is investigating efficiency and influential environmental factors to improve the Fischer-Tropsch process — factors which could have a significant impact on energy markets. The Qatar Foundation is providing Elbashir’s team with more than $5 million in research funding to support projects in collaboration with leading energy corporations and academic institutions, including Auburn University. “The Qatar Foundation’s emphasis on building a culture of research through the Qatar National Research Strategy enables projects such as this to flourish,” says Elbashir. “Environments like this, and at Auburn, encourage breakthrough ideas and recognize how international collaborations and industry partners are able to come up with solutions to real-world problems.” Elbashir’s Fischer-Tropsch design operates in a reaction medium that has properties between the gas phase and liquid phase, known as supercritical fluids media. This conversion of natural gas into ultra-clean fuels and value-added chemicals has increased the use of gas-to-liquid technology in energy production, following an increase in the global demand for crude oil. 28 Auburn Engineering

Elbashir (center) and his research team members in their lab at Texas A&M University at Qatar


overcrafts are still a figment of imagination to many, a vehicle that only exists in movies or in high-tech laboratories. In reality, hovercrafts have been around for more than 50 years, and few know that Auburn University has been building and racing them for a full decade. They are nothing like Hollywood models, and according to Thomas Wills, sophomore in polymer and fiber engineering, “It’s not like anything you’ve ridden before.”

Hovercraft team takes on the Tide

By Rachel Cole

recent “guinea pig” in the team’s shop. It looks intimidating and complex, but according to Blackburn, it’s actually quite simple. “This is kind of the next step up,” said Blackburn. “There’s lots of trial and error, and a lot of tweaking and adjustments.” He adds that there is plenty of skill available to build the vehicle because team members come from a variety of majors.

Auburn’s team, the Hovering Tigers, hasn’t raced in recent years, but that changed in April, when a new era of an old rivalry began. The team won the University Hoverbowl Challenge on Lake Lurleen in Tuscaloosa, facing off against the University of Alabama’s new hovercraft team. Auburn’s team members include Wills, Garrett Blackburn, Mary Palmer Cook, and Tom Fitzpatrick, as well as Holland Bankston, Nick Johnson, Alex Avery, Tam Thornton, Sanyam Shirgaonkar and Velislav Stamenov. “The goal of this race was to get other schools involved, for it to grow,” said Blackburn, team captain and senior in polymer and fiber engineering. He believes the Auburn-Alabama rivalry is an appropriate place to start this trend. “I can see other schools in the SEC joining in.”

photography courtesy of Garrett Blackburn

Teams from across the country were invited to compete in the race, sponsored by Hoverclub of America, but the AuburnAlabama rivalry provided a particular interest to locals. “We had a competition,” said Kent Gano, racing director of Hoverclub of America. "I believe the race could be the start of a collegiate division of hovercraft racing." Auburn team members put in long hours to iron out the kinks before the race and fit in practice time for drivers to become accustomed to handling the vehicle. Their orange hovercraft, one of two vehicles the team races, is primarily fiberglass, a heavy, but inexpensive material compared to the carbon fiber used for the team's black hovercraft. The orange craft can travel on land and water, and is supported by a cushion of pressurized air — a fan controls the lift and moves air behind the hovercraft, giving it forward motion. Bicycle handlebars orient a rudder that controls turns. The team chose to race the orange craft because the vehicle has been the

From left, Mary Palmer Cook, Thomas Wills, Garrett Blackburn, Nick Johnson and Sanyam Shirgaonkar

