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ARIZONA Engineeri ng

Resea rch

Promoting Economic Development

and Changing Lives in the Most Important Ways Welcome to Arizona Engineering Research! It is our pleasure, and our mission, to share the work we do in research and graduate education – work that is promoting economic development, changing people’s lives in the most important ways, and playing a major role in the education of our students. The College research portfolio covers 100 projects with a total annual expenditure of $27 million, representing a 5-to-1 return on our state appropriation. Our research projects make up a big part of the educational programs for 600-plus graduate students and hundreds of undergraduates working on projects at any given time. Both our research and our graduates are key economic drivers in Arizona and the nation. Take the number $350 million, for instance. That is the total annual salary in Arizona for the group of UA Engineering master’s and undergraduate degree students who have graduated in the last 20 years. It is clear that we have a large direct impact on the Arizona economy. And, more and more, quicker and quicker, our researchers are moving their technological advances out of the lab and into practice and the marketplace. Today’s challenges require expertise in many fields. So we focus our research on interdisciplinary team projects. We connect our capabilities with the challenges that most need our attention. Thus, the work in this report covers four major areas:

• Sustainability and Infrastructure – water reuse, energy storage, and infrastructure networks • Biomedical Systems and Devices – sensors/imaging, biomaterials, and innovative implants • Defense and Homeland Security – explosive detection, active flow control for more efficient flight, cybersecurity, and wireless communication

• Advanced Manufacturing and Materials – testing materials in extreme environments, computational models to predict materials properties, and mining logistics

This report also covers the College’s new center ideas in water, energy, the environment, and healthcare as well as tech transfer projects. In conjunction with the UA’s Tech Launch Arizona, we are focusing more intently on innovation and technology transfer. These efforts are indicated in projects ranging from biomedical devices to biofuels to smart thermostats. It takes a total team effort to support our students and faculty in their research, and we could not achieve all we do without the support of our Engineering Research staff, who help with proposals, contracts, accounting, IT and compliance. As you read about our work, you will also see how tightly our strengths align with the seven areas of research in the UA’s Never Settle strategic plan. Engineering is key to the UA’s plans, and we will continue to strengthen our roles as a campus engine for bringing ideas to reality and research to practice; a strong partner to our campus colleagues and our industry partners; and an independent generator of solutions for the world’s grand challenges.

Jeff Goldberg Dean, College of Engineering University of Arizona

Table of Contents 1 3 18 31 45 56 57

Introduction Sustainability: Water-Energy-Environment-Infrastructure Biomedical Systems and Devices Defense and Security Advanced Manufacturing and Materials By the Numbers Contacts

The University of Arizona College of Engineering P.O. Box 210072 Tucson, AZ 85721-0072 520.621.3754

All contents Š 2014 Arizona Board of Regents. All rights reserved. The University of Arizona is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution. The University prohibits discrimination in its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity, and is committed to maintaining an environment free from sexual harassment and retaliation.

Editors: Pete Brown & Karina Barrentine Designer: David Hostetler Contributing Writers: Martha Retallick & Jill Goetz

University of Arizona College of Engineering




environment infrastructure



$7 Million Project Aims to Advance


Low-Cost Solar Power Thermal-to-electric conversion efficiency in a modern concentrated solar power plant is limited by the high-temperature stability of the heat transfer fluid. A multi-university team led by UA Engineering researchers is working to achieve higher temperatures in molten salt transfer fluids.

Concentrated solar power uses parabolic mirrors to focus the sun’s heat on tanks and pipes containing heat-transfer fluid, which carries energy from the solar concentrator to the thermal power plant.



eiwen “Perry” Li, director of the UA Energy and Fuel Cell Laboratory, is leading a $7 million, five-year multi-university research project to advance concentrated solar thermal power systems, or CSP systems. The research team is investigating the use of various salt mixtures to achieve significantly higher temperatures in CSP heat-transfer fluids.

Concentrated solar power uses parabolic mirrors to focus the sun’s heat on tanks and pipes containing heat-transfer fluid, which carries energy from the solar concentrator to the thermal power plant. The heat-transfer fluid flows to steam boilers, where it heats water to create steam. Then the steam drives turbines to produce electricity, much like a traditional power plant. A higher-temperature heat-transfer fluid means temperatures have much

stability limit of 400 degrees Celsius. Li and his multidisciplinary research team are investigating less corrosive salt mixtures that operate at up to 1200 degrees Celsius. “This is one of the critical restrictive factors of the thermal-to-electric conversion efficiency in a modern CSP plant,” said Li. “To advance the efficiency of concentrated solar thermal power and develop the next generation of CSP technology, our research is focused on finding a hightemperature heat-transfer fluid.” Combined with improved insulation of fluid-circulation systems and storage tanks, the new CSP systems – unlike wind and photovoltaic solar panels – will be able to store heat to generate power efficiently even when the sun is not shining. Plus, the new salt mixture is expected to reduce corrosion on pipes and tanks, which means less costly upkeep on CSP systems. The award for the project, titled “Halide and Oxy-halide Eutectic Systems for High-Performance High-Temperature Heat Transfer

HOTS Team The multidisciplinary research team includes several researchers in the UA College of Engineering.

• Cho Lik Chan, professor, aerospace and mechanical engineering • Pierre Deymier, professor and department head, materials science and engineering • Dominic Gervasio, professor, chemical and environmental engineering • Qing Hao, assistant professor, aerospace and mechanical engineering • Peiwen “Perry” Li, associate professor, mechanical and aerospace engineering • Pierre Lucas, professor, materials science and engineering • Moe Momayez, associate professor and associate department head, mining and geological engineering • Krishna Muralidharan, assistant professor, mining and geological engineering Additionally, researchers from Arizona State University Polytechnic and Georgia Institute of Technology are contributing to the project.

“Our research is focused on finding a high-temperature heat transfer fluid to advance the efficiency of concentrated solar thermal power and develop the next generation of CSP technology.” Peiwen “Perry” Li, director of the UA Energy and Fuel Cell Laboratory, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering

further to fall before the transfer fluid cools and solidifies. Most salt heat-transfer fluids use a mixture of alkali nitrate salts, a highly corrosive molten mixture that has a melting temperature below 250 degrees Celsius and a high-temperature University of Arizona College of Engineering

Fluids,” was made as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, an effort to make solar power comparable in cost to other energy sources by 2020.


Peiwen “Perry” Li 520.626.7789




n o e it n U y t n u o C a UA, Pim y it il b a in a t s u S y g r Water-Ene The UA and Pima County have entered the global water-energy sustainability arena by establishing the Water and Energy Sustainable Technology Laboratories at Pima County’s new Water Reclamation Campus.

“The WEST Laboratories aspire not

only to become a global leader in new water and energy technologies, but also to focus on creating additional jobs and economic development in the region, while simultaneously providing advanced educational and training opportunities. Shane Snyder, WEST Laboratories co-director and professor of chemical engineering


University of Arizona College of Engineering

Water-Energy Nexus


Current WEST Laboratories Projects

he University of Arizona and Pima County are working together to establish the Water and Energy Sustainable Technology, or WEST, Laboratories, which intends to be a world leader in research and development of water treatment technologies, contaminant monitoring tools and energy minimization and production. The WEST Laboratories concept originated with the two co-directors: Ian Pepper of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, a microbiologist with expertise in emerging microbial contaminants, and Shane Snyder of the College of Engineering, a chemical engineer with expertise in emerging chemical contaminants. “The WEST Laboratories will target the water-energy nexus by ensuring a supply of safe drinking water to meet community needs for the foreseeable future, while meeting sustainable energy requirements,” said Pepper. Added Snyder, “The WEST Laboratories aspire not only to

• Advanced treatment trains for reclaimed water • Real-time sensor monitoring of chemical and microbial contaminants • Molecular techniques for pathogen detection Ian Pepper is co-director of WEST Laboratories and professor of agriculture and life sciences.

become a global leader in new water and energy technologies, but also to focus on creating additional jobs and economic development in the region, while simultaneously providing advanced educational and training opportunities.” The Water Reclamation Campus is an integral part of Pima County’s investment in the multimillion-dollar Regional Optimization Master Plan, which will enable the Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation

• New viral detection models • EPA certified process to further reduce pathogens in biosolids • Zero-liquid discharge brine treatment options • UV reactor technologies

Department to meet regulatory requirements while protecting the county’s environment and water supplies for decades to come. “Pima County’s collaboration with the University will benefit our community by joining UA’s researchers with the daily operations of a state-of-theart wastewater reclamation facility,” said Jackson Jenkins, director of the Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department. “Effluent is becoming increasingly important to our community’s water portfolio, and the more we research its impact and benefit for our desert community, the better we can put this important resource to work for us.”

WEST Laboratories at Pima County’s Water Reclamation Campus is bringing together UA water and energy experts, the public, government and private corporations to work on technology development and education in water and energy sustainability. Photo courtesy of CH2M Hill

University of Arizona College of Engineering


Shane Snyder 520.621.2573




Envisioning a Way to Rectify Water Shortage, Create Sustainable Systems OASES is the College’s research and development strategy to create new processes for producing energy, water and materials in areas where solar energy is abundant and water is scarce.


n the semi-arid U.S. Southwest, for example, homes, businesses and farms are using far more water than is being produced by rain and snowfall, and groundwater reserves are shrinking. In fact, Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah combined are looking at an estimated water shortage of 1,815 million acre feet in the next century from population and income growth alone, according to a Stockholm Environment Institute study. One possible solution to the lack of naturally available freshwater is to desalinate seawater, or brackish water. Throughout the world, 15,000 desalination plants are expected to produce 120 million cubic meters of water by 2020. While desalination has the potential to increase the world’s water supplies, existing desalination technologies are energy intensive, making it an expensive option. Additionally, desalination processes create large amounts of waste brine and carbon dioxide, further underscoring the need to find renewable and environmentally friendly

energy resources to produce water. To foster solutions to the water crisis, UA College of Engineering researchers and academic partners throughout the world are creating a water-energy research and development strategy to create new processes for producing energy, water, and materials in areas where solar energy is abundant and water is scarce. The plan, dubbed OASES for Organizations to Achieve Sustainable Engineered Systems, capitalizes on emerging technology and UA research capabilities. The project proposes to integrate high-temperature solar technologies to generate electricity and treat water in a near zero discharge desalination process with advanced separation processes to recover rareearth minerals and precious metals. Separators would extract salts from seawater, brackish aquifers and industry-impacted waters, such as mine waste and agricultural runoff, while also recovering materials with economic value, such as gold and potash. The

Water scarcity is one of the biggest problems facing the world today. 8

OASES Leadership Glenn Schrader, OASES director; professor, chemical and environmental engineering Peiwen “Perry” Li, associate professor, aerospace and mechanical engineering Mary Poulton, director, Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources; department head, mining and geological engineering

extracted salts would be used for thermal energy heat transfer and storage. The result would be production of cost-effective energy, creation of safe water from previously unusable sources, and the recovery of valuable wasted resources. “Technologies resulting from the proposed system-level test beds would simultaneously solve the problems of desalination brine disposal, energy costs for water treatment, and integration of systems into communities, thereby creating sustainable economic oases in areas considered of marginal use,” said Glenn Schrader, OASES director and professor of chemical and environmental engineering.


Glenn Schrader 520.621.6596

System-of-Systems Approach Positions College to Lead Rejuvenation of Nation’s Infrastructure



UA engineers are set to break new ground with development of holistic tools to modernize planning for and management of the complex, interconnected systems and services that sustain our society.


eliable delivery of essential services to an expanding population with uncertain, but growing, demands and finite resources is the most challenging engineering issue facing the global community. “There is no secret that America’s infrastructure, along with those of many other countries, is aging and failing, and that funding has been insufficient to repair and replace it,” reports the National Academy of Engineering. “Engineers of the 21st

century face the formidable challenge of modernizing the fundamental structures that support civilization.” Because of their increasing interdependency, transportation and telecommunication networks, food and water supplies, energy resources, and buildings are becoming more and more vulnerable to threats such as terrorism, crime and environmental disaster. A major malfunction in information and communication networks, for example, could shut down power stations, banks, supermarkets, hospitals and airports nationwide, causing disruptions throughout the world. The essential infrastructure that is necessary for the smooth functioning of society is in dire need of rejuvenation. But the traditional silo approach to infrastructure

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planning and management, with its focus on component-scale or single infrastructures, no longer works. Ensuring robust and sustainable infrastructures is going to take a cooperative effort that considers not only the aspects of engineering complex, interdependent systems but also incorporates social, economic, institutional and environmental considerations. In partnership with other top universities and industry, YoungJun Son, head of systems and industrial engineering, and Kevin Lansey, head of civil engineering and engineering mechanics, are working toward establishing the UA Center for SUstainable REsilient Interdependent Infrastructures, or SURE. The center will focus on resolving tensions among waterenergy-agriculturetransportation (WEAT) infrastructures that exist throughout the nation. Tools developed – data collection for smart systems, condition assessment (including failure predictions), system management and demand management verification, to name a few – will also be applicable to other interconnected infrastructures. The result will be a holistic systems engineering approach that transforms infrastructure planning

UA Researchers Young-Jun Son, head of systems and industrial engineering Kevin Lansey, head of civil engineering and engineering mechanics

Partners • • • • • •

University of Illinois University of Texas, El Paso Johns Hopkins University Indiana University Sandia National Laboratory Los Alamos National Laboratory • University of Adelaide • University of South Australia

and management by balancing the need for resilience and robustness with social, economic, institutional and environmental constraints.


Young-Jun Son 520.626.9530



t r a m S e k a M o t s y a Finding W Technologies Reality

Jonathan Sprinkle is building new cyberphysical systems to control cars that drive themselves, and he is giving high-school students the keys to the car.

NSF Career Award winner Jonathan Sprinkle is creating new modeling techniques to get the job done in the complex world of cyberphysical systems, and he’s moving his own consumer smart technologies to market.


onathan Sprinkle, an associate professor in electrical and computer engineering, received a 2013 National Science Foundation Career Award for his work in cyberphysical systems modeling, and he turned an I-Corps project into the start of something big for his costlimiting thermostat.

In highly complex and interconnected ways, cyberphysical systems integrate computers with the real world. Each cyberphysical system, with its complicated mix of controls, communications and computations, must be built from scratch. Traditional modeling and analysis tools are unable to effectively predict cyberphysical system behavior, so problems often are not identified until the testing phase, sending developers back to the drawing board well into the design process. “We know how to build cyberphysical systems; we just do not know how to build them in an efficient, costeffective way,” said Sprinkle, adding,

This LIDAR, an optical sensing mechanism, sits atop the UA cognitive and autonomous test vehicle, or CAT vehicle, which is used to test Jonathan Sprinkle’s new cyberphysical modeling techniques.


University of Arizona College of Engineering

Jonathan Sprinkle’s research is establishing methods for finding and fixing problems in technology – such as smart power grids, smart houses, remote patient monitoring devices, security systems, and cars that drive themselves – much earlier in the development process. Contact

Jonathan Sprinkle 520.626.0737

“Almost all large cyberphysical systems projects go over time and over budget.”

