Auburn Engineering - 2018 Fall Magazine

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uburn A E N G I N E E R I N G



Five Minutes With

To New Beginnings Auburn University conferred nearly 5,800 degrees during the institution’s spring and fall commencement ceremonies, including more than 800 engineering bachelor’s degrees. Susan Story, ’81 industrial engineering and president and CEO of American Water Works, served as the speaker for the spring ceremony while Walt Woltosz, ’69 aerospace engineering, served as the speaker for the fall ceremony. Read more about the two outstanding alumni on page 12.

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From the Dean I enjoy writing these columns in Auburn Engineering because it gives me the opportunity to bring our readers up to date on our academics, our research, our people and our building program, and the bold new direction we’re taking. I am going to do something a little different this time, which is to keep my comments brief. So, first things first. The photo that accompanies this article was taken in the lobby of the Gavin Engineering Research Laboratory, which is now complete and in the process of being occupied by graduate students and researchers from throughout the college. Charles Gavin was on campus recently to help us dedicate it, and I hope that he will return, with many others, to see the dedication next fall of the Brown-Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center. Indeed, our ongoing building program, which began with Ross Hall, Wilmore Labs and the MRI Center, and then segued to Shelby Center – and the Davidson Pavilion addition to Broun Hall – has energized us. When I look to the lab space that was available to me 30 years ago (ow!) and compare that to the facilities we have now, I can tell you that we are looking at a truly remarkable transformation. Just as remarkable is the increase in our student body over the past decade, and the growth of our faculty over the past three years, with approximately 80 new teachers, lecturers and researchers. These faculty impress me in ways that are hard to describe. Over the past year we have had an increase of 60 percent in our extramural research proposals, a testament to the energy they have brought with them. They join what I know is an already world-class cohort of seasoned faculty who have done much to show them the way. Moreover, dedicated alumni such as Gavin and Walt Woltosz have supported their efforts by doubling down on the number of graduate fellowships we offer. I am extremely thankful for all of our donors, without whom this kind of progress would not happen. So, as I was walking back to my office from the Gavin Laboratory after the photo shoot, and checklisting some things along the way – yes, getting a little bogged down in the middle of the day in the middle of the academic year with the same kinds of problems you face every day – I looked ahead to the promise of the new calendar year. It made me think about why we are doing the things we are doing, the progress made, the roadblocks challenged, and the path ahead, all for one reason: to educate the best possible engineers for the changing world ahead. We are working hard to make it happen, embracing the challenge – and having fun. I hope you will join us!

Christopher B. Roberts

Contents Fall 2018 Volume 28, Issue 2

4 From the Dean Message from Dean Christopher B. Roberts 6 Happenings A snapshot of some recent accomplishments in and around the college

DEAN Christopher B. Roberts


Inspire. Innovate. Transform. Auburn is on the move by elevating research that offers real-world solutions


The Next Dimension in Manufacturing Auburn Engineering has emerged as a national leader in additive manufacturing research

EDITOR Austin Phillips

Sour Power Bruce Tatarchuk is taking a new direction in his research that looks to bold frontiers in energy

CONTRIBUTORS Chris Anthony Teri Greene Christine Hall Jeremy Henderson Sylvia Masango Eduardo Medina Carol Nelson

Trauma and the Brain Researchers at the MRI Research Center are taking a closer look at PTSD


GRAPHIC DESIGN Danny Doyle WEB MANAGER Tyler Patterson PHOTOGRAPHY Isabella DeLain Jim Killian Marcus Kluttz Visit Auburn Engineering online at for videos, photos and more. You may also submit news items, suggestions or comments by clicking the Contact Us tab. Auburn Engineering is published twice yearly by the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

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Transportation Innovation The GPS and Vehicle Dynamics Laboratory, or GAVLAB, is taking a hands-off approach to driving

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Research Renovation The Gavin Engineering Research Laboratory has been renovated into a state-of-the-art research facility Elite Student Experience The Brown-Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center will serve as the new home base for Auburn Engineering

It’s My Job Herbie Johnson, ’94 civil engineering and general manager of hydrogeneration for Southern Company, is helping power the region one drop at a time


5 Minutes With Victoria Jordan, who earned a master’s in industrial engineering in 1987 and her doctorate in the same discipline in 2006, is the vice president of quality at Emory Healthcare


From the Faculty Peter He, associate professor of chemical engineering, and Jin Wang, the Woltosz Professor of chemical engineering, are developing process monitoring techniques for smart manufacturing


Faculty Highlights Our dynamic faculty exemplifies excellence and innovation through cutting-edge research, instruction and outreach


The Award Goes to . . . The Auburn Alumni Engineering Council honored three alumni as Distinguished Auburn Engineers, two as Outstanding Young Auburn Engineers and one for Superior Service to the college

Engineering Communications and Marketing c/o Editor 1320H Shelby Center Auburn, AL 36849 334.844.2444 © 2018 Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, Auburn University

Auburn University is an equal opportunity educational institution/employer.




Frank Cilluffo named McCrary Institute Director Auburn University has taken another step forward as a leader on the national stage of cybersecurity with the naming of globally renowned cyber expert Frank Cilluffo to direct Auburn’s Charles D. McCrary Institute for Cyber and Critical Infrastructure Security. Cilluffo is a member of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission and the Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory Council, and he’s routinely called upon to advise senior officials in the executive branch, U.S. Armed Services and state and local governments on an array of matters related to national and homeland security strategy and policy. In addition to briefing Congressional committees and their staffs, he has publicly testified before Congress on numerous occasions, serving as a subject matter expert on policies related to cyber threats, counterterrorism, security and deterrence, weapons proliferation, organized crime, intelligence and threat assessments, emergency management, and border and transportation security. Similarly, he works with U.S. allies and organizations such as NATO and Europol. He has presented at a number of bilateral and multilateral summits on cybersecurity and

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counterterrorism, including the U.N. Security Council. Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Cilluffo was appointed by President George W. Bush to the newly created Office of Homeland Security. There, he was involved in a wide range of homeland security and counterterrorism strategies, policy initiatives and served as a principal advisor to Director Tom Ridge, heading the president’s Homeland Security Advisory Council. Cilluffo joined George Washington University in 2003, establishing the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security as a prominent nonpartisan “think and do tank” dedicated to building bridges between theory and practice to advance U.S. security. He served as an associate vice president where he led a number of national security and cybersecurity policy and research initiatives. He directed the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security and, with the School of Business, launched the university’s World Executive MBA in Cybersecurity program. Prior to his White House appointment, Cilluffo spent eight years in senior policy positions with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based

Frank Cilluffo

think tank. There, he chaired or directed numerous committees and task forces on homeland defense, counterterrorism and transnational organized crime, as well as information warfare and information assurance. He has published extensively in academic, law, business and policy journals, as well as magazines and newspapers worldwide. His work has been published through ABC News, Foreign Policy, The Journal of International Security Affairs, The National Interest, Parameters, Politico, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, USA Today, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Quarterly and The Washington Post. He currently serves on the editorial advisory board for Military and Strategic Affairs, and has served as an on-air consultant for CBS News and as a reviewer for a number of publications and foundations.

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Auburn Engineer, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, ’81 mechanical engineering, will be sworn in as Tennessee’s 50th governor in January. The Republican businessman defeated former Nashville mayor Karl Dean by 20 points in the Volunteer State’s November 2018 election, receiving 59 percent of the vote to Dean’s 39 percent. The political outsider made a name for himself during the primary season by touring Tennessee in an RV, visiting each of the state’s 95 counties in 95 days. Lee joined Lee Co., his family’s Franklin-based home services company, immediately after graduating Auburn. Lee Co. has more than 1,200 employees and currently touts an annual revenue of more than $225 million. Lee served as the company’s CEO from 1992 to 2016.

Bill Lee

Three honored for innovation Three Auburn Engineering faculty members were recognized for their research endeavors and mentorship in November at Auburn University’s annual faculty awards ceremony. The awards honor some of the institution’s most innovative teachers, researchers and scholars for their unique and distinguished contributions to advancing the university’s mission to inspire, innovate and transform in the community and beyond.

Shiwen Mao

Shiwen Mao, the Samuel Ginn Professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Wireless Engineering Research and Education Center, was one of three winners of the university’s Creative Research and Scholarship Awards. These awards honor the research achievements and contributions of faculty who have distinguished themselves through research, scholarly work and creative contributions to their fields. Pradeep Lall, the MacFarlane Professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Center for Advanced Vehicle and Extreme Environment Electronics, was honored with the Research and Economic Development Advisory Board Advancement of Research and Scholarship Achievement Award. It is presented to a faculty member in recognition of high-quality, competitive research and scholarly activity that exemplifies and advances Auburn’s research and scholarship mission. Virginia Davis, Alumni Professor of chemical engineering, was presented with the Provost Award for Faculty Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring. Established in 2012, this award recognizes faculty who demonstrate a strong commitment to undergraduate research, whose efforts support Auburn students interested in careers in research and creative works and who have demonstrated outstanding service to students.

