Eng 2015 spring mag

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Spring 2015

Volume 25

Issue 1


In record time Samuel Ginn College of Engineering

Auburn Engineering Spring 2015 Volume 25, Issue 1 Office of the Dean Christopher B. Roberts, dean Steve Duke, associate dean for academics Bob Karcher, assistant dean of student services Oliver Kingsley, associate dean for special projects Jeffrey Fergus, associate dean for program assessment and graduate studies Ralph Zee, associate dean for research Office of Engineering Communications and Marketing Jim Killian, director Morgan Stashick, editor Contributors Megan Burmester Valerie Cashin Austin Phillips Gail Riese Christine Riggs Katie Haon, graphic designer Tyler Patterson, web manager Nic DiChiara, web developer Photography Katie Haon, Charley Hoehaver, Jim Killian and Shelby Taylor Office of Engineering Development Ed Lewis, lead development adviser Margaret Arnold, development officer Dan Bush, associate director Veronica Chesnut, major gifts officer David Mattox, development officer Mindy Street, 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 editor@eng.auburn.edu







Š2015 Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, Auburn University

At NanoDays 2015, students in grades 2-10 had the opportunity to visit the Auburn campus and perform hands-on experiments that demonstrate science at the nanoscale.

From the dean If you have not visited our engineering campus recently, let me tell you what an exciting place it is to be right now. We have attracted a world class faculty which has elevated our instruction and research programs to new levels of achievement, and therefore, we continue to attract the best and brightest incoming freshmen. It is not enough to solely provide instruction; we must also engage our students with a full range of out-of-classroom experiences that enhance their professional development as engineers. Our goal to become the best student-centered engineering experience in the country is being realized as a result of transformational gifts from John and Rosemary Brown and Charles and Carol Ann Gavin. The Browns’ gift of $30 million to engineering – part of a $57 million gift to the university – will provide funding to construct an engineering student achievement center. This facility will serve as a hub for student support activities including student recruiting, curriculum advising, career mentoring and a tutoring center, as well as an international experience office, leadership and professional development center, industrial relations and innovation center, career placement office and workspace for team-oriented design projects. The Gavins’ gift of $8 million – plus additional funds from the university – will allow for the renovation of the Textile Building, creating much-needed laboratory space for students. The refurbished building will hold a series of hands-on student research laboratories including a state-of-the-art additive manufacturing laboratory, nuclear operations laboratory and a polymer and composites laboratory to continue our traditions in this area and to meet the emerging needs of the industry. Plans also call for the building to house a new wind tunnel system, a paper machine for microfibrous materials research and graduate student offices with collaborative meeting spaces. As Auburn University kicks off its $1 billion Because This is Auburn campaign, the College of Engineering is energetically pursuing an ambitious goal to raise $200 million to move our mission forward. With your support, we have already secured an impressive $180 million, and are eager to meet – and exceed – our goal. Together, we are preparing future Auburn engineers with the means to be the best that they can be. I look forward to continuing this journey with you and enhancing our college for everyone who is a part of it.

Christopher B. Roberts 1 Auburn Engineering




Cover story


4 In record time

10 '57 grads give $57 million

All it took was 67 minutes and 54 seconds for Lt. Col. Ed Yeilding to cross the country, coast to coast. The record-setting pilot flew the last flight of SR-71 Blackbird 972 to its current home in the Smithsonian, and reflects on how his time at Auburn shaped his future and that historic flight

Auburn alums John and Rosemary Brown announced the largest gift in university history, part of which will fund a new engineering student achievement center

13 Five years and going strong Auburn's Huntsville Research Center celebrates its five-year anniversary

14 Thanks from a grateful student Software engineering senior Shernovius Bennett has been deployed during his time as a student, but that hasn’t stopped him from keeping up with his studies thanks to an adviser who helped him along the way

17 Building on tradition Female engineering students participated in the leadership and development conference sponsored by Auburn Engineering's 100 Women Strong program April 10, and had the opportunity to collaborate in speed mentoring with engineering alumnae.

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Charles and Carol Ann Gavin are building upon Auburn's traditions by providing funding to transform the Textile Building





It's my job

5 minutes with

20 For love of the game

18 Kang Sun

28 Melinda Sava

Who ever said engineers can’t be all-star athletes? Auburn Engineering students who hit the ball in addition to their books give insight into how they do it all

This Computer Science and Software Engineering graduate describes what life is like as a network test engineer at Apple

Chemical engineering alumna Melinda Sava tells us how her engineering education underlies her career in medicine

Student spotlight Awards 30 Because This is Auburn The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering has embraced the university’s $1 billion campaign with a bold vision to become one of the nation’s premier engineering institutions


Auburn Engineering students continuously rank among the best; read on to see just a few of their recent accomplishments

Faculty highlights 37 Advancing tomorrow's technology Through the largest gift given to Auburn University specifically designated for research, the Alabama Power Foundation has created the Charles D. McCrary Institute to advance energy security, as well as conservation research

34 We take pride in recognizing the achievements of our alumni; read about this year’s recipients of the Auburn Alumni Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award and inductees into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame


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

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In record time by Jim Killian

Do the math, Auburn engineers, and tell us how fast this is: Ed Yeilding flew from St. Louis to Cincinnati in eight minutes and 32 seconds . . . and no, that’s not a misprint. The answer is 2,190 miles per hour, a record that will stand the test of time. It was just one leg of a trip that saw numerous records set as Lt. Col. Yeilding flew the last flight of SR-71 Blackbird tail number 972 from coast to coast to its current home in the Smithsonian.

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ome of the other records that he set that day on March 6, 1990, were Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., in 64 minutes, 20 seconds; and coast to coast, from Pacific to Atlantic, in 67 minutes and 54 seconds. Most of the historic flight was at Mach 3.3, the operational limit of the Blackbird that he flew with Lt. Col. J.T. Vida, the reconnaissance systems officer seated behind him. A former F-4 Phantom pilot, Yeilding shows none of the braggadocio you might expect from a fighter pilot. The Florence, Alabama, native is quiet, polite and self-effacing. He points to the records that went into the books on that March day 25 years ago as a team effort that involved not only himself and Vida, but also the ground support crews, the engineers, and the technicians who worked on the plane during its secret Cold War missions.

“I felt that I would have more flexibility and job security at the time with a double E degree, and while my first co-op assignment was at the Arnold Air Force Base research center in Tullahoma, Tennessee, I did later co-op terms at TVA’s Cumberland steam plant, close to Clarksville, Tennessee,” Yeilding notes. “Then, in the summer of 1972 at Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina, Col. Robert Merritt, then AFROTC commandant at Auburn, pinned my bars on me and I was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force. “Vietnam was winding down and there was an overage of pilots, which resulted in a six-month delay in my first assignment,” Yeilding remembers. “I returned to Florence and practiced electrical engineering to fill in the time.”

He was called to active duty at Williams Air Force Base in Phoenix, and began a year of training in Col. Robert Merritt pins bars on Yeilding in 1972. Although the 1972 electrical T-37s and T-38s, where he was fifth engineering graduate first heard about the SR-71 program when in his class. He then transitioned to the RF-4 Phantom and an he was a 15-year-old living near the end of Cypress Mill Road, additional six months of training. It was Yeilding’s first experience up the hill from Cypress Creek in Florence, it really all began at with reconnaissance aircraft – hence the “R” in the Phantom’s Auburn. His father, William E. (Bill) Yeilding, attended Alabama designation. Polytechnic Institute on the GI Bill after he was released from the Navy following Japan’s surrender in the Pacific, where he It was an experience unlike the high altitude SR-71 he would later served as a Seabee. Bill brought his new bride, Carolyn, with him fly. The RF-4 was used for high-speed, low-altitude photography and graduated in electrical engineering as well, earning the first – 550 miles per hour at 500 feet, with no GPS to help. As Yeilding college degree in the family in 1949. explains, it was all about your ability to read a map, hold a precise heading and air speed, and make split-second navigation “I always admired my dad and the three years he served in the decisions. He would be based in Texas, Okinawa and Osan Air war, and the determination he had to earn a degree at Auburn Force Base in South Korea for the next five years before returning despite huge obstacles,” Yeilding recalls. “Housing was extremely to Valdosta, Georgia, to train on the F-4E fighter. In all, he spent hard to come by, so he ended up converting a three-sided dirt nine years flying F-4s. floor garage into an apartment, doing most of the plumbing, electrical, concrete and carpentry, with a little help from his dad. During all of this time he had his eye on the SR-71. My mom had a job at Drake Infirmary as a registered nurse, and that’s where I was born in ’49.” “I worked extra hard during those years, because I wanted a shot at it,” he said. “It came in 1982 when I was asked to come Following his graduation, Yeilding’s father began a 35-year career to Beale Air Force Base in California. I interviewed for a week. with TVA in Florence, and his son grew up as a staunch Auburn This included a flight physical, flights in a T-38, and sessions in fan. an SR-71 simulator to see how fast I could pick up on instruction, procedures and the instruments in the cockpit. It was so “My dad said that I could go anywhere I wanted for college, but he different.” would help pay for Auburn,” Yeilding points out. “Not that it was ever an issue – I always knew I wanted to go Auburn. In addition Different, he said, because no other plane flew at Mach 3 speeds, to engineering, I wanted to be at a school that had Air Force or even close to it. Total familiarization of the cockpit was needed ROTC.” because there were no second chances at 80,000 feet, so Yeilding would spend 100 hours over a six-month period in simulators to Yeilding began his studies in 1967 in aerospace engineering, but build his confidence to the point where he could take care of any got cold feet when he saw the huge fallout in the profession when kind of emergency. the race to the moon ended. Nevertheless, he learned to fly a Cessna 150 with the 35 hours of flight training that ROTC offered, He would fly 93 overseas reconnaissance missions at the height of and paid for an additional hour and a half in the fall of 1971 so that the Cold War, from 1983 through the aircraft's retirement in 1990. he could become certified as a private pilot. 6 Auburn Engineering

Inside the cockpit of the SR-71.