Team Acomni Heads to Market with Cost-Limiting Thermostat

The goal of Sprinkle’s research is to make it easier to build cyberphysical systems by using new kinds of programming languages that are based on graphical models for modeling. The research will establish methods for finding and fixing problems in technology – such as smart power grids, smart houses, remote patient monitoring devices, security systems, and cars that drive themselves – much earlier in the development process. As part of his research, Sprinkle will give the keys of a full-size autonomous ground vehicle to high school students so they can test new modeling techniques intended to guarantee safe operation of the vehicle. By the time the students, many of whom are not even old enough to drive, get the keys to the UA’s cognitive and autonomous test vehicle, or CAT vehicle, the modeling techniques are expected to ensure safety. “We want to build models so that we know by the time the models verify themselves that they are going to be safe,” Sprinkle said. “I know the students are going to use the car safely because we are only going to allow them to generate safe code.”

When the temperature schedule or monthly budget is changed, the new cost-limiting thermostat provides real-time feedback on how one affects the other, putting homeowners in control of balancing their comfort and budget.

Another NSF-supported research project led by Sprinkle and ECE assistant professor Susan Lysecky has resulted in a cost set-point thermostat, which indicates how temperature correlates to heating and cooling costs, putting consumers in control of their home energy costs. Now the University’s Tech Launch Arizona is helping license the technology to Sprinkle’s startup company, Acomni. The company fast-tracked as the top team in a 2012 National Science Foundation Innovation Corps program, which helps researchers move NSF-funded projects out of the lab and into the commercial world. The cost-limiting thermostat means no surprises for homeowners when the electric bill lands in the mailbox, at least not for energy used to cool and heat a home, which typically accounts for more than half of a homeowner’s utility bill. “Most people just set their thermostat temperature in the desired range then get a bill at the end of the month with no understanding of how they correlate,” said Sprinkle, an expert in industrial control technology and embedded and autonomous systems.

Making up the award-winning Acomni team are (from left) Jonathan Sprinkle, ECE associate professor; Xiao Qin, ECE doctoral candidate; Susan Lysecky, ECE assistant professor; and Manny Teran, UA Engineering alumnus.

The thermostat technology involves establishing customized home model and prediction algorithms based on continually updated environmental data inside and outside the home. Programmed into the thermostat is information on what temperatures residents prefer during different times of the day, week and month. The technology monitors the weather outside and learns temperature-related characteristics of the home itself, and over time it determines how long the heating or air-conditioning unit needs to run to keep the house at a particular temperature. Then it advises the user: To get the best temperature for your dollar, this would be the daily schedule. “They can trade off the costs of keeping a home cool or warm depending on how comfortable they want to be,” said Lysecky, an expert in design automation and interface design.

University of Arizona College of Engineering





Hot on the Trail of Hazardous Waste

Engineers with the Superfund Research Program are extracting vital data on hazardous waste at landfills and mining sites.


A engineers and researchers from disparate disciplines are collaborating to combat an exquisitely complicated – but fundamentally important – problem: environmental contaminants and their risks to public health.

The College of Engineering has been a key player in the multidisciplinary and highly competitive research program, themed “Hazardous Waste Risk and Remediation in the Southwest,” since it began 25 years ago. In two of the UA SRP projects, engineers are studying arsenic and other environmental contaminants at hazardous waste sites and working with colleagues to develop risk-assessment and remediation strategies. “We have the only Superfund Research Program located in the desert Southwest, which is the perfect natural laboratory for studying arsenic,” said Jim Field, chair of chemical and environmental engineering, who is among the investigators on the project.

Arsenic Activity at Landfills One project is examining decomposition of arsenic at waste sites, particularly landfills.

Hailing from five colleges in addition to Engineering – Pharmacy, Medicine, Public Health, Science, and Agriculture and Life Sciences – and seven departments, the researchers are participating in the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences UA Superfund Research Program, or UA SRP. The UA, which has nine ongoing SRP projects, is one of 18 participating universities and has received $14 million from NIEHS for the current funding cycle (2010-2015), and a total of $70 million from the agency to date.


Since the Environmental Protection Agency in 2001 revised its rule for acceptable levels of arsenic in drinking water from 50 to 10 parts per billion, cities and counties have dumped millions of pounds of arsenic-bearing solid waste in landfills. “A common strategy for disposal of arsenic removed from drinking water has been to send iron-based sorbent waste to landfills,” said Eduardo Sáez, professor of chemical and environmental engineering, and a core member of the research team for the last decade. “But landfills have complex chemical and environmental conditions containing microorganisms and other University of Arizona College of Engineering

agents that can alter arsenic’s fate. Often, that fate is to be released back into the environment.” Because arsenic in the aqueous phase poses the greatest potential threat to human and environmental health, successful cleanup requires understanding how arsenic interacts with other media and rendering it insoluble. Thus, the researchers are examining the mechanisms and pathways for arsenic’s association with iron and sulfur solids and developing intervention approaches that use biological and biogeochemical mineral retention processes to minimize arsenic’s release from solid waste.

Airborne Arsenic at Mining Sites The second arsenic project involves analyzing aerosols, or airborne particulate matter, associated with mining activity, such as wind-blown dust from mine tailings, and its role in transporting metal contaminants from mining operations. Data collected is being used to develop a high-resolution computational fluid model to predict dust emissions from mine tailings. Spent ore from mining is deposited in mine tailings that are susceptible to wind erosion. In dry regions such as the Southwest, soil dust accounts for most airborne particles. Dust generated by mining activity in this region may contain toxic metals, including arsenic, lead, copper, chromium, cadmium and zinc. The dust particles mobilize the metals, which may then accumulate in soil, water, vegetation and air. Humans are exposed to metal-laden dust primarily through inhalation; children are also exposed by ingesting contaminated soil.


Jim Field 520.621.2591

Sáez and researchers in the atmospheric sciences department are collecting ambient aerosol particles near the Iron King Mine and Humboldt Smelter Superfund site in northern Arizona and around the ASARCO copper smelter, an aging but active mining operation in Southern Arizona.

“This is the first time, to my knowledge, that the size-resolved hygroscopicity of airborne contaminants is being studied at a hazardous waste site,” said Sorooshian. “It is a very difficult measurement, not commonly done. We are using a custom-built instrument to measure hygroscopicity; there aren’t many of them out there. Our work

“We have the only Superfund Research Program located in the desert Southwest.” Jim Field, chair of chemical and environmental engineering

The researchers have confirmed that the mine tailings at the Iron King site are a source of arsenic and lead contamination in nearby soils and are working with scientists in the soil, water and environmental science department to evaluate the role of vegetation cover in reducing transport of contaminated dust from the site.

When Toxic Dust Meets Moisture While Sáez focuses on dry dust particles, Armin Sorooshian, an assistant professor of chemical engineering, is most interested in how dust reacts when it encounters moisture. He is mining data from the research of these and other scientists to illuminate how dust particles behave and transform in the environment – particularly the humid environment. Sorooshian is a pioneer in research on hygroscopicity, an aerosol property that governs the ability of a particle to swell or shrink when exposed to humidity. He has discovered that particulate emissions from hazardous waste sites, such as the Humbolt copper smelter, can swell when exposed to humid conditions. The human respiratory tract is an extremely humid environment, where humidity may top 90 percent. Sorooshian and colleagues have discovered that the composition of particles governs changes in their size upon inhalation.

University of Arizona College of Engineering

is providing crucial information for predicting where these chemically complex particles deposit when we breathe them.”

Beyond the Southwest Many climate models predict warmer and drier conditions for the American Southwest, suggesting dust – including contaminated dust – may become a more serious environmental and human health threat in the region. But UA engineers’ work with the Superfund Research Program also has important implications elsewhere. Up to one-third of the global land mass is arid or semi-arid. According to many scientific projections, these regions – many of which also have serious problems with arsenic contamination – will get hotter and drier. If climate conditions in these areas grow more conducive to dust, potentially millions more people could be at risk for inhaling contaminated dust.

Publishing the Findings In the last two years, Engineering faculty and students have reported their findings in Environmental Science & Technology, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Geophysical Research Letters, Science of the Total Environment, and the Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science, with more articles in press.

Engineering Superfund Team Eric Betterton – University Distinguished Professor; head of the College of Science’s atmospheric sciences Jim Farrell – chemical and environmental engineering professor; recipient of the Environmental Science and Technology Excellence in Review Award Jim Field – chair of chemical and environmental engineering; honors professor Eduardo Sáez – University Distinguished Professor; chemical and environmental engineering professor; Arizona Engineering Education Fellow; recipient of a Top Educator Award from the American Society for Engineering Education Armin Sorooshian – chemical and environmental engineering assistant professor; three consecutive years participating in the National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering Symposium

In 2013 the UA hosted a conference on “Airborne Mineral Dust Contaminants: Impacts on Human Health and the Environment,” which was attended by about 60 scientists from several countries. Conference papers will be published in a special issue of Aeolian Research. Also in 2013, Engineering faculty and graduate students gave presentations on their SRP research at the International Conference of the Pacific Basin Consortium for Environment and Health.





s lp e H p p A e il b o M d e ir p s n -I rk a -P e Them s m a J c ffi a Tr f o r a le C r e te S rs e v ri D A UA-developed mobile app that uses real-time traffic prediction and advanced routing systems to manage traffic demand and help drivers steer clear of congestion is making its debut in a number of western U.S. cities.


nspired by express ticketing at crowded theme parks and nurtured by UA technology transfer support, Yi-Chang Chiu, associate professor of civil engineering and engineering mechanics, has created a mobile application that uses advanced traffic prediction and vehicle routing technologies to put drivers in control of avoiding, and managing, traffic congestion.

While visiting Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla., four years ago, Chiu and his daughter took advantage of the park’s express lanes, where customers take tickets with return times and avoid the wait for popular attractions. By being flexible and scheduling their day among other rides, Chiu and his daughter managed to skip the long lines and just enjoy the top attractions.

“The Smartrek app helps

drivers coordinate their trips to balance the traffic load and avoid the herd effect.

“So I said, OK, why can’t we do this for traffic?” With that, Chiu created Smartrek and got aboard UA’s fast track to commercialization.

Like theme-park express Yi-Chang Chiu, associate professor of civil systems, Smartrek’s engineering and engineering mechanics secret is in actively managing demand. Chiu’s souped-up navigation system “With Smartrek, individual decisions is designed to divert enough drivers become part of the traffic solution away from congested routes during instead of the problem,” said Chiu. peak hours to make the entire system work more smoothly. For decades, traffic congestion has been managed by widening, re“Our research shows we need only widening and expanding highways 10 percent of drivers to avoid peak at an average cost of $2.5 million hours to make a noticeable difference to $15 million per mile. Now, thanks in traffic flow,” Chiu said, estimating to technology, “we can maximize the that traffic systems in cities using efficiency of roadways through driver Smartrek see a 10 percent to 15 influence,” said Chiu. percent reduction in road congestion.


With its complex algorithms, Smartrek analyzes historical traffic patterns and real-time construction, road emergencies and traffic conditions. Then it advises users of the best departure times, clearest routes, and trip durations. Drivers reserve their trips, and earn reward points for avoiding congested areas and peak travel times. The more flexible drivers can be about when they travel, the quicker they can get to where they are going, the more influence they will have over traffic conditions, and the more “trek points”– redeemable for free parking, toll-road credits, event passes, food and entertainment, and other rewards – they can earn. If a route gets overbooked or traffic conditions change unexpectedly, Smartrek dynamically adjusts itself and reassigns a road less traveled. “This is more than about being the best navigation app,” said Chiu. “It is about revolutionizing how drivers and transportation agencies rethink traffic congestion and work together to solve the rising traffic congestion problem right now, and for the future.” Other navigation apps on the market also recommend routes based on real-time traffic conditions, but they lack the coordination and foresight inherent in Smartrek.

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“Every other app just says ‘OK, this is how long it takes right now,’” Chiu said, adding that they do not take into account how many other drivers are getting the same guidance at the same time, which can actually increase traffic congestion. In contrast, “the Smartrek app helps drivers coordinate their trips to make everyone’s trips smoother. This is how we balance the traffic load and avoid the herd effect.”

of Smartrek with their onboard GPS navigation systems. And taxi services and commercial shipping companies will be able to maximize fleet efficiency and provide customers with more precise delivery times.

faculty in 2006 and presented his idea to UA officials in 2011. As soon as a provisional patent was filed in early 2011, the UA Office of Technology Transfer and ATLAS

“So many people choose to live in vibrant,

innovative urban centers because of what they offer, and with Smartrek, we can leverage technology to enhance the quality of those lives.

In addition to consumers – who stand to save time, avoid traffic hassles, and earn government- and merchant-sponsored rewards – municipalities, car manufacturers, and fleet operators are all part of the Smartrek plan. Cities and counties will be able to access vital traffic pattern data for economic development and zoning planning and for roadway construction decisions. Car manufacturers will have the option of integrating customized versions

Yi-Chang Chiu, associate professor of civil engineering and engineering mechanics

“So many people choose to live in vibrant, innovative urban centers because of what they offer, and with Smartrek, we can leverage technology to enhance the quality of those lives,” Chiu said. Chiu began working on transportation issues in 1995 as a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin. He joined the College of Engineering

center, or Advanced Traffic and Logistics Algorithms and Systems center, offered seed money to swiftly move Chiu’s invention from idea to production. Incorporation and business mentorship for Smartrek’s development company, Metropia Inc., were provided by the Arizona Center for Innovation, the startup incubator managed by the UA’s Tech Launch Arizona. A grant from the Federal Highway Administration helped launch Smartrek in the western United States. By late 2013, Smartrek was available in Los Angeles and Phoenix and in the works for El Paso and Austin, Texas. Metropia is negotiating contracts with several other cities in Arizona, California and Texas as well. “UA was the seed that jumpstarted the whole thing,” Chiu said.

Yi-Chang Chiu’s Smartrek app advises users of the best departure times and clearest routes and provides precise trip durations. Drivers reserve their trips and earn reward points for avoiding congested areas and peak travel times.


Yi-Chang Chiu 520.626.8462 University of Arizona College of Engineering




Algae Farming on a Scale to Fuel the Future Can algae farming really supplant oil and gas drilling over time? That’s the big question the University of Arizona’s Kimberly Ogden, chemical and environmental engineering professor, has been asking of simple algae, the green stuff with the right stuff to potentially fuel the future.


he UA is the lead institution for the Regional Algal Feedstock Testbed, or RAFT, partnership, which in 2013 was awarded $8 million over four years by the U.S. Department of Energy to research how algae can be grown year-round outdoors in open ponds in different climates. Other universities and companies are collaborating with the research team to develop harvesting and conversion processes to produce biofuels and bioproducts.

“Our job is to figure out how we take algae and turn it into biofuels, bioproducts and feed in an economically sustainable way. We want to make a biofuels industry in America,” said Kimberly Ogden, the UA’s primary investigator on the RAFT project. The challenge is to find a substance

capable of becoming fuel for transportation, feed for animals, fertilizer for crops, and high-value products such as bioplastics and pharmaceuticals. To meet the challenge, researchers at the UA, Texas A&M AgriLife, New Mexico State University and Pacific Northwest Laboratory are optimizing algal growth systems to yield more biomass and lipids, developing methods of recycling and reusing water, and experimenting with methodologies for growing various algae strains. The majority of the research will be done using the UA’s Algal Raceway Integrated Design, or ARID, system, which was created and patented by Ogden’s research partners Randy Ryan, of the Arizona Agricultural Experiment Station, part of the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Pete Waller and Murat Kacira, of the department of agricultural and biosystems engineering; and Perry Li, of the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering. The research team also includes Judy Brown, a professor in the UA School of Plant Sciences.