Pradeep Lall

Virginia Davis

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Accepting the challenge Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering has been approved as a participating institution of the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges Scholars Program. In 2008, the NAE identified 14 grand challenges for engineering in the 21st century. Solving these problems is key to enhancing sustainability, health, security and the joy of living for the world’s citizens. These challenges are a call to action for engineers and a focal point to raise public awareness. The 14 grand challenges for improving life on the planet include: advancing personalized learning, making solar energy economical, enhancing virtual reality, reverse-engineering the brain, engineering better medicines, advancing health informatics, restoring and improving urban infrastructure, securing cyberspace, providing access to clean water, providing energy from fusion, preventing nuclear terror, managing the nitrogen cycle, developing carbon sequestration

methods and engineering the tools of scientific discovery. As part of the grand challenges call to action, the NAE promotes the development of Grand Challenges Scholars Programs to prepare engineers to tackle the challenges. The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering’s vision for the Auburn program is to broaden educational experiences, enhance students’ understanding of challenges facing society and enhance student and graduate engagement in finding solutions to societal issues. Participation in the program will enhance students’ understanding that solutions will require the input of multiple disciplines, that communication skills are critical to enable one to effectively

advocate for, or against, an idea and that both the challenges and solutions have impacts globally. “Auburn is excited to start a Grand Challenges Scholars Program and be at the forefront of preparing students for meeting the grand challenges to improve quality of life on the planet and potentially beyond,” said Edward Davis, director of the Auburn Grand Challenges Scholars Program and assistant professor of mechanical engineering. “Auburn’s program will produce students with the skills, broad knowledge base, social awareness and ideas required to significantly contribute to developing solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.”

On the Rhodes again Natalie Palmquist, a senior in civil engineering from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, was named as a finalist for the 2019 Rhodes Scholarship, which allows recipients to pursue graduate studies at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Only 32 U.S. students are chosen for the annual scholarship. The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering has produced two of Auburn’s five Rhodes Scholars. Hugh Long, ’49 electrical engineering, received the scholarship in 1948. Matthew Rogers, ’18 software engineering, became a Rhodes Scholar in 2017.

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Natalie Palmquist


Master of Engineering Management ranks 5th in nation The Master of Engineering Management was ranked No. 5 among the Top 50 Online Master’s Degrees in Engineering Management in the country, according to The Master of Engineering Management, housed in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and the Thomas Walter Center for Technology Management, offers students working

in an engineering discipline the chance to earn a well-rounded graduate degree through a combination of business management courses and specific engineering options including manufacturing, occupational safety and ergonomics, and systems. A product innovation option will launch in the near future. The ranking was compiled using data from College Navigator and evaluated tuition, customization options and each program’s relevant offerings. The Master of Engineering Management was selected among the top five for its

comprehensive core curriculum, faculty excellence and commitment to providing online students with the tools and resources they need to achieve their educational and career goals.

Auburn leads $2 million DOE project maximizing fuel economy Auburn University researchers are leading a $2 million U.S. Department of Energy project with the potential to improve fuel efficiency and economy. The project, led by principal investigator and assistant professor of biosystems engineering Yi Wang, will create a bio-based fuel additive that can be blended with diesel fuel to reduce soot and greenhouse gas emissions and yield cleaner engine operation in cold-weather conditions. The project is one of 42 totaling $80 million awarded by the DOE to support advanced vehicles technologies research. Approximately $10.1 million of the funding will support six projects, including the one led by Auburn, focusing on the co-optimization of engines and fuels.

Yi Wang

Other collaborators include Cornell University, the University of Alabama, Virginia Tech and corporate partners Microvi Biotech Inc. and EcoEngineers.

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Honoring a legacy David Dixon, ’76 civil engineering and member of The Dixon Foundation board of directors, has been selected by the Civil Engineering Advisory Board as its first emeritus member. After graduating from Auburn, Dixon earned his master’s in the same discipline from Stanford University in 1977, and then went to work for Brasfield & Gorrie. During his 28-year career there,

he worked his way up to the position of vice president of the Office and Retail Division and served as a member of the board of directors. In 1996, Dixon left Brasfield & Gorrie to take over the family business – the Dixon Group – where he served as president. Dixon was presented a plaque commemorating his emeritus status during the Civil Engineering Advisory Board’s meeting in October.

David Dixon

Fourteen Auburn Engineering student-athletes receive first-year SEC Academic honors

BASEBALL Ford Luttrell – Pre-Software Engineering Winston Morgan – Pre-Aerospace Engineering Blake Schilleci – Software Engineering

Fourteen Auburn Engineering student-athletes were named to the 2017-18 First Year SEC Academic Honor Roll announced in June. Recognition is based on grades from the 2017-18 academic year.

MEN’S BASKETBALL Brett Easterling – Pre-Mechanical Engineering

Each student-athlete must: • Have a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or above at the nominating institution; • If a student-athlete attends summer school, his/her grade point average during the summer academic term must be included in the calculation used to determine eligibility for the Academic Honor Roll; • Student-athletes eligible for the Honor Roll include those receiving an athletics scholarship, recipients of an athletics award (i.e., letter winner) and non-scholarship student-athletes who have been on a varsity team for two seasons; • A student-athlete must have successfully completed 24 semester or 36 quarter hours; • The student-athlete must have been a member of a varsity team for the sport’s entire NCAA Championship segment. Listed here are Auburn Engineering’s student-athletes that earned recognition from the SEC:

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EQUESTRIAN Nicole Ellis – Pre-Civil Engineering FOOTBALL Tanner Dean – Pre-Civil Engineering Barrett Tindall – Pre-Civil Engineering SOCCER Alyssa Malonson – Pre-Biosystems Engineering MEN’S SWIMMING & DIVING Hugo Gonzalez – Pre-Computer Science Thomas Heinzel – Pre-Mechanical Engineering Spencer Rowe – Pre-Engineering MEN’S TENNIS Diego Chavarria – Pre-Industrial Engineering MEN’S TRACK & FIELD Craig Clark – Pre-Civil Engineering WOMEN’S TRACK & FIELD Ashley Carter – Pre-Computer Science


Hester named state’s Outstanding Co-op Student Daylon Hester, ’18 electrical and computer engineering, was selected the state of Alabama’s Outstanding Co-op Student of the Year. This is the ninth consecutive year an Auburn Engineering student has won the statewide award. The award was presented by the Alabama Association of Colleges and Employers at its annual conference in Huntsville. Hester completed three full-time co-op work semesters with Georgia Power Co. in Athens, Georgia, before graduating summa cum laude from Auburn University in May. During his tenure with Georgia Power, Hester worked his way up to positions of increasing responsibility, eventually managing projects exceeding $100,000. His accomplishments during his co-op include diagnosing a chronic high-voltage issue in a power system, overseeing the extension of a pole line through a heavily wooded area next to a major road and serving on a first-response team following a tornado outbreak in January 2017.

Daylon Hester

Digital diversity Jakita Thomas, the Philpott-WestPoint Stevens Associate Professor of computer science and software engineering, is one of more than 100 faculty members that will be supported by the Southeastern Conference Faculty Travel Program in 2018-19.

Jakita Thomas

Thomas used the program in August to visit Vanderbilt University to collaborate with fellow SEC faculty members Nicole Joseph of Vanderbilt University and Tisha Ellison of the University of Georgia. The trio began working on an article titled “‘My Father Was a Natural Builder’: Exploring the Relationships Between Black Fathers and their Daughters’ Interest, Motivation, and Self-efficacy in STEM” that will be submitted to the journal Equity & Excellence in Education. As a result of their collaboration, Thomas and Joseph were awarded $100,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation to start a conference on black girls’ and women’s mathematics and computing identities. The first conference is planned for the summer of 2019.

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Happenings Cherri Pancake

Pancake elected ACM president Auburn University alumna Cherri M. Pancake was elected to a twoyear term as president of the Association for Computing Machinery.

Susan Story

Walt Woltosz

Distinguished speakers

Pancake, ’86 doctorate in computer science, received her bachelor of arts from Auburn University, where she was the first woman to be admitted to any graduate engineering program in 1982. She is a professor emeritus and Intel Faculty Fellow of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Oregon State University, and director of the Northwest Alliance for Computational Science and Engineering.

Susan Story, ’81 industrial engineering and president and CEO of American Water Works, and Walt Woltosz, ’69 aerospace engineering and founder of Words+ and Simulations Plus, were speakers this year during the spring and fall graduation ceremonies, respectively.

As president of ACM, Pancake said her vision is to proactively engage educators, practitioners and researchers in developing areas of computing through providing publication opportunities and conferences that will aid in pushing advances in their fields.

Woltosz managed the development of innovative simulation and modeling software for key space and military systems early in his career. Since 1981, Words+, Inc., – a firm he and his wife, Ginger, founded – has been a leader in creating state-of-the-art products that “unlock the person” by providing the highest quality communication and computer access tools available – products that have been recognized by the Smithsonian Institute. When world-renowned astrophysicist Sir Stephen Hawking’s ability to communicate was compromised by ALS, it was Woltosz’s Equalizer and EZ Keys programs that allowed Hawking to communicate his groundbreaking work. In 1996, Woltosz founded Simulations Plus and turned his inventor’s eye to developing simulation and modeling software for drug discovery and development. Today, Simulations Plus products are used by more than 200 pharmaceutical firms, including the world’s top 25, helping to analyze new products and saving millions of dollars in research and development costs.

Along with Pancake, the new officers elected by ACM professional members represent almost 100,000 computing professionals and students who comprise the association’s international membership.

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Story has served as CEO of American Water Works – the largest publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company – since 2014. She spent 31 years at Southern Company, where she served as CEO of Southern Company Services and president and CEO of Gulf Power Company. She serves as the independent lead director for Raymond James Financial and is on the Dominion Energy board of directors. She also serves on the Moffitt Cancer Center Board of Advisors.


College establishes Office of Career Development and Corporate Relations The college has established a new Office of Career Development and Corporate Relations, formerly known as Career Connections. The new office will be temporarily located in the Shelby Center until it is moved to the highly anticipated Brown-Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center upon its completion in 2019.

The purpose of this office is to provide Auburn Engineering students with professional development skills, give them experiential education opportunities, educate them regarding career options available in each of their fields and provide them with access to companies eager to hire Auburn engineers. Apryl Mullins has been named assistant director of the new office, and she comes to the college with almost 20 years of experience in the Office of Development and Office of Alumni Affairs at Auburn University, including 13 years in the College of Engineering.

