Engineering Magazine: Spring 2020

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Follow Dean Sanders on Twitter at @SandersCMU

FROM THE DEAN On January 1, I became Dean of the College of

Carnegie Mellon Engineering to deliberately evolve and

Engineering. I never imagined that starting about eight

improve residential education, becoming even more

weeks into my tenure as dean that I, along with others

multifaceted so students can tailor what they learn by

within the College and university, would literally be working

having different experiences. In the following pages our

around the clock to change how we teach and conduct

department heads and associate dean of undergraduate

research because of a pandemic.

education discuss the merits of a residential education and

These are not ordinary times. The coronavirus outbreak has required rapid and consequential decision making to

what awaits students when they return to campus. As for now, we are still in the midst of this outbreak

protect our university community, all while maintaining our

and more challenges will come. However, we have pivoted

top-quality education and impactful research.

quickly to keep the College open and to continue the

We have successfully moved over 400 engineering classes to fully online teaching–a herculean effort by a great many faculty and staff. We have also moved our research

academic programs throughout this semester, while at the same time keeping our faculty, staff, and students safe. I am thrilled to be here at Carnegie Mellon and to be

and operations to fully remote mode. We have done this in

part of the bright future we have to look forward to in the

Pittsburgh and at our Silicon Valley and Rwanda locations.

College of Engineering. The current stress only proves to

Moving our courses online was necessary, and we will provide students with the best education and emotional support we can during this difficult time. We understand

me how resilient and strong the College and university are in the face of adversity. I am looking forward to meeting many of you, either

that students will miss the hands-on experiences they get

virtually or in person, in the near future. Please email me at

at Carnegie Mellon, and as soon as it is safe to do so, we if you would like to reach me personally.

will resume on-site education and research.

Please also stay healthy and safe, and stay connected.

The lead story in this issue is about the merits of residential education. The story was written before the


outbreak, but now more than ever it is a good time to


reflect on its importance. There is great value in the residential education that Carnegie Mellon delivers.

William H. Sanders

Training world-class engineers entails more than students

Dr. William D. and Nancy W. Strecker Dean, College of Engineering

attending classes, learning the curriculum, and moving on. People learn in different ways, and we are working in




FEATURE 03 The Power of a Residential Education 06 Making Hockey Safer: Learning by Doing 08 Revolutionizing Manufacturing at Mill 19



10 New Ways of Working in ANSYS Hall

major and date of graduation.

Please include your name and, if applicable,

Send email to

We want to hear from you!

12 Scaife Hall Will Rise Again


RESEARCH 16 Keeping the Beat 18 Digging into the Labyrinth of Soil 20 Power-full Sound Waves 22 Squeezing More Power Into Transmission Lines 24 Ultrasound Breakthrough in


45 The Sound of Waves



28 Saving Lives with Cleaner Air

46 Breathe Easy

32 Taking a Closer Look at Steel Using


44 Grossmann Awarded AIChE Founders Award

26 AI Learns To Design 31 A New Sensation



19 Protecting 3D Printers from Attackers

Optical Endoscopy



Computer Vision

48 Student Interns at Remediation Site in Germany 49 CMU-SV Students Partner with Tech Titans

34 ARPA-E Funds High-Temperature Materials Research 36 A More Efficient Way To Turn Saltwater into Drinking Water 38 Safety Helmet for Firefighters 40 The Future of Human Healing Lies in the Brain of Starfish


ALUMNI 50 Engineering the Future of Plant-based Food 51 Alumna Named American Nuclear Society President 52 Deanship Endowed with $15M Gift


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THE POWER OF A RESIDENTIAL EDUCATION The following story was written before the COVID-19 outbreak. With current students taking online classes, it may seem odd that we are discussing the merits of residential education. Yet, with every workspace we closed and every event we canceled, we were reminded of the extent to which educational opportunities are intertwined with campus activities. Providing students with hands-on engineering experiences is a core component of our educational programming, and we know that students are missing out on valuable interactions with faculty and peers. We are looking forward to when our students can return so that we can resume the courses, research, and activities that are hallmarks of an engineering education earned at Carnegie Mellon.

Universities today have transcended far beyond the role of repositories for information as the internet has

to create things and generate ideas that improve people’s

profoundly changed the way faculty and administrators

lives. When Carnegie Mellon engineering students build

approach education. In the College, supplemental online

things, work hands-on in labs, and collaborate on real-

work and a move towards taking aspects of study outside

world projects their inventiveness shines. Through

of the classroom allow students to spend more class time

these experiences they learn about problem solving and

with faculty and peers working through problems in an

teamwork—they are developing skills that will serve them

experiential, hands-on setting. This “flipped classroom”

throughout their careers.

model is becoming increasingly popular for the interactive


world, melding scientific inquiry with first-hand experience

Very few traditional undergraduate engineering

approach it allows educators to take when analyzing

programs offer online degrees, attesting to the

student comprehension. One of the greatest benefits of

considerable amount of knowledge and training that

a residential education is the ability for faculty members

comprise a strong engineering education. Those guiding

working face-to-face with students to be reactive to their

the College have always believed that undergraduates must

needs, weaknesses, and interests.

be entrenched in the campus community to maximize the

“There is a diagnostic step to educating; it’s important

benefits attainable from an education at Carnegie Mellon,

for a student’s comprehension to have an expert engaged

and this underscores the importance of making wise

with helping understand and work through their thought

investments in resources, including faculty and staff hires

process,” says Interim Head of Engineering and Public Policy

and designing collaborative work environments.

Peter Adams. PA GE 0 3

An engineer is the master craftsperson of the scientific


Faculty are taking industry feedback and the demands of research into consideration when designing classes to give students the best possible preparation. In every department, the undergraduate curriculum already has, or is in the process of shifting to focus on more project“We’re reorganizing the core curriculum to incorporate more hands-on projects where students can actually build

interdisciplinary education,” said Head of Biomedical Engineering Bin He. Less quantifiable, but no less important, are the

larger-scale components to fully appreciate the principles

connections built through teamwork and shared

they’re learning in practice,” says Head of Electrical and

experiences. Course requirements and extracurricular

Computer Engineering Larry Pileggi.

activities that allow students to learn and grow together

Realistic, group-based challenges force students not only

help build a strong cohort within each department.

to face challenges outside of a controlled environment, but

Students can find support within a network of peers and

also to work together with peers under pressure—a task

also learn the strength of a team built from members who

many find much harder than they might expect.

possess different backgrounds and interests.