Why Algae? Didn’t We Already Try Corn, Cotton, Soybean, Sunflower and Palm Oil? Algae’s biggest advantage over other biofuels, such as ethanol made from corn kernels, is that algae will not compete for agricultural land with food crops. It also has the potential to produce as much as 10 times more fuel per hectare than traditional biofuels. The simple plant-like organisms without roots, stems or leaves produce very little waste. They contain a lot of protein and carbohydrates, so the plants can be used as both a fuel

The UA’s Algal Raceway Integrated Design, or ARID, system, in which algae, water and nutrients circulate around a raceway, is being used to help determine which type of bioreactor uses the least amount of energy to obtain the highest productivity.


University of Arizona College of Engineering

UA Research Focus

UA Collaborators

Project Partners

• Water usage and quality issues

• Judy Brown, professor, School of Plant Sciences

• Texas A&M AgriLife

• Plant biology

• Murat Kacira, associate professor, agricultural and biosystems engineering

• Reactor design • Production of various algae strains

• Peiwen “Perry” Li, associate professor, mechanical and aerospace engineering

• New Mexico State University • Pacific Northwest Laboratory

• Kim Ogden, professor, chemical and environmental engineering • Randy Ryan, assistant director, UA Agricultural Experiment Station • Pete Waller, associate professor, agricultural and biosystems engineering

and a food. An estimated 300,000 varieties of algae grow all over the world in seawater, freshwater and wastewater. Most use sunlight to make their own food, which makes the Southwest a good place to grow algae. Others require no light and assimilate organic compounds around them as food. Up to half of algae’s composition can be lipid oil high in omega-3 content and readily converted to biodiesel or jet fuel. The remaining biomass has numerous applications, ranging from feed to eco-plastics to nutritional supplements. To tackle the problem of large-scale production of algae for fuels and other products, we need to have a

better understanding of everything from the biology to the interfacing with existing petroleum,” said Ogden. The UA’s contribution to the project focuses on water usage and quality issues, plant biology, reactor design and the production of various algae strains for advanced testing. Ogden’s team will compare the ARID raceway design – in which algae, water and nutrients circulate around a raceway – with other types of bioreactors to find the system that uses the least amount of energy to obtain the highest productivity in four different areas of the country: Tucson, Ariz.; Pecos, Texas; Las Cruces, N.M.; and the Pacific Northwest.

“Our job is to figure out how we

take algae and turn it into biofuels, bioproducts and feed in an economically sustainable way. We want to make a biofuels industry in America.

Kimberly Ogden, professor of chemical and environmental engineering

University of Arizona College of Engineering


Kimberly Ogden 520.621.9484




nostic Realm Globetrotting Professor Moves into Diag Disease with Disposable Tests for Blood-Borne

Linda Powers, shown here in the Arctic with one of her biosensor instruments, is taking her portable technology to new levels: diagnostics, checking blood for disease.

The disposable blood test uses light, or the intrinsic fluorescence of the microbes, to detect the organism in real time. Then a test that involves small molecules binding to specific microbes identifies the pathogen within seconds.


uilding on research that sent her biking across Tanzania a couple of summers ago to test remote water sources for bacteria, Linda Powers is moving into the diagnostic realm. The UA Thomas R. Brown Distinguished Chair in Bioengineering is developing fast, disposable blood tests for pathogens that cause diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. The novel technology for rapid pathogen detection in blood relies on the intrinsic fluorescent signatures of the live pathogens and the capture of the pathogens with specially designed binding mechanisms. “This will save time, work and expense when detection of blood-borne disease organisms is needed, and other facilities are not available,” said Powers, who has appointments in biomedical engineering and electrical and computer engineering. “It quickly tells you the information you must know.” Powers’ company, MicroBioSystems of Arizona, was awarded two Department of Defense contracts in 2013. One contract is for developing a disposable blood test to detect any pathogens present. The other will distinguish the specific pathogens, including viruses that cause HIV, some

University of Arizona College of Engineering

forms of hepatitis, prions that can lead to mad cow disease, and malaria-inducing parasites.

Life at the Extremes Linda Powers has developed several small devices to find and, when needed, identify on the spot:

The military has plans to use the technology in the field to test for infectious agents in blood intended for emergency transfusions. The relatively low-cost blood tests for diseases such as HIV and hepatitis could also save countless lives in developing nations and in remote areas of the United States.

• Contaminants on hospital surfaces

Now blood samples must be sent off to labs, where microbe specimens are grown and analyzed, before they can be used in medical procedures. This is a timeconsuming process, especially in life-ordeath situations. With this new technology – which combines molecular, electrical and optical engineering – blood drawn or acquired with a finger stick will go directly into a small, disposable unit for analysis in real time.

• Microbial communities 6 feet under Arctic ice

Among Powers’ UA collaborators on the project are “Janet” Meiling Wang, principal investigator and ECE professor; Walter Ellis Jr., a research professor in biomedical engineering; and a number of dedicated and talented graduate students.


• Microbes in Atacama Desert volcanic plumes • Evidence at FBI crime scenes

• Cholera- and diarrheacausing bacteria deep in well water • Life-threatening bloodborne pathogens

Linda Powers 520.621.7634


Bijan NaJafi: One Foot in Engineering, the Other in Medicine

“My main focus is studying how people move through the world.� Bijan Najafi, director of the Interdisciplinary Consortium on Advanced Motion Performance


Bijan Najafi 520.626.7097


or people who have diabetes, high-tech socks may mean the difference between keeping their feet or losing them to amputation. Over time, people with diabetes can lose sensation in their peripheral nervous system, which makes them unaware of developing foot ulcers. Left untreated, foot infections can have severe consequences, like amputation. Diabetic foot ulceration comes with an estimated 25 percent lifetime risk, and diabetes-related amputation occurs somewhere in the world every 20 seconds, about 90,000 a year in the United States alone. However, amputations are largely preventable, said UA biomedical engineer Bijan Najafi, whose SmartSox may well be part of the solution. SmartSox measure three parameters critical in the management of diabetes – temperature, pressure and joint angles in the foot – and report data via a combination of sensors and fiber optics. “For the first time, we have the technology to measure all three parameters simultaneously and during daily activity to help us identify the area of the foot most likely to develop an ulcer,” said Najafi, who directs the Interdisciplinary Consortium on Advanced Motion Performance, or iCAMP. iCAMP is researching the effectiveness of SmartSox with the UA Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance, or SALSA. The work is supported by more than $2 million in grants from the Qatar National Research Fund. “Diabetic foot wounds tend to heat up before the skin breaks down,” added SALSA director Dr. David Armstrong. Sophisticated textiles, like SmartSox, “can detect heat and allow patients to identify ulcers on the bottom of their feet before the infection has a chance to spread too far.”

Studying How We Move Through the World Najafi also has developed biomechanical models of the human body and combined them with small, low-cost sensors that can be embedded in socks, shirts, straps, patches and University of Arizona College of Engineering

other devices to study physical activity patterns, gait and balance parameters, and three-dimensional joint structures. “My main focus is the quantification of quality of mobility, studying how people move through the world,” said Najafi, associate professor of biomedical engineering, surgery, and medicine. “I directly interact with the clinicians who know the problem, and as engineers we try to provide solutions.” iCAMP’s research and development consortium – including clinicians, research scientists and biomedical engineers from across the UA campus – brings human motionassessment technology to many areas of clinical medicine.

Center. The goal is to help elders improve balance and attention, thereby improving their dual tasking. Led by Michael Schwenk, iCAMP postdoctoral fellow and exercise scientist, the study combines balance training using wearable sensors developed by Najafi and UA biomedical engineer Gurtej Singh Grewal, with the Yoga meditation technique Kirtan Kriya. Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa, director of the Tucson-based Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, created the meditation program, and the foundation provided $21,000 in seed money for the study.

Najafi is a member of the UA’s Center on Aging, the UA Cancer Center, and the Arizona Arthritis Center scientific advisory board. He also is a Biomedical Engineering Graduate Interdisciplinary Bijan Najafi (right), director of iCAMP, and Gurtej Singh Grewal, Program faculty UA research associate, explain how SmartSox are designed to help member. Before people with diabetes recognize precursors to foot ulcers. coming to the UA in 2012, Najafi directed the Dr. Scholl’s Human Performance Laboratory at the In addition to this study, iCAMP’s Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine National Institutes of Health-supported and Science in Chicago. He earned a collaboration with Biosensics LLC led to PhD in biomedical engineering from the the creation of ActivePERS. ActivePERS Swiss Federal Institute of Technology is an emergency response pendant with and has published more than 100 peer- built-in fall detection that helps seniors reviewed articles. live safely and independently in their own homes. It was recognized as one of the top 2013 technologies at the mHealth Summit conference. Improving Seniors’ Quality of Life About 30 percent of people 65 and older experience at least one fall a year because their gait and balance have declined, especially while dual tasking – for example, walking while talking. This percentage increases to 40 percent after age 75. Falls often result in fractures, head injuries, and postfall anxiety. Fear of falling can lead seniors to curtail their physical activity, causing additional health problems and depression. Together with the Arizona Center on Aging, iCAMP is conducting a pilot study on fall prevention with residents of Tucson’s Villa Hermosa Senior Living

Affecting the Lives of Millions By bringing an engineer’s perspective of biomechanics and biomedical modeling to medicine, Najafi and his research team are helping improve the lives of millions. People with diabetes, who are newly diagnosed at the rate of one every 17 seconds, will stand a better chance of keeping their feet, thanks to high-tech apparel like SmartSox. Seniors will avoid the devastating consequences of falls. And society will benefit from the knowledge generated by Najafi’s research.


Breakthrough in Retinal Implants Expected to Restore Sight to the Blind Technology could help people who have lost their sight see more than light and vague shapes.


olfgang Fink is developing new implant design and methods of electrical stimulation of the retina that will enable implants to produce clearer images and help implant patients see in much greater detail. Fink, an associate professor in the UA departments of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering, conducted the initial research with Erich Schmid, professor emeritus of theoretical atomic and

room, “but only if the patients are told in advance that they are to choose between a cup and a plate,” Fink said. The research team believes its discoveries will restore vision to a level where implant patients can make out birds flying in the sky, for example. To accomplish that detail, the team’s novel method of electrical stimulation uses microsecond pulses, on-chip counterelectrodes, and controlled firing of electrodes to shape the electrical field.

With electrodes on the chip as return electrodes, Fink said, electrical stimulation can be more focused. Some electrodes are programmed to fire in short bursts – microsecond high-voltage pulses – to stimulate retinal cells, while others are Wolfgang Fink, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, shows a diagram of his technique for electrical stimulation of the retina. programmed to fire for longer nuclear physics at the University of periods to shape the field emitted by Tübingen in Germany. the electrodes firing in short bursts. Retinal implants consist of an array of electrodes that are activated – either by light entering the eye or by a signal from a camera mounted outside the eye – to emit electric fields, which in turn stimulate retinal cells that send signals to the brain. Implant patients – people who have lost their sight due to macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa, common degenerative diseases – can usually detect the presence of light, but the images they perceive are very low resolution. They can make out white stripes on a black computer screen, or distinguish between white objects such as a cup and a plate on a black background in a darkened


AIMBE Elects Wolfgang Fink to College of Fellows Wolfgang Fink has been elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering for his outstanding contributions in the field of ophthalmology and vision sciences, with particular focus on diagnostics and artificial vision systems. Fink is the Edward and Maria Keonjian Endowed Chair and has appointments in electrical and computer engineering, biomedical engineering, systems and industrial engineering, aerospace and mechanical engineering, and ophthalmology and vision science.

not the answer, Fink said, stressing that without the stimulation methodology he and Schmid propose, the vision achievable with hundreds or even thousands of electrodes would be no better than that achieved using tens of electrodes. Fink is working with Tech Launch Arizona to patent the new technology and license it to retinal implant developers.

Current retinal implants rely on longer pulses, typically measured in milliseconds, and a single distant return electrode or counter-electrode. The return electrode, often somewhere within the patient’s head, is too far from the electrode array, or chip, to allow fine-tuned stimulation of retinal cells that are just microns above the chip. They also lack the firing-sequence control that enables fields to be shaped, Fink explained. In an attempt to achieve greater resolution, some companies are developing implants with more densely packed electrodes while maintaining the array’s same small footprint. Just adding more electrodes, however, is University of Arizona College of Engineering


Wolfgang Fink 520.621.8734

Holographic Imaging System for Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer Reaches Milestone Researchers in the College of Engineering are working on a miniature endoscopic volume holographic imaging system capable of reliably diagnosing ovarian cancer in real time during noninvasive laparoscopic procedures and screenings.


aymond Kostuk, who holds a joint appointment in ECE and the College of Optical Sciences, and his multidisciplinary research team have developed a bench-top version of an instrument capable of detecting ovarian cancer, a disease often referred to as the “silent killer” because it presents no symptoms until it is highly advanced.

successfully identified abnormal spatial and spectral markers of cancerous ovarian tissue removed during surgery.

National Institutes of Health. Surviving ovarian cancer, which spreads quickly and is known to attack generations of women in genetically predisposed families, depends on early diagnosis. To date, there is no single effective screening test for ovarian cancer. Noninvasive imaging methods lack sufficient resolution to detect ovarian The volume cancer, so holographic surgically imaging system, removing which shows affected tissue promise for is the only way detecting ovarian to diagnose cancer in situ, the rapidly uses specialized progressive Raymond Kostuk, professor of electrical and computer engineering and optical sciences, holographic disease. The and one of his graduate students, Isela Howlett, test the new bench-top imaging components in result is that instrument designed to detect ovarian cancer. a microscope to more than 50 generate images capable of detecting Now the research team is working percent of women with ovarian cancer subtle tissue microstructure changes on a miniature endoscopic version are diagnosed in late stages of as well as fluorescent biochemical that further enhances imagery, the disease. signatures. achieves even greater contrast, and is capable of reliably diagnosing The National Institutes of Health has Working with Dr. Kenneth Hatch, of ovarian cancer in real time during provided significant funding for the the UA’s College of Medicine, and noninvasive laparoscopic procedures research, and patents and invention his consenting patients, as well as and screenings. disclosures have attracted the attention of several investment groups.

“The instrument is cost effective, easy to use, and holds the promise of saving lives.” Raymond Kostuk, professor of electrical and computer engineering

researchers in the UA’s BIO5 Institute, Kostuk and his co-investigator, Jennifer Barton, who now holds the position of associate vice president for research at the UA, have completed a study of cancerous and noncancerous ovarian tissue in which the imaging system

University of Arizona College of Engineering

“The instrument is cost effective, easy to use, and holds the promise of saving lives,” said Kostuk. Only 45 percent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer live more than five years after diagnosis, according to the

“Commercialization of the instrumentation may not be far off,” said Kostuk.


Raymond Kostuk 520.621.6172

23 12


Bioengineering Human Growth and Healing Members of Pak Kin Wong’s student research group — Stephanie Wellington, a freshman studying veterinary science and biomedical engineering, and PhD candidate Zachary Dean — work on a microfluidic device to manipulate cells.