New director, unique perspective

degree in human resource education and workforce development.

Glynn Cavin is the new director for Auburn Engineering Online and Continuing Education. As director, Cavin will oversee the long-range planning and manage the day-to-day activities of the graduate online program and continuing education office. Cavin arrives to Auburn from Troy University where he was the associate vice chancellor for TROY Online and was responsible for the operation and strategic direction of Troy’s academic programs for more than 6,700 online students. Before Troy, Cavin served in the United

Glynn Cavin

States Air Force for 24 years. He earned his undergraduate degree in business management from the University of Louisiana – Lafayette. He earned a master’s degree in transportation economics from the University of Tennessee and a doctoral

To learn more about these programs, visit

Apryl Mullins

“The College of Engineering is extremely fortunate Glynn has chosen to join our online and continuing education office,” said Jeff Fergus, associate dean of program assessment and graduate studies at the College of Engineering. “He brings a unique perspective, and has the knowledge and experience necessary to grow our graduate online and continuing education programs. I look forward to working with him to elevate Auburn Engineering Online and Continuing Education.” Cavin succeeds Greg Ruff, who recently retired after more than 20 years with the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

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Track star The seventh cycle of accelerated pavement testing launched this year at the National Center for Asphalt Technology test track and consists of new mixture performance sections, instrumented structural sections and extended traffic sections. NCAT’s test track – the only high-speed, full-scale accelerated pavement testing facility in the world – is a 1.7-mile oval with experimental sections sponsored on three-year cycles by highway agencies and the transportation industry. During each cycle, a fleet of heavily loaded trucks applies over a decade of interstate-type traffic to 46 test sections while the performance of each experiment is closely monitored. Damaged sections are then analyzed to determine the contributing factors to pavement distresses. The 2018-2020 cycle includes continuing studies and new experiments in areas such as balanced mix design, rejuvenators, pavement preservation and reflection cracking.

NCAT’s test track – the only high-speed, full-scale accelerated pavement testing facility in the world – is a 1.7-mile oval with experimental sections sponsored on three-year cycles by highway agencies and the transportation industry.

Since its original construction in 2000, findings from this unique resource have improved materials, specifications and design policies across the country.

Royal Randy Randy West, research professor and director of the National Center for Asphalt Technology at Auburn University, was awarded a Distinguished Visiting Fellowship at the United Kingdom’s Royal Academy of Engineering. He is the first faculty member from Auburn to receive the recognition. The program enables academic engineering departments in the U.K. to strengthen their research and teaching capabilities and promote global collaborations by hosting international experts. As part of his fellowship, West’s two-week trip in July was hosted by Yuqing Zhang of Aston University in Birmingham, England. The visit included facility tours and discussions of future research

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Randy West (center)

opportunities with the Aston Institute of Materials Research and the European Bioenergy Research Institute at Aston University, the Nottingham Transportation Engineering Centre of the University of

Nottingham, sustainable building materials and construction solutions company Tarmac Trading Limited and MacRebur Limited, a start-up company from Scotland that turns waste plastics into asphalt additives. To learn more about NCAT, visit


Recognizing excellence Melissa Brown Herkt, ’77 civil engineering, was chosen to receive the Construction Industry Institute’s Carroll H. Dunn Award of Excellence in July. The award was established in 1985 to honor an individual for significant achievements in improving the engineering and construction industry. The award is CII’s highest honor and is recognized as one of the most prestigious awards of its kind. Herkt retired as president and COO of Emerson’s Process Systems and Solutions business unit, a company that produced almost $900 million in annual revenue, and she is a member of the university’s Foundation Board and the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council. She is active with the college’s Engineers Without Borders organization, having traveled four times with students and faculty to Bolivia to help a local village build irrigation, hydroponics and wind power systems, and the college’s 100+ Women Strong program, which aims to enhance the recruitment, retention and rewarding of Auburn women in engineering.

Melissa Brown Herkt

Recognized for her contributions to the engineering and construction industry, Herkt received CII’s Outstanding Implementer Award in 2004 and the Richard L. Tucker Leadership and Service Award in 2012. She was inducted into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 2008, the National Academy of Construction in 2009 and she received the Auburn Alumni Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award — the university’s highest honor — in 2015. The Auburn Alumni Engineering Council also named her as a Distinguished Auburn Engineer in 2015.

Auburn’s first Astronaut Scholar Aerospace engineering senior Mike Wietstruk is the first Auburn University student to receive the merit-based scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation and was one of 50 students from 36 universities across the nation to be awarded. Along with receiving the prestigious award, he also became a member of the Astronaut Scholar Honor Society. The Astronaut Scholarships are awarded to science, technology, engineering and mathematics

(STEM) students in their junior or senior year of college who intend to advance in their field or continue their research upon completion of their degree. This year’s recipients were honored at the 2018 Innovators Gala, which was held in August in Washington D.C. The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation was founded in 1984 by six of the surviving Mercury 7 astronauts to ensure the United States would remain the global leader in technology.

Mike Wietstruk

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TRANSFORM. Auburn University is on the move with a drive to inspire, innovate and transform in its community, the state of Alabama and throughout the nation and world. We are doing so by elevating research that offers real-world solutions, taking student leadership to new heights, expanding our role as a partnership university and broadening our commitment to diversity and inclusion. 16 | Auburn Engineering

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The Next Dimension in Manufacturing BY STAFF

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Features Mechanical engineering doctoral students Basil Paudel (left) and Jonathan Pegues look at a 3-D computer-aided design model in the additive manufacturing lab in Wiggins Hall. The lab will soon be relocated to the Gavin Laboratory.


ASA inspires the world with its mission of space exploration, scientific discovery and development of new technology. That’s why Auburn has partnered with NASA to employ 3-D printers that will build components for the next generation of spacecraft and even work onboard a spacecraft supporting a U.S.-led program for a human return to the Moon. That is just one component of Auburn’s thrust as a national leader in additive manufacturing research, which allows manufacturers to fabricate parts layer-by-layer from metals, plastics or other materials using a 3-D computer-aided design model.

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To expand upon its existing relationship with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Auburn has formed the National Center for Additive Manufacturing Excellence, or NCAME, and is already collaborating with more than 50 industry and government partners. The center, which is housed within the college’s Gavin Engineering Research Laboratory, is pushing the boundaries of research to improve the performance of parts that are created using additive manufacturing, and to share research results with industry and government collaborators and respond to workforce development needs in the additive manufacturing industry.

“Our college has a long history of collaboration with NASA and the nation’s space programs,” said Christopher B. Roberts, dean of engineering. “The establishment of this new center will allow us to work together to solve critical challenges in additive manufacturing that will help achieve our nation’s aerospace goals. We have made major investments in faculty, laboratories and equipment to achieve a leadership position in additive manufacturing.” John Vickers, NASA principal technologist, echoed Roberts’ vision for the center. “The advancements we are seeing in additive manufacturing technologies are truly amazing and will aid


Additive manufacturing allows engineers to create components with highly complex shapes that may not be able to be fabricated through traditional manufacturing processes.

the development of more capable and lower-cost propulsion systems and spacecraft to benefit all of NASA’s science, engineering and spaceflight endeavors,” he said. “Auburn’s vision and focus on additive manufacturing research closely aligns with NASA’s strategy to partner with and incorporate innovations from universities and industry to accelerate technology advancement and to help us achieve our NASA space exploration missions.” The center is also part of a new Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence, a collaborative effort with ASTM International, engineering and technology nonprofit EWI and the U.K.-based Manufacturing Technology Centre.

Participants signing the ASTM International Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence Statement on Cooperative Agreement. From left: Auburn University President Steven Leath; ASTM International President Katharine Morgan; Alex Kitt, Product Manager, EWI Buffalo Manufacturing Works; and Benjamin Dutton, Manufacturing Technology Centre.

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This partnership will direct its efforts to the development of new standards for the additive manufacturing industry, as well as conducting research to advance additive manufacturing technology and workforce development. “Additive manufacturing is a disruptive technology enabling designers and developers to create next-generation, precision-engineered products that couldn’t be made any other way,” Auburn President Steven Leath said. “Auburn is a national leader advancing this important new technology, and we’re excited to partner with NASA and ASTM International.” The new research centers also have major economic development implications for Alabama. More than 43,000 Alabamians work in the metal manufacturing industry, while the state’s fabricated metal manufacturing exports were worth $400 million in 2016, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce. “Alabama is an innovative leader in employing additive manufacturing techniques,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said. “By Auburn University, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and ASTM International working together, the public and private sectors will jointly bring about important technological advances and bring further opportunities for workforce development. This will ultimately produce a stronger, even better workforce and more opportunities for Alabamians to provide for their families.”

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Arash Soltani, doctoral student in mechanical engineering, operates an AM 250 additive manufacturing machine located in Wiggins Hall. The lab will soon be relocated to the Gavin Laboratory.

On a national scale, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, has awarded $6 million to Auburn University over the past three years for research and the development of techniques to improve the additive manufacturing industry. “Auburn University has become a national leader in the field of additive manufacturing,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala. “These NIST grants will provide Auburn the unique opportunity to innovate and empower engineering industries, boosting efforts to promote the continued economic growth of our manufacturing sector. The re-

search, training, and development that will take place as a result of this funding will allow the university to advance additive manufacturing and continue competing on a national stage.” This funding from NIST will allow NCAME to expand its programs to include new research on metrology, which is the measurement and characterization of 3-D printed parts, and advanced process models that will allow engineers to predict the properties and performance of these 3-D printed parts. The research resulting from this grant will have a strong technical and economic impact on various industries in the United States.