Collaboration is a skill. Though it may not often

“There’s a lot of sociological evidence that if you develop

be described in such terms, there is a whole set of

deep relationships during your early time on campus,

communication skills, management techniques, and

you’re more likely to graduate and to create relationships

interpersonal considerations involved in achieving the

that can last a lifetime, which is valuable to both your

greatest result in a team environment. While their prior

personal sense of self and in building a strong network,”

education will have mainly focused on their individual

said Head of Chemical Engineering Anne Skaja Robinson.

abilities, undergraduates must be trained for a research or

Activities and traditions at Carnegie Mellon like Buggy

industry role in which they will almost always be working

Sweepstakes, Formula SAE racing, and regular hackathons

with a team towards a shared objective. Many project

pose challenges that bring together students from every

courses in the College incorporate lessons in collaboration

engineering department and beyond the College. Perfect

and teamwork methods to help facilitate this transition.

environments for advanced multidisciplinary collaboration,

For some undergrads, cross-departmental collaboration

these seemingly nonacademic events bring together

is baked into their degree requirements. Taking advantage

students from disciplines that might otherwise have little

of the highly interdisciplinary nature of the College, both

contact, and give them the chance to explore and take

Biomedical Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy

interest in new areas of study.

are dual-major programs that require students to pair

Establishing professional connections and a sense

their focus with another in one of the traditional fields

of camaraderie are easier for students when they’re

of engineering. As an institutional priority, leaders in

active in campus life. In this regard, some of the greatest

the College are always looking for new ways to promote

resources available to undergraduates are the faculty and

advanced, multidisciplinary collaboration across every area

professionals that surround them. Student societies in

of education and research.

each department serve as bridges to their corresponding

“This interdisciplinary collaborative approach

professional societies, while alumni mentoring programs

represents a unique undergraduate education model and

give them access to a wealth of experience and personal

students benefit tremendously from such closely located,

connections. Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering


based courses.

Dave Dzombak notes, “Pittsburgh has a great number of

and improve the residential education experience, with

civil and environmental engineers working in design firms,

features like modern, flexible classrooms and collaborative

contracting companies, large corporations, and non-

work environments built into the design,” says Head of

profits, and part of the benefit for us is that the regional

Mechanical Engineering Allen Robinson.

chapters of professional societies are very large, active, and engaged with the universities.” Pittsburgh is also an incubator for social and

New demands from industry and emerging technologies will continually shape the way the College of Engineering defines and delivers a residential education. Faculty

technological entrepreneurship, with Carnegie Mellon

today are getting more time to work with students, and

graduates carrying that spirit forward to form a strong

students are being given more opportunities for hands-on,

global professional network. Some courses partner student

collaborative projects. Campus infrastructure is adapting

groups directly with corporate clients or advisors, and

to meet the demands of the future, as are faculty in their

many faculty themselves are industry veterans. This lattice

roles as researchers, educators, and mentors. Maintaining

of branching interpersonal connections provides students

a world-class residential education is at the core of

with countless opportunities to gain experience both in

Carnegie Mellon’s plans to continue providing the best

research and industry.

undergraduate engineering education possible.

While there are considerable advantages of a residential

This article was written with thanks to and contributions

education, perhaps the most obvious and permanent

from Peter Adams, Dave Dzombak, Bin He, Allen Robinson,

aspect of residential education at Carnegie Mellon is the

Greg Rohrer, Larry Pileggi, Annette Jacobson, and Anne Skaja

campus itself. Shifting priorities in engineering education


are reshaping the very buildings in which students work and learn. New additions to campus like ANSYS Hall are creating maker facilities where students from any department can brainstorm together, receive technical training, and use equipment to test in a physical environment what they are learning. From the Tech Spark makerspace, to the newly built casting and forging shop, labs and workspaces across the College are being renovated to facilitate collaborative education and research. Plans for rebuilding Scaife Hall include spaces specially designed for testing emerging technologies like drones and large common areas where students can gather to converse and work. “An important design criterion of the new Scaife building is to enhance our ability to build a community MAKER FACILITIES AND COLLABORATIVE WORK ENVIRONMENTS ENCOURAGE HANDS-ON LEARNING AND AUGMENT THE

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MAKING HOCKEY SAFER LEARNING BY DOING Ian Suzuki has eclectic interests. As a senior double majoring in mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering, he is learning how to quantify the physics of how our bodies move and how they can be injured. His ultimate ambition is to apply technology to improve the quality of our lives and make things safer. And this ambition dovetails nicely with Suzuki’s other interest: hockey. Suzuki has been playing hockey since he was 10 years old, and that’s why he didn’t hesitate to sign up for “Rethink the Rink,” an initiative launched by the Pittsburgh Penguins, high-tech polymers producer Covestro, and

Though she did not have previous training, Baranowski

Carnegie Mellon College of Engineering to advance safety

quickly became a pro at Solid Works, and modeled four

innovations in hockey. In 2018, a weeklong make-a-thon

completely different helmets.

was held on campus, where students worked to redesign rink dasher boards and glass. “I was a sophomore at the time,” says Suzuki, “and the

“There have been a couple of times in school when they told us to use a program to produce something, and none of us knew how to do it,” said Baranowski. “CMU has taught

Rethink the Rink make-a-thon was the first opportunity I

me to learn something quickly—how to pick up something

had to bring concepts that I had learned in my books and

and do it fast and right.”

apply them to industry.” Suzuki was itching to work on a sports-centric industry

Suzuki and Baranowski were so engaged in their work that Covestro offered them summer internships, so they

project, and he wasn’t alone. Joanna Baranowski, a current

could continue work on their projects. Throughout their

senior in chemical engineering and a member of the CMU

internships, the students consulted with technical experts,

women’s track and field team, signed up, too.

which broadened their engineering experience and

This first-of-its-kind collaboration between these sport, industry, and education giants proved so successful, that

professional contacts. “Rethink the Rink was one of my most beneficial

Rethink the Rink was reinstituted in 2019, only this time

experiences at Carnegie Mellon,” says Suzuki. “Having access

with a focus on making goalies’ helmets safer. Suzuki and

to all the resources on campus and in the maker spaces was

Baranowski enlisted again.

really helpful for developing proof of concept for our designs.

Because the Penguins players preferred the look of

I got to merge my passions—hockey and engineering. The

their old helmets, Baranowski’s team had to minimize the

projects I worked on felt tangible and they opened my eyes

change in the helmet’s appearance while still improving

to how engineering can be applied in sports.”

its safety. They decided to reduce the impact force on the goalie’s head by adjusting the fastening between the cage and the shell. After modeling the helmet, they simulated collisions, and ran tests on the helmet to develop the best design solution. As a chemical engineering student, Baranowski was challenged to think like a mechanical engineer. She learned to use Solid Works, a three-dimensional modeling program.

The world’s greatest problems are made of many small parts. At Carnegie Mellon we have a unique atmosphere deeply native to our culture, and practice a systems approach to problem solving. We ask different questions. Better questions. Through decades of working together, we’ve learned how to assemble the most diverse experts and solve complex problems piece by piece.

The most complex problems. The most diverse experts.