The Hovering Tigers team was formed in 2003 with help from former polymer and fiber engineering faculty member Fissal Abd Elhady, Peter Schwartz, the team’s current faculty adviser and department head, and technical adviser Jeff Thompson, who is the polymer and fiber engineering composites lab technician at Auburn. He supervises and assists students with work performed inside the lab and at testing sites. “We have a number of ‘gearheads’ and some beginners in mechanics,” Thompson said. “It gives the students that grew up with grease under their fingernails a chance to put together their own creation and test it out in an exciting competition.” The team gives students practical hands-on design experience, and provides cross-disciplinary interactions in a team setting. “It’s cool to see the stuff we’ve been learning in class and having a chance to put it into application,” said Blackburn. “You don’t really have to know anything about this stuff,” said Cook, as she watched team member Fitzpatrick drive the craft across the open fields at Auburn’s Research Park on South College Street recently. “You just have to want to know about it. And you need to be OK with getting your hands dirty.” Auburn Engineering 29

minutes with Lorenda Ward Interviewed by Clay Omainsky

Lorenda Ward, ’90 and ’92 aerospace engineering, is a senior investigator

for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in Washington, D.C.

She investigates aviation crashes and incidents around the globe. Most

recently, she traveled to western Japan to assist the Japan Transport Safety

Board after an All Nippon Airways-operated Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s alarm

system indicated battery discharge and the pilots noticed an unusual smell

in the cockpit, making an emergency landing at the Takamatsu Airport.

Before joining the NTSB, Ward was a civilian aerospace engineer for the

Navy, working on F-14 Tomcat fighters and EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare

aircrafts. She is a Dothan, Ala., native. CO: How do people react when you tell them you investigate airplane accidents? LW: It depends. Sometimes I don’t tell them exactly what I do, but most people are interested. They are curious about plane crashes and want to know how they happen and how I do the job. They’ll ask about what I am exposed to investigating fatal accidents, and if it is emotionally taxing. And it is, sometimes. Then others just think it’s cool because it’s challenging, and it’s like putting together the biggest, most difficult jigsaw puzzle ever.

CO: How many of the investigations that you work on involve fatalities? LW: The majority are accidents. I would say a high percentage

of them are fatal. With Alaska Airlines Flight 261 that I investigated in 2000, two pilots, three cabin crew members and 83 passengers were killed. I was a structures engineer at the time, and the NTSB’s safety board determined that a failed jackscrew, which helps to stabilize the aircraft, caused the crash. We investigated the Colgan Air Flight 3407 crash in 2009. The plane crashed into a home in Clarence Center, N.Y., killing all 49 people on board and one person in the house. The safety board suggested that the accident was caused by the pilots’ inability to respond appropriately to an approach-to-stall warning, a controlled flight maneuver used by pilots when an aircraft has stalled, but is recoverable.

30 Auburn Engineering

I have done a few nonfatal accidents, for example, the recent Boeing 787 in Japan, where no one was hurt. I did an investigation in Puerto Rico in which a plane landed hard, and bounced three or four times down the runway. There were some injuries, but no one was fatally injured. Those are a lot — well, easier — to work because there aren’t any fatalities. But, even when no one is injured, there’s still concern about safety, and you have to do a thorough investigation.

CO: How do you prepare for and conduct investigations, logistically and emotionally? LW: When I’m on call, I have to be able to launch within two

hours. I’ve had lots of plans with family and friends get canceled or changed because I’ve been sent to an investigation. I was just recently in Japan for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner incident, and I spent my birthday there, as well as a couple of holidays.

CO: Were you involved in investigating the 9/11 attacks? LW: The FBI led the investigation because it was a criminal act, and the NTSB supported its investigation. I was working in our D.C. office at the time, and we could actually see the smoke coming across the river after the plane hit the Pentagon. I was first asked to assist at the Pentagon, mainly to identify airplane parts. It wasn’t a typical investigation for me because it was controlled by the FBI, and there were many agencies there on

From left, Joe Morgan, his wife Rita and their son David

the scene. Our immediate objective was to locate the front and back ends of the airplane to try and get to the recorders, but our access was limited in that the fire department was still assessing what parts of the site were safe. We worked 12-hour shifts with three days on, three days off. After our assistance there, I was asked to travel to New York and assist the FBI in a similar capacity. The whole experience was very sad.