Biomedical breakthrough Auburn University is innovating life-changing medical devices through 3-D printing. Researchers from multiple disciplines are converging to reshape biomedical implants and orthotics by using additive manufacturing to create these life-changing products. The research launched with support from the university’s new Presidential Awards for Interdisciplinary Research, or PAIR, a $5 million program created by Auburn University President Steven Leath. The research team will receive $1.3 million over three years to create an optimal experience for patients requiring neuromuscular and skeletal implants and orthotics. With 3-D technology, devices are custom-made to conform to each patient’s unique injury and physiology, said Nima Shamsaei, NCAME director. Biomedical devices created by additive manufacturing will significantly increase efficiency and customization while decreasing cost, said Shamsaei, who leads the research. In traditional procedures, the surgeon works with a standard implant or orthotic with minimal opportunity for modification. Researchers hope to turn that model on its head. “With this method, we can scan patient anatomy, get all the information in order to design and print the part and send it to the operating room,” Shamsaei said. Employing this technology, the physician will receive an implant or orthotic that is intricately catered to the patient awaiting it. In addition, additive-manufactured biomedical devices will cut production time substantially.

The PAIR funding will give the ongoing research a tremendous boost, said Scott Thompson, associate professor of mechanical engineering who specializes in additive manufacturing. “It’s going to allow us to procure some very critical equipment to make our in-house capabilities stronger,” Thompson said. “It’s also going to fund six graduate students and bring together 15 faculty members from across campus, including researchers from the business school, veterinary sciences, engineering and pharmacy.” In the College of Veterinary Medicine, there is a potential for 3-D-printed orthotics to aid the in the care of horses, and additive-manufactured implants can be used in surgeries involving small animals, including cats and dogs.The Harrison School of Pharmacy’s research efforts have yielded implants with the capacity to provide drug delivery, resulting in on-the-spot pain relief and infection prevention for patients. Researchers from the Harbert College of Business are exploring the entrepreneurial front, outlining start-up companies that are focused on this specialty that will involve future Auburn graduates. “Our goal over the next three years is to prove the concept and to show the possibility of using this technology in a wider way for the biomedical industry,” Shamsaei said. “We expect this project to bring us to the forefront of additive manufacturing research for biomedical applications.”

This additively manufactured bone plate implant for dogs is used to immobilize fractured bones.

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ruce Tatarchuk, who has long been recognized for his work in catalysis and microfiber technologies, is taking a new direction in his research that looks to bold frontiers in energy. His latest effort is literally taking place at the end of a long road – in the scrublands of Texas where oil and gas fields reign supreme.

It’s where Tatarchuk and his team are running a pilot project that aims to reclaim natural gas that would otherwise go unused because it is ‘sour’ in the vernacular of the industry. Too high in sulfur content, it is either flared, vented or capped at the well, a shutting-in process that generally costs more than $500,000 per well after $2 million is spent drilling it. “The presence of hydrogen sulfide or mercaptans (organic sulfur compounds) in natural gas is what causes the problem here,” Tatarchuk explained. “We remove the sulfur in a way that is much more efficient than traditional approaches, by using a patented selective oxidative catalyst that directly transforms 97 percent of sulfur contaminants into elemental sulfur.” Tatarchuk notes that traditional methods of desulfurization generally cost significantly more than a dollar per thousand cubic feet of natural gas. The approach that his group is developing cleans the gas up for 13-17 cents per Caption goes here. Caption goes here. thousand cubic feet.

Sourcat desulfurization technology is owned by Sourgas LLC, a subsidiary of Intramicron, Inc., an Auburn-based company that has a long track record in applied catalytic research and microfibrous technology. Auburn University has an equity position in the corporation, which was founded by a team led by Tatarchuk, who is the Gavin Endowed Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering. “We believe that this is an important technology that will open up new possibilities in energy production and utilization,” Brian Wright, director for commercialization in Auburn’s Office of Innovation Advancement and Commercialization, said. “It represents a new phase in the life of an Auburn start-up, and our office is excited to continue its long-term partnership with IntraMicron.”

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Bruce Tatarchuk, center, discusses the technology surrounding a demonstration site located in Texas about an hour out of San Antonio in the Eagle Ford shale formation. Pictured from left are Mario Eden, chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering; resident engineer Kylie Webb; Brian Wright, director of commercialization in Auburn’s Office of Innovation Advancement and Commercialization; Tatarchuk; Steve Taylor, associate dean of research in the College of Engineering, and resident engineer Harrison Wright.

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At the heart of the process is a skid-mounted pilot unit that the Auburn team installed about an hour from San Antonio, Texas, in the Eagle Ford Shale gas and oil field. Called the Sourcat 100 MSCFD System, it was demonstrated for a 540-hour run that culminated in

October. Its oxidative sulfur removal process converted up to 97 percent of the hydrogen sulfide in the gas stream into elemental sulfur. “This process resulted in the production of pipeline-spec natural gas,” Tatarchuk said. “We pulled

in gas with sulfur concentrations ranging from 125 ppm (parts per million) to 2,000 ppm and successfully treated it to an outlet gas sulfur level of less than 4 ppm. It works even when the level of sulfur in the gas varied widely, which is often not the case with other technologies.” Tatarchuk, who is widely recognized for his career-long work in catalysis, also noted that the catalyst used in the process is cost-effective, and robust, showing no signs of deactivation when it experiences feeds with high levels of condensable hydrocarbons. “We also gave it real-world testing involving multiple shutdowns that are caused by external events,” Tatarchuk added. “These kinds of stop-and-go cold starts are a true test of the efficacy of the system, and even under these conditions we experienced up to 97 percent removal of H2S (hydrogen sulfide). Tatarchuk points as well to the flexibility of the system, which can be placed at gathering points, compressor stations, sales points and even directly at the well head. It also offers remote monitoring capabilities and emergency shutdowns with alarm notifications.

Traditional methods of desulfurization generally cost significantly more than a dollar per thousand cubic feet of natural gas. The approach that Tatarchuk’s group is developing cleans the gas up for 13-17 cents per thousand cubic feet.

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“We have two to three Auburn engineers on site at the pilot plant that is staffed 24/7, but I always like to point out that what they are monitoring can be done off-site as well, and will be in the future,” Tatarchuk said. “I always like to say that one of our co-op students can literally monitor the process from his dorm room.”


Resident engineers Harrison Wright and Kylie Webb, both ’15 graduates in chemical engineering, monitor the pilot plant’s technology from an on-site trailer that contains both office space and living quarters. The technology can also be monitored and adjusted off-site.

The pilot site is essentially a tenthscale rendition that has proven the success of the process. “When we scale this to a commercial level we will be able to produce gas at a far lower cost, and in smaller volumes, than competing processes, so it means that shut-in, flared, vented or unproduced gas can be brought to market,” Tatarchuk explained. “This represents as much as 30 percent of the gas associated with the Eagle Ford and Bakken formations.” To put it in perspective, he noted that a city the size of the Washington, D.C., metro area could “run off of that amount of gas ten times over.” In addition to the jobs and energy security that would be a part of the economic potential, Tatarchuk points to environmental benefits as well.

In terms of global warming, vented methane absorbs infrared radiation at night 20 times more strongly than CO2, he points out. But the primary benefits will be economic in nature, with new electric generation capacity generally moving to gas from coal and nuclear. “The challenge in this scenario is cleaning up ‘sour’ gas to the point that it can be produced and moved,” Tatarchuk said. “And to do so economically, which is where we come in. We are looking beyond the current technology of $25 million scrubbers, and we are not using large-scale plants and chemical scavengers with our process. We can make pipeline-spec gas in a single pass, using a robust catalyst.” He adds that the Sourcat system is modular and more easily moved from site to site as wells move through their production cycles.

“It means better access to what the industry calls stranded or remote wells, because their output level doesn’t justify building pipelines that can handle the corrosive nature of gas with either low or high sulfur content. I like to call them ‘hindered’ wells, however, because there is a fix to this situation that our technology addresses.” Finally, Tatarchuk noted, that in addition to economic and environmental factors, this new process would bring added stability to the natural gas grid, which is only a step away from the electric grid. “Unlike liquid fuels, natural gas cannot be stored, so this technology provides a new technology that can assist the energy grid through a higher level of efficiency at a lower cost,” he concludes. “It’s a win-win situation for all involved.”

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Trauma and the Brain BY CHRIS ANTHONY

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An interdisciplinary team of researchers in Auburn University’s MRI Research Center, located within the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, is using a technique called functional magnetic resonance spectroscopy to study the biochemistry of people with post-traumatic stress disorder.


he goal of the project is to understand better the neurobiological basis of working memory deficits in people with PTSD, a disorder that affects an estimated 24.4 million Americans, according to the nonprofit PTSD United. PTSD causes anxiety and flashbacks triggered by a trauma, such as combat exposure, sexual violence or an accident.