Focused on controlling and mimicking regenerative biological systems, Pak Kin Wong, associate professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, is developing new tools to unravel one of life’s greatest mysteries: growing and healing at a cellular level.


ak Kin Wong, associate professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, studies one of the great mysteries of life. It’s happening as you read this article. It involves the body of every human being who has ever lived. And it is rooted in human growth and development. From a fertilized cell or zygote we grow into highly complex multicellular human beings. Not that adult life is

problem-free. You may come into uncomfortably close contact with the ground during a mountain bike ride, and that gash on your left knee is a painful souvenir of the experience, but within a month it heals completely. Or you may find that your aching back can only be cured with surgery. You have the procedure, post-operative recovery is uneventful, and you feel better than you have in years. From the fertilized cell to the bike crash to the back surgery, your body

went through familiar processes. But exactly how did they happen? Wong, who directs the UA Systematic Bioengineering Laboratory, or SBL, and his UA Engineering research team are seeking, and finding, answers. Systematic bioengineering research helps bridge the gap between biology and engineering. In the past decade, bio-, nano-, and information technologies have seen great advances. Bio- and nanotechnologies facilitate modification, manipulation

“Systematic bioengineering holds great promise in

treating degenerative diseases by stimulating damaged tissues to repair themselves, or replacing them with engineered tissues when the body cannot heal itself. Pak Kin Wong, associate professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering


University of Arizona College of Engineering

and characterization of different biological objects down to the single-molecule level. Information technology provides the framework for organizing and controlling the complex bio-nano systems. “Fusion of these technologies enables us to take innovative approaches to explore the fundamental design rules in cells,” said Wong. “While we have the technologies to study nature at the molecular level, conversely, nature provides an excellent model to develop even better nanotechnologies. SBL focuses not only on developing novel tools and approaches to systematically understand these complex biological systems, but also on controlling and mimicking these fantastic designs.”

Self-Organizing Systems: Think Ant Colonies A central focus of Wong’s research is self-organization, a concept very different from most engineering designs, which are based on central coordination. Common examples of central coordination include the use of 3-D printing and computer numerical control, or CNC, machines, which are programmed to perform certain tasks. CNC machines take the designs created in CAD and CAM programs and turn them into finished products – or product components. The rules for 3-D printing and CNC programming are well known. But how does nature organize itself? Where’s the program that allows cells to self-organize without a central coordinator, blueprint or template and to achieve high-order architectures and functions from local interactions of individual cells? Like regenerating wounded tissue or creating new tissue during human growth and development? Self-organizing systems are quite common in nature. Think of an ant colony seeking food. As individuals, the ants don’t know where the food is, but collectively they find it.

University of Arizona College of Engineering

When humans try to re-create regenerative systems, however, success is a trial-and-error process. “We create a scaffold with cells and growth factors, and hope that selforganization happens,” Wong said. That’s how things work in the still-young field of regenerative medicine, which, said Wong, “holds great promise in treating degenerative diseases by stimulating damaged tissues to repair themselves, or replacing them with engineered tissues when the body cannot heal itself.”

Fundamentals First But first, there are the basics. What’s needed, Wong said, is a “fundamental understanding of the regulatory mechanisms in tissue regeneration and the ability to guide these processes.” Wong is in the lab focusing on the fundamentals now. But ultimately, the team’s findings may well lead to discoveries that will improve quality of life. The researchers, for instance, have identified molecular targets that may be useful in facilitating wound healing and mechanical approaches to controlling capillary architectures.

SBL Projects SBL projects, which include the following, are helping scientists develop an understanding of tissue regeneration mechanisms and processes: • Healing of wounds to the linings of blood vessels (vascular endothelium) and the front of the cornea (corneal epithelium) • The formation of new blood vessels from those that already exist (angiogenesis) • Development of 3-D heart muscle tissues for studying heart muscle diseases (cardiomyopathy) • Mechanical and biochemical induction of the spread of cancer (metastasis)

In addition to being part of the AME faculty and directing the Systematic Bioengineering Laboratory, Wong has appointments in biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering, and agricultural and biosystems engineering in the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He also is a member of the BIO5 Institute and the Southwest Environmental Health Science Center in the College of Pharmacy. Wong’s research is funded by the Arizona Biomedical Research Commission, American Cancer Society, American Chemical Society, National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health.


Pak Kin Wong 520.626.2215


Picturing the Future of Cancer Health C are Using MRI to Detect and Monitor

Marty Pagel and his multidisciplinary research team are developing magnetic resonance imaging techniques for early detection of cancer and for monitoring the effectiveness of anticancer drugs. Detecting Enzymes in Tumors Time is critical when it comes to diagnosing and treating cancer. Measuring the performance of enzymes accurately and precisely could well provide a key to diagnosing aggressive cancer tumors early on. However, it is not a task easily undertaken, at least not until now. Marty Pagel, associate professor of biomedical engineering, and a team of UA researchers have developed magnetic resonance imaging techniques to quickly, effectively and noninvasively measure the performance of enzymes in tumors. Aggressive cancer tumor cells often produce enzymes that “chop” normal tissues surrounding the tumor, providing routes for the tumor cells to escape and create new, difficult-to-treat metastatic tumors. Although these enzymes seem to be ideal targets for diagnosing aggressive tumors and could be outstanding targets


for antimetastatic tumor therapy, investigations of enzymes are seldom performed because it is quite difficult to measure their performance. “Measuring the number of enzymes is easy, but assessing the performance of enzymes is difficult,” said Pagel, who equated the problem to grading students. “Assigning grades based on class attendance is easy, but grading the students’ performances with exams and essays is much more difficult. Yet grading on performance is the only true way to gauge learning. Similarly, grading an enzyme’s performance is the only way to truly gauge its importance in the tumor.” The team, including chemistry and biochemistry students and faculty, have created a number of chemical sensors to produce imaging signals strong enough to detect subtle changes in the performances of several enzymes and specific enough for each enzyme to be detected.

Faster imaging speeds made the enzyme measurements much more practical to perform, and new image-processing methods helped compensate for variable conditions during MRI studies. “The standard MRI methods took 30 to 60 minutes to obtain results, said Julio Cárdenas-Rodríguez, research assistant professor of biomedical engineering, “but we redesigned these methods to obtain results in less than two minutes.” University of Arizona Cancer Center investigators, including Amanda Baker, research associate professor of medicine, developed cell biology methods to compare the enzyme production in tumor cells and performance in cells and whole tumors. Results of a study published in the scientific journal Magnetic Resonance in Medicine showed that the new MRI method detected a highly University of Arizona College of Engineering

performing enzyme, known as urokinase plasminogen activator, within a mouse model of pancreatic tumor tissue, relative to a lack of enzyme performance in other areas of the body.

to ensure that our MRI methods can eventually be used with every MRI scanner in every hospital.”

tumors were treated with a certain chemotherapy drug, indicating that the drug had reduced or stopped tumor growth.

Detecting Acids in Tumors

“Because we are engineering our MRI tests to meet specific levels of accuracy and precision, having a reliable model of pancreatic cancer has been critical for evaluating our engineering milestones,” said Pagel.

The sooner doctors know how cancer tumors are responding to treatment, the more effectively they can treat the disease. Being able to measure the lactic acid levels in tumors, which are only slightly higher than levels in normal tissue, is one way to know early on how well drugs are working.

“We want to know if the drugs are killing the tumors within one day because assessing early response is key to cancer treatment and greatly reduces the stress of uncertainty for patients,” Pagel said.

The National Institutes of Health is investing about $3.4 million to further develop this biomedical imaging technology at the UA.

Monitoring Effectiveness of Anticancer Drugs

Just as we “feel the burn” when our muscles produce extra lactic acid during exercise, cancerous tumors that grow rapidly also produce extra

Pancreatic cancer is difficult to treat, partly because tumors respond very slowly to drug therapy. In fact, Cárdenas-Rodríguez is now leading it can take months for the size of a research a pancreatic team from the tumor to change, colleges of We want to know if the drugs are killing the tumors making it difficult Engineering, to assess the within one day because assessing early response effectiveness of Science, and Medicine to drugs. is key to cancer treatment and greatly reduces translate the fast MRI method to a To speed up the the stress of uncertainty for patients. clinical scanner process, Pagel for clinical and Joseph Marty Pagel, associate professor of biomedical engineering trials measuring Kobes, a UA enzyme biomedical lactic acid, explained Pagel, whose activities in the tumors of cancer engineering graduate student, are research team has spent several years developing magnetic resonance patients. developing a highly accurate MRI imaging methods to measure earlier method to measure the acid content Among collaborators for the clinical response to anticancer drugs. One of in tumors. trials are Siemens Healthcare, the their most promising methods evaluates manufacturer of the MRI scanner; how water diffuses through the tumor Now students from the UA Cancer Phillip Kuo, associate professor of tissue, which is typically limited by the Biology Graduate Interdisciplinary medical imaging; and Drs. Alison abundance of cells within the tumor. If Program and the College of Pharmacy the drug therapy reduces the number Stopeck and Pavani Chalasani of the are using the MRI method to evaluate University of Arizona Cancer Center. of cells in the tumor, then the water new anticancer drug therapies. In can more easily diffuse within the tests with lymphoma tumors, the MRI “We are fortunate to have state-oftumor. The researchers have shown that method detected lower production of the-art MRI scanners at the University the imaging method can detect the lactic acid within one day after the of Arizona,” said Pagel, “but we want cellular change in the tumor as early as two weeks after starting the drug treatment.

This team is collaborating with the UA Cancer Center’s Emmanuelle Meuillet, associate professor of nutritional sciences and molecular and cellular biology. Meuillet has developed a series of drugs designed to cure pancreatic cancer, and the imaging method provides her with a way to more rapidly assess the drugs.

Contact Marty Pagel, associate professor of biomedical engineering, works on new methods to assess how cancer tumors are responding to treatment.

Marty Pagel 520.404.7049


UA Mechanical Engineer


Building Custom Body Parts, Advancing Disease Diagnostics Jonathan Vande Geest is creating replacement parts for the heart and developing novel approaches to understanding and treating glaucoma and vocal cord paralysis.


onathan Vande Geest applies engineering testing and analysis to the human biological system to solve complex medical issues.

also spend their days concerned with pumps, valves, pipes, filters, electrical connections and contents under pressure. “My dad was a plumber and my grandpa was a plumber. I think subconsciously I decided I was going to study the aorta because it is the largest pipe in our body,” said Vande Geest. Among the ongoing projects in Vande Geest’s laboratory are the development of a tissueengineered vascular graft for coronary artery bypass surgery and a patient-specific device to treat abdominal aortic aneurysms. Newer to his laboratory are research projects involving vocal fold, commonly known as vocal cord, paralysis and glaucoma.

Tissue-Engineered Vascular Graft

Jonathan Vande Geest, shown here in the STBL with a recently developed device for studying ocular tissues, is focused on how collagen and elastin are organized for proper tissue function.

“Many of the answers to medical problems are often very similar to answers to engineering problems,” said Vande Geest, whose Soft Tissue Biomechanics Laboratory combines engineering and medicine to develop patient-specific vascular medical devices and understand structurefunction relationships in human health and disease. It is no wonder that Vande Geest chose bioengineering or that one of his research focuses is the aorta. He comes from a family of plumbers who


Effective small-diameter vascular grafts critical in treating heart disease, one of the leading causes of death worldwide, often are unattainable or inadequate. So Vande Geest and his collaborators at Protein Genomics Inc., along with Thomas Doetschman at the UA BIO5 Institute, are constructing a small-diameter tissueengineered vascular graft that mimics the structure, composition and mechanical properties of native coronary arteries.

Patient-Specific Aneurysm Device Treatment of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, an enlargement of the aorta where it splits to supply blood to the lower part of the body, often means inserting a costly stent to relieve pressure and help avoid

University of Arizona College of Engineering

ASME Names Jonathan Vande Geest Best Young Researcher in Bioengineering The American Society of Mechanical Engineering honored Jonathan Vande Geest with a 2013 Y.C. Fung Young Investigator Award, which recognizes significant research in bioengineering. Vande Geest, who also has received a National Science Foundation Career Award for the development of his aneurysm device and was awarded a visiting fellowship to the Oxford Centre for Collaborative and Applied Mathematics at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, credits a collaborative multidisciplinary environment – engineering, biology and medicine – with his success in the field. “I have had the opportunity to work with incredibly intelligent faculty and students. More so than anything else, that is why I have been successful,” he said. “We tackle broad health-care problems, look at the challenges from many viewpoints, and devise solutions that significantly affect people’s lives.” Vande Geest heads the UA College of Engineering’s Soft Tissue Biomechanics Laboratory, where researchers study the structure-function relationship in soft tissues and use that knowledge to help develop new technologies for the treatment of disease. Vande Geest joined the UA faculty in 2005 after receiving his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh. He played a key role in developing the biomechanics curriculum for the UA’s biomedical engineering department and has published 39 original research papers and more than 75 conference proceedings.

a potentially fatal rupture. Vande Geest’s affordable, patient-specific device, made of smart polymers, is designed to conform to a patient’s aorta and aneurysm, thus eliminating complications from movement and leaks sometimes associated with more traditional stent grafts. Working closely with Vande Geest on the project are the UA’s Dr. Marvin Slepian, professor of medicine and biomedical engineering and director of interventional cardiology at the Sarver Heart Center, and Dr. Joseph Mills, professor of surgery and chief of vascular and endovascular surgery.

Vocal Cord Paralysis Research Vande Geest’s focus on the aorta naturally led to research on unilateral vocal cord paralysis because of the close proximity of the aorta to the recurrent laryngeal nerve. The recurrent laryngeal nerve connects the larynx to the brain and controls muscles in the larynx, or voice box. It branches from the vagus nerve in the neck then travels to the chest and loops underneath the aorta before returning to the larynx in the throat. During open heart surgery, the recurrent laryngeal nerve may be moved or stretched, sometimes causing unilateral, or one-sided, vocal cord paralysis – a condition that can result in ongoing and severe problems with speaking, swallowing and even breathing. While open heart surgery is one of the leading causes of unilateral vocal cord paralysis, the cause in many cases is unknown. The unknown causes are what interests Vande Geest, coprincipal investigator on the project, and Julie Barkmeier-Kraemer, co-PI and professor of otolaryngology at the University of California, Davis.

“We believe that increased aortic compliance or size of the aorta may be causing damage to the nerve in some of these idiopathic cases of vocal cord paralysis,” said Vande Geest, explaining that aortic compliance refers to the artery’s expansion in response to a localized increase in blood pressure.

Expanded Understanding of Glaucoma Glaucoma, the second leading cause of blindness worldwide, refers to a group of eye conditions that lead to damage of the optic nerve. Typically the damage is attributed to increased pressure in the eye, also known as intraocular pressure. However, by studying the mechanical properties of how the tissue structure changes in people at high risk of developing glaucoma, Vande Geest and his team hope to expand the understanding of what causes glaucoma and improve diagnosis and treatment of the disease. Among team members on the project is Dr. Christopher Girkin, chairman of the department of ophthalmology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

Research Stretches Beyond Specific Diseases The technologies Vande Geest is developing address specific conditions, but many of the solutions could apply to any soft tissue in which collagen and elastin are present. Collagen, which gives tissue its strength and flexibility, and elastin, which returns it to its original shape after being stretched, are proteins that make up the main structural components of soft tissue. “The thing that I am most excited about is the focus of our laboratory on understanding how collagen and elastin are organized to bring about proper tissue function,” said Vande Geest, who has appointments in biomedical engineering, aerospace and mechanical engineering, applied mathematics, the BIO5 Institute, and the Arizona Cancer Center.