“We flew out of Beale Air Force Base in California, Kadena in Okinawa and RAF Mildenhall in England,” Yeilding explains. “That gave us access to all of the northern hemisphere, really with a worldwide reach, because the southern hemisphere was not perceived as a source of threats that required the kind of reconnaissance that we flew. “All of the SR-71 pilots, all of the crews and all of the support people, they knew we were performing a vital mission – the surveillance we undertook was used by our leaders to make national defense and policy decisions.” Those flights are still classified. But his last run, from ocean to ocean, is one he can talk about. Here is his first-person account: We started to suit up one and a half hours before the flight. The pressure suit was composed of five layers and the team had to make sure that it would hold pressure, as well as check the comm system, connect the antifog filaments in the helmet, and a number of other things.

immediately, because the landing gear doors were only rated to 300 knots. We would be at 25,000 feet inside of two minutes – that’s about 5 miles in altitude. The first thing that we had to do was air refuel – the routine was to take off with half a load of fuel for safety, so we’d be light enough to climb in case an engine failed just after lift-off. At 27,000 feet, we did that, with a couple of KC-135Q tankers over the Pacific Ocean. Then, with a full load, we turned east, lit the afterburners, and had a 200-mile running start as we accelerated. Fuel was very tight for the coast-to-coast flight, so we planned to cross the West Coast accelerating through Mach 2.5 at 63,000 feet, before reaching our cruise speed at 76,000 feet.

I remember that day so well – March 6, 1990. I got up at 1 a.m., got to my briefing at 2 a.m., and into the suit and onto the flight line at 3:45. We planned our takeoff for 4:30 – it was 7:30 in Washington – from Palmdale in the company of a small crowd that gathered for the last flight.

As we crossed the West Coast in the early morning twilight, I could see the white ocean breakers all along the California coastline and the millions of lights of Los Angeles below me, as well as the lights of San Francisco and San Diego. Mexico, on my right beyond San Diego, was dark. As the sun came up, we were doing Mach 3.3, and I soon saw Vegas, Lake Mead and the Grand Canyon from 78,000 feet. I glimpsed Pike’s Peak as I passed the Colorado mountains, and Vida and I were soon over farmland.

Pre-flight took about 30 minutes, with a systems check and engine start. We taxied down the runway, and I lit the afterburners, always a real kick in the pants. I raised the nose at 180 knots, and lifted off at 210. The gear had to go up

It hit me again that we were crossing the country in minutes that took months for our pioneers to do 150 years earlier. I really reflected in this flight what a great country we had – and all of the courage, the prayers and the sacrifices of our forefathers. 7 Auburn Engineering

As we flew over the eastern part of the country, everything was in undercast (ed. note: overcast from the ground), but as I passed over the East Coast I got one last view of God’s earth at 83,000 feet. I thought about that too, and how I loved to fly this plane, seeing the slight, but noticeable, arc of the curvature of the earth; the darkness overhead; and the bright blue band of atmosphere over the horizon that was 400 miles from us.

After Yeilding’s SR-71 was retired to the Smithsonian, he pulled a five-year special duty assignment at Andrews Air Force Base, flying government VIPs around the world. Following his retirement from the military, he flew for Northwest Airlines, and after its merger, with Delta. He flew a number of different commercial aircraft, most noticeably the 747-400 on Japanese routes out of Detroit.

We had flown coast to coast in 67 minutes and 54 seconds, and from L.A. to D.C. in 64 minutes, 20 seconds. Our average speeds were over 2,125 miles per hour for the former, and 2,145 for the latter.

“Actually, I have enjoyed all of my assignments during my 34-year flying career, and I credit my Auburn degree in becoming one of two SR-71 test pilots able to work with the engineers at Lockheed Martin and other contractors in developing new equipment and software for this amazing plane,” Yeilding beams. “I’m proud to be an Auburn graduate . . . proud of my hometown of Florence . . . and I feel extremely blessed and thankful for all of the special people who helped me along life’s way during my boyhood and career.”

We overflew Wilmington, just below Philly, and were still supersonic in a descending left hand turn, heading toward Washington. When we became subsonic we met another KC-135Q and took on more fuel at 25,000 feet. At Dulles International we made two low passes, one with afterburner, near the crowd that was waiting. We wanted to give them a look at the shock diamonds in the glowing afterburner plumes, and before landing, rocked the wings in salute. I deployed that big orange drag chute . . . for this last time. My excitement in flying the highest and fastest plane ever was mixed with some sadness on this day because it was our final flight in the Blackbird. Even now, from the vantage point of 25 years, Yeilding looks at the SR-71 not only as an aircraft, but also as an engineering work of art that has amassed a huge fan base, and that still looks futuristic even though the design is 50 years old.

Two days after they landed in Washington, Yeilding and Vida were seated separately in coach on a United 767 flight returning them to California. As they taxied out of Dulles, the pilot told the passengers over the intercom that they were seeing the very SR-71 that had been on the news that week for setting a new transcontinental speed record. “The woman next to me said, ‘It was worth coming to Washington just to see that plane,’” Yeilding recalls, “and I told her, ‘Yes, ma’am, it sure was.’” And that was it.

The SR-71

• Constructed primarily in titanium – aluminum would have been too soft for the SR-71’s fuselage temperature, which reached an average of 550 degrees cruising at 80,000 feet, despite an ambient temperature of minus 70 F • Relatively fragile – although it could take on 80,000 pounds of fuel, it was designed to be light in weight, and could not take more than 1.5 G in supersonic turns, in an era when Yeilding’s F-4 could easily handle a 5-6 G ‘yank and bank’ • Only a 90-minute range on a tank of JP-7 – which would take it more than 2,500 miles; special KC-135Q tankers were required for in-flight fueling of the hungry J58 engines that burned 5,000 gallons of fuel per hour to produce 34,000 pounds of thrust • Fuel tanks on the SR-71 leaked like sieves, because the bottom of the tank was also the bottom of the wings and fuselage, which were constructed with expansion joints to handle high heat loads in supersonic flight

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• Contrary to some popular lore, the SR-71 was ‘easy enough to fly,’ according to Yeilding – but required a sharp and constant eye on highly complex systems in a cockpit crowded with gauges

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'57 grads give $57 million John and Rosemary Brown, both 1957 Auburn graduates, have committed $57 million to Auburn University — the largest single gift in the institution’s history — to fund two new initiatives: a new performing arts center, and $30 million for an engineering student achievement center, which makes it the largest individual philanthropic commitment to the college to date. With their gift, progress toward Auburn’s $1 billion Because This is Auburn campaign goal now totals $775 million. The state-of-the-art engineering achievement center will enhance a multitude of student support activities, including student recruitment, curriculum advising, tutoring, career mentoring, job placement and an industrial relations center. The center will also feature space for a student project incubator and an engineering international experience office. “We are very happy to give back to Auburn,” said John, a chemical engineering graduate. “Auburn was a transformative educational experience for us, preparing Rosemary for her career in teaching and laying the foundation for my various roles in industry.” John was CEO and chairman of the board of Stryker Corporation, a leading medical device company with annual revenue exceeding $9 billion. Rosemary retired after serving as a mathematics teacher for almost 30 years. “We wanted to do something that not only impacted Auburn students, but also something that would impact the entire community,” Rosemary said. “That is why we decided to do both the student achievement center and the performing arts center.” Auburn President Jay Gogue said this effort is unprecedented in Auburn’s 160-year history. “Today, we show the world why we believe in Auburn University,” Gogue said. “This campaign will add new chapters to Auburn’s story and will make Auburn stronger for all the generations that follow.” For more information on the Because This is Auburn

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campaign, see the story on page 30.

Patents a plenty Bruce Tatarchuk, director of Auburn’s Microfibrous Materials Manufacturing Center and professor of chemical engineering, has been named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors for his significant contributions to patents and licensing, innovative discovery and technology and societal impact. The 17-member selection committee inducted 170 national nominees in 2014. Tatarchuk’s knowledge of microfibrous materials used in air handling, as well his expertise in fuel reforming and processing and fuel cell systems, demonstrate how he has earned the reputation as a leading authority and global expert in the energy industry.