In addition to feeling afraid or stressed, people with PTSD also commonly report difficulties with concentration, attention or memory. “I’m particularly interested in those cognitive impairments, and I would like to better understand them so that we can find ways to treat them,” said Meredith Reid, the project’s principal investigator and a research assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering. Auburn’s state-of-the-art MRI Research Center is home to one of the first actively-shielded whole-body 7 Tesla MRI scanners available for research use in the United States. Reid says the 7T scanner is ideal for this study because it is more sensitive and better able to detect metabolites in the brain and how they vary over time. “We know from functional MRI that people with PTSD have reduced brain activation during cognitive processes, and there’s some evidence of a neurometa-

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bolic abnormality, but no one has determined whether these two are related,” Reid said. “Functional MRS and the 7T here at Auburn will help us address that.” Led by Reid and Auburn psychology faculty Jeff Katz and Frank Weathers, the study will be conducted by performing functional MRS scans on 60 subjects divided among three groups. One group will include people with a clinical PTSD diagnosis, and the second group will include those who underwent a traumatic event but did not develop PTSD. The third group of subjects will not have experienced a traumatic event. “The study volunteers will undergo a brain scan while they are performing a working memory task,” Reid said. “For example, they will see a series of letters on the screen and they will have to decide if the current letter is the same as the one they just saw. And while they’re doing that, we will measure the metabolites in their brain and look for how it changes during the memory test.” In the short term, the researchers hope to discover how PTSD affects working memory, but a long-term goal is to use the research as a basis for developing new medications to treat with PTSD. The study is a four-year project supported by a $623,854 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.

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Meredith Reid, research assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering (shown at bottom right), is leading a four-year, $623,854 study examining the biochemistry of people with PTSD.

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Transportation Innovation BY AUSTIN PHILLIPS

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ach day, people rely on hundreds of GPS, navigation and timing devices and instruments to assist in everything from driving directions to counting steps. However, those devices are not completely accurate 100 percent of the time.

In the case of truck platooning, researchers take low-cost commercial sensors on production vehicles and conceive intelligent ways of fusing data together through smart algorithms developed in the lab to enable close-gap following to improve fuel economy – as much as a 5 percent savings – and safety.

But thanks to research being conducted within the Auburn University Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, those gaps in timing and location are being closed.

“It improves the safety for the driver of the trucks, it improves the safety for the people around the trucks while improving fuel savings for the fleet owners operating these trucks, which improves the bottom line. And, ultimately, if you’re cutting fuel you’re reducing emissions. It has benefits sweeping across a wide range of things,” said Bevly, who has served as principal or co-principal investigator on more than $20 million in extramurally funded research and holds three patents related to GPS technology and vehicle control.

The GPS and Vehicle Dynamics Laboratory, or GAVLAB, within the college focuses on navigation and positioning, in addition to vehicle dynamics and controls, with much of the research being conducted at the intersection of the areas. GAVLAB research is led by mechanical engineering faculty David Bevly, the Bill and Lana McNair Distinguished Professor, and Scott Martin, assistant research professor, and is assisted by more than 30 graduate and undergraduate students. The research focusing on vehicle dynamics and transportation systems includes heavy trucks, passenger cars and off-road vehicles, including conventional and autonomous vehicles. Projects have included truck platooning; improved steering control of GPS-guided farm tractors; driver assistance systems, vehicle and driver monitoring; and navigation and control of unmanned ground vehicles.

As a result of this research, Auburn is one of six organizations involved in a two-year study assembled by the American Center for Mobility to further research and test automated convoy platooning using military and commercial grade trucks. The study aims to autonomously control an entire fleet of commercial and military vehicles – braking, throttling and steering – while optimizing fuel efficiency and safety. It is the first study of this scope attempted in the United States. Meanwhile in Canada, Auburn University and two of its research partners recently made history by

conducting the first ever on-road commercial truck platooning trial in the Great White North. In concert with FPInnovations and Transport Canada, Auburn researchers conducted successful highway platooning tests Oct. 29 through Nov. 2 on highways around Montreal and surrounding areas in Quebec. The platoon consisted of two heavy-duty transport trucks. Auburn has tested its truck platooning technology on U.S. highways before, but these tests offered a new environment for testing. “The system combines sensors, measurements from a radar and GPS data with other vehicle information such as brake and throttle status shared over a dedicated short range communication radio in order to maintain accurate gap spacing and enable safe platooning,” Bevly said. “We believe the testing we were able to perform in conjunction with our Canadian partners helped us move forward in validating the technology. Specifically, it provided us with a unique opportunity here to test in conditions that were new to us, and are grateful for the assistance of Transport Canada and FPInnovations.” A distance of between 65 to 100 feet was kept between the two trucks, which allows a passenger vehicle to safely cut in between the vehicles. The truck platoon travelled several hundred miles on highways with normal vehicular traffic. Visit Auburn Engineering online at

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Much of the GAVLAB research is conducted at the National Center for Asphalt Technology’s 1.7-mile test track, with some recently being tested across the Canadian border.

“Auburn’s system proved to be very reliable even in the rainy and snowy conditions we experienced. We were able to spend most of our time on the road with the platooning mode engaged,” said Edouard Proust, a PIT Group engineer with FPInnovations. “This is a great achievement. It’s a little soon to make a conclusion on the data that was gathered, but the system reacted properly to vehicle cut-ins and to road conditions.” In addition to truck platooning, GAVLAB research also centers on methods for assured positioning, navigation and timing. “While GPS provides us very accurate navigation information when available, it can be degraded in

some environments with heavy foliage or urban canyons where buildings block the signals,” said Scott Martin, assistant research professor. “We’re working to improve the availability of GPS and to improve accuracy of the navigation solutions by combining GPS with additional sensors, cameras, lidar and radar commonly found on production vehicles that can be used to improve the robustness of our solutions.” These solutions could be used to assist navigation for vehicles, pedestrians and the visually impaired. “Positioning has become ubiquitous,” Bevly said. “We want to know where we’re at or how to get somewhere, and we want that all the time. We expect it now.”

In addition to the research being conducted, the GAVLAB is also producing the next generation of engineers and navigation experts who can go into industry and help solve these critical problems. These engineering graduates have gone on to work for the defense industry, Tesla, Delphi, Draper and others. GAVLAB’s research facilities include the National Center for Asphalt Technology’s test track, a 1.7-mile oval track jointly operated by Auburn University and the National Asphalt Pavement Association, as well as several drive by-wire and automated vehicles that include two Peterbilt tractors, a Lincoln MKZ and an autonomous ATV.

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Research Renovation BY AUSTIN PHILLIPS

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Features Charles Gavin, ’59 textile management, takes a look out the window of the newly renovated Gavin Engineering Research Laboratory overlooking the Carol Ann Gavin Garden, which is currently under construction.


ne of Auburn’s most iconic facilities has undergone an $18 million renovation that is building upon the past to help shape the future. The Gavin Engineering Research Laboratory – formerly known as the Textile Building – has been renovated into a state-of-the-art research facility thanks to gifts of $10.5 million made possible by Charles E. Gavin III and his late wife, Carol Ann. This project includes the renovation of the Gavin Laboratory, demolition of the Engineering Shops and L Building and creation of the Carol Ann Gavin Garden. The garden will be completed in spring 2019. “This facility will serve as a visible reminder, a lasting tribute and a fitting honor to Charles, Carol Ann and the Gavin family’s steadfast support and love of this university,” said Michael A. DeMaioribus, president pro tempore of the Auburn University Board of Trustees, during the building dedication in September. The building, which was originally constructed in 1929 to prepare future engineers for the textile industry, has served as a vital component to economic development in the region and state for almost a century.

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The renovated structure incorporated historical elements of the building with contemporary design.

“Charles gave us a great charge, to have this building reformed to serve our region for the next 100 years,” said Christopher B. Roberts, dean of engineering. “Now, we’re doing just that. The promise of this building housing our lead faculty where they can conduct cutting-edge research and prepare our students for careers in the next generation are already taking place.” An additive manufacturing facility has been incorporated into the building renovation to allow students to gain experience with emerging design and fabrication technology. This has allowed the college to partner with NASA to establish the National Center for Additive Manufacturing Excellence, while also partnering with ASTM International, EWI and MTC to establish the ASTM International Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence. The renovation has also paved the way for $6 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The renovated structure also includes the new Center for Polymer and Advanced Composites to continue the college’s research in this area and to meet industry needs, the Nuclear Power Generations Systems Program, cutting-edge research laboratories and numerous collaborative meeting spaces. “This facility is going to be an incubator for cutting-edge research that is going to help us prepare our students to be the leaders of the future, while also bringing research opportunities to Auburn,” said Maria Auad, director of the Center for Polymer and Advanced Composites. The south entrance of the Gavin Engineering Research Laboratory will also be renovated to allow students more convenient entry to the building when coming from the heart of campus, while also providing accessibility to the Brown-Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center, which is currently under construction. Auburn Engineering | 41

Features New signage in the Gavin Laboratory pays tribute to benefactors Charles and Carol Ann Gavin.

Charles and Carol Ann Gavin

Charles Gavin, ’59 textile management, has had a hugely successful career in both the textile and surfactant chemical industries. He founded MFG Chemical Inc. in 1981 in Dalton, Georgia, to serve as a supplier to the carpet industry. Highly successful today, MFG offers custom and toll chemical manufacturing to a wide variety of markets, including oil fields, water treatment, paper and mining. What began as a husband-wife team now includes three plants and a distribution center, serving a broad segment of the chemical industry’s Fortune 100 companies and major international clients. Gavin served as board chairman, and he returned as CEO following the death of his son, Chuck, who previously served in that role. Gavin sold the firm in 2017. In addition to his Auburn education, Gavin also obtained an executive MBA from the University of North Carolina. He has been a member of the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists for more than 50 years, having served as president of the AATCC and 10 years as treasurer. Upon his retirement, he was named emeritus treasurer for both the association and its foundation, of which he was instrumental in forming. He received the Harold C. Chapin Award in 2002 for service to the industry.

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The renovated facility includes an additive manufacturing center, the new Center for Polymer and Advanced Composites, the Nuclear Power Generation Systems Program, cutting-edge research laboratories, graduate student offices and numerous collaborative meeting spaces.