“Alterations in the makeup and properties of the Graduate student Jeff Pyne works in the Soft Tissue Biomechanics Lab. tissues near the optic nerve may predispose certain high-risk populations to The primary sources of funding for primary open angle glaucoma, Vande Geest’s research are the even at relatively low intraocular National Institutes of Health, the pressures,” Vande Geest said. American Heart Association, and the National Science Foundation.

“The thing that I am most excited about is

the focus of our laboratory on understanding how collagen and elastin are organized to bring about proper tissue function.” Jonathan Vande Geest, head of the UA Soft Tissue Biomechanics Laboratory

University of Arizona College of Engineering


Jonathan Vande Geest 520.621.2514


Advancing Heart Transplant Technology Smaller artificial hearts and biodegradable sensors that vanish in the body: These are Dr. Marvin Slepian’s newest cardiovascular projects.


r. Marvin Slepian, UA professor of biomedical engineering and cardiology professor, is expanding on his decade-old total heart replacement invention to develop a better fit for women and children. The larger 70 cubic centimeter Syncardia Total Artificial Heart, or TAH, approved by the FDA in 2004 has been implanted in more than 1,260 patients, primarily men, worldwide as a bridge to transplant. The device completely replaces the

blood-pumping function of a diseased heart in patients with end-stage congestive heart failure, keeping them alive until a human heart transplant can be performed. The TAH replaces

both failing heart ventricles and the four heart valves. It is connected by two small air tubes to an external pneumatic driver that powers the heart and monitors blood flow. Now a smaller 50 cubic centimeter Total Artificial Heart is making its way through the regulatory process in the United States. “Looking to the future, a major unmet need remains in providing total heart support for children and small adults,” wrote Slepian in a 2013 Journal of Biomechanics article. “To aid in the development of a new pediatric TAH, an engineering methodology known as device thrombogenicity emulation that we have recently developed and described is being employed.” DTE measures the potential for blood clotting in cardiovascular devices by mimicking the conditions in the device based on sophisticated numerical simulations. It can then be used to tweak the geometry of the device to optimize the design and minimize or eliminate “hot spot” trajectories where clots can form.

“Looking to the future, a

major unmet need remains in providing total heart support for children and small adults.” Dr. Marvin Slepian, professor of biomedical engineering and cardiology


University of Arizona College of Engineering

AIMBE Elects Dr. Marvin Slepian to College of Fellows The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering elected Dr. Marvin Slepian to its College of Fellows Class of 2013. AIMBE recognized Slepian for groundbreaking contributions to implantable devices and for his entrepreneurial leadership in medical firms. Slepian, who co-founded Syncardia, is director of interventional cardiology at the UA’s Sarver Heart Center and a McGuire Scholar in the UA Eller College of Management.

Creating Dissolvable Sensors Slepian, collaborating with researchers from three other universities, is also helping to develop a new class of small, highperformance biodegradable electronics capable of completely dissolving in water or bodily fluids. One potential application for the transient technology is medical implants, for example a pressure sensor to keep track of blood pressure in the pulmonary artery or aorta of a temporary heart transplant patient. “Many of the devices we implant into patients are only needed temporarily. Once the medical need for them has passed, biodegradable devices would disappear, without the permanent burden for the body,” said Slepian.


Dr. Marvin Slepian 520.626.8414

Defense & Security


. U.S



Y SPIE Names Mark Neifeld 2014 Fellow Mark Neifeld, who has joint appointments in electrical and computer engineering and optical sciences, has been named a 2014 SPIE fellow. SPIE is the International Society for Optics and Photonics.


ga g a B ft ra c ir A in s b m o B g Detectin

A team from electrical and computer engineering is designing a system based on compressive management to more efficiently detect explosives.


ost travelers checking their bags for a trip are thinking about getting where they are going. Not Mark Neifeld, a UA electrical and computer engineering professor. He is thinking about how to develop better mathematical tools to improve baggage scanner bomb detection. Neifeld and his multidisciplinary team have been awarded $3.7 million, in two separate proposals, from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to advance X-ray detection of explosives, especially emerging homemade bombs, in checked baggage aboard commercial aircraft.

Building on their U.S. Department of Defense work in KECoM, or Knowledge Enhanced Compressive Management, Neifeld’s research team is developing an information-theoretic system design, based on the mathematics of compressive measurements, to more efficiently detect explosives. Airport X-ray systems are not optimized for the detection of improvised explosive devices. They collect far more visual information than is needed because they do not effectively differentiate between the clutter and the threat, Niefeld explained. “In such a highly resourceconstrained environment, it is critical that all measurement resources be directed toward the optimal extraction of task-relevant information,” he said. The system will enable the collection of less data but much more relevant information, and the process will be quicker. It is expected to increase detection rates of explosives, while reducing the cost of X-ray scanning.


The fellowships recognize SPIE members for outstanding technical contributions within the organization. Neifeld was selected for his achievements in computational imaging, compressive sensing, and applications of information theory. He has been a guest editor for the SPIE newsletter, co-chaired the Visual Information Processing Conference, and served as a member of the SPIE executive committee, among other leadership roles. Neifeld, who joined the ECE faculty in 1991, has published more than 115 papers in peer-reviewed journals and obtained several patents from his research.

Neifeld’s electrical and computer engineering co-investigators on the project include Amit Ashok, who has a joint appointment in the College of Optical Sciences, Ali Bilgin, who has a joint appointment in biomedical engineering, and Michael Gehm, who recently joined the faculty at Duke University.


Mark Neifeld 520.621.6102 University of Arizona College of Engineering

The Making of Uncrackable Code Because of its unbreakable nature, quantum key distribution has the potential to become the gold standard in encryption, not just in matters of national security but also for businesses and in health care.


ix researchers at four universities, including the UA’s Mark Neifeld and Ivan Djordjevic, have won a multimillion-dollar U.S. Department of Defense award to explore quantum key encryption methods far more advanced than cryptography technology in use today.

mere act of observing an ultrasmall particle influences the physical processes taking place. So an eavesdropper trying to intercept a quantum communication inevitably would leave detectable traces. Any attempt to steal the key would reveal the hacker’s presence and prompt the QKD to abort that generation of the key.

The project, “Fundamental Research on Wavelength-Agile, High-Rate Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) in a Marine Environment,” is a combined effort between the UA, the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign, which is the project lead, Duke University and Boston University. In total, the project will be funded at $1.5 million annually for up to five years.

With the help of a U.S. Department of Defense award and the laws of quantum physics, Mark Neifeld (left) and Ivan Djordjevic are working to give secret-keepers the upper hand against code-breakers. Their research is focused on overcoming limitations of quantum key distribution associated with photon detection, transmission distance, and secure data rates.

distorting atmospheric conditions, such as turbulence, scattering and absorption.

Quantum key distribution uses quantum mechanics to guarantee secure communication. It enables two parties to automatically produce a shared random secret key known only to them, which can then be used to encrypt and decrypt messages sent over a standard communication channel. “One of the simplest approaches to QKD involves two parties sharing entangled photon pairs via optical fiber,” explained Neifeld who, along with Djordjevic, holds a joint appointment in electrical and computer engineering and optical sciences. Using adaptive optics and signal processing approaches, the UA portion of the DOD multidisciplinary university research initiative project, awarded at $1.86 million over the project period, involves simulating, assessing and finding ways to overcome the low data rates and security levels. These challenges are caused by light-


Traditional key distribution security methods leave communications networks vulnerable to cyberattacks because attackers can figure out how to crack the complex mathematics underpinning these methods. Quantum key distribution, however, uses light particles. According to the laws of quantum physics, such encryption keys are inherently secure. “QKD relies on the fundamental laws of quantum mechanics to ensure that the encryption is impossible to break,” Neifeld said. In the realm of quantum physics, the

QKD has been proven in laboratory and controlled environments, and there are a few efforts under way to commercialize QKD technology. However, it is not without its challenges in the real world, especially when it comes to sharing the key. Some of the issues are associated with photon detection, transmission distance and rate of key generation. The current project involving Neifeld and Djordjevic will take a number of approaches to overcoming the challenges. “To date, QKD has only been effectively implemented using optical fibers with low secure key rates,” Neifeld said. “When we succeed at this project, we will have a secure method of communication through the air between ships and air vehicles at data rates sufficient to support real-time exchange of secret information.”

“When we succeed at this project, we will have a secure method of communication through the air between ships and air vehicles at data rates sufficient to support real-time exchange of secret information. ” Mark Neifeld, electrical and computer engineering professor

Ivan Djordjevic 520.626.5119 University of Arizona College of Engineering

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Israel Wygnanski: A Tail of Innovation


Active flow control pioneer sees his technology integrated into airplane design and predicts that it could forever change the look of aircraft.


srael Wygnanski’s active flow control systems may well be pushing the aircraft industry to the brink of the next major shift in design. “This new tool could change the entire way we design airplanes,” said Wygnanski, UA professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering. Wygnanski has been developing, testing and perfecting active flow control technology for 40 years. For the last four years, he has worked with Emilio Graff, director of the Lucas Wind Tunnel at Caltech, creating active flow control technology that promises to usher in smaller, lighter, quieter, more efficient airplanes. Active flow control refers to the manipulation of a flow field – through the addition of energy – to improve the performance of a solid body moving in a fluid, such as an airplane moving through the air. Their research led to NASA’s Ames Research Center wind tunnel in

California. There, tests on a full-size Boeing 757 vertical tail outfitted with 37 tiny sweeping jet actuators confirmed in November 2013 that the system was up to the job of manipulating air flow enough to allow for smaller, lower-drag vertical tails on jet airliners.

To the untrained eye, airplane design has remained largely unchanged since this Boeing 707 first took flight in the late 1950s.

Wygnanski, a private pilot, spotted the 25-foot-tall Boeing 757 tail in an Arizona boneyard on one of his flights between Tucson and California while working on the project with Graff. “I flew over Marana and saw two newly junked 757s at the airpark, so we used the actual tail as our model,” he said. The vertical tail active flow control system is scheduled to fly on Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator 757 in 2015.

To compensate for the asymmetrical thrust, the rudder on the vertical tail is deflected to generate side force for directional control. The bigger the surface of the vertical tail and its rudder, the more force that can be exerted. Nevertheless, said Wygnanski, “you can use an oscillatory thrust, or momentum input, in place of the large tail,” which is what the jet actuators tested on the 757 tail accomplished.

The jet actuators at the trailing edge of the Boeing 757 vertical stabilizer, the stationary part of the vertical tail, force air back and forth in a sweeping Control by Design motion, like an oscillating electric To be at their most efficient – produce fan, only at hundreds of cycles per the least amount of drag and use the second, across the movable rudder. least amount of fuel – airplanes could The energized airflow keeps the air be designed as flying wings like the attached to the surface at greater manta ray or deflection have smaller angles, meaning wings and tails. that a smaller The only reason surface area the vertical tail can be as is so big is that effective as a the pilot needs larger one in it to control the creating the Israel Wygnanski, aerospace and plane in the force needed mechanical engineering professor rare instance of to control the engine failure, airplane. particularly at takeoff.

“If this is used as a tool, we could see airplanes change dramatically.”

“Otherwise the large tail is a parasite,” said Wygnanski. Israel Wygnanski (left), professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, and Caltech collaborator Emilio Graff introduced and developed the active flow control system tested recently on this Boeing 757 vertical tail in the wind tunnel at NASA Ames Research Center.


Under normal flying conditions, a smaller, lighter tail would provide the directional control needed. When an engine fails, the thrust comes from the opposite side of the airplane.

Tilt-rotor Tests Wygnanski’s active flow control technology is also an integral part of development of highly complex tiltrotor aircraft that hover like helicopters and fly like planes. It was used in a series of download reduction flight tests in 2003 on a XV-15 tilt-rotor University of Arizona College of Engineering

aircraft that demonstrated for the first time the effectiveness of active flow control technology in full-scale flight. “This was the first real demonstration of the active flow control principle on an airplane,” said Wygnanski. “It was my 68th birthday when it first flew, and it was very exciting.” A tilt-rotor aircraft usually takes off vertically, for example from a ship’s deck, then its rotors tilt forward to fly like a conventional plane. The problem is that the wake of the rotor impinges on the wing from above, generating a download force. That download can substantially limit payload at vertical takeoff. The more force pushing down the aircraft, the less weight it can carry. So a flow control system was developed whereby simple actuators, with no moving parts on the wings, alleviated the download and increased lift.

International Prize Winner Wygnanski joined the UA College of Engineering in 1985 and for the next 19 years had a dual appointment at Tel Aviv University in Israel, where he held the Lazarus Chair of Aerodynamics. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, one of the highest professional honors accorded an engineer, in 1989. At the 2014 Israel Annual Conference on Aerospace Sciences in February, he was presented with the Meir Hanin International Memorial Prize, which recognizes substantial achievements in aerospace sciences. In recent years, Wygnanski also served as senior aerodynamicist at NASA Langley Research Center. His research has been funded by the U.S. Air Force, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, as well as NASA, Bell and Boeing.


Israel J. Wygnanski 520.621.6089

From the Wright Flights to the Jet Airliner, Time for the Next Big Shift in Design


ircraft have undergone a fundamental shift in design every 50 to 60 years, starting with the Wright brothers’ first powered flight in 1903 and progressing to the likes of the Boeing 707, which went into service in 1958. If the pattern holds true, the UA’s Israel Wygnanski may hold the ticket to the next big change. The Wright brothers built the first aircraft in the world that had active controls for all three axes: roll, pitch and yaw. The Boeing 707 ushered in the Jet Age with a transatlantic flight from New York to Paris. To the untrained eye, the basic design of today’s commercial airliners appears largely unchanged since the 707. “The Wright brothers managed to curve the wings and control the airplane,” said Wygnanski, pioneer of active flow control systems on airplanes and professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering. “It is not being airborne that led to the development of the modern airplane; it is the control, and that was the Wright brothers patent.” Flying is one thing; controlling an aircraft is quite another, which is why most of the fundamental design shifts in airplane design have centered around control, said Wygnanski. In the years since the Wright brothers’ controlled flights, a number of major advances have contributed to the design of engine-powered aircraft, many of them leading up to and advancing commercial jet transport.

to commercial twin-engine airliners with closed cockpits, variable pitch propellers and retractable landing gear. Along with the turbine-powered engines came swept wings, an idea originally proposed by German scientist Adolf Busemann in 1935. Angling the wings back delays the creation of shock waves, thus delaying the drag rise due to what was once referred to as the sound barrier.

Since the 707’s heyday, much progress has been made in aircraft design – for example the use of composite materials, computerized monitoring systems, and new engine technology. But to the untrained eye, little has changed. “Things were happening to make flying more cost-effective and aircraft more efficient, but if you look at this airplane,” said Wygnanski, referring again to the model 707 jet airliner, “and you look at today’s airplanes, unless you really know the details, you would not know the difference.”

“From the Wright brothers until this airplane,” Wygnanski said, holding up a tiny Boeing 707 model airplane, “you can see there were huge developments.” The Boeing 707 still flies today as a military refueling aircraft and boasts some of the same features inherent in today’s airliners: streamlined design, multiple turbinepowered engines, and swept back wings.

While there has been an amazing amount of progress since the Wright brothers’ controlled flights, the history of aircraft design is still a relatively short chapter.