Online ed ranks high

The Auburn Engineering Graduate Online Prog ram ranked 17th in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 Best Online Programs. In addition, the program was the secondmost cost-effec tive among the top 20. “This ranking exemplifies the highest quality of courses and classes we offer to those who want to continue their education at their convenience,” said Greg Ruff, director of Engineering Outreach and Cont inuing Education. “We are proud to say we are ranked among the top 20 in the natio n, and will continue to strengthen our program and get better.” Additionally, Computer Science and Software Engineering ranked 6th nationally for Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs.

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Creating a cyber space In April, the cyber laboratory in the Shelby Center for Engineering Technology was named the Lieutenant General Ronald Lee Burgess Jr., USA, Retired, Cyber Laboratory through a generous gift from Leslee Belluchie, ’83 mechanical engineering, and her husband Richard Knop. This advanced lab will enable the university to unify its cyber research and development efforts, while also providing students an interdisciplinary environment to produce evolutionary and revolutionary solutions to real-world problems. Auburn Cyber Research Center Director Anthony Skjellum said the lab would have a local, regional and national impact, helping protect commercial and personal computers, data and critical infrastructures. Skjellum also said the lab being named for Burgess was fitting, as he’s one of the leading minds in cyber security. Burgess joined the university as senior counsel for national security programs, cyber programs and military affairs following a decorated career in the U.S. Army. During his 38 years in the military, he held numerous high-ranking staff and command positions, including director of intelligence, joint chiefs of staff and director of the intelligence staff in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. He was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve in a dual appointment as the acting principal deputy director of national intelligence two times. His last position before retiring was serving as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, where he played a major role in establishing the foundation of the U.S. Department of Defense’s cyber operations.

Gaining traction

An alliance of vehicle manufacturers and research universities, including Auburn

University, the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Tennessee Tech University, is forming to create a premier research center for vehicle manufacturing. The Southern Alliance for Advanced Vehicle Manufacturing (SAAV) is led by John Evans, professor of industrial and systems engineering. The mission of SAAV is to provide students with real-world experience conducting experiments and solving problems associated with vehicle manufacturing. An accelerated master’s degree program in engineering management will be offered in conjunction with SAAV, giving participants the credentials and practical experiences to pursue emerging job opportunities in advanced manufacturing. Manufacturers who join SAAV will provide funding and a source of realworld applications to fuel the SAAV curriculum and research activities. Evans and other SAAV faculty members have held several meetings with potential manufacturing partners and 25 companies are being actively recruited to join SAAV. Additional funding for SAAV is being sought from the National Science Foundation. The center is expected to kick off in the fall semester.

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A paved partnership In a step to play a larger role in pavement research, a newly formed partnership with MnROAD is a centerpiece E-Day, Auburn Engineering’s annual student recruitment open house held in February, drew more than 4,000 students, parents and teachers to campus to learn about the College of Engineering. The event offered middle and high school students the opportunity to tour engineering facilities, as well as the Auburn campus. Participants viewed departmental displays and research projects, and chatted one-on-one with engineering students and faculty members. This year’s event attracted visitors from 16 states from as far as Colorado, Maryland, Iowa, Illinois, New


Jersey, Ohio and Virginia.

of the National Center for Asphalt Technology’s (NCAT) upcoming research cycle. The combination of traffic loading types and the range in climate conditions will provide unique opportunities for this partnership to address important national needs such as pavement preservation and performance issues. NCAT and MnROAD are the world’s two largest full-scale pavement testing facilities using real construction methods and live trafficking under actual climate conditions. This provides an authentic environment for researchers to study and evaluate the performance of materials used in roadway construction. “Both facilities and organizations have a great track record of completing applied research that gets

years and going strong

Auburn University’s Huntsville Research Center celebrated its fifth anniversary on April 8 before a large audience of scientists and engineers, as well as community and political leaders. The Huntsville Research Center enables Auburn faculty members to bring innovative research to Huntsville to support federal agencies in the area, as well as the large number of technology-based industries that interact with them. The center also assists in providing employers with interns, co-op students and graduate researchers, many of whom become permanent residents in the area. Rodney Robertson, who directs the center, notes that these activities have an important effect not only on the Huntsville area, but on the state of Alabama as a whole in terms of economic development. He adds that Redstone Arsenal and Marshall Space Flight Center oversee more than $60 billion in federal budgets, that bring with them immense research and technology needs that can be addressed by partnerships with the academic community, including the College of Engineering.

implemented and pays off,” said Randy West, NCAT director. “These are the only pavement testing facilities in the world that use realistic climates, axle loads and speeds. Developing experiments to answer needs about pavement preservation options and validating asphalt mix cracking tests will help us more effectively utilize asphalt pavements, especially those containing innovative and recycled components.” Owned and operated by the Minnesota Department of Transportation since 1994, MnROAD is a reallife accelerated pavement testing facility located approximately 40 miles northwest of Minneapolis that’s committed to providing safer, smarter, and sustainable pavements through innovative research. NCAT’s Pavement Test Track is located 15 miles from Auburn’s campus, where research is conducted on a 1.7mile oval track comprised of 46 test sections. Sponsored on three-year cycles, the track recently completed its fifth cycle of accelerated pavement testing, which included the incorporation of pavement preservation research on Lee County Road 159. NCAT’s sixth research cycle will expand to include a section of westbound lane of U.S. 280 near the pavement test track.

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Thanks from a grateful student Shernovius Bennett, a senior in software engineering, has been deployed overseas on numerous occasions during his time as an Auburn student. Most recently, he served at the Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan with the 187th Fighter Wing from Montgomery, Alabama. During his time serving in Afghanistan, Barbara McCormack, an undergraduate adviser in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, worked tirelessly to ensure Bennett was able to continue his studies and complete classes as a transient student. To show his sincere gratitude upon returning from deployment, Bennett presented a flag to McCormack that was flown on his mission. “I will forever be appreciative for the effort she put forth,” Bennett said. “This is the reason she deserved the flag, to remember her dedication will never be forgotten.” Typically the flags flown on missions are used to commemorate the experience of serving in a war zone or to show appreciation to someone a member of the force feels deserves it. According to Bennett, without the diligent work of McCormack it would not have been possible to graduate in May. “There is nothing having to do with my job that would ever mean as much to me as this,” McCormack said. “For him to think about doing this for me while he is in harm’s way in Afghanistan is just amazing and so very thoughtful.”

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We asked. You answered. Perhaps known as the greatest week for all engineers, Feb. 22–28 marked National Engineers Week and the College of Engineering got in on the celebration. Each day that week, the college posted various questions on our social media sites relating to engineering and time spent on campus as an Auburn Engineering student. We received responses ranging from nostalgic to funny, and also heard advice we can all apply to our lives. See if you can relate to these answers and remember, it’s always great to be an Auburn engineer! Around the world via the Navy then back home with Alabama Power. Both careers allow me to live the Auburn Creed. War Eagle! – Jim Dorsten I hope my Auburn degree helps me open my own business, and that one day I am responsible for some of the greatest structures around the world! – Coreyself23

Commitment and teamwork from my chemical engineering lab. The projects we completed for classes required every ounce of both. Every task programmed us to research all possibilities and to use everyone involved. I love Auburn. I love Auburn Engineering. War Eagle! – Donna Kuberg

Be bold, gracious and humble, but use your energy for the good and be bold. – Carol Elsen Godfrey Say hi to that girl. – Jesse Waters

How you communicate is so important when working on cross-functional teams! Don’t rely just on email or office communicator- sometimes it’s easier to just pick up the phone or walk to someone’s office to listen to questions or concerns and clear things up. Different departments have different perspectives and levels of understanding so make sure you communicate in a way they understand! – Siobhan MacDonald

You can learn math, physics and chemistry anywhere. I wanted to be at a place that would become my new home, and my son’s home as well (he graduates in May with an accounting degree). – Tom Urbanowski I chose Auburn specifically for the biosystems engineering department. For me it was a perfect blend of biology, environmental science and engineering, and the program made me excited about my career choice. I was actually introduced to biosystems at Auburn University at an E-Day almost 10 years ago. Wouldn’t change it for the world. – Lindsay Tucker 15 Auburn Engineering


Slinging mud

Nearly 100 student teams from around the globe got a little mud on their tires at Baja SAE Auburn as students took on steep inclines, maneuverability courses through rough woody terrain, and a four-hour long race on a course littered with hairpin curves, severe drop-offs, sand traps, jagged rocks and murky trenches. The College of Engineering hosted the event for the fourth time at the National Center for Asphalt Technology’s test track in Opelika – which the Society of Automotive Engineers considers the most rugged of all its collegiate design competitions – and saw more than 1,300 students from universities as far away as Egypt, India and Mexico. Auburn’s Baja team earned a sixth-place finish overall, with combined scores from static events including a business presentation and design evaluation, as well as dynamic events in acceleration, hill climb, maneuverability, suspension and the endurance race hosted by Honda. Baja SAE Auburn was the first of three North American Baja SAE competitions held during the 2015 racing season. Auburn’s team plans to kick up the mud again at competitions in Maryland on May 7-10 and Oregon on May 27-30.