The first building of the new Hazelwood Green development, Mill 19 once served as the location of the Pittsburgh region’s most productive steel mills, employing more than 5,000 workers during its heyday. Today, Mill


19 once again represents the region’s leadership in manufacturing. “We are excited to be able to provide a home for students, faculty, government and industry partners alike to come together to foster revolutionary ideas in the field of manufacturing and are committed to making this a vibrant resource,” said Sandra DeVincent Wolf, executive director of the Manufacturing Futures Initiative (MFI). Mill 19 functions as a collaborative innovation space for MFI and the nonprofit Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM). With more than 200 members, ARM prepares American companies to achieve global leadership in innovation by equipping workers with the best technological tools and workforce programs. ARM also will help small businesses that have been shut out of previous

robotics advances to adapt the newest technologies to

University Leadership Initiative, researchers from CMU

their needs, further building the manufacturing base and

will develop a new ecosystem that allows for the improved

promoting innovation.

qualification of advanced manufacturing processes and

The two organizations occupy the first two floors of the

materials in aviation. A collaboration between CMU and

building and nearly 60,000 square feet. The space includes

several other companies and institutions, this work will

a high bay and a corridor of flexible lab bays, as well as

largely be housed in the Mill 19 facility.

a conferencing and workforce training center. Catalyst

Mill 19 is currently housing tenants, including

Connection, southwestern Pennsylvania’s manufacturing

autonomous vehicle company Aptiv and the university’s

extension partner, has its headquarters in the third floor of

own self-driving vehicle program. Aptiv, the first private

the Mill 19 building. The organization serves as a resource

sector company in Mill 19, will relocate to Mill 19 by the

for small and medium manufacturers in the region, and will

second quarter of 2020. Aptiv, which is taking the second

collaborate with both MFI and ARM.

building in Mill 19 alongside MFI and ARM in the first

Mill 19 will soon be home to a number of projects expanding from CMU’s main campus, including an exciting new University Leadership Initiative funded by NASA. Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a world leader in 3D

building, will have three floors and 70,000 square feet for its operations. Mill 19 will also include a third building, the largest of the three, which will kick off development in 2020.

printing, defining the future of advanced manufacturing from metals to bioprinting. Led by the Next Manufacturing

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Center and MFI, along with the support of the NASA


Four years ago, ANSYS, Inc. and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) announced a partnership to educate the next generation of engineers. Today on campus stands ANSYS Hall, a 36,000-square-foot maker facility where students and faculty interact with cutting-edge simulation and fabrication tools. As Industry 4.0 revolutionizes manufacturing and product innovation, ANSYS and CMU recognize the need to boost engineers’ use of simulation tools. Currently, only highly specialized experts use these types of tools, and few companies use simulation from end to end. It is time to change that. Simulation-driven product development flips the process by exploring the properties of a plethora of options up front, before committing to specific materials and designs. With physics-based computational tools, an engineer can test millions of permutations of designs, materials, flows, and shapes to find the optimal design before needing to build a single physical prototype. Not only will this new approach unleash the next wave of innovative physical products, it is necessary to make designs more energy-efficient and sustainable. A shorter product development cycle will also result in final products that are better quality and quicker to manufacture. In ANSYS Hall, students will rapidly transform their ideas from digital concepts to physical prototypes—in the same facility. By equipping engineering students with the advanced tools and expertise they need, ANSYS and the College of Engineering are enabling the next generation of engineers

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to build the products of tomorrow.








When the original Scaife Hall opened in 1962, it was





“We are proud of our Advanced Collaboration® in the

transformational. The department expanded its educational

college and the university, and a new Scaife Hall will allow

focus from undergraduates to graduate students and

us to take that collaboration to another level. It will bring

research. The labs, office space, and computer system in

together our faculty, staff, and students in exciting new

Scaife elevated the department and also the university.

ways that the old building doesn’t,” says Allen Robinson,

Since 1962, Mechanical Engineering (MechE) has evolved significantly, and the old Scaife Hall doesn’t support

head of mechanical engineering. “New Scaife is designed to actively promote interactions

the types of research that are required to solve today’s

because this is when exciting advancements occur. They

problems. For example, there are MechE engineering

often start with informal interactions at a whiteboard next

faculty merging biology and mechanical design to create

to a water cooler, and the new Scaife will accelerate that

bio-hybrid robots. This research, which combines diverse

trend,” says Robinson.

expertise and skills ranging from tissue culture to 3D

The research that will happen in the new Scaife Hall will

printing, requires unique lab spaces. It is very difficult to do

transform regional economic development, too. Our work

this type of research in Scaife Hall now.

will generate new ideas, the solutions, and the products

The original classrooms, outgrown by MechE’s student

that can lead to the next 1,000- or 10,000-person company.

population, lack the types of work spaces needed for

Every year, entrepreneurial MechE students and faculty

today’s curriculum. The new building will house reimagined,

establish new start-ups.

modern, active learning classrooms with reconfigurable

“You never know when one of those is going to take

tables. By doubling the square footage of space per

off,” says Robinson. “That’s why it is really important that

student, the new classrooms will increase the opportunities

we keep planting those little seed kernels to develop the

for hands-on learning experiences like team projects and

Pittsburgh economy for the 21st century.”

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instructor/student interactions.



As part of the celebration, CMU-Africa student Christopher Dare moderated a fireside chat


session with H.E. President Paul Kagame who


answered questions from students about


the vision behind CMU-Africa and shared his thoughts about the role Africa’s young technologists have to play on the continent. Watch the fireside chat on YouTube at:

JUNE 1920

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Celebrating 100 years of Buggy at Carnegie Mellon University





Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the

Using ANSYS, an engineering simulation and three-

United States. According to the Columbia University

dimensional (3D) design software package, Trumble’s team

Department of Surgery, 5.8 million Americans have some

has tested and adjusted their VAD’s design. The ANSYS

level of heart failure, and about half of patients die within

Workbench Finite Element Analysis tool allows engineers to

five years of diagnosis.

analyze multiple design scenarios and customize solutions

“There are currently three types of treatments out there, but drugs and heart transplantations have their limitations,”

to solve structural problems. After drawing a 3D model of their device, Trumble’s team

said Jooli Han, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering

imported the model into ANSYS and applied its material

at Carnegie Mellon University. “Many chronic heart failure

properties in the software. Then, they set functional

patients use ventricular assist devices (VADs) to restore

boundary conditions by adding fixtures and different levels

normal blood flow, but these have two main problems.

of pressure. From there, they could see how the model

One is the risk of infection from drivelines that pierce the

deformed as they changed the amount of pressure applied

skin, and the second is potential blood clotting due to the

to the interior surfaces of the sleeve. They adjusted the

bloodstream contacting artificial surfaces inside the pump.”

model until they achieved the desired result and built the

To address these concerns, Han is working with Dennis Trumble, an associate research professor of

device to test whether it would reflect the simulation. “We’ve been using ANSYS for years now,” said Han. “It’s

biomedical engineering, to develop a self-contained, non-

a big part of our research, and it’s especially useful for

blood-contacting VAD for long-term use. Their project is

soft robotics development. It’s important to simulate what

supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

would happen before I spend so much time and material to

Their VAD helps the heart pump blood by using muscle

make it.”

power. It uses an internal muscle energy converter (MEC) to

Trumble’s team is in the process of developing its soft

drive a direct cardiac compression sleeve attached outside

robotic cardiac sleeve device. Collaborating with a lab from

the ventricles. The MEC is a hydraulic actuator designed to

Johns Hopkins University, they are using different types of

attach to the latissimus dorsi, a large muscle on the back.

soft material to 3D print the sleeves and test them. Their

When the heart beats, a muscle stimulator causes the

goal is to customize these devices to meet the needs of

muscle to contract, which rotates the actuator arm of the

individual patients; the one-size-fits-all generic compression

MEC. Fluid is then ejected through the outlet port of the

of the heart might not help everyone as no two heart

device and enters the sleeve, which squeezes on the heart

failure cases are exactly the same. They plan to examine

and helps it do its job.