CO: How does your work improve air travel safety? LW: We produce a number of recommendations that come from our investigations. We try to have our reports and presentations best communicate how and where changes need to be made, so that our recommendations can be integrated easily and effectively. With major investigations, there are anywhere from 22 to 25 safety recommendations issued to agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration. If they incorporate those recommendations, I think it does help make us safer. That’s what we hope for, anyway. When you know what went wrong, you can better prepare for it, and often prevent it in the future.

CO: How did you become an NTSB investigator? LW: When I graduated with a bachelor’s degree, there were

corporate recruiters coming to campus and interviewing, which was great, but by the time I got my master’s, they just weren’t hiring as much. I became a civilian aerospace engineer for the Navy first, working on F-14s and the EA-6B prior to joining the NTSB in November 1998. Then I became a structures engineer, and I really enjoyed putting aircraft back together and examining

their components to determine the cause of a malfunction. In May 2001, I was promoted to investigator-in-charge.

CO: What made you decide to study engineering at Auburn? LW: I became interested in engineering in part because of

my obsession with numbers. I have a geeky sort of ability to remember and retain data. My father played football for Auburn a long time ago. I grew up on Auburn football. Ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I knew at some point I was going to go to Auburn. My dad worked in the nuclear power plant industry, so we moved about every three years. He is from a family of eight and my mom is from a family of 20, and everybody’s either an Auburn or Alabama fan, which makes for an interesting holiday.

CO: How did Auburn Engineering make an impact on your career? LW: The professors’ involvement and interest in their students

had the biggest impact on me. The individual attention I received from faculty is one thing that really prepared me for the working world. Case in point: it’s been more than 20 years since I’ve been to Auburn, but maybe a year or two ago, one of my former professors happened to be in D.C., and we ran into each other. He came up to me and said, ‘Aren’t you Lorenda Ward? Weren’t you in my class?’ And I remembered him — Dr. Cicci — from aerospace engineering. In my mind, the professors took an interest in their students, wanted them to succeed and were very involved. To them, it was more than just a job. Auburn Engineering 31

From the desk of...

faculty highlights

Prathima Agrawal,

David Elton, faculty

Marko Hakovirta, director

director of Auburn’s

member in civil

of the Alabama Center

Wireless Engineering

engineering, has been

for Paper and Bioresource

Research and Education

named a fellow of the

Engineering (AC-PABE)

Center, Alireza Babaei,

American Society of

and faculty member in

former post-doctoral

Civil Engineers (ASCE).

chemical engineering, has

fellow in the center, and

Fellow status is attained

received an $88,000 grant

Bijan Jabbari, professor of electrical

by professional accomplishments via peer

from the Auburn University intramural

and computer engineering at George

nomination and election. Elton is one

grants program, plus a $55,000 cost share

Mason University, have received the

of only two ASCE fellows in the Samuel

portion from AC-PABE for his project,

best paper award from the Journal of

Ginn College of Engineering, joining Chai

“Self-assembled nanostructured sensors

Communications and Networks for their

H. Yoo who was named a fellow in 2003.

for detection of gases and biological

paper, “Capacity Bounds in Random

He has served at Auburn since 1985 and

substances.” This project will explore the

Wireless Networks.” The team will receive

specializes in geotechnical engineering.

development of smart tissues that can be used in sensing applications.

the award at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' annual conference on communications June 10 in Budapest,

Jeffrey Fergus, faculty

Hungary. Agrawal and her team used

member in materials

Daniela Marghitu,

a Poisson spatial model, a statistical

engineering, has been

Auburn University’s

method that can be used to describe the

appointed editor of ECS


spontaneous locations of mobile wireless

Transactions (ECST), an

coordinator and faculty

users, to study the desired characteristics

online publication of

member in computer

of a wireless signal and the user’s effect on

Electrochemical Society

science and software engineering, has been

the capacity of wireless links. The results

(ECS) meetings. During the coming year,

provide new insights on the capacity of

Fergus hopes to identify new ways to use

awarded an Academic Alliance Seed

wireless links in random Poisson networks.