The importance of streamlined design to reducing drag and improving aircraft performance was first presented by Sir Bennett Melvill Jones in 1929, ultimately leading

“If this is used as a tool,” said Wygnanski, “we could see airplanes change dramatically.”

Now, with active flow control technology we could begin to see the next major shift – like lighter, smaller, more fuelefficient airplanes taking off quietly from parking lots.

22 35 12






Mapping Cyberthreats, Metaphorically Speaking


loods of data can overwhelm the human brain and cause it to miss anomalous patterns created by cyberattacks. Visualizing that data as a metaphorical map allows the brain’s highly developed vision center to spy the threats. University of Arizona engineering and computer science researchers

Assurance, or CND/IA, project to study visualization of malicious network activity, which falls under the ONR’s Future Naval Capabilities program. The UA research team consists of Loukas Lazos and Srinivasan Ramasubramanian from the electrical and computer engineering department, and Christian Collberg and Stephen Kobourov from the computer science department. The human brain is not wired to detect patterns or anomalies in thousands of lines of text-based network activity reports. However, the visual cortex is the brain’s largest subsystem, which makes humans extremely adept at making sense out of complex data presented in familiar visual forms. The visualization techniques developed for this project are based on converting large-scale relational data into what looks like a geographic map, but is in fact a metaphorical map.

Electrical and computer engineering associate professors Srinivasan Ramasubramanian (left) and Loukas Lazos are creating dynamic maps that help people visualize suspicious activity on computer networks.

are working on a $3.6 million cybersecurity research program, funded by the Office of Naval Research, to develop dynamic maps that visualize suspicious activity on computer networks. The project is rooted in the fact that monitoring a network for suspicious activity is a daunting task – the amount of data that has to be monitored is enormous, and it is a cacophony of malicious and normal traffic originating from disparate sources.

security threats from without or within. For instance, such a map could represent the global Internet topology, organized at different levels of granularity. The Internet is made up of approximately 35,000 autonomous systems, connected to and passing traffic between one another based on contractual agreements. “Visualizing this complex system requires the development of efficient data gathering, filtering, storing, updating and eventually displaying mechanisms that would suppress normal network activities while highlighting suspicious traffic in real time,” Ramasubramanian said. “A significant challenge in this research is using the visualization system for detecting and displaying ongoing attacks, which are otherwise left unnoticed when examining raw data logs or performing automated detection.”

“As people are familiar with the concept of geographical maps in day-to-day life, it is easier to use maps as a means to convey complex data in a meaningful form,” Kobourov said.

The UA’s contribution to the CND/IA project is the research and development The award is part of the Computer of a natural, easy-to-learn, Network Defense and Information comprehensive, and real-time visualization system. The A significant challenge in this system will employ a research is using the visualization familiar metaphor – the system for detecting and geographic map – to visualize displaying ongoing attacks. network activity that could indicate

One example of a metaphorical map for data visualization shows the relationship of TV shows. Clusters of similar programming are colored so that they look like countries and laid out into what looks like a continental map.

Srinivasan Ramasubramanian, electrical and computer engineering associate professor


University of Arizona College of Engineering


Loukas Lazos 520.626.0736

Going Undercover with Big Data Analytics


ehavioral analytics is a largely unexplored area in the realm of cybercrime. To help put industry and government on the offensive against emerging cyberthreats, a UA interdisciplinary team is using social media analytics to better understand the hacker community and its highly complex ecosystem.

The system will be able to visualize suspicious network activity without overwhelming the cognitive ability of human analysts and exhausting available computational and communication resources. Similar mapping metaphors have been designed to study TV viewing patterns, by analyzing and visually presenting data from more than a million digital TV set-top boxes. Netflix movie preferences and international trade relations can also be rendered more accessible by these visualization techniques. Underlying this research is the belief that such a powerful and familiar metaphor as a geographic map will result in an effective real-time visualization system that provides quick highlevel information to the least specialized user, comprehensive information to the network expert, and a high degree of interactivity and customization to the specialized human analyst, all with a single visualization tool.

Cloaked in the anonymity of the online world and motivated by profit and retribution, more and more cybercriminals all over the world are joining forces to launch sophisticated, coordinated attacks on government and industry. Underpinning the burgeoning cybercriminal activity is a shadow community with the sole purpose of buying, selling and trading the strategies and tools, such as code and applications, for cybercrime. “If cybercriminals do not have the capability to accomplish what they want, they just purchase it on the cyber black market,” said Salim Hariri, an expert in autonomic computing and cybersecurity and co-investigator on two 2013 National Science Foundation grants for cybersecurity advancements, totaling $5.4 million.

information systems – and autonomic monitoring and analysis tools to track hacker activity online and assess their command-and-control infrastructures. Hariri joins principal investigator Hsinchun Chen, UA Regents’ Professor in Management Information Systems and the Thomas R. Brown Chair in Management and Technology, as well as co-investigators Ronald Breiger, UA professor of sociology, and Thomas Holt, associate professor of criminal justice at Michigan State University. Hariri also joins principal investigator Chen, a world leader in security informatics research, and fellow coinvestigators Paulo Goes, head of UA Management Information Systems, and Mark Patton, associate director of the UA’s MicroAge Lab, on a $4.2 million project, AZSecure, to create a new cybersecurity scholarship-for-service program at the UA. The program will support about 40 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students over the next five years. The students will be immersed in advanced cybersecurity analytics and information risk management in preparation for job placement in industry and government.

“If cybercriminals do not have the capability to accomplish what they want, they just purchase it on the cyber black market.” Salim Hariri, professor of electrical and computer engineering

As part of a $1.2 million NSF grant, titled the “Hacker Web Project,” a multi-university research team will develop an integrated computational framework – and associated algorithms and software – to track cybercriminal communications in social media as well as profile and identify influential cybercriminals and hackers. Hariri, a professor in electrical and computer engineering, will lead the development of honeypots – traps set to detect unauthorized use of

Selected students in the AZSecure project will be involved in the Hacker Web project. As part of the project, Hariri will lead the development of an online AskCypert portal for teaching educators and students about cybersecurity.


Salim Hariri 520.621.4378

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New Center Forging the Future of Wireless BWAC is focused on securing data, boosting wireless speed, and providing universal connectivity.


everal billion mobile users around the world are tapping into unprecedented broadband speeds and increasingly massive bandwidth. As more devices use wireless communication, the part of the electromagnetic spectrum they use gets more and more clogged. To help manage the flood of data and secure the airwaves, the new UA-led Broadband Wireless Access & Applications Center, or BWAC, is focusing on increasing the amount of data that can flow over the electromagnetic spectrum while also paving the way for next-generation technologies, such as wireless hospital rooms. “The problems with clogging of the electromagnetic spectrum can be compared to a traffic jam,” said Tamal Bose, head of UA electrical and computer engineering and codirector of BWAC, an NSF Industry and University Cooperative Research Center. “The roads are built up, and we have nowhere else to build. So we

BWAC Project Areas • Opportunistic spectrum access and allocation • Spectrum trading and auctions • Wireless cybersecurity • Cognitive sensor networks of heterogenous devices • Image and video compression technologies • Integrated-circuit and lowpower design for broadband 38

have two solutions: One is to make the lanes narrower and the cars smaller so we can fit more cars; the other is to increase the speed limit.”

The center is backed by National Science Foundation funding of nearly $1.6 million over the next five years and industry support of about $4 million.

“The problems with clogging of the electromagnetic spectrum can be compared to a traffic jam. We have two solutions: One is to make the lanes narrower and the cars smaller so we can fit more cars; the other is to increase the speed limit.” Tamal Bose, head of electrical and computer engineering and co-director of BWAC


Tamal Bose 520.621.6193

ECE Professors Aim to Stop Eavesdroppers in Their Tracks

Researchers are working to eliminate threats in the open wireless environment by advancing signature-free secure wireless communications, specifically through integrated friendly jamming to cloak telling transmission attributes.


ireless communications networks present significant security challenges.

For the military, where tactical communications among troops rely

With the support of a 2013 $460,000 U.S. Army Research Office grant, Krunz and his coinvestigator, Loukas Lazos, associate professor in electrical and computer engineering, aim to get at the root of

“The core threat to security in the open wireless environment is exposure of transmission signatures.” Marwan Krunz, BWAC co-director and professor of electrical and computer engineering

heavily on wireless networks, the stakes are particularly high. Even with sophisticated encryption and authentication systems for confidential information, eavesdroppers can use radio frequency and traffic analysis to capture transmission attributes and create a fingerprint of the communications. For example, adversaries can gain access to contextual information such as the location of communications, applications used, websites visited, and languages spoken.

the problem. They are developing new techniques, which center around randomization and integrated transmitter/receiver-friendly jamming, to effectively cloak the telling transmission attributes. In addition to the ARO award, Krunz has received a $320,000 DOD award through the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program to develop a test bed for a cognitive heterogenous wireless network.

Industrial Affiliates • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Agilent Technologies Inc. Avirtek Inc. CAER CERDEC EOIR Technologies Harris Corp. Hydronalix L-3 Communications Landis+Gyr Motorola Solutions Inc. Raytheon Rincon Research Corp. SAIC Space Micro Inc. The MITRE Corp. Tucson Embedded Systems Zeta Associates Inc.

Partner Institutions • • • • •

University of Arizona (lead) Auburn University University of Notre Dame University of Virginia Virginia Tech

“The core threat to security in the open wireless environment is exposure of transmission signatures,” said ECE professor Marwan Krunz, BWAC co-director and primary investigator on a U.S. Department of Defense research project aimed at diminishing that threat.


Marwan Krunz 520.621.8731 University of Arizona College of Engineering


Keeping Our Nuclear Stockpile Safe and Ready Testing nuclear weapons is banned by treaty, so the only way to ensure our stockpile’s safety and readiness is virtual weapons testing using the world’s fastest supercomputers to crunch lab research data.


n 2010 the Pentagon revealed it had a total of 5,113 warheads in its nuclear stockpile, down from a peak of 31,225 at the height of the Cold War in 1967.

funded projects for more than 20 years to safeguard our nuclear stockpile, heading up a UA research effort that has brought in almost $8 million in research awards.

Even our newest nuclear weapons are at least 20 years old, and some are as old as 40. Such weapons were never designed to last indefinitely, and they can fail or become unpredictable as they age. Various treaties preclude nuclear weapons testing, so how do we assess and maintain the safety and readiness of those weapons remaining in our stockpile?

Jacobs’ fundamental research in fluid instability generates experimental data to help national laboratories validate their simulations. “The whole idea is that if we can’t test nuclear weapons, we’ll simulate them using huge computers,” Jacobs said, referring to NNSA’s Sequoia system, the fastest supercomputer in the world. “There are huge multi-scale, multi-physics problems to be solved,”

training appropriate to work in these national labs. That’s what stockpile stewardship means – we have to safeguard it for the future.” Work done by Jacobs stewarding the nation’s nuclear stockpile has applications in some interesting areas, such as nuclear fusion, which he describes as the holy grail because of its potential to end the world’s energy problems once and for all. “Hydrogen, which is essentially unlimited in supply, is the energy source for fusion,” he said. “It’s what powers the sun.”

“The whole idea is

that if we can’t test nuclear weapons, we’ll simulate them using huge computers.” Jeff Jacobs, Elwin G. Wood Distinguished Professor and head of aerospace and mechanical engineering

The only way is through simulations, and the application of science, technology, engineering, and manufacturing. This is the task of the National Nuclear Safety Administration, which is responsible for the management and security of the nation’s nuclear weapons, nuclear nonproliferation, and naval reactor programs. Jeff Jacobs, Elwin G. Wood Distinguished Professor and head of the department of aerospace and mechanical engineering, has been working with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory on NNSA-


added Jacobs, who is director of the Experimental Fluid Mechanics and Instability Laboratory at the UA College of Engineering. An important aspect of stockpile stewardship is ensuring a steady supply of qualified and experienced engineers and scientists who can carry this work into the future. To this end, Jacobs also works with the NNSA’s Stewardship Science Academic Alliances Program. “The people who helped design nuclear weapons are quickly retiring,” Jacobs said. “Part of my role is to provide graduates with the

University of Arizona College of Engineering

Another application is astrophysics. Jacobs’ research focuses on the chaotic behavior at the interface of two gases under extreme shock or acceleration. It doesn’t get much more extreme or chaotic than a supernova, and Jacobs’ research might help explain what happens during these violent stellar explosions, an area of research that is also being pursued at the UA by pioneering astrophysicist and UA Regents’ professor David Arnett.


Jeff Jacobs 520.621.8459

Defense and Security


Taking Control:

Hybrid Systems Theory and Design From the ever-growing number of systems that permeate our everyday lives to making the right lightning-fast combat decisions, Ricardo Sanfelice’s research is all about control.


n addition to being named a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in 2013, Ricardo Sanfelice won an award that put him among the best in the world when it comes to the highly analytical and mathematical design of control systems. Sanfelice, an assistant professor in the UA College of Engineering’s aerospace and mechanical engineering department, received the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics award for his contributions to the design of hybrid dynamical feedback controllers. His research is centered on smart grids and renewable energy and unmanned aircraft and vehicles. “I was always intrigued by automation and excited about getting the systems to do what I wanted them to do rather than what they wanted to do,” said Sanfelice, who coauthored the book, “Hybrid Dynamical Systems: Modeling, Stability and Robustness.” Sanfelice’s reputation as a leading hybrid systems researcher was cemented in 2012, when he received an NSF Career Award to research the application of hybrid systems theory to the design of smart grid systems. Sanfelice, who joined the UA Engineering faculty in 2009, believes

conditions continually interrupted by jumps in currents and voltages. The tools developed by Sanfelice through the NSF grant will ensure that smart grid components work under real-world conditions, such as those simulated on the smart microgrid test bed at Sandia National Laboratories, where Sanfelice will conduct testing. “This is a topic of high importance to society worldwide and, in particular, to our nation,” said Sanfelice. “It will also impact other areas of science and engineering, including autonomous transportation systems, genetic and biological networks, and cybersecurity systems.” The NSF award came on the heels of a grant under the Young Investigator Program of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to investigate the design of control algorithms for autonomous vehicles in adversarial environments. His AFOSR grant is supporting development of a new hybrid systems theory that enables autonomous systems to predict how adversaries might act or how situations might change, and how those systems can be designed to make the right control

Sanfelice, who intends to increase awareness among young students of the future applications of hybrid systems. “We will be training middle school and high school instructors and students on control engineering and its applications to smart grids and autonomous systems,” said Sanfelice, whom the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers named educator of the year for higher education in 2012.

“This is a topic of high importance to society worldwide and, in particular, to our nation. It will also impact other areas of science and engineering, including autonomous transportation systems, genetic and biological networks, and cybersecurity systems. ” Ricardo Sanfelice, aerospace and mechanical engineering assistant professor

the mixed jump-and-flow behavior of hybrid systems theory lends itself particularly well to the testing and design of smart grids, which are characterized by periods of steady University of Arizona College of Engineering

decisions during uncertain and rapidly altering circumstances. The results of the research will not be confined to the laboratory, said


Ricardo Sanfelice 520.626.0676

22 41 12

Engineers Enlist Social Science to Yield Cost Savings in Systems Design

The list of large-scale engineering projects – think satellites, fighter jets and airliners – actually completed on time and within budget is vanishingly small. To help bring design costs down to earth, UA model-based systems engineering researchers are drawing on social network analysis.


s systems become larger, more expensive and more complex, it becomes increasingly difficult to calculate how design changes will affect the overall cost of projects. Engineers need ever more sophisticated tools to understand the relationships between costs, schedules and performance.