individuals’ hearts, conduct simulations to find the kind of

“We’ve learned to train the muscle electrically,” said Trumble. “Muscles are very plastic and able to adjust their

compression that meets their needs, and build the device accordingly.

anatomy and function over time in accordance with how they are used. So if we condition them in the right way, we can create a muscle that will contract repeatedly without

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fatigue like a marathon runner.”


of Technology working on this problem. Dayal and two Ph.D. students will receive $1 million over five years. Scientists typically use two different size scales to analyze materials: the grain scale that examines individual particles and the continuum scale that looks at the bigger picture. Though soil contains a great variety of particles, focusing on individual particles alone is simply not enough to comprehend a hillside or large stretch of land. “If you really look at every particle, you don’t have

If you’ve worked in a garden before, you probably noticed the little stones, leaves, and sand particles in the soil. Unlike steel bowls and aluminum foil, soil is much more complicated and contains many more particles. While a long piece of steel can look the same at every point, you might find something different in a soil pot even if you move 10 cm. So how exactly does soil behave? What happens when something moves over it? We really don’t know much about how soil behaves in different scenarios. “Even if you have a big truck or robot, and you want to drive it on soil, you’re not sure if it’s going to get stuck or move,” said Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Kaushik Dayal. Dayal has won a 2019 Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) award to examine soil behavior in these situations using multiscale modeling. Funded by the Department of Defense, he is part of a team of researchers from five universities led by California Institute

enough computing power to figure out what a little block of soil is doing. So you want to figure out how things behave on the scale of meters,” said Dayal. “And at the same time, you have particles that are smaller than a millimeter. You have these two different scales and you want to understand how they talk to each other. That’s where the multiscale part of things comes in.” While some of the other teams characterize soil through experiments, Dayal’s team will build predictive computational models that they hope will help engineers understand how soil behaves in all kinds of conditions. Using that knowledge, they will be able to know how machines interact with soil, predict whether they can drive on unfamiliar terrain, and build robots that can more easily navigate difficult ground.


C3PO is composed of two parts. One part identifies the printer’s security vulnerabilities, and the other identifies potential attack paths based on the given vulnerabilities and network deployment. For example, it can find out whether connecting a web camera to a 3D printer can give attackers a new way to steal information. C3PO functions by following the belief that sometimes the best way to know your enemies is to mimic them. After performing a security audit, C3PO questions what attackers could find if they observe network traffic to the 3D printer.


From there, it can learn more about the 3D printer’s


operation and protocol. Armed with this knowledge, it can


identify malicious inputs to the printer and potential Denial of Service (DoS) attacks in which attackers can make the printers inaccessible to their intended users.

We live in a rising era of industrial Internet of Things

To test this new tool, Sekar’s team has used it on eight

devices where factories are being upgraded with machines

3D printers from multiple vendors and manufacturing

with network connectivity. These devices, such as

deployments. It turns out that none of these printers are

networked 3D printers, can interact with other machines

safe. For example, all eight printers were vulnerable to

and be controlled remotely to improve efficiency.

DoS attacks.

However, connecting these devices to the network

Understanding the vulnerabilities of these devices is the

makes them more prone to danger. Some cyber attackers

first step to protect them. “What we want to do next is say,

might stop them from working, while others could steal

alright, we found these problems and we have a tool. Can

their design or hold them hostage for ransom.

we now create a way to protect them?” said McCormack, a

Luckily, security researchers are planning ahead. Vyas

Ph.D. student in electrical and computer engineering. “Can

Sekar and Matthew McCormack have developed a tool with

we add on something to the network to protect this printer

their team to make these devices safer. This tool, named

so someone can’t steal that information? Can we use what

Connected 3D Printer Observer, or C3PO, is designed

we learn about the printer itself to bolt-on a defense for

to systematically determine potential security risks for

the printer?”

individual networked 3D printers. “I think many manufacturers care a lot about

The future path of protecting these devices will not be free of challenges. For one, the 3D printers are very diverse

cybersecurity. They’re starting to work on it, but it’s very,

as each vendor has a different way to communicate with

very nascent,” said Sekar, an associate professor of electrical

their printer. Sekar’s team aims to tailor the protection

and computer engineering. The truth is there aren’t many

they’ve designed to each specific printer based on its

tools out there to provide security for these 3D printers.

problems and how it operates. When that happens, it will

Funded by Carnegie Mellon University’s Manufacturing

strengthen our defenses against future attacks.

Futures Initiative that supports the digital transformation of manufacturing, Sekar’s team strives to defend these devices

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and give manufacturers more confidence.

kilohertz—right above the audible range—they do not bother humans or animals. They can efficiently transmit over 10 to 30 meters, which is around 30 to 100 feet. Piazza’s research is currently designed for indoor


applications. Take a conference room as an example. There would be a large speaker that sends out sound waves to different sensors distributed in the room. These sensors, which are about the size of a grain of sand, have membranes that vibrate and generate a charge when they receive the waves. “It’s like the same way when you’re moving your foot in your shoe, you’re actually stimulating the piezoelectric material and generating a charge,” said Piazza. Although Piazza’s system doesn’t generate a lot of

Trillions of sensors are in our future, and they will need energy. Batteries are routinely used to power tiny devices, but there are other options. Piezoelectricity, the technology that converts mechanical energy into electricity, is gaining attention because it can scavenge energy from movement or vibrations. For this reason, Carnegie Mellon researchers are exploring the use of piezoelectricity for smart city applications. Smart cities will rely on massive sensor networks, and the sensors in these systems will need energy. Continually replacing sensor batteries would be extremely time consuming and produce waste materials that would be difficult to dispose of. “It would be a lot more efficient if you could just live off of scavenged energy. You eliminate batteries and their problems, and instead you harvest energy,” said Gianluca Piazza, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and the director of the John and Claire Bertucci Nanotechnology Laboratory. There are different ways of harvesting energy. While other researchers are extracting energy from solar, heat, and mechanical vibrations, Piazza’s team focuses on powering devices with ultrasound. They launch sound waves that transfer over relatively long distances and are captured by tiny piezoelectric devices co-located with sensors, and hence, remotely powering the sensors. “So you have a power source somewhere, and you have all the sensors. Whenever you need to power them or interrogate them, you just send this blast of sound waves to them. They receive it, and they turn on,” explained Piazza. Because these sound waves are a bit more than 40

electricity, it’s enough to power small radio devices that send and receive signals. Currently, the power source that launches the sound waves needs to be plugged in. Piazza’s team would like to further develop the system so they can launch sound waves without the need of plugged-in units. To this end, researchers at Carnegie Mellon and elsewhere are exploring novel piezoelectric materials that can be used to harvest energy, which could be beneficial for indoor communications, smart infrastructure, and implantable or wearable devices.