Gavin and his late wife, Carol Ann, have made numerous contributions to Auburn Engineering, strongly supporting engineering education and work force development. In addition to the numerous scholarships he has provided through the AATCC and its foundation, he also created an endowed professorship in chemical engineering and an endowed doctoral fellowship program. The Gavins have also supported Auburn basketball through gifts toward the practice facility in Auburn Arena with the team conference room being named in her honor as the Carol Ann Gavin Conference Room. Outside of Auburn, the Gavins have been generous philanthropists to numerous organizations and institutions, including Harvest Outreach, Hamilton Medical Center, RossWoods Adult Day Services and Vanderbilt University Medical

Center where they established the Carol Ann Gavin Directorship of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care. Gavin was awarded the Auburn Alumni Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018, was inducted into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 2016, was named as a Distinguished Auburn Engineer 2014 and was named as the Outstanding Textile Alumnus in 2003. He is a member of the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council, as well as Engineering’s Eagles and Keystone societies and the President’s Circle of the university’s 1856 Society. “Charles is truly the best example of an Auburn man,” said Auburn University President Steven Leath. “He exemplifies the Auburn creed. He lives the creed.”

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Elite Student Experience BY AUSTIN PHILLIPS

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The main floor will house spaces for tutoring and learning, academic advising, student recruitment, the Office of Engineering Career Development and Corporate Relations, the Academic Excellence Program and offices for support staff.


uburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering is constructing a $44 million student support facility that will further enhance the college’s vision of being the best student-centered engineering experience in America.

Site preparation for the nearly 140,000 square-foot project began December 2016 with the demolition of the Engineering Shops and L Building. The project is anticipated to be completed by summer 2019 and will complete more than $67 million in new construction and renovation on the engineering campus.

Construction of the Brown-Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center is made possible thanks to a $30 million gift from John and Rosemary Brown, which was announced as part of an overall $57 million gift – the largest in university history – in April 2015. Since then, more than 40 alumni and corporate partners have invested into this comprehensive student support facility.

“John and Rosemary’s transformational gift has enabled the college to construct a facility capable of significantly transforming the personal and professional successes of tomorrow’s Auburn engineers by providing students with the highest level of hands-on experiences and academic support throughout their college experience,” said Christopher B. Roberts, dean of engineering. “Redefining engineering

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The top floor will incorporate ample, spacious student study areas with large-group and small-group study rooms, along with conference rooms and a flexible grand hall all outfitted with the latest smart technologies.

education in a changing world and training engineers inside and outside the classroom is a vital part of our vision. This facility will enable the college to build the infrastructure to make this a reality.” Located in the heart of campus, the center will specifically address students’ professional and academic needs, providing one of the most comprehensive, active-learning environments in the country. In cohesion with the college’s vision to provide the best student-centered engineering educational experience in America, the center will also create greater opportunities for collaboration among faculty members and fellow students, creating a sense of home within the engineering campus. Designed

to serve students from all engineering disciplines, it will incorporate high-contact initiatives through student recruitment, academic advising, tutoring, international experiences and career development and corporate relations. The ground floor of the 94,000 square-foot building is expected to include a design and innovation center, which will consist of student maker spaces, laboratories, shops, project incubators, study rooms, flexible classrooms, computer labs and more, while also serving as the home for engineering student organizations. The main floor will house spaces for tutoring and learning, academic advising, student recruitment, the Office of Engineering Career Development and

Corporate Relations, the Academic Excellence Program and offices for support staff. The top floor will incorporate ample, spacious student study areas with large-group and small-group study rooms, along with conference rooms and a flexible grand hall all outfitted with the latest smart technologies. A 45,000 square-foot raised garden structure connecting Brown-Kopel and the Gavin Laboratory will allow the college to build out under the space. “From the minute a student walks in the front door of this building, it’s going to be apparent to them that we’re serious about providing the best student-centered engineering experience in America,” Roberts said.

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Herbie Johnson ’94 Civil Engineering General Manager for Southern Company, Hydrogeneration Before Auburn… Out of high school, I went into the military. It gave me discipline and the chance to figure out that I wanted to get a college education. My father and grandfather built houses, so I always had an interest in construction. That ultimately led me to civil engineering. I toured the schools and felt that Auburn had one of the best programs in the nation. I have a passion for civil, and I feel very fortunate to have started my job 25 years ago in hydro at Alabama Power Company. Starting out… Our company does a great job of developing the technical side of individuals as soon as they start in the company. I started in the technical aspects of hydroelectric generation as a hydrologist. From that point, I went into the plants and learned how they operate, what it takes from a team of people to keep the plant running – from dam safety to keeping the lights on – how to keep the water regulated, and how to make sure we meet state laws and regulations. I had the chance to start managing a dam as superintendent

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Johnson is a 1994 graduate in civil engineering.

at Thurlow Dam in Tallassee. From there, it just progressed. I managed other plants within our system and did some large construction projects, proving the ability to transfer my skills of civil and project management to large-scale projects. That gave me the opportunity to come back into our hydro organization as the general manager and support this great team of people that keeps our hydro fleet running. A day in the life… I have the opportunity to work in the most beautiful places in our state, and I consider myself very fortunate. It’s almost like every day is a vacation. My work routine is varied, and there’s hardly a day that I repeat the same task, so there’s always an interesting challenge. Each of the 14 lakes we have in Alabama Power Company has its own community and its own municipal, agricultural, environmental and recreational needs, so there’s not one template for how we manage those resources. One of the largest things is learning the individual personalities of each of those lakes, how they

It’s My Job

Johnson is the general manager of hydrogenation at Southern Company.

interact with the community, and what the community values. Once you have that set, then matching the hydrology and managing the water resources is kind of the easy part. Keeping the balance of needs from the communities and all the stakeholders is probably one of the most challenging, but most interesting, parts of the job. I still leverage Auburn for support. We recently partnered with the School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences on some work studying aquatic species on our rivers. Auburn is a fundamental part of stakeholder input that helps us do our job better and be more in touch with our communities. We often go back to Auburn for their services, their talent and their students to support what we do to manage these projects. I feel great that I’m in a job that’s kept me in tune with Auburn in that manner. My Auburn experience… After serving in the Air Force, I graduated with a degree in civil engineering in 1994. When I look at my time at Auburn, I remember being part of a good community. Partnering with teams, having study groups, finding out our strengths and weaknesses and learning who could help us understand something better, as well as how I could share with them to help strengthen a gap they may have had, were all important parts of my experience. Working with a community of people in study sessions, and ultimately becoming a success by graduating with a degree, was my favorite part of my time at Auburn. Those friendships have lasted a long time and are still in play today. I rely on a lot of those same study partners to bounce off ideas, questions and challenges. It’s been a positive experience to see that they have also advanced in their careers to be leaders and to contribute to this great state and community. I remember Dr. [Joe] Judkins, who chaired the civil engineering depart-

ment when I was there, and as he taught and would test you, it wasn’t about just repeating formulas and doing mathematical equations. Dr. Judkins taught us to use common sense. I didn’t really appreciate it until I graduated and came to work for this company. When we took Dr. Judkins’ tests, we were applying common sense to real-world business cases. If you can do that, you can just about be successful in doing anything you want to accomplish as a civil engineer from Auburn. What drives me… When I interact with our communities and our stakeholders, when I talk to our current employees or the young employee we’re going to hire, I want them to know our hydro plants are forever assets, and that we’ve got a plan for the next hundred years. Several of our dams are already over 100 years old. We want people to know that we’re already thinking about how we’re going to preserve these assets with sound engineering and innovation. We’re asking ourselves, ‘What type of employees will it take? What type of training and skill sets are necessary to maintain the equipment?’ I would say the “hundred-year plan” is the thing I really enjoy about my work. It’s not just a 5-year, or even 20-year, outlook. We’ve got to really think about the future, and I’ve got to pull from that civil engineering background and foundation that Auburn gave me when I was there. Career success… I’ve had the opportunity to serve as the president of the National Hydro Association for the past two years. We work on legislation to keep the process of licensing and relicensing our hydroelectric plants, not only for Alabama Power Company, but across the U.S., as efficient as possible, so it doesn’t impact ratepayers and our stakeholders in a negative manner. The opportunity to work in Washington, D.C. and manage that process, as well as manage that organization as the president, has been a dream come true for me. One of the highlights of my 25-year career was when I had a chance to testify before Congress about the efficiency of the licensing process and share our thoughts and ideas as an industry on how to keep the process efficient for the next hundred years. That five minutes I had before Congress was a highlight of my career so far, but I hope for many more highlights to come.