“This approach can help estimate the cost impact of introducing a new technical feature, such as increasing an aircraft’s flight range from 1,500 to 2,000 miles without refueling.” Ricardo Valerdi, associate professor of systems and industrial engineering

Ricardo Valerdi, an associate professor in the UA department of systems and industrial engineering, and his student research team are working on a new method, which merges model-based systems engineering and social network analysis, to reliably weigh the tradeoffs. “We are applying social network


analysis techniques to the design process,” Valerdi said. “This means an engineer or designer can add or modify subsystems with a greater degree of certainty about their cost and efficiency.” That’s social network analysis as in human networks. “Matthew Dabkowski took UA sociology professor Ron Breiger’s class on social network analysis and is applying those techniques to modelbased design,” Valerdi said. “It’s a beautiful merger of social science and engineering.” Doctoral candidate Lt. Col. Dabkowski, along with master’s student Ben Reidy and senior Jose Estrada, won the 2013 best student paper award at the 11th Annual Conference on Systems Engineering Research at Georgia Tech in Atlanta for their paper, “Network Science Enabled Cost Estimation in Support of Model-Based Systems Engineering,” which proposed the novel method. “Unlike rules of thumb, this approach provides us with an objective way to quantify and assess change,” Dabkowski said. Valerdi, who was recently awarded a U.S. Navy Department of Defense

research grant to continue the work described in the conference paper, said model-based systems engineering can help determine the highest value capabilities in terms of costper-functionality, or “bang for the buck,” and weigh the impact of adding, delaying, reducing or eliminating certain features.

Lt. Col. Matthew Dabkowski, who is working on his PhD, was invaluable in quickly understanding the research issues and bringing together contractors, tool vendors, and government users to explore solutions for reliably predicting how changes in complex system design affect cost.

“This approach can help estimate the cost impact of introducing a new technical feature, such as increasing an aircraft’s flight range from 1,500 to 2,000 miles without refueling,” Valerdi explained, citing an example from his work with the Navy. “Modifying this feature doesn’t just increase the size of the fuel tank, it could potentially change the structural properties of the airplane, landing gear configuration, and so on. An increase of 500 miles of flight range could result in an astronomical cost impact that might not be worthwhile.”

University of Arizona College of Engineering


Science of Baseball a Big Hit in Arizona, and Beyond Ricardo Valerdi’s other passion is baseball, which he uses to encourage middle school students to pursue education and careers in the STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and math. Valerdi started the UA Science of Baseball program in 2012 at a single middle school in Tucson, Ariz., and quickly ascended to the big league. Thanks to a partnership with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the program can now inspire significantly more middle school students. “UA and the D-backs have overlapping interests in making Arizona a better place to live,” Valerdi said. “Having a Major League Baseball team put its brand behind the program has been a force multiplier.”

Valerdi is in talks with other baseball teams, including the Boston Red Sox, to implement similar programs. “The motivation for the Diamondbacks Science of Baseball program is to promote real-world applications of numeracy – the ability to reason and apply simple numerical concepts,” said Valerdi. “Baseball provides a rich laboratory to apply fundamental math skills like measurement, geometry, probability and statistics.”

Ricardo Valerdi draws students into STEM with America’s favorite pastime. Photo by Tyler Besh, Arizona Daily Wildcat

Middle school students get a chance to put a different spin on baseball at a Diamondbacks Science of Baseball camp.


Ricardo Valerdi 520.621.6561


Crossing Divides:

Team Adapts Breast Cancer Screening Research for Bomb Detection The new hybrid technology will combine the advantages of high-contrast microwave imaging with highresolution ultrasound imaging while mitigating the harmful radiation effects of traditional X-ray imaging.


ith a $1.5 million U.S. Department of Defense award, UA researchers are adapting their breast cancer imaging research for detection of embedded explosives, and the results are expected to advance technology in both areas.

“We take advantage of both technologies and avoid the disadvantages to increase detection specificity,” said Xin, director of the UA Millimeter Wave Circuits and Antennas Laboratory.

Electrical and computer engineering professor Hao Xin, principal investigator on the 2013 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, award, said the same advanced technology he and his colleagues have been developing for early breast cancer detection is now being adapted to rapidly detect explosives in opaque, or nontransparent, materials.

The 18-month renewable project, “Thermoacoustic Imaging and Spectroscopy Method for Explosive Detection at Standoff,” sends microwaves into a target, which locally heats up distinct objects or tissues differently, then the quick thermal expansion generates an ultrasound image that is identified using a novel spectroscopic process.

The types of materials often used to conceal explosive devices – mud and meat, for example – share a trait with breast tissue: high water content, which makes it difficult to identify objects or abnormalities using existing ultrasound or microwave imaging techniques. Ultrasound images show a clear shape, but the properties cannot be delineated. Microwave images have contrast, but shapes are not clear. The new hybrid technology will combine the advantages of highcontrast microwave imaging with highresolution ultrasound imaging to detect improvised explosive devices. The technology also mitigates the harmful radiation effects of traditional X-ray imaging and works without making contact with the material in which the explosive is concealed.

A UA research team led by ECE principal investigator Hao Xin (third from right) and co-PI Russell Witte (second from right), assistant professor of radiology, biomedical engineering and optical sciences, will apply new breast cancer imaging technology to bomb detection.

Like bomb detection, breast cancer detection has seen myriad advancements in recent years, with a number of competing technologies emerging. But none has overcome the challenges associated with identifying the specific properties of abnormal tissue. Mammography, today’s gold standard for breast cancer imaging, fails to detect breast cancer in as many as a quarter of the cases where it is later confirmed, according to scholarly and medical sources. Thus, Xin and his team expect this research will also advance their work in breast cancer imaging. “The new research and imaging technique will help us better identify abnormalities in tissue and could

significantly reduce the need for diagnostic biopsies, increase the rates of early breast cancer detection, and improve treatment outcome,” said Xin. Joining forces with Xin are his coinvestigator, Russell Witte, assistant professor of radiology, biomedical engineering and optical sciences; Raytheon Company; the National Institute of Standards and Technology; and a handful of exemplary graduate students and research assistants. “A large research university like the UA allows people across disciplines to collaborate with industry on projects like this that have the potential to save lives on many fronts,” said Xin.

“A large research university like the UA allows people across disciplines to collaborate with industry on projects like this that have the potential to save lives on many fronts.” Hao Xin, professor of electrical and computer engineering


University of Arizona College of Engineering


Hao Xin 520.626.6941

ADVANCED MANUFACTURING and MATERIALS Ad v anced Manufact ur ing & M at er ial s

From Microchips to Spaceships: Predicting Materials failure

A multi-university $7.5 million project aims to predict damage to and failure of materials used in a variety of applications, ranging from microchips to aircraft.


Erdogan Madenci 520.621.6113



A aerospace and mechanical how materials and structures fail,” way for the design of new materials, engineering professor Erdogan Madenci said. “Existing computational which is one of the primary objectives Madenci, working with assistant methods are inadequate because of the Material Genome Initiative, professor of materials science and the underlying mathematics breaks launched by the government in engineering Robert Erdmann, is down when defects or flaws emerge 2011 with the goal of doubling heading a new multimillion-dollar in materials.” the pace of advanced materials research project discovery, innovation, to predict and Peridynamics could be used to predict the damage manufacture damage and commercialization. failure of caused to aircraft by lightning strikes and lead to the The UA Engineering materials used in applications development of new materials that better withstand team will collaborate ranging from with researchers at microchips to the University of million-volt bolts of electricity. spaceships. Texas, San Antonio; University of Nebraska, Lincoln; The project is based on the emerging Erdmann, co-primary investigator on Pennsylvania State University; and theory of peridynamics, which the project, will apply his research in Arizona State University. enables modeling of material fracture computational materials science and and failure. The Air Force Office of engineering to investigating the link “Our research team has extensive Scientific Research is funding the $7.5 between material microstructures and expertise in applying peridynamic million multidisciplinary university fracture properties. theory to materials failure, materials research initiative, or MURI, over the modeling, and mathematical next five years. Further advancement of peridynamic analysis,” Madenci said. “We are in a theory will result in breakthrough unique position to develop predictive Madenci’s recent peridynamics improvements in material properties tools based on peridynamic theory research has focused on extending and performance in a wide range of that will enable us to manipulate the the methodology to predict failure applications, ranging from lightweight properties of materials and lead to in electronics components, such aerospace vehicles to naval vessels. the design of new materials.” as microchips and composite aircraft components, under harsh For example, peridynamics could be The peridynamics research grant is environmental and loading conditions, used to predict the damage caused one of seven awards, worth a total of thus increasing safety and reducing to aircraft by lightning strikes, and $67.5 million, funded by the Air Force the risk of failure. could lead to the development of new Office of Scientific Research in 2013 materials that can better withstand under the Department of Defense “Peridynamic theory enables million-volt bolts of electricity. MURI program. engineers to better understand The proposed research will pave the



Bringing Sustainability to Semiconductor Manufacturing For 18 years, the Engineering Research Center for Environmentally Benign Semiconductor Manufacturing has been finding safer, more efficient, cost-effective ways to improve semiconductor manufacturing.


emiconductor plants are hungry.

Each day, a typical facility producing semiconductors on 6-inch wafers uses 240,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. They’re also thirsty. Those 6-inch wafer plants consume more than 2 million gallons of water each day. Newer facilities that produce 8-inch and 12-inch wafers consume

of the chemicals used in semiconductor production aren’t expensive, keeping them ultraclean is. At the UA an interdisciplinary team of researchers has for the last 18 years been working with colleagues at other universities to improve semiconductor manufacturing. They’re part of the Engineering Research Center for Environmentally Benign Semiconductor Manufacturing, or ERC,

“New materials bring with them new environmental, safety and health issues. And these new materials need to be studied.” Farhang Shadman, Regents’ Professor in chemical and environmental engineering and ERC founding director

even more, with some daily estimates as high as 3 million gallons. Then there’s the waste problem. And clean doesn’t come cheap. Companies have responded to the hazards by closely monitoring chemical use, minimizing consumption, and developing recycling and reprocessing techniques. While many


which is focused on developing safe, sustainable materials and processes for semiconductor manufacturing and studying nano-scale manufacturing. Farhang Shadman, UA Regents’ Professor in chemical and environmental engineering, is the ERC’s founding director. Since its inception in 1996, the ERC’s work has involved 21 universities, 241 doctoral and master’s students,

216 undergraduate students, 13 academic disciplines, and 35 industrial members. More than 80 percent of ERC graduates have joined semiconductor-related companies.

Mission Accomplished: Successful Industrial Collaboration and Tech Transfer A decade ago, no one would have predicted the popularity of mobile tablets. That’s because they weren’t available then. Likewise, the smartphone. Ten years ago, mobile phones were for making calls and little else. Both of these semiconductorintensive devices point to one of the opportunities – and challenges – facing the industry. It’s fast-moving, and the pace of innovation shows no signs of slowing. That’s why the ERC balances highrisk, high-payoff projects with smaller efforts that have more immediate applications. The center aims to get its research into commercial use as quickly as possible. For example, since its founding, ERC has been working on perfluoro compound University of Arizona College of Engineering

ERC Universities

Member Companies

Founders University of Arizona Massachusetts Institute of Technology University of California, Berkeley Stanford University

Air Products and Chemicals Inc. ASM America Inc. Cabot Microelectronics Corp. Entegris Inc. Freescale Semiconductor Inc. General Tool Co. GLOBALFOUNDRIES Inc. Hewlett-Packard Development Co. Hitachi Chemical Co. Ltd. IBM Corp. Infineon Technologies INOAC USA Inc. Intel Corp. Matheson Morgan Technical Ceramics National Institute of Standards and Technology Novellus Systems Inc. Pall Corp. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. Texas Instruments Inc. Tokyo Electron

Members Current Arizona State University University of Washington University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill University of Texas, Dallas University of California, Los Angeles North Carolina A&T State University Johns Hopkins University Colorado School of Mines University of North Carolina, Greensboro Past Cornell University University of Maryland Purdue University Tufts University University of Massachusetts Columbia University Georgia Institute of Technology University of Wisconsin

alternatives, and several chemistries developed in the program have been adopted by industry. Additionally, the transfer of UA-developed reactive filter technology to the Pall Corp. led to the commercialization of the Pall part per trillion filter-purifier only three years after research began. ERC research has created new businesses as well. The Environmental Metrology Corp. arose out of water use reduction technology that was developed and patented by ERC. The company’s Electro-Chemical Residue Sensor was a Semiconductor International Editors’ Choice Best Product Award Winner in 2009. And the GVD Corp. was formed to commercialize low-energy solvent-free deposition technology. ERC research also led to the founding of Araca Inc., Cambridge Metrology Inc., Picogen Inc., and Praegasus Inc.

double every two years. Time for an update.

Silicon Valley Won’t Have to Change Its Name – Yet

“NSF usually funds these centers for nine or 10 years, and very few centers survive past that point,” said Shadman.

Back in 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore said that the number of transistors on a silicon chip would University of Arizona College of Engineering

The doubling period is closer to 18 months, and a limit will eventually be reached with silicon, Shadman said. Although silicon is still the main substrate in semiconductor manufacturing, new materials are coming to the fore, which makes the ERC’s work even more important. “New materials bring with them new environmental, safety and health issues,” said Shadman. “And these new materials need to be studied.” Initially, ERC’s funding came from the National Science Foundation. Nowadays, the center is supported primarily by industry. That’s highly unusual.

Not only has the ERC survived, it

Engineering’s ERC Researchers Jim Field, chair of chemical and environmental engineering, evaluates the environmental fate and toxicity of nanoparticles during biological wastewater treatment. Manish Keswani, materials science and engineering, researches and develops novel wet cleaning systems for both front and back ends of the line processing in semiconductor fabrication. Ara Philipossian, chemical and environmental engineering, studies the environmental aspects of planarization (surface smoothing) with a focus on slurry, pad, water and chemical use reduction. Philipossian holds the Koshiyama Chair of Planarization and is cofounder, president and CEO of Araca Inc., which provides services and equipment to the polishing and planarization industry. Srini Raghavan, materials science and engineering, develops environmentally benign methods for wet chemical processing in semiconductor manufacturing. Farhang Shadman, chemical and environmental engineering, studies surface contamination during semiconductor processing using experimental methods and process modeling. Reyes Sierra, chemical and environmental engineering, investigates and develops processes that rely on microorganisms for hazardous contaminants treatment. brings in about $4 million a year. Each dollar is leveraged with more than $1.70 from elsewhere. Some of ERC’s private funding comes from its member and affiliate companies, ranging from semiconductor manufacturers to chemical and equipment suppliers.


Farhang Shadman 520.621.6052



Team Melds Computational Modeling and Product Development


or some people the glass is half full; for others the glass is half empty. For the Integrated Computational Materials Science and Engineering team, the glass itself, silica, is a multiscale modeling challenge.

In addition to glass and other refractory materials, silica is used to manufacture a number of building materials – iron, steel, aluminum and cement – and as an insulator for semiconductor devices, to name just a few of its applications. Along with silica’s widespread use come complex challenges. It could take years in a lab, for example, to determine how silica will behave in new applications over time and in different environments.