ECST to expand dissemination of meeting

Fund grant from the National Center for

content and enhance scientific discourse

Women and Information Technology and

in electrochemical science.

Microsoft Research to establish Computer

Virginia Davis, Sanders associate professor of

Science for All Girls. The program works to recruit and retain female middle

chemical engineering,

Ram Gupta, Woltosz

received the Nanoscale

professor of chemical

disciplines. The first camp will be held

Science and Engineering

engineering, was recently

in June.

Forum’s Young

recognized with the

Investigator Award at

Alabama Academy of

the 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ annual meeting in Pittsburgh.

and high school students in computing

Science’s 2013 Gardner

Anton Schindler,

Award, which was

faculty member in civil

The award recognizes outstanding

established for scientist Wright Gardner

engineering and director

interdisciplinary research in nanoscience

in 1984 to honor researchers, educators,

of Auburn’s Highway

and nanotechnology by engineers or

clinicians and industrialists who perform

Research Center, has

scientists in the early stages of their

outstanding work in the state. Gupta

received the 2013 Frank

professional careers. Davis also gave a

was selected by a committee of eminent

plenary lecture at the meeting entitled,

scholars from premier universities

the Expanded Shale, Clay and Slate

“Nanocylinder Liquid Crystals: New

throughout the state. He is a 2008 fellow

Institute for his contributions to the use

Materials Meet a 120 Year Old Science.”

of the academy.

of lightweight aggregate. He is being

32 Auburn Engineering

G. Erskine Award from

faculty highlights recognized for leading the development

collaborated with doctoral students

2013 fellows at AIHA’s conference and

of the American Concrete Institute

Abdullah Konak, now of Pennsylvania

exposition in May.

(ACI) publication, "The Economics,

State University-Berks, and David Coit,

Performance, and Sustainability of

now of Rutgers University, to compile

Internally Cured Concrete." Schindler

an overview and tutorial of methods for

Hareesh Tippur, faculty

and former Auburn doctoral student

readers. Smith was also recently elected

member in mechanical

Benjamin Byard developed publications

to serve as a member of the Institute

engineering, and

to quantify the effect of using

of Electrical and Electronics Engineer's

Maria Auad, faculty

lightweight aggregates on the cracking

Computational Intelligence Society

member in polymer and

tendency of concrete.

Administration Committee, for a three-

fiber engineering, are

year term.

collaborating to continue developing strong,

Rich Sesek, faculty

transparent, lightweight

member in industrial and

Bruce Tatarchuk, Gavin

systems engineering,

professor of chemical

materials that can be used

has been awarded

engineering and director

to create windshields,

the Dr. William E.

of Auburn’s Microfibrous

goggles, visors, canopies

Tarrants Outstanding

Materials Manufacturing

Safety Educator

Center (CM3), has

the military as well as the general public.

received a $120,000

Through a three-year grant from the

Award, the highest award granted

and durable blast-resistant

and protective gear for

to safety educators by the American

equipment grant from the Auburn

U.S. Army, they’re exploring polymeric

Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

University intramural grants program.

components to develop new devices and

The award recognizes work in both

The grant, “Spatial and Temporal

improve existing ones by using a wide

safety-related teaching and research,

Resolved Studies of Chemically Reactive

range of materials synthesized for their

and is only granted in years when

Surfaces,” supports the acquisition of

various characteristics, such as strength,

outstanding candidates are submitted

a new XPS system, which will benefit

transparency or durability.

for consideration. Sesek will receive

researchers in chemical engineering and

the award at the ASSE Professional

throughout the college. He has received

Development Conference in June.

a $300,000 cost share for the project

Jin Wang, Redd associate

through CM3, the college and the

professor of chemical


engineering, has earned

Alice E. Smith, Reed professor of

a $50,000 award from the newly formed Ray C.