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With 5 Minutes Victoria Jordan BY JIM KILLIAN

Victoria Jordan grew up in Auburn and returned in her early career to pursue her master’s degree in industrial engineering (’87) and her doctorate (’06). She credits that experience to building her passion for process improvement. Vice president of quality at Emory Healthcare, she also serves as performance improvement and analytics director for the Kennedy Initiative for Transforming Care. JK: You’re an engineer – and an executive – at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta. Can you tell us what you do? VJ: I serve as the vice president of quality for Emory Healthcare and in that capacity oversee a group at the system level, and at each of our hospitals and outpatient areas to improve the care we deliver to our patients. One of the Institute of Medicine’s goals for quality is to have care that is safe, timely, effective, efficient, equitable and patient-centered. In addition, we make sure that we are meeting the regulatory requirements that really are there to assure patient safety. We also look at ways to make the delivery of care more efficient, for example, by improving patient flow and the patient experience. Part of patient safety includes infection prevention and also data reporting – all of those are areas in our quality department. JK: How do you feel about your career preparation as it relates to Auburn? VJ: My experiences at Auburn prepared me for my job in many ways, although my undergraduate degree is not from Auburn. Because I grew up in town, I felt that I needed to get away – I graduated from the University of Kentucky and began my career as a statistician. Auburn kept drawing me back, and when I wanted to pursue my master’s at Auburn, I first considered statistics. I quickly realized it was a lot more theory than I wanted. I was already working at a manufacturing facility, had already been introduced to quality, and I wanted to 50 | Auburn Engineering

find ways to improve quality and efficiency in the work I was doing. Then somebody told me, ‘there are two professors over in industrial engineering who are doing applied statistics.’ That’s how I met Dr.[Jim] Hool and Dr. [Saeed] Maghsoodloo, who became my master’s advisors. I fell in love with design of experiments and industrial statistics, and all that came with that, and from that experience worked in industry again, at General Electric and then as a consultant. JK: You told me you were on the road 40 weeks out of the year – what was that like? VJ: I was young and single and it was great, a lot of fun. Then I met my husband Frank and we wanted to start a family, so I stayed out of the work force for 10 years – now the youngest one is in her last year of high school. I knew I would eventually want to go back to work, so I returned to Auburn for a Ph.D., again with Dr. Maghsoodloo as my advisor. It took me six years to finish! But there is no doubt now, I would not be in this position without this degree. In academic medical centers, a Ph.D. or clinical degree is typically expected at the director level or above. JK: I know from a previous conversation that your sister Cindy also had an impact on your career. VJ: Yes, I was close to my sister, who was 18 months younger. While I was working on my doctorate, we both lived in Auburn and she and had a young family like Visit Auburn Engineering online at for video and photos of this story

5 Minutes With

Victoria Jordan

myself – we would have lunch together frequently and watch the kids play, and we got in a lot of family time. She had both a civil engineering degree from Auburn, and a building science degree, and worked part-time as a geotechnical engineer when the kids were little. She developed multiple myeloma, unusual for someone so young, and passed away after treatment and complications from a bone marrow transplant. It was a life changing experience – as I went with her to her treatments and appointments, it made me think how much we could improve quality in health care. Up to that point my experience had been in industry, although I had consulted a little bit with East Alabama Medical Center. That was really my introduction to quality in health care, so for that reason, and some others, we moved to Nashville, where I had my first full-time job in health care. That soon led to a move to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. It was an unbelievable opportunity, and I was there for nine years. JK: Tell me about your move from Houston to Atlanta. VJ: Emory Healthcare was looking for someone with a track record in lean and Six Sigma, and process improvement, to do primarily two things here: one, to

work across all of our hospitals and clinics to provide a more standard delivery of care, and function more as a system rather than an aggregate of separate hospitals, and two, to help implement a lean operating system at Emory Healthcare. Those are the two primary tasks that I am focusing on, but also doing a lot of work from an infrastructure standpoint to better position ourselves to move ahead. In addition to great leadership and the stellar reputation of Emory, another attraction for me was that we received $25 million from James Cox Kennedy through the Cox Foundation. Mr. Kennedy was a patient who recognized that while he received wonderful clinical care, the staff had to really work hard around some broken systems in order to deliver it. He felt that we could improve care in terms of wait times, patient flow and the need to go to multiple locations for treatment. As director of performance improvement for the Kennedy Initiative to transform patient care, we have hired industrial engineers and other staff in cardiology, transplant and prostate cancer care as focus areas to demonstrate how we can improve patient care across the system and that has led to a system-wide effort. It’s very exciting, very rewarding. I never thought I could use my background and training to really help people, to make a difference, in the way I have been able to do at Emory Healthcare. Auburn Engineering | 51

Five Minutes With From the Faculty

Modern Monitoring BY PETER HE AND JIN WANG

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Five Minutes With From the Faculty

Principal investigator Peter He’s team consists of graduate students (front, L-R) Kerul Suthar, Peter He, Jangwon Lee, Devarshi Shah, (back) Arsslan Tahir Bhatti, Farshad Amiri and Feifan Cheng.


he goal of process monitoring is to detect the onset and identify the root cause of any change that causes a manufacturing environment to deviate from its desired operation. Process monitoring is an important component and key enabler for the long-term reliable operation of any manufacturing processes. In the era of smart manufacturing, the importance of process monitoring can only become greater when the controlled systems are getting more complex, equipped with more sensors, operated under non-steady state, controlled at tighter margins and getting yet closer to autonomous operations. The aim of our research is to create manufacturing intelligence from real-time data for process monitoring. Our approach integrates systems engineering principles such as dynamic

modeling and optimization with data analytics techniques such as statistical approaches, artificial neural networks and deep learning algorithms. In other words, our approach is an integrated human intelligence and artificial intelligence (HI-AI) approach that takes advantages of the latest advancements in these fields. Our National Science Foundation funded project is a synergistic collaboration between Auburn and Praxair, an industrial gases company. Both Auburn’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Praxair are national leaders of smart manufacturing with different strengths. Praxair is a very energy intensive business – more than $1 billion on energy usage every year in the U.S. alone just to run facilities. Anything that can be done to save energy (electricity, natural gas, etc.) is highly desired. If successful, this project will enhance Praxair’s ability to monitor

different plants worldwide from a centralized operating center in the U.S. The outcomes of this project have the potential to help shape the future of smart manufacturing, which is the next wave of innovation in manufacturing worldwide. This collaborative project will expose Auburn graduate and undergraduate students to current and future industrial needs, and provide opportunities for interacting with industrial researchers. These experiences will help prepare valuable future workforces with big data analytics skills that will become critically needed for smart manufacturing in various industries and businesses. Peter He is an associate professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering. Jin Wang is the Walt and Virginia Woltosz Endowed Professor and graduate program officer in the Department of Chemical Engineering.

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Faculty Highlights Lauren Beckingham, assistant professor of civil engineering, was awarded a $110,000 grant from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund to research fracture permeability evolution during enhanced oil recovery. David Bevly, the Bill and Lana McNair Professor of mechanical engineering, and Scott Martin, assistant research professor of mechanical engineering, were awarded $735,000 from Integrated Solutions for Systems for various GPS and navigation research projects. They were also awarded $405,000 from CALSTART for truck platooning research and $300,000 from SPARTA Inc. for satellite positioning research. Lorenzo Cremaschi, associate professor of mechanical engineering, has received a grant of more than $150,000 from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers to fund research in the state-of-the-art Building Energy and Thermal Systems Lab.

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Selen Cremaschi, B. Redd Associate Professor of chemical engineering, was named in the Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research journal’s 2018 Class of Influential Researchers. She was also awarded a $255,614 grant from Chevron Energy Technology Co. for her research on uncertainty quantification and reduction in multiphase flow predictions. Virginia Davis, the Alumni Professor of chemical engineering, was invited to join the editorial board of the journal PLOS One. Sean Gallagher, the Hal N. and Peggy S. Pennington Associate Professor of industrial and systems engineering, was named a fellow of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. He was also awarded a $274,662 grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for his research on the linkage between fatigue failure in musculoskeletal tissues and musculoskeletal injuries. Greg Harris, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering and director of the South-

ern Alliance for Advanced Vehicle Manufacturing, was awarded a $322,849 grant from the National Institute for Standards and Technology for research on developing a distributed manufacturing network. Roy Hartfield, professor of aerospace engineering, delivered an invited keynote address at the International Symposium on Electric Aviation and Autonomous Systems in Kiev, Ukraine on Oct. 11. The title of the keynote was “Aero-Propulsive Flight Mechanics for 21st Century Aircraft Design.” He also received the Hermann Oberth Award from the Greater Huntsville Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Pradeep Lall, the John and Anne MacFarlane Professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Center for Advanced Vehicle and Extreme Environment Electronics, was awarded IEEE’s outstanding Sustained Technical Contributions Award. His research was also highlighted at the NextFlex Innovation Day, an event that showcases cutting-edge flexible electronics. To view the college’s new faculty and leadership, visit

Faculty Highlights

Jin Wang, the Walt and Virginia Woltosz Professor of chemical engineering, and Peter He, associate professor of chemical engineering, were awarded a $1.1 million grant from the Department of Energy for their research on methanotroph-photoautotroph interactions for biogas conversions to fuel.

ence Foundation for his research on predicting and mitigating undesirable acoustic phenomena in combustors and power generation systems.

neering, was appointed to a threeyear term as editor-in-chief of the INFORMS Journal on Computing. Her term begins Jan. 1, 2019.

Shiwen Mao, the Samuel Ginn Professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Wireless Engineering Research and Education Center, was elected a fellow of the IEEE for his contributions to wireless multimedia networking.

Jeff LaMondia, associate professor of civil engineering, was selected to serve on the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Travel Survey Expert Panel.

Mark Schall, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering, received a Mentored Research Scientist Development Award from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The project, worth $324,000, is titled “Advancing Workplace Safety Surveillance with Ambulatory Inertial Sensors.”

Yin Sun, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, received a $250,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for his research on a new concept called the Age of Information. He also received a $237,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research for his work on developing novel network control algorithms.

Elizabeth Lipke, the Mary and John H. Sanders Associate Professor of chemical engineering, is directing a $960,600 program that will train six doctoral fellows in the area of biomaterials engineering and biomanufacturing. The interdisciplinary program is sponsored by a U.S. Department of Education grant. Joseph Majdalani, the Francis Chair of aerospace engineering, was awarded a $386,553 grant from the National Sci-

Joseph Shaeiwitz, visiting professor of chemical engineering, co-authored the fifth edition of the textbook “Analysis, Synthesis, and Design of Chemical Processes.” Alice Smith, the Joe W. Forehand/ Accenture Distinguished Professor in the Samuel Ginn College of Engi-

David Umphress, the COLSA Corporation Cyber Security and Information Assurance professor of computer science and software engineering and director of the Auburn Cyber Research Center, and Dean Hendrix, associate professor of computer science and software engineering, were awarded $750,000 from the Army’s Program Executive Office Missiles and Space to assess the cybersecurity vulnerability of air defense systems.