The U.S. energy system has seen sweeping

senior author of the study, “and we’ll have to

changes in the past two decades. Natural gas

move that power, somehow.”

replaced coal as the dominant fossil source of

Wind and solar are now the cheapest

power generation, and wind and solar energy

ways to produce energy in many parts of the

now contribute roughly 9% of the nation’s

country, with costs expected to continue to

electricity, compared to almost none 20 years

fall. However, places where that energy is in

ago. Because of these changes, less carbon

high demand, such as big cities and heavy

is being emitted by the power sector per unit

industrial sites, are often located elsewhere.

of electricity produced. A transition towards a

To make the most of renewable energy

low-carbon power sector has begun.

resources, the already-taxed grid must be

Meaningful decarbonization of the energy

expanded to move electricity from point

system, however, will require not only

A to point B. Along with his Ph.D. student,

new sources of energy but also new and

Liza Reed, and EPP faculty members Parth

expanded pathways to bring that clean power

Vaishnav and Daniel Armanios,

to consumers, especially as demand for

Morgan and his team have analyzed the

electricity grows in the coming decades. How

costs of different upgrades aimed to increase

to expand the capacity of the U.S. electrical

the transmission capacity of the grid.

grid is the subject of a paper from researchers

One way to expand the capacity of a

in the Engineering and Public Policy (EPP)

transmission corridor is to string more,

department, published in the Proceedings of

or thicker, wires within that corridor, but

the National Academy of Sciences.

it’s an expensive option. Power lines are

“There is a widespread belief that the

heavy, and adding thicker wires to carry

move to decarbonizing our energy system

more power requires building additional

is going to give rise to more electrification,”

support structures and more land on

said Granger Morgan, professor of EPP and

which to build them on.

Simply shoving more current through

along an entire corridor, or building a new

considered a viable option for extremely

existing wires to increase the capacity of a

corridor altogether, Morgan and his team

long corridors, but Reed said their

corridor may also not be an appealing way

examined how capacity could be expanded

work shows HVDC conversion to be the

to increase capacity. The increased current

by changing the nature of the electricity

cheapest way to increase capacity for

causes additional heating within wires, which

being carried by the wires, switching from

many distances, even as low as 300 km.

can cause them to sag too low, creating a

predominantly used alternating current

“We are challenging the conventional

potential fire hazard as they droop nearer to

(AC) to direct current (DC). The main finding

wisdom about HVDC,” she said.

the surface or the tops of trees.

of their work is that, for many corridors,

Building new corridors from scratch

Making the switch from HVAC to HVDC

converting from high-voltage AC (HVAC) to

is not without cost, however. Additional

would increase the overall carrying capacity

HVDC can be the most cost-effective way to

inverter equipment is required to switch

of the grid, but doing so presents its own

deliver added electricity.

electrical current from DC to AC before

set of challenges. New corridors require

“One of the most important things

being delivered to consumers at the

new land, new structures, and new wires,

about our finding is to at least get HVAC

end of the lines, a significant additional

all of which are costly. For linear projects

to HVDC conversions on the table,” said

capital cost. Morgan and Reed both

spanning hundreds of miles, it’s also a task

Morgan, an option that is generally not

expect this technology to get cheaper

fraught with political difficulties: to many,

considered in typical expansion planning

in the coming years though, which

transmission lines are unsightly and require

by utility companies.

would make the argument for HVDC

siting structures on private property. High-

“The beauty of the HVDC option,” said Liza

conversions even more compelling than

profile transmission projects, like the Plains

Reed, lead author of the study, “is you can

& Eastern line that was designed to move

often use the same wires, and for the most

thousands of megawatts of wind-generated

part the same structures,” while increasing

making headway in the national energy

electricity from the Oklahoma panhandle to

the capacity of the corridor. “That’s where

mix, expanding high-voltage transmission

the southeastern grid, have stalled in recent

the cost savings come in.” Switching current

will be an important option to get clean

years due to political opposition and conflicts

from AC to DC can allow a given line to be

energy to consumers, often across long

with landowners.

operated at a higher voltage (compared to

distances. Morgan and Reed show that

As renewable energy sources continue

AC) without having to increase the current,

upgrading existing corridors by swapping

become almost impossible to build much of

avoiding the issue of increased sag with

from AC to DC can often be the most

anything new in this country,” said Morgan.

additional heating.

cost-effective way to do so.

Instead of stringing new or thicker wires

HVDC has traditionally only been

Onshore and offshore wind speed at 100 m


PA GE 2 3

“We got into this initially because it has

these current estimates.


One day, scopes may no longer need to be inserted into the

Chamanzar. “We used ultrasound waves to sculpt a virtual

body, such as down the throat or under the skin, to reach

optical relay lens within a given target medium, which for

the stomach, brain, or any other organs for examination.

example, can be biological tissue. Therefore, the tissue

Maysam Chamanzar, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering (ECE), and Matteo Giuseppe Scopelliti, an ECE Ph.D. student, have introduced a novel technique that uses ultrasound to noninvasively take optical images through a turbid medium such as biological

is turned into a lens that helps us capture and relay the images of deeper structures.” “This method can revolutionize the field of biomedical imaging,” says Chamanzar. Ultrasound waves are able to compress and rarefy,

tissue to image body organs. This new method has the

or thin, whatever medium they are flowing through. In

potential to eliminate the need for invasive visual exams

compressed regions, light travels more slowly compared

using endoscopic cameras.

to rarefied regions. In this paper, the team shows that this

Endoscopic imaging, or using cameras inserted directly

compression and rarefication effect can be used to sculpt

inside the body’s organs to investigate symptoms, is

a virtual lens in the target medium for optical imaging.

an invasive procedure used to examine and diagnose

This virtual lens can be moved around without disturbing

symptoms of deep tissue disease. Endoscopic imagers,

the medium simply by reconfiguring the ultrasound waves

or cameras on the end of catheter tubes or wires, are

from outside. This enables imaging different target regions,

usually implanted through a medical procedure or surgery

all noninvasively.

in order to reach the body’s deep tissues. Chamanzar’s

The published method is a platform technology that can

new technique provides a completely non-surgical and

be applied in many different applications. In the future,

noninvasive alternative.

it can be implemented in the form of a handheld device

The lab’s paper, published in Light: Science and

or wearable surface patch, depending on the organ being

Applications, a journal published by Springer Nature,

imaged. By placing the device or patch on the skin, the

shows that they can use ultrasound to create a virtual

clinician would be able to easily receive optical information

“lens” within the body, rather than implanting a physical

from within the tissue to create images of what’s inside

lens. By using ultrasonic wave patterns, the researchers

without endoscopy’s many discomforts and side effects.

can effectively “focus” light within the tissue, which allows

The closest current applications for this technology

them to take images never before accessible through

would be endoscopic imaging of brain tissue or imaging

noninvasive means.

under the skin, but this technique can also be used in

Biological tissue is able to block most light, especially

other parts of the body for imaging. Beyond biomedical

light in the visible range of the optical spectrum. Therefore,

applications, this technique can be used for optical

current optical imaging methods cannot use light to

imaging in machine vision, metrology, and other industrial

access deep tissue from the surface. Chamanzar’s lab,

applications to enable non-destructive and steerable

however, has used noninvasive ultrasound to induce more

imaging of objects and structures at the micron scale.