industrial and systems

Robert Thomas,

engineering, has

professor emeritus of

to support her research

been recognized

industrial and systems

aimed at reducing energy and chemical

on ScienceDirect.

engineering, has been

consumption at pulp mills. With 17 mills in

com as having a top

recognized as a fellow of

Alabama, the pulp and paper industry is

the American Industrial

one of the top manufacturing employers

Hygiene Association

in the state. The foundation also awarded

article in reliability engineering and systems safety. Smith’s article, “Multi

Anderson Foundation

Objective Optimization Using Genetic

(AIHA). This designation is given for

grants to innovative sustainability-

Algorithms: A Tutorial,” ranked first

significant contributions to the field,

related programs at Georgia Institute

among 25 articles. It focuses on

and only the top five percent of AIHA

of Technology, University of Southern

methods used to obtain multiple goals

membership is considered eligible.

Mississippi and Arizona State University.

in complex engineering problems. Smith

Thomas was recognized among the

Auburn Engineering 33

Engineering Hall of Fame


State of Alabama

In its 25th year, the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame honors the outstanding accomplishments and contributions of individuals, corporations, institutions and projects that bring significant recognition to the state. In February, seven new individuals were inducted into the Hall of Fame – five of whom are Auburn Engineering alumni who have served as outstanding representatives for the college. They include Larry D. Benefield of Auburn; James H. Carroll Jr. of Tampa; James M. Hoskins of Reston, Va.; Donald W. Vaughn of Montgomery; and Dale York of Birmingham.

Larry D. Benefield

The truth is, there is almost nothing you can touch that was not developed by an engineer. There are seven engineering programs in this state, all producing great engineering talent. If you look at all of the inductees to the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame, you will realize that our state is second to none in producing engineers that have made significant contributions to society.”


34 Auburn Engineering

“No profession has done more to protect our country’s freedom and provide for the safety and well-being of its citizens than engineering. Where would our military be without the sophisticated weapon systems and technologies provided by engineers? Where would our medical system be without the diagnostic tools developed by engineers? What would everyday life be like without the essentials provided by engineers?


attention of peer institutions and moving earned his bachelor’s Auburn Engineering to the highest rankings degree in civil in its history. In addition, the college engineering from Auburn successfully completed a $154 million facility in 1966. He then spent enhancement program and launched the four years as a civil nation’s first undergraduate degree in engineering officer in the wireless engineering. U.S. Air Force, where he was awarded the Bronze Partnering with the College of Business, Star for service in Vietnam. Benefield obtained his Benefield established the Businessmaster’s degree in environmental engineering in Engineering-Technology Program, which 1972 from Auburn, then earned his doctoral degree integrates engineering, business and at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1975. management practice for engineering and business undergraduates. He was also Benefield has an international reputation for his instrumental in establishing the Minority research and applications in biological treatment Engineering Program, now the Alabama processes and, in particular, biological nutrient Power Academic Excellence Program, to removal. He has served as the principal author of recruit and retain underrepresented three highly regarded texts in the environmental minorities and women in engineering. engineering field and has published 41 refereed publications and 77 other publications and technical Under his leadership, the college saw its presentations. He holds professional engineering undergraduate program rise as high as 28th licenses in Virginia, Alabama and Colorado. in the nation and graduate program rise to 40th among public institutions, as well as a Benefield returned to Auburn as an associate ranking in the top 50 in research expenditures professor of civil engineering in 1979 and later in each of the past six years. Benefield served as the college's interim associate dean for oversaw the opening of Auburn’s MRI Center research and associate dean for academics. In 1998, and played a pivotal role in the launch of the he was named interim dean of the college, and was Auburn University Huntsville Research Center. appointed dean in 2000. As dean, he spearheaded Benefield retired in 2012 after more than 30 a number of significant advances, attracting the years with Auburn Engineering.