Simulating the Behavior of Silica

These figures illustrate a simulation of the adsorption of water on a silica surface, where the silica surface has interacted with water during processing.

The ICMSE team models and predicts behavior of silica-based materials, and other materials, under varying conditions. These virtual spatiotemporally scaled simulations can replace costly experiments in laboratories, shortening product development time, lowering cost and improving outcome. ICMSE computational simulations and cyberinfrastructure tools for predictive modeling advance design of materials in applications ranging from materials synthesis, processing and fabrication to usage and recycling. One example of the team’s work is simulating the behavior of silica, a group of minerals made up of silicon and oxygen that are recovered mostly from sand. The behavior of silica and silicates in natural and industrial settings affects the resilience of equipment in arid settings, the strength of engineered structures, the performance of filtration systems, and even the origin of water, and hence life, on Earth.


Consider the breaking of silica glass. This fracture problem could affect the strength of structures, packaging of semiconductors, and, because the Earth is made up predominantly of silicates, the geophysics of seismic events. The fracture has at its most basic level the cleaving of chemical bonds from external stress. ICMSE models the behavior of electrons in chemical bonds, and their breaking, by using quantum mechanical methods, including coupled cluster, density functional theory and path integral methods. Areas adjacent to the crack tip, as well as the surface healing of the fractured surface, are described by atomistic methods, including equilibrium and nonequilibrium molecular dynamics and the Monte Carlo technique. In fracture, the stimulus that leads to the breaking of chemical bonds can be applied well away from the site of the crack tip. To mediate this stress from its application to the crack requires mesoscopic scale techniques including phase-field models and the Lattice Boltzmann method, among others. Finally, at the largest length scales, it is essential to use continuum-based methods, such as peridynamics, finite difference and finite elements.

Experimental Collaborations To test its predictions, the ICMSE team collaborates on a number of sponsored projects.

• Plasmonic metamaterials with

on-demand optical properties (Canon)

• Mechanical integrity and

reliability of infrared domes in missiles (Raytheon)

• Nanophononic crystals for

thermal and thermoelectric applications (Toyota)

• Casting of metal alloys for engine-block applications (Rolls-Royce)

• 3-D assembly of 2-D carbon

nanostructures: applications for thermoelectrics, spintronics, battery-electrodes (NSF)

• Low-melting molten salts with

high-temperature stability: applications for heat-transfer fluids (DOE)

• Efficient, fuel-free pneumatic engines for compressed-air energy conversion (SFAz)

• Origin of water and organics in terrestrial planets (NASA)

• Reaction-diffusion models of

calcium signal propagation in biological tissues (McDonnell Foundation)

• Peridynamics modeling of sand

impact with ceramics (Raytheon)

• Microstructure characterization

and analysis of alloys solidified in microgravity environment (NASA)

University of Arizona College of Engineering

ICMSE Team Another example is simulating the adsorption of water on a silica surface. Adsorption to silanol sites affects the filtering capacity of silica beads, which are used in filtration applications. If water bonds more strongly than the target molecule being filtered, say a pesticide or contaminant, then the filtering efficiency of the device will be inhibited. The ICMSE team has discovered that the formation of the silanol groups is extremely stable and has been able to model, using kinetic Monte Carlo, the amount of water that silanol adsorption could have yielded from the protoplanetary matter that formed our planet over millions of years.

• Ludwik Adamowicz, professor of chemistry and biochemistry • Pierre Deymier, head of MSE; professor of materials science and engineering, applied math, biomedical engineering, and the BIO5 Institute • Robert Erdmann, associate professor of materials science and engineering, and applied math • George Frantziskonis, professor of civil engineering and engineering mechanics • Ibrahim Guven, assistant professor of materials science and engineering • Krishna Muralidharan, assistant professor of materials science and engineering • David Poirier, professor of materials science and engineering • Keith Runge, research director in School of Sustainable Engineered Systems


Pierre Deymier 520.621.6080





Hardening Optical Fiber for Space Kelly Simmons-Potter has taken her radiation-hardening research to the source to help make space-based systems resistant to damage from the sun.


elly Simmons-Potter, professor of electrical and computer engineering and optical sciences and a pioneer in radiationhardened materials for extreme environments, has taken her research to the source to help make spacebased systems resistant to radiation damage from the sun.

are resistant to damage, not an easy task considering the natural testing environment is several hundred miles above the Earth’s protective atmosphere. Radiation-hardened materials are usually tested in terrestrial simulation facilities, with only one type of radiation tested at a time. But, “when you’re in space, it’s a combined environment with all those different sources of radiation,” said Potter. “You can’t re-create that on Earth.”

So Potter secured a spot for her radiationhardened optical fiber aboard the Materials International Space Station Experiment-7, In the Arizona Materials Lab, Kelly Simmons-Potter, chair of the American or MISSE-7. The Ceramics Society’s glass and optical materials division, and graduate experiment, led by student Brian Fox inspect their just-returned-from-space, radiationhardened optical fibers. the Naval Research Laboratory, included Reaching for a pair of dollar-store Potter’s sheathed optical fibers doped salt shakers, Potter explained that with the rare-earth metals erbium and one shaker was a familiar clear glass ytterbium. The fibers were contained but that the other shaker had been in what resembled an open suitcase, subjected six years ago to gamma and they were attached to the space rays, a type of ionizing radiation, and station’s exterior during a 45-minute turned black. Radiation damage like spacewalk in November 2009. this is not good for optical fiber, which is being considered for a wide range Repeated space shuttle launch delays of space-based telecommunications kept the doped optical fibers in space equipment. for 18 months. Finally, in mid-2011, Potter’s experiment, the last of the Just like in the salt shaker that turned MISSE-7 payload removed from the from transparent to opaque, optical shuttle, returned to the UA. Although fiber, spun threads of glass that the sheathing surrounding the optical use light signals to carry data, can fibers had become brittle, the fibers darken and stop transmitting light were intact. when exposed to ionizing radiation from the sun in near-Earth orbit. The “By testing the optical fibers in a key is to make radiation-hardened combined space environment, we space-based optical systems that were able to identify fibers that


University of Arizona College of Engineering

“By comparing spacebased results to terrestrial test data, we can evaluate the validity of Earth-based testing in simulated space environments.” Kelly Simmons-Potter, professor of electrical and computer engineering and optical sciences

exhibit better radiation-hardening and wavelength regions where the worst damage occurs, as well as the fundamental reasons for the radiationinduced damage,” said Potter. “Most importantly, by comparing spacebased results to terrestrial test data, we were able to evaluate the validity of Earth-based testing in simulated space environments.”

Three years later, Potter’s research group, one of only a few in the world doing this type of research, is still publishing findings. Much of the funding for Potter’s research, which aims to develop radiation-hardened materials that can last up to 20 years in space, comes from the U.S. Department of Energy and Sandia National Laboratories.


Kelly Simmons-Potter 520.626.0525


Stretching the Bounds of Heat Using a special furnace that reaches 2000 degrees Celsius but never gets hot to the touch, Erica Corral tests materials for space exploration.


rica Corral, associate professor of materials science and engineering, conducts research at temperatures that make a Tucson summer seem like a cold wave. Much of her work happens in a direct current sintering furnace that can go as high as 2000 degrees Celsius.

automotive engines, which have operating temperatures approaching 1500 C.

This furnace in the Arizona Materials Laboratory three miles east of the UA campus warms up at the rate of 500 C a minute, but the furnace isn’t like the hot stove your parents warned you about.

Corral has received numerous accolades, including a National Science Foundation Career Award and an Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award in 2010. In 2008, she was named the most promising doctoral engineer or scientist by the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference (now known as Great Minds in STEM). Corral is the first MSE faculty member to receive an NSF Career Award and an AFOSR-YIP Award. Her research on materials for use in extreme environments has been awarded more than $3.5 million.

“You can touch it,” Corral said. “It’s water-cooled.” Corral’s furnace works by combining a pulsing direct current with many tons of force. Her team is using it to develop new ceramic and composite materials with melting temperatures in excess of 3000 C. The goal is to prevent fastmoving aerospace vehicles from losing their shape at high temperatures and under oxygen attack, which erodes the surface of spacecraft. Most metals melt at around 1000 C. Think of those images of spacecraft glowing white-hot during earth re-entry, and you have the picture. That flight velocity, Corral explained, can heat materials to as high as 2800 C. The materials developed in Corral’s lab may also find their way into

The benefit, said Corral, is “better fuel efficiency.”

In addition to her research, Corral is active in community outreach. With her students, Corral offers a Materials Magic Show to grade-schoolers visiting the UA. The show emphasizes something that isn’t often associated with engineering – creativity. After all, she said, “artists aren’t the only creative people.” The children see how easy it is to shatter a penny that’s been deepfrozen in liquid nitrogen, and they crunch on marshmallows that went for a minus 200 C nitrogen dip.

Erica Corral, who is developing ceramic and composite materials with melting temperatures in excess of 3000 C, works with students in the Arizona Materials Laboratory.

University of Arizona College of Engineering

Coral also reminds her young audiences about the importance of the scientific method, saying, “I use it every day.” When things go as planned, Corral’s laboratory makes important new materials. “There is no engineering without materials,” she said.

“There is no engineering without materials.” Erica Corral, associate professor of materials science and engineering


Erica Corral 520.621.8115


Defense and Security

Making Technology Stick in Processes as Old as Civilization

The UA Mine Intelligence Research Group in the Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources is using big data integration to increase efficiency and improve sustainability and safety in the mining industry.

Sean Dessureault, director of the Mine Intelligence Research Group, monitors remote mines from an integrated operations center at the UA.


he world’s population and demand for minerals are both growing, and mining companies must deliver more and higher quality materials as global ore deposits diminish. The UA Mine Intelligence Research Group, or MIRG, in the Lowell Institute for Mining Resources is helping meet the demand – in a safe, sustainable way – with its integrated data mining system.

but also all the information we have about the ore bodies, about the big machines, about the people, about the safety,” said Sean Dessureault, director of MIRG. “We have to understand that information has value, if we use it.”

Engineers in MIRG’s high-tech command center monitor remote mining operations in real time and provide on-the-spot feedback. They “We have lots of information in extract and analyze massive amounts mining, and we have to recognize of information – everything from that our assets are not only the big blasting results to safety statistics, iron machines or our big ore bodies, shift productivity and maintenance records. Then they use the information to build We have lots of information in predictive algorithms, and to design hardware and mining, and we have to recognize software solutions that increase efficiency, lower that our assets are not only costs, improve safety and reduce environmental impact the big iron machines and our at mining sites.

big ore bodies, but also all the information we have about the ore bodies, about the big machines, about the people, about the safety.” Sean Dessureault, associate professor of mining and geological engineering


“Our simulation demonstrates how changes in one part of the process will impact other areas of production. We identify predictive patterns and provide recommendations for workflow redesign to deploy human and capital assets most efficiently while adhering to the overall

University of Arizona College of Engineering

mineral resources management plan,” said Dessureault, associate professor of mining and geological engineering and recipient of a 2013 American Mining Hall of Fame Medal of Merit Under 40. In the Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources, more than 100 university researchers collaborate across 23 disciplines on pioneering projects to advance sustainable development of mineral resources. The institute partners with industry experts around the globe and has educated professionals in 27 countries to improve management across the entire mining cycle. Said Mary Poulton, director of the institute and head of UA mining and geological engineering: “The Lowell Institute is the only research institute in the United States with the depth of expertise to tackle challenges critically important to modern mining – then bring game-changing solutions to market by training industry professionals through onsite courses, field training and distance learning.”


Sean Dessureault 520.621.2359

12 22

Click to Manufacture: the Shape of Things to Come Planned UA Engineering center takes on 3-D printing of complex electronics.


ost your cell phone? Just print a new one.

We’re not there yet, but with 3-D printing, we could all be in the business of making things sooner than we think. And a newly proposed UA Engineering center could push the limits even further with additive manufacturing of integrated electronic systems. Unlike traditional manufacturing, which uses a subtractive process of cutting, drilling, turning, grinding and pounding materials, additive manufacturing, often called 3-D printing, is a way of creating objects by adding materials. In short, additive manufacturing machines can automatically fabricate custom-shaped parts, layer by layer, from almost any material – ranging from metal to polymer and ceramics and from biological tissues to concrete.

“Although it has been argued that 3-D printing could be the future of manufacturing, the potential and applicability of these methods for creating integrated systems with functional passive and active electronics remain largely unexplored.” Hao Xin, professor of electrical and computer engineering

University of Arizona College of Engineering

Think of how dripping water creates layers and layers of mineral deposits, which accumulate over thousands of years to form stalagmites and stalactites in caves. That is how 3-D printing works, only much faster and with a plan. In 3-D printing, computers direct printers to deposit materials in successive layers – each layer a precise cross-section of the final product. Additive manufacturing started out as a way to build fast prototypes and now has been used to make prosthetics and artificial organs, hearing aids, drones, pizza, violins and flutes, dresses and shoes, dolls and bicycles, chairs and tables, car parts, housing components, and batteries. The list is growing. Next up, perhaps cell phones, complete cars and entire houses. A proposed UA-led multidisciplinary center – the Engineering Research Center for 3D Additive Manufacturing of Electronics Embedded Systems, or 3AMEES – aims to advance the technology by developing design and

manufacturing processes for a range of fully functional systems, such as communication and sensing gadgets, photovoltaic devices, electronically and mechanically integrated unmanned aerial vehicles, and artificial tissues and implants with integrated sensors. Initial academic partners in the planned center include Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Southern California, and University of Texas, El Paso. “Although it has been argued that 3-D printing could be the future of manufacturing,” said Hao Xin, UA electrical and computer engineering professor and principal investigator on the project, “the potential and applicability of these methods for creating integrated systems with functional passive and active electronics remain largely unexplored.”


Hao Xin 520.626.6941


UA College of Engineering Impact on Arizona Economy $350 million in total annual wages for UA Engineering graduates 1992-2011

By the Numbers



• 115 Tenure and Tenure Track Faculty

• 35% Minority

• 2 Regents’ Professors

• 653 Graduate Students Enrolled

• 4 University Distinguished Professors

• 446 Bachelor’s Degrees Awarded

• 3 Current NAE Members

• 111 Master’s Degrees Awarded

• 2,533 Undergrads Enrolled

• 51 PhD Degrees Awarded

• 24% Female

• $27.4 M in Research Expenditures


U.S. News Rankings:

53rd in Schools of Engineering

Contacts UA College of Engineering Dean Jeffrey B. Goldberg 520.621.6594 Director of Research Development Brian Ten Eyck 520.626.6225

Engineering Departments Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Jeffrey Jacobs jwjacobs@email.arizona 520.621.8459 Biomedical Engineering Urs Utzinger (Interim Head) 520.626.9281 Electrical and Computer Engineering Tamal Bose 520.621.6193

School of Sustainable Engineered Systems While primarily part of the College, the five departments listed below also make up the School of Sustainable Engineered Systems, which is directed by MSE department head Pierre Deymier. Chemical and Environmental Engineering Jim Field 520.621.2591 Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics Kevin Lansey 520.621.6564 Materials Science and Engineering Pierre Deymier 520.621.6080 Mining and Geological Engineering Mary Poulton 520.621.8391 Systems and Industrial Engineering Young-Jun Son 520.626.9530


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P.O. Box 210072 Tucson, AZ 85721-0072


UA Engineering Research Review  

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