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Those honored by the Auburn Alumni Engineering council include Joe Cowan, ’70 electrical engineering, Distinguished Auburn Engineer; Charles Marsh, ’01 civil engineering, Outstanding Young Auburn Engineer; Ashley Robinett, ’01 civil engineering, Outstanding Young Auburn Engineer; Leslee Belluchie, ’83 mechanical engineering, Distinguished Auburn Engineer; Kenneth Kelly, ’90 electrical engineering, Distinguished Auburn Engineer; and Dean Emeritus Larry Benefield, ’66 civil engineering, Superior Service Award.

The Award Goes to... Six outstanding alumni and ambassadors of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering were honored in September at The Hotel at Auburn University by the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council for their distinguished professional careers. These alumni included three who were recognized as Distinguished Auburn Engineers, two as Outstanding Young Auburn Engineers and one for Superior Service to the college.

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Leslee Belluchie, ’83 Mechanical Engineering Distinguished Auburn Engineer Leslee Belluchie is a 1983 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering whose career has been focused in support of the nation’s defense and intelligence communities. She started her career as an engineer for Westinghouse, and eventually founded and operates a private equity fund. She has held several leadership roles, including serving as the president and CEO of National Security Partners, a cybersecurity company; founder and co-managing member of FedCap Partners LLC, a private equity fund focused on investment in high-end government services companies; and executive vice president and chief marketing officer of SI International, a publically traded government services company. Belluchie has served on the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council, chaired the Mechanical Engineering Advisory Board and is a member of the Auburn University Research Advisory Board and the Auburn University Foundation Board. She is also a member of the George Washington University Katzen Cancer Center Board of Directors. As significant contributors to Auburn, Belluchie and her husband, Rick Knop, are members in the university’s Samford and Foy societies, and the college’s Keystone, Ginn and Eagles societies. Their gifts include an endowed fund for excellence in mechanical engineering and naming of the Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess Cyber Laboratory in the Shelby Center. Joe Cowan, ’70 Electrical Engineering Distinguished Auburn Engineer Joe Cowan earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Auburn in 1970 and his master’s in the same discipline from Arizona State in 1972. He retired as the president and CEO of Epicor Software, a global leader delivering business software solutions to the manufacturing, distribution, retail and service industries with some 20,000 customers in more than 150 countries. Prior to his career at Epicor, Cowan served as an operating executive and consultant of Vector Capital; president of DataDirect Networks; CEO of Autono-

my Interwoven; president and CEO of Manugistics; president and CEO of Manugistics Group; COO of Baan and Avantis; president of Invensys Manufacturing and Process Systems Division at Invensys; president and CEO of EXE Technologies; president and CEO of Invensys Automation & Information Systems; president, CEO, COO and senior vice president of sales and marketing of Wonderware; CEO of Baan Company; and a variety of sales and marketing positions with companies including, Texas Instruments, Foxboro, Eurotherm, Monsanto and Honeywell Information Systems. Cowan is a significant contributor to Auburn Engineering and is a member of the college’s Ginn and Keystone societies, the university’s 1856 and Foy societies and athletics’ Heisman Society. In addition, he serves on the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council and recently named the Recruiting and Scholarship Reception Area in the upcoming Brown-Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center. Kenneth Kelly, ’90 Electrical Engineering Distinguished Auburn Engineer Kenneth Kelly is a 1990 electrical engineering graduate who also earned his executive MBA in 1998 from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Kelly serves as the chairman and CEO of First Independence Bank, the 10th largest African-American-controlled bank in the country. Prior to leading First Independence, he held several positions at Alabama Power, Georgia Power and Southern Power, leading negotiations for solar projects totaling more than $3.4 billion in partnership value. In 2012, while employed at Southern Power’s Business Development group, he negotiated Southern Power’s first $500 million solar facility in the state of California. As a result of his leadership contributions and professional expertise, Kelly has been appointed to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council for a three-year term and has been appointed nationally to the FDIC’s Community Bank Advisory Committee to provide guidance to the chairwoman on policy for a two-year term. In May 2018, he was presented The Spirit of

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Detroit Award by the Detroit City Council. He serves as vice chair of the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council and is a member of the university’s Foy and Samford societies, as well as the college’s Eagles Society. He recently named the Engineering Academic Excellence Program Reception Area in the upcoming Brown-Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center. Charles Marsh, ’01 Civil Engineering Outstanding Young Auburn Engineer Charles Marsh is a 2001 civil engineering graduate who also earned an MBA from UAB in 2011. Marsh is a sales engineer at American Cast Iron Pipe where he handles technical sales for American’s Spiral Weld pipe from Virginia to Missouri, down through Oklahoma to Texas and across to Florida. He was a founding member of the college’s Young Alumni Council, is active on the Civil Engineering Advisory Board and has organized the annual Civil Engineering Scholarship Golf Tournament for the past four years, helping to raise nearly $75,000 toward the endowment. He is a member of the university’s Foy Society and the college’s Eagles Society. Ashley Robinett, ’01 Chemical Engineering Outstanding Young Auburn Engineer Ashley Robinett is a 2001 chemical engineering graduate who serves as the vice president of Alabama Power’s Corporate Real Estate division where she is responsible for managing the company’s land holdings in support of business objectives. She began her career at Southern Company in 2001 as an engineer for Alabama Power’s wholesale subsidiaries. Robinett then worked several years in fuel services, managing emission allowance procurement and other strategic environmental issues, before returning to Southern Company in 2008. She managed the wholesale subsidiary’s resource planning, risk analysis and business case development functions, including renewable energy. In the years fol-

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lowing, Robinett served as the assistant to the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Southern Company, and as the assistant to the president and chief executive officer of Alabama Power. She is a member of the college’s 100+ Women Strong program aimed at recruiting, retaining and rewarding Auburn women in engineering. She’s also a member of the university’s Samford, Foy and Petrie societies and engineering’s Eagles Society. In addition, she will be honored in March with the Auburn Alumni Association’s 2018 Young Alumni Achievement Award. Dean Emeritus Larry Benefield, ’66 Civil Engineering Superior Service In 2012, Larry Benefield retired as dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering after a distinguished career of more than three decades at Auburn University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Auburn in 1966 and then spent four years as a civil engineering officer in the U.S. Air Force where he was awarded the Bronze Star for service in Vietnam. Benefield joined the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering as an associate professor of civil engineering in 1979. In 1998, he was named interim dean and was appointed dean in 2000. As dean, he led the college to significant advances, attracting the attention of peer institutions and moving Auburn Engineering to the highest rankings in its history. Under his leadership, the college successfully completed a $154 million facility enhancement program and launched the nation’s first undergraduate degree in wireless engineering. He oversaw the opening of Auburn’s MRI center and played a pivotal role in the launch of the Auburn University Huntsville Research Center. Benefield was inducted into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 2013 and was awarded the Auburn Alumni Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award — the university’s highest honor — in 2014. He is a member of the university’s Samford and Foy societies and the college’s Ginn Society.



ENGINEERING STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT CENTER In summer 2019, the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering will open the doors to the $44 million Brown-Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center thanks to the generosity of John and Rosemary Brown and the more than 40 corporate partners, alumni and friends who have invested in this comprehensive student support facility. Thank you for bolstering our vision of being the best student-centered engineering experience in America! • 100+ Women Strong Team Rooms

• Joe & JoAnn Cowan Recruiting and Scholarship Reception Area

• Alabama Power Engineering Academic Excellence Program Suite

• Joseph D. & Kathy Weatherford Team Room

• Auburn Alumni Engineering Council Interview Suite

• Ken & Lyn Smith Recruiting and Scholarship Office Suite

• Bill & Lana McNair Academic Advising Suite

• Kenneth Kelly Engineering Academic Excellence Program Reception Area

• Billie Carole McMillan Study Studio • Brasfield & Gorrie Recruiting and Scholarship Suite • Carol Ann Gavin Garden • Cindy Green and Larry Monroe Diversity in Engineering Gallery

• Lamar & Elaine Hawkins Study Room • Mike & Shelley Forte Study Room • Montgomery Family Manufacturing/Machine Shop

• Dr. William Y. & Mrs. Rosemarie Bishop Peer Advising Room

• Nelda Lee Pavilion

• Dynetics, Inc. Career Development & Corporate Relations Reception Area

• Olivia Kelley Owen Team Room • Randy & Beth Chase Study Room

• Ed & Peggy Reynolds Classroom

• Regenia Sanders Study Area

• Eldridge & Rhonda Horne Cook Team Room

• Sal & Paula Marino Study Room

• Erich Weishaupt Study Room

• Shawn & Anne Cleary Digital Prototyping Laboratory

• Frank & Hope McFadden Academic Advising Reception Area

• Solaiman-Caldwell-Aviki Study Room

• Gary & Jo Gray Study Room

• Steve & Wesley Cates Study Room

• Georgia Pacific Pavilion

• T. Shane Goodwin & Family Study Room – in memory of our Jett & Campbell

• Hunter Alan Chambliss Team Room • Jack & Ann Waddey Pavilion • Jeff & Linda Stone Professional Engineering Organizations Suite • Jim & Paula McMillan Study Area • Jim Cooper Construction Corporate Conference Room

• Vulcan Materials Corporate Conference Room • Walt & Ginger Woltosz Grand Atrium • Warnock Family Conference Room • William Deas Weatherford Group Study Room

Learn more about the project at

Samuel Ginn College of Engineering 1301 Shelby Center 1161 W. Samford Ave., Building 8 Auburn, AL 36849-0001

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