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Building on tradition


ne of the classic, most iconic buildings on

An additive manufacturing facility will be incorporated into the

Auburn’s campus will soon be outfitted and

building to allow students to gain experience with emerging

renovated into a state-of-the-art research

fabrication technology, as well as a new polymer and composite

laboratory thanks to a generous gift made

laboratory to continue the college’s research in this area and to

possible by Carol Ann and Charles Gavin.

meet industry needs.

The $15 million project – with $8 million coming from the Gavins

The renovated facility will include traditional research

and the balance from the university – will result in the Textile

laboratories, as well as a lab for the Nuclear Power Generations

Building being renamed the Carol Ann and Charles E. Gavin III

Systems program, a new wind tunnel system, a series of hands-on

Engineering Research Laboratory.

student project areas and collaborative meeting spaces. A paper machine used in microfibrous materials research is also planned

The building, which faces Magnolia Avenue and was originally

for inclusion into the new facility.

constructed in 1929 to prepare future engineers for the textile industry, has served as a vital component to economic

This transformational gift will allow the college to raze the

development in the region and state for more than eight

L-Building and shop buildings, paving the way for a new


engineering student achievement center, which will enhance a multitude of student programmatic support services.

“Charles and Carol Ann’s generous gift will enable the college to retrofit the new laboratory with advanced technologies

The south entrance of the Gavin Engineering Research Laboratory

to serve students for the next 80 years,” says Christopher B.

will also be renovated to allow students more convenient entry to

Roberts, dean of engineering. “This is very important as the

the building when coming from the heart of campus, while also

college continues to provide meaningful hands-on experiences to

providing accessibility to the student achievement center once it’s


constructed. 17 Auburn Engineering

It’s my job

by Morgan Stashick

Kang Sun, ‘14 computer science Network Test Engineer, Core OS Networking team Apple Cupertino, California Typical day . . . my major responsibility is to make sure every Apple product has good network connectivity at all times. My group designs test plans, prepares setup and executes tests for network connectivity including WiFi, cellular network and Bluetooth. I collaborate with people across multiple teams at Apple. Engineering challenge . . . for me, the most challenging part is getting to know the networking protocol in every minor detail as soon as possible. Each protocol is designed with its own architecture or set of rules. Solving technical problems related to these protocols can give an understanding as to why they were designed that way. Living the life . . . there are a lot of smart, amazing folks here at Apple, and it’s a great place to spread an idea and make an impact on the world. Working with brilliant people makes yourself better every day. There is a lot of networking knowledge I can gain here that is not available in textbooks yet, in addition to having access to the latest technologies that I can learn about. Sense of pride . . . being an engineer has the potential to shape the world on a large scale and create something that has never existed before. I am proud to work at Apple to create meaningful, impactful products that are popular with customers. My Auburn Engineering . . . provided me with a solid knowledge of networking that has been a great resource for my career, especially the thesis project I worked on with my computer science and software engineering adviser Saad Biaz. We worked together to implement a binary exponential code backoff algorithm to replace the original binary exponential backoff algorithm in WiFi protocol. It reduced the adverse impact from interference by concurrent transmissions. This was a great lesson on how to plan, start, conduct and complete a project successfully and is important to my career now, because everyone at Apple is responsible for working on one or two product features each year.

18 Auburn Engineering

19 Auburn Engineering

Solution Process: Solution 1: The runners will be divided into groups of 15 people based on ascending order of their race number. Each group will be delayed by one minute. The large delay time would account for path diversion while passing, because the groups would have sufficient time to disperse. The race time would be adjusted based on starting position: t_f’=t_f-t_0. Where t_f’ is the adjusted time; t_f is the raw time; and t_0 is the start time based on group. Solution 2: The runners will be divided into groups of 15 people based on ascending order of their race number. Each group will be delayed by 20 seconds. Because the runners are closer together, their time will be adjusted for diverting their path to pass in the first quarter mile. One passing motion generally results in passing two to three people. Each passing motion will credit the runners’ time in the first quarter mile. Passing Time = (πr_p)/v


While Solution 2 may be more accurate, Solution 1 would be easier to implement.

The average runner has a personal space radius of 2 feet (r_p) Assumptions: Temperature and humidity change between first and last racer’s start time is not significant in short race period Using tracking chips is prohibitively expensive The average runner is running at a constant rate of 6 mph or 8.8 ft/s. (v) Given: Race Distance (d) = 5 kilometers Longest Finish Time = ~45 minutes Number of People (n) = ~150 At the Boston Marathon, the runners’ finish times are adjusted based on a formula that accounts for their position on the starting line. At our own Auburn Engineering Cupola Short Circuit 5k, finishing times are currently unadjusted for time delays and path diversion at the start line. Using engineering judgment, how could race time accuracy be improved?

Problem Statement:

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

Are YOU smarter than a freshman?

For love of the game . . . and engineering by Megan Burmester

From hitting the ball, to hitting the books, Auburn University baseball and softball players from the College of Engineering are learning to juggle the roles of both student and athlete. From waking up in the morning to train for their sport, to catching those much-needed nightly z’s after spending hours studying and completing engineering homework, student-athletes are quickly learning the importance of a work-life balance. It’s not an easy process to achieve, and they have faced their share of bumps along the way, but through sheer perseverance, dedication and a laser focus on the big picture, these individuals are making their mark both in the classroom and on the field. 20 Auburn Engineering

Brett Olson Brett Olson, sophomore in mechanical engineering and player on the Auburn baseball team, has some big shoes to fill, but he’s doing it his way through his education. Olson is the son of legendary Auburn baseball player Gregg Olson, who went on to play for 10 teams in Major League Baseball, including the Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros. “My all-time favorite baseball player would have to be my dad, but we’re different and I’m trying to carve my own path here at Auburn,” Olson said. “I realize attending the same school my father went to made carving that unique path a lot more difficult, but I enjoy it and understand gaining an academic education is just as important as becoming a good baseball player.” And Olson is going above and beyond to achieve that education with many sleepless nights and having up to five tutors at a time to catch him up on engineering subjects. The balance of baseball and school is challenging, but Olson is prepared and determined. A typical school day for Olson involves 8 a.m. classes every day of the week to ensure he is finished by noon and can grab a quick lunch before making it to practice by 1 p.m. Depending on the time of season, practice lasts until 5 or 6 p.m., which is followed by lifting weights, eating dinner and studying with his tutors and completing homework until 10 p.m., or later. “I have to stay committed and I have to keep my routine if I want to have success,” Olson said. “There is a lack of sleep and a lack of free time, but I see the greater good and this was my decision.” Even though his life is structured and every minute is planned, Olson said it helps because others on the team can relate to his schedule. He credits the assistance of classmates, tutors and Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs for providing studentathletes the tools they need to experience continued success in the classroom. “Sometimes it does get tough, but the great thing about the team is there are 34 other guys who can relate,” he said. “I spend more time with them than anyone else, so they help to ease the stressful times because they’re students too who also have a love of the game.” Growing up, that passion for playing the game grew and Olson knew he wanted to take baseball to the next level, while also wanting to flex his academic muscle. “Math and science always came naturally to me, and I knew I wanted to play baseball in college. When it came down to make a decision for where to play, my mother was adamant I had to go somewhere that had a good engineering program, and that place was Auburn,” Olson said. While Olson ultimately hopes to become a professional baseball player, he realizes having that engineering degree in his back pocket would appeal to his “fixer” side. “I do enjoy working with vehicles, machines and weapons to make them safer, and I could see myself working for a government or military agency if baseball did not work out,” he said. “I even thought of joining the Marines to be an engineer in the field. Improving machinery has always interested the engineering part of me.” Whether Olson becomes the next great baseball player or the next great engineer, one thing is for certain: the future looks bright and Olson’s path will be distinctly his own as an Auburn Engineering graduate. 21 Auburn Engineering