transparency to enable more penetration of light through turbid media, such as biological tissue. “Being able to relay images from organs, such as

The researchers showed that the properties of the virtual “lens” can be tuned by changing the parameters of the ultrasonic waves, allowing users to “focus” images taken

the brain, without the need to insert physical optical

using the method at different depths through the medium.

components will provide an important alternative to

While the research paper is focused on the method’s

implanting invasive endoscopes in the body,” says

efficacy for closer-to-the-surface applications, the team has





Carnegie Mellon researchers have developed a novel method to use ultrasound for guiding light through tissue for noninvasive endoscopic imaging of deep organs and tissue without surgery or invasive procedures.

yet to find the limit to how deep within the body’s tissue this

conditions such as Parkinson’s, informing the design of next

ultrasonically assisted optical imaging method can reach.

generation clinical therapeutic interventions to treat these

“What distinguishes our work from conventional acousto-optic methods is that we are using the target

diseases in humans. “Turbid media have always been considered obstacles

medium itself, which can be biological tissue, to affect

for optical imaging,” says Scopelliti. “But we have shown

light as it propagates through the medium,” explains

that such media can be converted to allies to help light

Chamanzar. “This in situ interaction provides opportunities

reach the desired target. When we activate ultrasound

to counterbalance the non-idealities that disturb the

with the proper pattern, the turbid medium becomes

trajectory of light.”

immediately transparent. It is exciting to think about the

This technique has many potential clinical applications, such as diagnosing skin disease, monitoring brain activity, and diagnosis and photodynamic therapy for identifying and targeting malignant tumors. In addition to the direct implications this research

potential impact of this method on a wide range of fields, from biomedical applications to computer vision.” The researchers project that this new imaging technology could be applied in biomedical and clinical contexts within the next five years.

has on clinical medicine, it will also have indirect clinical applications. By using this acousto-optic technology to view mouse models of brain disorders in action and selectively stimulate different neural pathways, researchers would

PA GE 2 5

be able to study the mechanisms involved in disease



Trained artificial intelligence (AI) agents can

The study focuses on truss problems

adopt human design strategies to solve

because they represent complex

problems, according to findings published

engineering design challenges. Commonly

in the ASME Journal of Mechanical Design.

seen in bridges, a truss is an assembly

Big design problems require creative and

of rods forming a complete structure.

exploratory decision making, a skill in which

The AI agents were trained to observe

humans excel. When engineers use AI, they

the progression in design modification

have traditionally applied it to a problem

sequences that had been followed in

within a defined set of rules rather than

creating a truss based on the same visual

having it generally follow human strategies

information that engineers use—pixels

to create something new. This novel

on a screen—but without further context.

research considers an AI framework that

When it was the agents’ turn to design, they

learns human design strategies through

imagined design progressions that were

observation of human data to generate new

similar to those used by humans and then

designs without explicit goal information,

generated design moves to realize them.

bias, or guidance.

The researchers emphasized visualization

The study was co-authored by

in the process because vision is an integral

Jonathan Cagan, professor of mechanical

part of how humans perceive the world and

engineering; Ayush Raina, a Ph.D. candidate

go about solving problems.

in mechanical engineering at CMU; and

The framework was made up of multiple

Chris McComb, an assistant professor

deep neural networks that worked together

of engineering design at Pennsylvania

in a prediction-based situation. Using a

State University.

neural network, the AI looked through a

“The AI is not just mimicking or

set of five sequential images and predicted

regurgitating solutions that already exist,”

the next design using the information it

said Cagan. “It’s learning how people solve

gathered from these images.

a specific type of problem and creating new

“We were trying to have the agents

design solutions from scratch.” How good

create designs similar to how humans do

can AI be? “The answer is quite good.”

it, imitating the process they use: how they

look at the design, how they take the next action, and then create a new design, step by step,” said Raina. The researchers tested the AI agents on similar problems and found that on average, they performed better than humans. Yet, this success came without many of the advantages humans have available when they are solving problems. Unlike humans, the agents were not working with a specific goal (like making something lightweight) and did not receive feedback on how well they were doing. Instead, they only used the vision-based human strategy techniques they had been trained to use. “It’s tempting to think that this AI will replace engineers, but that’s simply not true,” said McComb. “Instead, it can fundamentally change how engineers work. If we can offload boring, time-consuming tasks to an AI, like we did in the work, then we free engineers up to think big and solve problems creatively.” This paper is part of a larger research project sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) about the role of AI in human/computer hybrid teams, specifically how humans and AI can work together. With the results from this project, the researchers are considering how AI could be used as a partner or guide to improve human processes to achieve results that are better

PA GE 2 7

than humans or AI on their own.


Research findings from the Center for Air Quality, Climate, and Energy Solutions (CACES) at Carnegie Mellon University show significant human health benefits when air quality is better than the current national ambient air quality standard. The estimate of lives that could be saved by further reduction of air pollution levels is more than 30,000, which is similar to the number of deaths from car accidents each year. CACES’ results were published in two related studies in the journals Environmental Health Perspectives and PLOS Medicine. The studies examined U.S. mortality related to fine particulate matter pollution (PM2.5), the complex

mixture of chemicals that can penetrate deeply into the lungs, contributing to respiratory and cardiovascular disease and premature death. The current U.S. standard for PM2.5 is an annual average of 12 micrograms per

cubic meter of air. The new findings indicate that there are significant public health benefits to improving air quality, even in locations where PM2.5 levels are below 12 micrograms per cubic meter.

“These findings are particularly relevant at a time when the EPA is planning to change how it calculates the benefits of cleaner air by dismissing any health benefits below the current standard,” said Allen Robinson, director of CACES


and professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon. “These benefits are important to consider when evaluating efforts to tackle climate change, such as the Clean Power Plan.” Another key finding is the substantial health benefits that have occurred from clean-up efforts over the past two decades. For example, in parts of California and some southern states, these efforts are estimated to have increased life expectancy by 0.3 years. “Although there is more work to be done to continue to improve our air quality, it is important to celebrate the tremendous progress that has been made,” added Robinson. The two studies used very large, national sets of public data. “The fact that they are public data is very important because it means that independent research teams can replicate our results,” said Robinson. “This satisfies legislators’ demands for transparent science and ensures that there is admissible scientific evidence on which to base environmental regulations.” The study published in Environmental Health Perspectives used public data from 28 years of National Health Interview Surveys linked with the National Death Index to create a uniquely large, well-documented, representative cohort of 1.6 million U.S. adults. The study published in PLOS Medicine used data from the National Center for Health Statistics, examining 18.4 million cardiorespiratory deaths from 1999 to 2015. While the researchers involved in the two studies used different data sets and different methods, the outcomes of the studies are consistent.

“The ubiquitous and involuntary nature of exposures, and the broadly-observed effects across sub-populations, underscore the public-health importance of breathing clean air,” said Arden Pope, professor of economics at Brigham Young University and the lead author of the Environmental Health Perspectives paper. “In every county, some people are dying too early at current levels of air pollution, which would make further improvements a truly national priority,” said Majid Ezzati, professor of global environmental health at Imperial College London and the senior author of the PLOS Medicine paper. Additional collaborators include Cornerstone Research, Harvard University, Health Canada, the National Cancer Center (Korea), the University of Chicago, and the University of Washington. The research was supported by the Center for Air, Climate, and Energy Solutions (CACES) funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Grant Number

PA GE 2 9

R835873, and the Wellcome Trust.