— Larry Benefield

E E N R I I G The firm, with another branch in Fort Myers, is a full-service independent manufacturer’s agency known for its state-ofthe-art systems engineering, ethical business practices and customer satisfaction. It furnishes equipment, parts and service for all commercial, industrial and institutional heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems. Carroll Air Systems stays ahead of industry standards by recognizing the need for innovative and efficient equipment designs. The company is a

Under Carroll’s leadership, Carroll Air Systems has completed numerous large-scale projects throughout the region including Buccaneer Stadium in Tampa, Orlando International Airport, the Apollo Saturn Museum at Kennedy Space Center, the Boston Red Sox new spring training facility, and a project at Walt Disney World’s Hilton Resort. Carroll is a member of the Florida Engineering Society, the National Society of Professional Engineers and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE.) In 2004, he received the Engineer of the Year Award from the Florida West Coast chapter of ASHRAE, and in 2006 received the Distinguished Auburn Engineer Award. He serves on the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council and the Auburn Athletic Advisory Council. Carroll previously served on the Auburn University National Alumni Board of Directors, and is a member of the Engineering Keystone Society and the Engineering Eagles Society. The common area connecting the five new buildings in the Shelby Center for Engineering Technology is named Carroll Commons for Carroll Air Systems' support of Auburn Engineering.


During his tenure, he was nationally recognized for directing several innovative studies of large-scale national space programs. He was instrumental in the development of some of the nation’s most important national collection architectures. Hoskins participated in several national-level commissions, including service as a principal drafter of the 1992 Woolsey Blue Ribbon Panel Report. In recognition of his contributions to the intelligence community, he received the Distinguished Intelligence Service Medal from the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Bronze Medallion from the director of the National Security Agency and two Defense Superior Service Medals from the secretary of defense.


community, as director of special projects. He quickly rose to president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board. His vision, leadership and experience led to the growth of Scitor’s annual revenue from $16 million to more than $600 million today with more than 1,400 employees. He was also the architect, strategist and leader of a major company restructuring that resulted in moving headquarters and company operations from California to Virginia, leading the way to making Scitor Corporation a 100 percent employee-owned company. The company has received several awards including recognition from Inc. magazine as a national grand champion for customer satisfaction, the MCI Positive Performer Grand National Award, the Companies as Responsive Employers Award and a top 10 placement on the Fortune magazine list of "Best Companies to Work for in America."


from Auburn with a degree in electrical engineering in 1981. After graduation, he began a career in the U.S. Air Force as an intelligence officer, ultimately achieving the rank of major. His government and military experience include key assignments at the Air Force Cryptologic Depot, the National Security Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office and the Central Intelligence Agency.


artistic renderings courtesy of State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame

James M. Hoskins graduated


Carroll and his wife, Betty, founded Carroll Air Systems Inc. in Tampa in 1972, fulfilling his dream of building a leading heating, ventilation and air conditioning engineering firm. The company is a forerunner in the industry and produces more than $40 million in annual revenues. Carroll serves as chairman, while Betty serves as vice president, board secretary and director. Son Phillip serves as president of the firm, and son David works in the Orlando office.

pioneer of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, an environmentally friendly building certification program established by the U.S. Green Building Council.



James H. Carroll Jr. earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial management from Auburn in 1954. After graduation, he worked with Trane Heating and Air Conditioning and Climatrol Industries Corp. He became a registered professional engineer in Alabama in 1966.


In 1994, Hoskins joined Scitor Corporation, one of the nation’s leading providers of engineering services to the intelligence

Hoskins is a founding member of the Auburn Research & Development Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to furthering scientific and engineering research. He serves on the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council and is a member of the Ginn Society, the Engineering Keystone Society and the Engineering Eagles Society. He holds the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Outstanding Alumnus Award and in 2012, was elected to the board of the Auburn University Foundation. Auburn Engineering 35