Kasey Cooper “Greatness is a way of life” is not just a quote Kasey Cooper likes to read; it’s what this 2014 National Freshman of the Year lives by each day. Cooper, a sophomore in mechanical engineering and Auburn softball player, has proven to be a force as both an athlete and student. The Dothan, Alabama, native was recruited out of high school and was offered both an athletic and academic scholarship, choosing academic to pursue her long-term goals. She even turned down offers from other schools that wanted her to play, but would postpone her work in engineering. “Softball only lasts so long, but my education lasts forever,” Cooper said. “Engineering is what I want to do. I get to solve problems both on and off the field.” While Cooper has garnered many softball accolades – including 2013 Gatorade Alabama Softball Player of the Year and 2014 National Fastpitch Coaches Association Co-Freshman of the Year, among others – her other passion lies within engineering. A student who has never made below a B from elementary school through now, Cooper discovered early on that she enjoyed math and science and could easily grasp those subject-related concepts. Once arriving at Auburn, she quickly learned she could not just rely on her natural talent to get by. “I underestimated the amount of time it takes to complete engineering homework,” Cooper said. “Time management is essential because I can’t procrastinate. I also learned balancing softball with engineering is not as easy as it looks, and I’m no longer afraid to ask for help.” Her original plan was to earn an engineering degree and continue on to medical school to become a surgeon. However, Cooper was offered an internship this summer to work on missile projects, which has sparked another interest. “I’m a bit torn right now because I thought I had my path figured out: graduate with an engineering degree and go to medical school,” Cooper said. “Now, I have this exciting opportunity this summer to work on missiles, and I definitely see myself enjoying that type of work.” Not that Cooper can go wrong either way. In addition to her national athletic honors, she was inducted into the National Society of Collegiate Scholars after earning a 4.0 GPA her freshman year and continues to stay on top of her courses during the season. “I always make my presence known to my professors. I find it helps that I’m attentive and ask questions,” Cooper said. “Therefore, professors are more understanding and flexible when I’m traveling so I can still succeed in engineering.” That success also translates to the field. Auburn’s softball team is currently ranked among the top in the nation, thanks in part to Cooper’s athletic prowess as a powerful left-handed batter who rarely strikes out. For Cooper, the wins Auburn softball continues to rack up is icing on the cake compared to what she gets back from being part of a large group with common goals. “As we say on the team, we have bridesmaids for life,” said Cooper. “We are all in the same boat when it comes to balancing softball, school and some semblance of a social life. But in the end, it is a privilege to live my dream and play softball at the college level.” 22 Auburn Engineering

Hilary Mavromat Hilary Mavromat, senior in chemical engineering, is one of the most multifunctional people you will ever meet. Mavromat has been on the Auburn softball team for five years, holding positions from pitcher to hitter to first base. Since her playing eligibility ended last year, Mavromat has found herself in a new role as an assistant to the team. Now, she sets up drills, practices hitting techniques with players and serves as an announcer during SEC softball games for the SEC Network. Oh, and she manages to squeeze in chemical engineering classes among everything else. “It’s hard and can be stressful, but time management is essential,” Mavromat said. “I have to study whenever I have a gap anywhere in the day.” Those gaps come few and far between which is why Mavromat has to operate under a strict schedule beginning at 7:30 a.m. every day. Her classes last from 8 a.m.-2 p.m., followed by hitting the softball field for practice from 3 p.m.-6 p.m. Following practice, Mavromat eats a quick dinner, followed by studying and homework until it’s time to hit the bed and start all over the next day. “Since I’m now on the staff side, it does make my schedule a little easier, and I can balance classes better,” she said. “When I was a student, it took a lot for me to figure out how to squeeze in homework and classes.” The success Mavromat has had on the softball field extends to the classroom. Initially, when she first came to Auburn her goal was to go to medical school. Upon declaring her plan, she received advice to pursue chemical engineering. “I didn’t realize how difficult chemical engineering would be for me, especially in my junior and senior year,” Mavromat said. “I had to re-learn how to manage my time to continue making good grades and remain on the team.” While Mavromat took advantage of the tutoring services offered while playing, now the tables have turned since the players know her engineering strengths. “Some of the girls on the team do approach me asking about their math and science homework because they know I’m in chemical engineering and those subjects come naturally to me,” Mavromat said. Becoming a dual threat in the classroom and on the field did not come overnight for Mavromat, and she has faced a few speed bumps along her journey. As she describes, a person can learn a lot about themselves from “the game of failure.” The most important lesson, however, is how they handle it and turn it into a positive. While Mavromat may have faced past failures, it’s obvious she triumphed. After graduating in May, Mavromat will pursue a career in the chemical engineering industry, instead of medical school. But she will always be grateful for her time on the team and all the lessons she learned. “Being on the softball team with 20 other girls has given me so many opportunities, including dealing with adversity, challenges and success,” Mavromat said. “I’ve been able to determine my strengths, and the experience I’ve gained will help me go far in life.” 23 Auburn Engineering

24 Auburn Engineering

Collaborating for the common good Calling chemical engineering senior Christy Pickering a renaissance woman may be an understatement. From sun up to sun down, Pickering can be found around campus playing the clarinet in the Auburn University Marching Band, leading the Biomedical Engineering Society as its vice president and serving as a tutor as part of the Study Partners program. One of her biggest time commitments, however, is also one of her most rewarding, as it has the potential to impact chemotherapy patients worldwide. Pickering has partnered with Rusty Arnold, associate professor in Auburn’s Harrison School of Pharmacy, as a cross-disciplinary collaboration to develop more efficient and effective ways to deliver drugs used in chemotherapy treatments. Working with Arnold since 2013, Pickering puts in approximately 10-15 hours per week in his lab as an undergraduate research student. “It’s a big time commitment, but it’s worth it and so rewarding when you think that the research you’re performing could potentially have an impact on curing cancer,” Pickering says. Pickering and Arnold are researching ways to use a more active targeting approach which would allow liposomes — small spherical particles used in chemotherapy — to attack only the cancer cells in the body. Instead of just using the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin as the treatment method within the liposome, Pickering has also been incorporating gold nanoparticles as an imaging contrast agent to closely examine the tumors. Pickering believes if she and other researchers can put doxorubicin and gold nanoparticles into the liposomes at the same time and ensure it travels to the tumor cell, the cell could be imaged at the same time it is being killed. This would create a combined diagnostic and therapeutic capability in one particle. In connection with the nanoparticle research, the Enhanced Permeability and Retention Effect (EPR Effect) is a characteristic of the tumor that liposomes capitalize on for delivery and allows them to locate potential tumors. Because tumors grow so quickly, they stimulate the production of blood vessels, creating a more porous cell wall and disorganization among the blood vessels. Holes in the tumor’s blood vessels allow the liposomes to pass through the vessel walls and into the tumor. According to Pickering, the EPR Effect is a passive way to target a growing tumor since medical professionals are relying on the liposomes to naturally locate cancerous tumors by passing through the blood vessel. One treatment, called Doxil, is a liposome with doxorubicin encased in it. “By using the liposome injections we can see an increase in the cancer cell death based on image contrasting,” Pickering says. The research in Arnold’s lab has garnered national attention and has earned her a $5,000 Gateway to Research Scholarship from the American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education. The scholarship recognizes and supports faculty-mentored research in pharmaceutical sciences.

25 Auburn Engineering

The magnificent seven Seven Auburn Engineering graduate students have been recognized for academic excellence by Auburn University’s Graduate School. Students were nominated by their department, and a total of 24 winners from across several disciplines were selected by a committee of graduate faculty. Hyejin Park of materials engineering was selected as one of four Merriwether Fellows, an honor awarded to doctoral students who show great promise in their academic fields. Aubrey Beal of electrical and computer engineering and Robert Herring of chemical engineering were selected as outstanding doctoral students, and Nathaniel Carson of mechanical engineering, Alex Kelly of chemical engineering, Sneha Neupane of biosystems engineering and Michael Perez of civil engineering were named outstanding master’s students. From the outstanding graduate student honorees at the doctoral level, Beal was also selected as the Graduate School’s President’s Award winner.

Computing for first

International engineer Katherine Windham, a junior double majoring in chemical engineering and German, has been selected for the German Academic Exchange Service Research Internship in Science and Engineering (DAAD-RISE) undergraduate research fellowship this summer. Windham was one of 300 students selected from more than 2,000 applicants across the nation to conduct undergraduate research as part of the DAAD-RISE program. While in Germany, she will be working in the lab of Maximilian Kohns at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern conducting experiments relating to molecular simulations of aqueous and organic electrolyte solutions.

The Auburn Programming Team was in a race against the clock at the Association of Computing Machinery’s International Collegiate Programming Contest (ACM-ICPC) South East Regional. Five teams, each consisting of three students from Auburn’s Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, competed in the annual event in Atlanta, hosted by Georgia Tech. Each team received one computer to share, five hours and 10 long word problems to solve through computer programming. Students involved in the competition spent much of their free time during the fall semester preparing for the event by attending weekly practices, studying algorithms, programming languages and general computing. All five Auburn teams put on an impressive show, placing in the top 15 out of 47 teams, including both first and second place. William Hester, junior in computer science and software engineering, served as a student coach as well as a member of the second place team. “I was confident going into this competition that we were going to be fairly successful,” said Hester. “It was an amazing result seeing our teams place as well as they did.” The regional contest serves as a host to advance teams to the ACM-ICPC World Finals, to be held in Morocco in May.