A NEW SENSATION Taking cues from the fascinating organisms found in nature, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are developing soft robots that can sense and respond to chemical signals. “A lot of the inspiration actually comes from looking at

can make decisions about picking up or releasing items. “The main goal we wanted to achieve with this is integrating a cellular system as a functional component within the larger soft system,” said Justus. “What we have

different kinds of species around us that can interact and

in most living systems are largely soft organism-level

respond to their surrounding environment in exciting ways,”

architectures that rely on the smaller subcomponents—

said Kyle Justus, an alumnus of the mechanical engineering

cellular systems—to sense and respond to different cues

doctoral program. “The ones that always stuck out to me

and maintain life. Obviously, we’re doing it in non-living

were the octopus and cuttlefish and how they can interact

systems, but we’re using living subcomponents and trying

with their environment and camouflage themselves to hide

to increase device capabilities by relying on that existing

from predators. The fact that these organisms have cells that

biological hardware.”

can sense and respond to their surrounding environment and basically act as soft machines was really exciting to us.” Justus and his team collaborated across biology,

The researchers have run experiments with sensing chemicals in liquid media and hydrogels (polymer networks that can retain large volumes of water). For example, the

mechanical engineering, and robotics to build their ideal

gripper checked a laboratory water bath for IPTG and

machine. The work was supervised by Carmel Majidi, an

deployed an object in the bath after deciding that it was

associate professor mechanical engineering, and Philip

IPTG absent.

LeDuc, a professor of mechanical engineering. To gain further expertise in synthetic biology, the

Of course, sensing IPTG in these media is just the first step. The researchers are planning to use the biohybrid

Carnegie Mellon researchers teamed up with Cheemeng

system on swimming and crawling soft robots to monitor

Tan, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at the

water quality by sensing different chemicals and collecting

University of California, Davis. They became one of the first

samples. They will explore these through a recent project

groups in the world to combine synthetic biology and soft

funded by the National Oceanographic Partnership Program.

robotics. Their findings were published in Science Robotics. Together, the researchers implemented engineered

“By combining our work in flexible electronics and robotic skin with synthetic biology, we are closer to future

bacteria cells in a flexible gripper on the robot’s arm. These

breakthroughs like soft biohybrid robots that can adapt their

cells can respond to IPTG, a chemical that unlocks an

ability to sense, feel, and move in response to changes in

engineered genetic circuit. Once that circuit is unlocked, the

their environmental conditions,” said Majidi.

cells produce a fluorescent protein that functions as a signal. But the tricky part was helping the robot understand that signal. “That was one of the hardest things we had to accomplish: how do you turn a biological signal into a signal that a robot can process?” said LeDuc. Since robots usually pick up electronic signals, the researchers have built a flexible light-emitting diode (LED) circuit to convert biological signals to electronic ones. This LED circuit can detect and excite the fluorescent protein produced by the cells, thereby sending an electronic signal


PA GE 3 1

to the gripper’s central processing unit. In this way, the robot



Inclusion analysis typically relies on two inputs: images from scanning electron microscopy (SEM), which are analyzed to give information on size, shape, and location, and energy-dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) to identify chemical composition. In production settings, it takes a trained metallurgist a few hours to characterize the inclusions from


a sample of steel. Decreasing that turnaround time, however, could give steelmaking operations tighter control on product quality and raw materials usage. Consider calcium treatments, another focus of Webler’s research. Calcium can be added


to the melt to form calcium-aluminates, converting solid


alumina inclusions into liquid droplets, reducing the risk for


clogging nozzles. However, adding too much calcium forms undesirable solid calcium sulfide (CaS) inclusions. Using information on the inclusion population, operators can

Inclusions are unavoidable by-products of steelmaking. These microscopic particles, arising from different chemical reactions and processes, can vary widely in size, shape, and composition, and have important effects on the material properties of steel. Inclusions have been a focus of industry

tune how much calcium they add to achieve just the right level. Did calcium sulfide inclusions form? Turn down the calcium. Too much alumina? Add more. The speed at which this analysis is performed can impact the bottom line of the operation both in material costs and process performance.

for more than a century, and remain so in both production settings as well as academic research. “Inclusions are these little particles floating around in the steel that are always there,” said Bryan Webler, associate


professor of materials science and engineering (MSE). Solid-phase inclusions can clump together to clog nozzles

Computer vision (CV), an advanced image processing

and other flow control systems that mediate the flow of

technique that relies on machine learning (ML), is becoming

liquid steel. Some inclusion chemistries reduce ductility,

ubiquitous: from facial recognition on smartphones to

resistance to fatigue, or overall toughness in steels. “They

character analysis for converting old written works to digital

affect the final performance of the steel, which is why we

texts. Increasingly, CV and ML are being used in materials

care about them so much.”

science. Holm has previously used these techniques to

Webler and MSE colleague Liz Holm have turned to

classify carbon nanotubes, predict stress hotspots, and

computer vision and machine learning techniques to

characterize powder feedstocks for 3D-printing. Inclusion

study steel inclusions, hoping to make characterizing

analysis, an area rife with images, naturally lends itself

the microscopic particles faster and less expensive. They

towards CV, according to Holm.

shared their initial findings at the 2019 conference of the Association for Iron & Steel Technology.

CV may be able to improve how inclusions are analyzed in a handful of ways. First, there are always non-inclusions (e.g. dust, holes, scratches) in SEM images that can be wrongly detected as inclusions (false positives). Even when


classified correctly, analyzing false positives is still wasted

as an inclusion or not took their algorithm 70 milliseconds.

time for the EDS system, and filtering them out would

Making that same determination using EDS takes more

speed up the process. Further, if CV could determine the

than 14 times as long (roughly 1,000 milliseconds).

chemical composition of inclusions right from SEM images

Interestingly, Holm said, it was not clear to her by looking

alone, EDS could be eliminated entirely, reducing both

at the SEM images why their CV tool classified features

equipment and labor costs.

in one group or the other. Yet, that it did so with a high

Even more appealing to Webler, though, is the idea that

degree of accuracy holds promise that more information

computer vision might elucidate unknown information

may still be lurking in the SEM images. The next step, they

about inclusions. In other fields, CV has been able to

say, is to “classify inclusions by chemical composition based

produce insights invisible to human interpretation. An

only on BSE (back-scattered electron) images,” potentially

example that Holm points to is a CV system that could

eliminating the need for EDS.