Donald W. Vaughn earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Auburn in 1971 while working part-time with the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) as a survey crew member. In his career of more than 46 years with ALDOT, Vaughn was committed to excellence in transportation and made an enormous impact on the lives of Alabamians. In 2012, he retired as chief engineer and deputy director of the organization. Vaughn also served as assistant chief engineer, interstate environmental engineer, location engineer, assistant chief of the design bureau, bureau chief of the office engineer bureau and administrative engineer to the transportation director. He was appointed deputy director in 2003 and named chief engineer in 2005. In these roles, he directed a program that contracted more than $600 million in construction and maintenance projects each year and was responsible for an additional $135 million in annual maintenance operations. He managed 11,000 miles of highway and more than 5,600 bridges. Vaughn helped identify future financial limitations and made changes to ALDOT’s priorities. With insufficient state and federal funding, he focused resources on preservation of the state’s transportation infrastructure. Vaughn oversaw some of the state’s largest projects including nearly 100 miles of interstate highway from Birmingham to the

Dale York earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Auburn in 1976 and a master’s degree in 1978. After graduation, York joined Lane/Bishop/Hodnett, Inc. He quickly advanced in the company, being promoted to an associate in five years. In 1987, York was invited into the firm as a stockholder and principal, and the company was renamed LaneBishopYorkDelahay (LBYD), Inc. York was instrumental in the company’s growth to one of the largest providers of civil and structural engineering services in the Southeast. As senior principal and chairman of LBYD, he has made a permanent impact on the state of Alabama and future generations of engineers. He completed more than 650 projects throughout the Southeast and is a registered professional engineer in Alabama and 14 other states. In 2006, LBYD was inducted into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame. With more than 30 years of experience in structural engineering, York is devoted to serving and giving back to his profession through his involvement in several engineering 36 Auburn Engineering

Mississippi line. He was also involved with the development of the Dauphin Island bridge, the Cochran-Africatown USA bridge, I-565 and I-165. He was instrumental in industry recruiting efforts that brought Mercedes, Honda, Hyundai and Thyssen Krupp to Alabama. Vaughn established ALDOT’s Office of Environmental Compliance and Office of Highway Safety Operations within the Department of Transportation. He was appointed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to serve as a member of a congressionally-created safety committee. In addition, he served as chair of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' (AASHTO) safety management subcommittee. As a result of the group’s success, a 1,000-page highway safety manual was published in 2010. The guidebook is being implemented nationwide. Vaughn is former president of the Alabama section of the American Society of Civil Engineers and served on several policy committees of the AASHTO. He was the first chairman of the University Transportation Center for Alabama and also serves on the advisory board of the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Vaughn is a member of Auburn University’s Civil Engineering Industry Liaison Council, and received the Outstanding Civil Engineer Alumnus award in 2009. He retired from the U.S. Naval Reserves Civil Engineer Corps at the rank of commander.

councils and organizations. He served as national director, president and vice president of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Alabama, president of the Coalition of American Structural Engineers Alabama chapter, president of the Joint Engineering Council of Alabama, and chairman of the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council. York has also served as state representative for the National Council of Structural Engineers Association and as director of the American Concrete Institute Central Alabama chapter. He was a member of the Alabama Building Code Study Commission, a group charged with recommending changes to the state building code, as well as a member of the committee responsible for suggesting amendments to the Alabama State Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors. York was presented with the Young Engineer of the Year award by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1986. In 2004, he was recognized as Engineer of the Year by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Alabama, and was named a fellow in 2010. Auburn University honored York with the Civil Engineering Outstanding Alumnus Award in 2006.


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

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

Auburn’s Formula SAE racing team unveiled its 2013 race car in March. The major goals for this year’s effort are to decrease overall mass and lower the car’s center of gravity, according to Andrew Rains, the team’s marketing director. Significant changes include the re-packaging of the front and rear dampers, revised suspension placement, carbon fiber upper a-arms, a Formula 1-inspired carbon fiber steering wheel and a new paint scheme. The team kicked off the racing season May 8-11 at Michigan International Speedway.

Auburn University is an equal opportunity educational institution/employer. ENM1305CO1