26 Auburn Engineering

Standout among standouts Civil engineering junior Rebecca Nylen is setting herself apart from the best civil engineering students in Alabama and in the nation. She has received the 2015 Eugene Glysson National Chi Epsilon scholarship, one of only 11 national and nine district scholarships presented by the civil engineering honor society annually. Scholarship applicants were evaluated on GPA, university activities, offices held, honors and awards, service to community, work and research experience and a personal essay. “I am grateful that my hard work has been recognized on a national level and I am thrilled to represent Auburn University,” Nylen said. “Chi Epsilon is a prestigious organization and it means a great deal to be recognized by them.” In addition to being recognized nationally, Nylen has been named the 2015 Student Civil Engineer of the Year by the Alabama section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The selection was made by a panel of ASCE members from Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina. “I have learned a great deal through my leadership experiences and involvement with ASCE, and many of my current accomplishments are thanks to this organization,” Nylen said. “I hope to continue my involvement with ASCE throughout my professional career and help to advance the civil engineering profession in any way possible.” Nylen serves as secretary of Auburn’s chapter of ASCE and is involved in the concrete canoe team. She is also active in Auburn’s chapter of the American Concrete Institute and participates on Auburn University’s cross country and track and field teams.

Shooting for the moon A two-semester senior design project has concluded with six mechanical engineering students seeing stars. Constructed with nearly 20 handmachined parts, seniors Mike Ciuzio, Dylan Gouletas, Chris Hewitt, Zach Karamallakis, Michael Keyser and Maggie Murphy have built a Newtonian reflecting telescope. The device will allow star gazers to not only view astronomical objects, but also photograph them using automated, controlled tracking.

Scholarship smarties Christy Pickering and Connor Dobson, seniors in chemical engineering, were named 2015 national Goldwater Scholars by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education program. Pickering, as seen on page 25, is a Huntsville, Alabama, native, and performs research with Rusty Arnold, associate professor in the Harrison School of Pharmacy. Her research investigates a different approach to encapsulate gold nanoparticles within the aqueous core of liposomes and improve tumor targeting. These multifunctional gold-lipidic drug carriers may lead to an increase in efficacy and reduce toxicity of chemotherapeutic drugs used to fight cancer. “I am incredibly honored to have been recognized by such a prestigious award,” Pickering said. “Conducting undergraduate research has opened up my passion for pharmaceutical research and continues to challenge me. By working with Dr. Arnold, my skills and knowledge have grown tremendously, and I am excited about the opportunities available.” Dobson is from Jacksonville, Florida, and is also partnering with Arnold and other research students to examine the synthesis of multifunctional gold nanoclusters that can be used in combination with stealth nanoparticles to improve cancer detection and drug delivery. “I am humbled to have been selected for this honor,” Dobson said. “It reflects the wealth of opportunities and incredible group of faculty here at Auburn who have provided mentoring and guidance in my undergraduate studies.” The scholarship is awarded to only 300 students nationwide each year to encourage them to continue scientific research. It is generally recognized as the most prestigious award in the United States for undergraduates pursuing a major in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

27 Auburn Engineering

minutes with Melinda Sava Interviewed by Gail Riese

A wife, a mother of three boys all under the age of 6, and an Auburn engineer who became a doctor – whew! How does she do it all? Melinda Sava, a 2001 chemical engineering honors college graduate, says she’s still trying to figure it out and owes much of her maternal and professional successes to her engineering degree. A Birmingham native, Sava met her husband, Trevor, while both were attending Auburn, and today the family resides in Nashville.

GR: Why did you want to be an engineer and then decide to become a doctor? MS: I like science and math and wanted a major that focused

Health with Premier Radiology. As a radiologist, I interpret

on those subjects. I was drawn to engineering because it was

image-guided procedures to help diagnose and treat disease.

challenging and gave me career options. After working at Southern Company, I decided to pursue a career in medicine. I enjoyed the problem-solving and principles behind engineering and wanted to apply those same principles to people and health, rather than to plants and power. It was a challenging transition, but one I am thankful I made.

GR: Where did you attend medical school and what is your field of study? MS: I attended the University of South Alabama College of Medicine for four years and finished a year-long internship in Birmingham. After my internship, I completed a five-year residency in radiology and a fellowship in breast imaging at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. I didn’t think much about radiology when I applied to medical school, but I was drawn to the specialty for its growing technology and the opportunity to do image-guided procedures for patients.

GR: Where do you work and what is it like being a radiologist? MS: I work in Nashville at the St. Thomas Center for Breast 28 Auburn Engineering

images such as mammograms, X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans and MRIs, make recommendations to referring doctors and perform I primarily see women who are getting mammograms to help detect possible breast cancer or to evaluate a breast concern. I enjoy educating women through an often-anxious time, working with an interdisciplinary team of clinicians, surgeons, oncologists, therapists and technologists to help individualize patient care in an ever-growing field of medicine.

GR: How did you make the transition from engineer to doctor? MS: Engineering was not about memorizing and regurgitating facts, but rather about applying science, solving problems and predicting processes with multiple variables. I approach patient care with that same mentality and am always thinking a few steps ahead, which makes each day different and keeps my job challenging and rewarding.

GR: What is it like coming home to three little boys after a full day of work? MS: Trevor and I have three sweet little boys who happen to be big Auburn fans: Hunter, 5; Hayden, 4; and Maylon, 2. They keep us laughing and very busy. Although I believe my Auburn

Engineering education has made me a better professional, I might argue that it has also made me a better mom, too. I’m pretty good with Legos and can assemble a pretty awesome train track!

GR: I understand you and your husband, a 2001 international business and logistics graduate, aren’t the only members of your family to earn Auburn degrees. MS: My mom, three brothers and many of my cousins are alumni. My oldest brother, Adam, who also lives in Nashville,

GR: Why did you decide to attend Auburn? MS: Having grown up in Birmingham as an Auburn fan,

graduated in electrical engineering in 1997. Patrick graduated in

attending Auburn for my undergraduate education was definitely

design degree in 2005.

2003 with a business degree and David completed an industrial

a consideration. After looking at many colleges, I decided Auburn was my best fit. I loved the opportunities it offered me. I could pursue a degree in engineering, but still have the option to

GR: Do you have many opportunities to visit Auburn? MS: My parents still live in Birmingham, which makes for a nice

obtain other majors and minors without transferring to another

stop from Nashville to Auburn. We attend at least one football

university. I was excited to be a part of the Honors College and

game each season and are excited to live in Nashville, which is

receive scholarships and not assume huge student loans. And,

close to our alma mater so we can share the fun with our kids.

I was pretty sure I would have fun living in an environment with nice people, while not being too far from home. Auburn more than exceeded my expectations.

29 Auburn Engineering

by Austin Phillips Because This is Auburn is a $1 billion campaign to propel the university forward through a renewed commitment to our students, a continued promise to the state and a shared responsibility to the world. The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering has embraced a bold vision to become one of the nation’s premier engineering institutions by being the best student-centered engineering experience in America, a leader in providing research that improves the quality of life and fosters economic competitiveness and building a dynamic faculty that exemplifies excellence and innovation. To accomplish these goals, the college is committed to raising $200 million as part of this campaign. To meet this vision, the college has identified four key areas — student programmatic support, scholarships and fellowships, facilities and faculty — to help provide students with the tools, skills and competencies necessary to apply today’s engineering and business practices in order to become tomorrow’s leaders in developing and deploying the latest technologies. The college will enhance the engineering experience for its students with improvements including the construction of a student achievement center that will consolidate a multitude of student support activities and services. This center is being made possible through a generous gift of $30 million from John and Rosemary Brown, who graduated from Auburn in 1957 with degrees in chemical engineering and chemistry, respectively. The Browns’ gift of $57 million is the largest in university history. (For more information on the Browns’ gift, see page 10.) The college will also designate $70 million in funds for excellence for student programmatic support, create 250 new endowed scholarships and fellowships and create 40 new endowed professorships and chairs. “To be successful in this campaign, we need your help,” says Christopher B. Roberts, dean of the College of Engineering. “We would like for our alumni to feel they are an integral part of this campaign, to recognize that together we’re all Auburn Engineering. It is important for us to support the next generation of engineers and to ensure that we continue to make our alumni proud. The support of our alumni is what distinguishes the Auburn experience from others. “We invite all of our alumni to be part of this campaign by pledging your support to ensure the college’s ability to provide students the same foundation for personal and professional growth that Auburn once afforded you.”

Annual gifts

Ways to give To give back by investing in our students and faculty, contact the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering Office of Development at 334.844.5222 or devengr@auburn.edu. Visit us online at eng.auburn.edu/giving

30 Auburn Engineering

• • • •

Unrestricted giving Annual scholarships Annual fellowships Specific programs/departments

Planned gifts • • • • • •

Wills/charitable bequests Charitable gift annuities IRA beneficiary Real estate Closely held securities Charitable trusts – Remainder trust – Lead trust


Giving societies and programs

• Endowed scholarships (undergraduate level) – Named scholarships

• Named endowed tuition scholarships

• Endowed fellowships/assistantships (graduate level) – Named endowed fellowships/assistantships – Three-year continuing fellowships

• Endowed professorships

Endowed chairs – Named endowed faculty chair – Named endowed eminent scholar chair – Named endowed presidential chair

Keystone Society – $10,000 annual unrestricted giving for five years – Total of 78 members – Total of $3.7 million raised since 2001

• Engineering Eagles Society – $1,000 annual giving – Total of 939 members – Total of $7.1 million raised since 2001 • 100 Women Strong – $1,000 annual giving to the program – Total of 115 members – Total of $377,446 raised since 2012 • Shelby Brick Program – personalized brick for $250 or more – Total of 595 bricks sold – Total of $188,529 raised since 2008 31 Auburn Engineering

Sushil Adhikari,

associate professor of biosystems engineering, has been recognized as one of the world’s most influential minds. In a report titled “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds: 2014,” Thomson Reuters presents the authors of the most highly cited research works of the past decade. To be listed, a researcher’s work must be among the top 1 percent most cited in his or her area of scientific research during the year of publication. Adhikari, the only Auburn University researcher and one of only six listed who are conducting research in Alabama, is named in the engineering category for his research focusing on bioenergy and biofuels.

Prabhakar Clement

and Joel Hayworth, faculty members of civil engineering, as well as graduate students Fang Yin and Gerald John, have published research findings showing the Deepwater Horizon oil spill continues to impact the Alabama beach system. These articles appeared in Elsevier journals’ “Marine Pollution Bulletin” and “Science of the Total Environment.” The research team has been documenting the impact the oil spill has had on Alabama’s beaches and nearshore environment since it occurred in June 2010, and has worked closely with 32 Auburn Engineering

the coastal communities of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores.

Larry Crowley, associate

professor of construction in the Department of Civil Engineering, has received the 2015 Glenn Howze Academic Freedom Award from the Auburn chapter of the American Association of University Professors. The award represents Crowley’s high ethical standards and professionalism while providing active and ongoing support for the faculty’s role in shared university governance.

Virginia Davis, graduate

program chair and alumni professor of chemical engineering, was invited to accept the 2015 Conference of Southern Graduate Schools and Educational Testing Service Award for Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Education on behalf of the Department of Chemical Engineering. Davis was recognized by the awards committee for her work in leading the department’s efforts to recruit, enroll and retain Latino students and women in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

Gisela Buschle-Diller, professor of polymer and fiber engineering, has been named to the Global Teaching Academy by the Auburn University

Office of International Programs. She was one of eight inductees chosen by the academy, an on-campus organization that recognizes faculty for their exceptional teaching and dedication to international programs. Working with the College of Engineering Office of Student Services, Buschle-Diller coordinates the research abroad program for undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of Polymer and Fiber Engineering.

Hulya Kirkici, professor

of electrical and computer engineering, has been named Auburn University’s Presidential Administrative Fellow for the spring 2015 semester. For her project, “Best Practices: MidCareer Women Academic Success in STEM Fields,” Kirkici will collect data on how peer institutions enhance mid-career women faculty members in science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs. Her goals include enhancing or establishing institutional mentorship programs, cluster hiring, research collaboration initiatives, institutional fellowship and institutional climate change.

Joseph Majdalani,

department chair of aerospace engineering, is the recipient of the 2015 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) National Faculty Advisor Award. The award is presented to a faculty

member who has made outstanding contributions as a student branch adviser in local, regional and national activities. Nominated by the Auburn University student branch, Majdalani earned the national recognition for “unwavering devotion to student success in the AIAA Southeast region, yielding eight regional and two national AIAA awards.”

Justin Marshall, assistant professor of civil engineering, has been honored with Chi Epsilon’s James M. Robbins Excellence in Teaching Award for the Southern District. The award seeks to recognize dedication to teaching in the civil engineering profession or associate engineering fields. As the recipient from the Southern District, Marshall was chosen as a top educator from 14 institutions. Anton Schindler,

professor of civil engineering and director of the Highway Research Center, has been selected to serve as chairman of the American Concrete Institute’s Self-Consolidating Concrete committee. The 100-member committee includes engineers, architects, researchers, educators, contractors and materials specialists from around the world. The group focuses on selfconsolidating concrete, which is a highly flowable, nonsegregating concrete that can spread into place, fill the framework and encapsulate a reinforcement without any mechanical consolidation.

Tony Skjellum, director

of the Auburn Cyber Research Center, has co-authored a book titled “Using MPI: Portable Programming with the Message-Passing Interface.” It is the third edition of the publication, which has become a standard in the field of scientific computing. Skjellum has also been recognized for

his contributions to digital forensics and scientific computing through admittance into the American Academy of Forensic Sciences’ Digital & Multimedia Sciences section, as well as designation as a senior member of the Association for Computing Machinery.

Alice Smith, W. Allen

and Martha Reed professor of industrial and systems engineering, has been selected to join the editorial board of “IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering,” a journal published quarterly by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. As an associate editor, she will help select and review manuscripts on fundamental automation research that provide results to practical problems in industries such as agriculture, health care, biotechnology, manufacturing and transportation.

Puneet Srivastava, professor of ecological engineering in the Department of Biosystems Engineering, has been named the Butler-Cunningham Eminent Scholar in Agriculture and the Environment at Auburn following an internal search. Only the third Auburn faculty member to be awarded the honor since its establishment in 1990, Srivastava will be responsible for developing strong research, education and extension programs that integrate agricultural and environmental issues to improve the quality of life in rural and urban communities. Bruce Tatarchuk,

Charles E. Gavin III and Carol Ann Gavin endowed chair of chemical engineering and director of the Microfibrous Materials Manufacturing Center, has been selected to receive the Auburn University Faculty Achievement Award from the Southeastern Conference

(SEC) for 2015. As part of the honor, Tatarchuk will receive a $5,000 honorarium and will serve as the faculty representative from Auburn University among other SEC schools.

David Timm, Brasfield

& Gorrie professor of civil engineering, served as a keynote speaker at the 2nd International Conference on Sustainable Urbanization in Hong Kong. Timm’s keynote address, “Pavement Design: Past, Present and a Sustainable Future,” provided a comprehensive view of pavement design in the U.S. and featured perpetual pavement research findings from the National Center for Asphalt Technology’s pavement test track in Opelika, Alabama. Last December, Timm was recognized for his work in this area by being invited to serve as chairman of the Transportation Research Board’s committee on flexible pavement design.

Levent Yilmaz, professor of computer science and software engineering, and Alice Smith, W. Allen and Martha Reed professor of industrial and systems engineering, are leading an international collaboration to further develop advanced model-driven simulation experiment management and optimization methods. The researchers are partnered with Halit Oğuztüzün, associate professor of computer engineering at the Middle East Technical University, the top ranking university in Turkey. Wesley Zech, Brasfield

& Gorrie associate professor of construction engineering and management in the Department of Civil Engineering, has been named presenter of the year by the International Erosion Control Association for his presentation “Evaluation of inlet protection practices using large-scale testing techniques.” 33 Auburn Engineering


From left, Samuel Ginn and Melissa Herkt


Each year since 2001, the Auburn Alumni Association has recognized Auburn University graduates with its highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award. The prestigious distinction honors recipients for their extraordinary achievements and service to the university. The 2015 Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to four individuals, including engineering graduates Samuel Ginn ’59 and Melissa Herkt ’77. Samuel Ginn, ’59 industrial management and namesake of the College of Engineering, is a wireless communications industry leader. With more than four decades of telecommunications experience, his leadership and vision changed the course of the wireless industry. After serving with the Army Signal Corps, he began his career in 1960 as a student engineer with AT&T. He rose through the ranks at AT&T and in 1977 was appointed vice president of network operations for AT&T Long Lines. The following year Ginn joined Pacific Telephone Group as vice president, later taking the helm as chairman and CEO of Pacific Telesis. He restructured the company and in the early 1990s he planned the spinoff of the business’s wireless assets and launched AirTouch Communications, serving as its chair and CEO. AirTouch later merged with United Kingdom-based Vodafone Group, where Ginn assumed the position of chairman. During his tenure, Vodafone merged with Verizon to create Verizon Wireless, the largest wireless telecommunications network in the United States. Ginn was awarded an honorary doctorate by Auburn in 1998 and served on the university’s board of trustees from 2005-13. He was instrumental in the creation of Auburn’s wireless engineering 34 Auburn Engineering


degree program and serves on its wireless advisory board. Ginn was inducted into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 1992 and named to the Wireless Hall of Fame in 2014 by the Wireless History Foundation. Melissa Herkt is an authority in the field of project management, with industry experience ranging from petrochemicals to pharmaceuticals. She graduated with honors from Auburn in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and was Auburn’s first female engineering cooperative education student. Following graduation, she was employed by Exxon’s research and engineering unit and became the company’s first female engineer to be sent overseas. During her tenure at Exxon, Herkt was named as the company’s first female construction manager and was responsible for more than $700 million in projects while in France, Denmark and the United Kingdom. She then became president of Process Systems and Solutions, a division of Emerson Process Management. She directed all division work and oversaw more than 4,000 employees who produced almost $900 million in annual revenue. Today, Herkt lives in Austin, Texas, and continues to impact young engineers through her commitment to engineering education. She serves on the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council and the Auburn University Foundation board, and provides scholarships to students pursuing a career in civil engineering through the Melissa Brown Herkt Endowment. As a result of her impressive achievements throughout her career, Herkt has earned numerous accolades including induction into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 2008 and the National Academy of Construction in 2009.

State of Alabama

Engineering Hall of The State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame honors the outstanding accomplishments of individuals, corporations, institutions and projects that bring significant recognition to the state. The 2015 induction ceremony was held in Auburn in February with five individuals and three projects being recognized, including three Auburn alumni that serve as outstanding representatives of the College of Engineering, as well as the Auburn University MRI Research Center.


DeMaioribus serves on the Auburn University Board of Trustees. He is the past chair of both the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Industrial Advisory Board. DeMaioribus has received the Distinguished Auburn Engineer Award and has been named an Outstanding Alumnus of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.



J. David Irwin has remained at the forefront of engineering as both a technology innovator and Michael DeMaioribus earned pioneering educator for more than bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 45 years. He earned a bachelor’s electrical engineering from Auburn degree in electrical engineering from in 1976 and 1977, respectively, where Auburn in 1961 and master’s and he received the president’s award as doctoral degrees from the University the outstanding engineering graduate. of Tennessee in 1962 and 1967, After graduation, he joined Dynetics respectively. After a brief stint at in Huntsville, Alabama, as an engineer From left, Buzz Miller and Mike DeMaioribus Bell Telephone Laboratories, where charged with evaluating the effectiveness he was promoted to a supervisor, Irwin returned to Auburn as an of foreign air-defense radars against U.S. aircraft. assistant professor in 1969. DeMaioribus quickly advanced through various positions at His keen ability to effectively teach and mentor students, while Dynetics, beginning a career that evolved the field of engineering also leading research, led him to be selected as head of the through the analysis, evaluation and development of highly Department of Electrical Engineering in 1973. Irwin became a full complex systems for the defense and intelligence sectors. These professor in 1976 and was named the Earle C. included radars, guided missiles and Williams Eminent Scholar in 1993. During his integrated air-defense systems. During his time as department head he initiated projects time at Dynetics, he has been responsible that strengthened Auburn’s prominence in for engineering, program management, engineering, including developing a strong technical direction, quality control and faculty active in the Institute of Electrical and staffing for systems analysis, modeling and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), securing a new simulation, electrical and mechanical system building for the department and establishing design, development, testing and evaluation. the second microelectronics laboratory in the He helped the company grow from 30 to Southeast for teaching and research. He was 1,400 employees and was named senior vice also instrumental in developing the nation’s president for the Hardware and Intelligence first accredited wireless engineering degree Operating Unit, which includes 250 program at Auburn. engineers and technicians in five locations nationwide and a $50 million budget. Irwin is the author of “Basic Engineering Circuit Analysis,” a textbook now in its 11th In 2013, DeMaioribus was promoted edition and considered one of the top three to executive vice president of business in the field. He also co-authored the textbook operations over what is now a $300 million “Introduction to Computer Networks company. He is responsible for financial and Cybersecurity.” Recently published, and material tracking systems necessary it is already considered one of the most to manage large part inventories and incomprehensive texts in this emerging area of house labor costs, along with subcontractor technology. Irwin’s research and development costs. He is also responsible for contracts, David Irwin, right, with Hall of Fame Chairman achievements in signal processing, as well as information technology, security, human Jim Bambarger his development of a system for protecting resources and facilities.






35 Auburn Engineering

against denial of service attacks, have significantly increased internet security in this country.


Irwin has received IEEE’s highest award for education, the James H. Mulligan Jr. Education Medal. In addition, the IEEE Industrial Electronics Society created the J. David Irwin Early Career Award in recognition of the many contributions Irwin has made to the development of young professionals. He is an IEEE life fellow, as well as a fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has received the Distinguished Auburn Engineer Award and Auburn University’s Presidential Award for Excellence.


The center, which sits in the Auburn University Research Park and is overseen by the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, enhances health care in the region as engineers work alongside technicians and scholars in a unique environment. Leased space in the center is devoted to area medical clinicians, including a neurosurgeon specializing in minimally-invasive management of brain tumors and brain and spinal cord trauma. The center also houses an orthopedics and sports medicine practice, as well as an outpatient physical therapy group.


He earned a bachelor’s degree Siemens Verio open-bore 3 Tesla scanner. in chemical engineering from Auburn in 1983 and began his career in Alabama in the oil-field and power-plant service industries before joining Alabama Power in 1986 in the chemistry and environmental support section of nuclear generation.


After a series of assignments at Alabama Power and Southern Nuclear, he became federal regulatory affairs manager of Southern Company in Washington, where he also served for a year at the Nuclear Energy Institute as acting vice president of legislative affairs. In 1998, he was named assistant to Bill Dahlberg, CEO, president and chairman of Southern Company. A year later, he was elected vice president for government relations, responsible for managing the company’s Washington staff and its efforts with Congress and agencies of the executive branch. In 2006, he was elected to his current position.


The $14 billion Plant Vogtle project is groundbreaking in its goal to expand nuclear power in the U.S., and Miller has spearheaded the effort every step of the way. His management and leadership resulted in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issuing the first nuclear combined construction and operation license in more than three decades. His activity in the project ranges from directing negotiations for the plant’s first contracts to implementing organizational designs and models for nuclear development that ensure continued success of the project’s safety, quality, cost and schedule.

36 Auburn Engineering

The Auburn University MRI Research Center advances critical technology required to solve complicated medical challenges, meets society’s health care needs and improves economic growth in Alabama. Opened in November 2010, the $20 million, 45,000-square-foot facility houses two of the most powerful research and clinical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners in the world. The Siemens Verio open-bore 3 Tesla scanner is the most powerful MRI certified by the Federal Drug Administration for clinical use. The Siemens 7 Tesla MRI scanner is the nation’s third actively shielded, whole-body scanner and is one of only three 7T scanners located in the Southeast, and one of less than 20 such scanners in the United States.


Joseph (Buzz) Miller is leading an ambitious project to build the first two nuclear reactors in the United States in more than 30 years, an effort that will supply power to the Southeast for generations. As president of nuclear development for Southern Nuclear and executive vice president of nuclear development for Georgia Power, Miller oversees construction of Vogtle 3 and Vogtle 4, two new nuclear reactors at the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in eastern Georgia.

Miller also supports engineering education at Auburn. He helped establish the Nuclear Power Generation Systems program in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, and also serves on the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council. He is a member of Auburn Engineering’s Ginn Society for his philanthropic contributions to the college.

Auburn Engineering researchers are collaborating with counterparts at Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine in a federally funded study of how dog’s brains process smells in an effort to improve training of detector dogs, as well as another study of how a dog’s brain reacts to human emotions. Researchers from engineering and psychology also work with the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory in Fort Rucker, Alabama, and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to study the structures and activity of the brains of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan in an attempt to better understand post-concussion syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder. Auburn is also partners with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in a project to improve detection of early onset schizophrenia. In another partnership with UAB, the center provides the core for patient-centered studies on specific types of heart disease.

Advancing tomorrow's technology By Austin Phillips

Through the largest gift given to Auburn University specifically designated for advancing research, the Alabama Power Foundation has created the Charles D. McCrary Institute to improve the security and operations of our nation’s infrastructure while valuing natural resources and conservation. The creation of the institute will enable Auburn to attract nationally recognized faculty who are at the forefront of emerging technological issues, while leveraging existing university resources and personnel to broaden the institute’s technological impact and to inform policy and practice. University President Jay Gogue said the formation of the institute will begin this year with the establishment of an advisory council and the search for a director who will oversee and direct the institute’s day-to-day operation. The university will look to appoint a director that is an eminent scholar with a national reputation for excellence and has expertise in infrastructure security or industrial systems. Three leading faculty members will be recruited to endowed chairs in power grid design and protection, cyber security for infrastructure protection, and energy production and efficiency, Gogue said. Gogue also said significant emphasis will be placed on developing partnerships to expand the breadth and depth of the institute’s

impact. Potential partners at the federal and state level may include the Department of Energy, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Department of Homeland Security and the Alabama Forestry Commission. Ramsay Hall is slated to house the institute’s administrative offices on campus. The institute was named in honor of McCrary, ’73 mechanical engineering, following his retirement in April 2014 from Alabama Power Company as president and CEO. During his tenure as chief executive, McCrary led the company through some of its most significant natural-disaster challenges, including Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, and the devastating tornadoes of 2011. McCrary is a member of the Auburn University Board of Trustees, as well as a leader in numerous civic, business and educational initiatives including serving as chairman of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama and a key figure in the creation of the seven-county Birmingham Business Alliance. He is an avid outdoorsman and serves on the board of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. 37 Auburn Engineering

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