“see” traits such as age, gender, and even cardiological

Though he acknowledges that the work is still in its early

risk factors in retinal images. No ophthalmologist had

phases, Webler is optimistic about his team’s approach,

previously uncovered any of those traits by looking at

and how it could eventually have a positive impact on the

human eyes. By turning CV loose on inclusion images, the

industry. “We hear lots and lots about big data, industry 4.0,

team hopes that new insights might be generated, learning

all of these things, but these techniques are still opaque

through the intricate differences in the images what might

in a lot of ways,” he said. “But this is one example, at least,

be hidden within inclusion populations.

where I can see how machine learning techniques could be

The initial results from Webler’s and Holm’s research

useful when they are applied in this specific way.”

are encouraging. From the SEM images they analyzed, they determined with 98% accuracy whether a feature was an inclusion or not. Already, integrating computer vision into the current systems to filter out non-inclusions would

PA GE 3 3

likely save time in EDS scans. Differentiating each feature

ARPA-E FUNDS HIGH-TEMPERATURE MATERIALS RESEARCH Led by Tony Rollett, a professor of materials

heating and cooling systems, including air

science and engineering, a team at Carnegie

conditioners and refrigerators. The overall

Mellon University (CMU) is creating high

ARPA-E initiative is supporting the creation of

temperature heat exchangers using new

critical heat exchangers for thermal energy

3D printing methods and techniques.

use in electricity, nuclear reactors, and

They received a $2.4 million grant from

transportation, and other areas. The grant

the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced

will bolster Rollett’s research for three years

Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E)

and support Ph.D. students.

as one of 18 high-temperature materials

Rollett is developing high temperature heat

projects that are part of the High Intensity

exchangers that pass strength requirements

Thermal Exchange through Materials and

at 850 degrees Celsius. The exchangers must

Manufacturing Processes program.

operate at these high temperatures and

Exploring materials research, additive

pressures because the working fluid is going

manufacturing, and heat exchanger design,

to be supercritical carbon dioxide. In addition

Rollett’s CMU lab is partnering with Vinod

to maintaining strength, the exchangers

Narayanan’s group at the University of

must also resist corrosion by the gas. These

California, Davis on heat exchanger design

necessary characteristics mean that currently,

and analysis. The team also includes a

the only choice of material is a nickel

national lab and five industrial partners.

superalloy, the same material found inside

Heat exchangers are devices that transfer heat from one fluid to another without

gas turbine engines. “The particular challenge is that we have

the two fluids coming into contact with

to be able to print these heat exchangers

one another. They are commonly used

because the only way to make them efficient

in car, ship, and plane engines, and in

enough, and in fact modular enough, is

through 3D printing,” said Rollett. “The

perhaps discovering that we can’t print it,

3D printing allows us to have much more

I’d rather try to put it into some systematic

variation in the geometry, much more

format and a database of some kind,” said

arbitrary geometry.”

Rollett. “So if something doesn’t work out, I

explore different alloys and materials that

can step back to the next candidate.” The grant signals a step in sustaining

haven’t been used before. “We’re trying

the development of 3D metals printing

to introduce alloys that can be 3D-printed

at Carnegie Mellon, especially in high-

that have significantly higher temperature

temperature materials, an area the

capability compared to the standard ones

Department of Materials Science and

that everybody knows about.”

Engineering previously has not been very

The challenge is that there are many alloys

active in. Overall, it will also contribute to

that vary in composition, properties, and

acquiring new skills and help maintain the

how they are processed. Due to the large

department’s 3D metals printing facility.

amounts of information that we have about

“This is a wonderful opportunity to

these materials, the project presents an

demonstrate how 3D printing helps in an

opportunity for machine learning, at least in

advanced application, and it also gives us

a broad sense.

an opportunity to, if not develop brand new

“Instead of picking some alloy and saying,

alloys, at least bring new and different alloy

‘this looks as if it might do the job,’ and then

compositions into 3D printing,” said Rollett.

PA GE 3 5

As part of the project, Rollett will also

Water scarcity is a major problem across the world. “It affects every continent,” says Amir Barati Farimani, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. “Four billion people live under conditions of severe water scarcity at least one month of the year. Half a billion people live under severe water scarcity all year.” Yet even as people struggle without access to safe drinking water, there are oceans of undrinkable water right outside their doors. “71% of the world’s surface is covered by seawater,” Barati Farimani says. “So this is a very interesting contradiction.” In order to combat this problem, Barati Farimani has focused his research on water desalination. This is the process in which salty seawater can be transformed into fresh water. There are many ways to desalinate water, but one of the most effective is membrane desalination. In this method, water is pushed through a thin membrane with tiny holes. The water flows through the pores, but the salt ions can’t, leaving only fresh water on the other side. In his latest research, Barati Farimani explores the potential of a new type of membrane, called a metal-organic framework (MOF). “These membranes consist of both the metal center and organic compound,” Barati Farimani says. The organic compound and metal connect in a pentagonal pattern, leaving a hole in the center that serves as a pore. “If you look at them, they are like a honeycomb,” Barati Farimani adds. There are a couple of reasons why the framework is more effective. First, it’s incredibly thin. It’s a few atoms thick, which means there’s very little friction as the water molecules pass through the pores. Additionally, the placement of the pores helps with permeation. “When you don’t have adjacent pores, there’s a huge pressure from the wall on the molecules,” Barati Farimani says. This makes the desalination process less efficient. To understand why, just imagine pouring water into a funnel. The water moves more slowly through the hole at the end because it’s pushed against the walls and forced through a small space. The MOF, on the other hand, has multiple adjacent pores. “There’s no pressure from the wall side,” Barati Farimani says. “And that


gives them this opportunity to pass more easily through the pore.” Imagine pouring water through a strainer this time—it moves much more quickly, because it has multiple exit points it can escape through. Finally, the MOF has more structural integrity than other materials. In most materials, scientists have to drill tiny holes in order to create the needed pores, which limits the amount that can be created per surface area. “If you want to make a lot of pores, graphene or MoS2 can’t do that,”

Barati Farimani says. “Structurally they can’t hold the pressure.” But thanks to its honeycomb structure, MOF is intrinsically porous. This allows a higher ratio of pores to surface area. It also saves on time and energy, since the pores don’t need to be drilled, or even adjusted in size. The differences between the MOF and other typical membranes are notable, both in terms of how quickly water passes through and how many ions are rejected. And that’s just looking at a simulation of a few pores. A desalination plant can have billions of pores, raising its efficiency exponentially. “In the scale of a large operation, it would be huge,” Barati Farimani says. “Even a slight increase in efficiency would mean a huge leap.” Barati Farimani’s article on his research was published in Nano Letters, a monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the American Chemical Society. It adds to a growing conversation about water desalination and represents an important step forward in the field. In addition to the world of academics, Barati Farimani hopes that his research can make an impact in people’s lives. “We need to provide fresh water for many underprivileged people, like in Africa or other places,” he says. “Basically that’s our mission—to make it so energy efficient that

PA GE 3 7

we have water desalination everywhere.”


Imagine firefighters trying to navigate through an

Ruling out audio and visual approaches, an

unfamiliar, burning building full of suffocating smoke and

interdisciplinary research team from Carnegie Mellon

deafening noise. Firefighting is exceedingly dangerous, and

University (CMU) is exploring haptic interfaces as alternative

the ability for first responders to maintain communications

communication channels for firefighters. A haptic interface

in hostile environments can literally mean life or death.

is a system that enables people to interact with a computer

Developing technologies to improve the safety and efficiency of firefighters is challenging because smoke and

through their body movements. Yang Cai, a senior systems scientist in Carnegie Mellon

noise affect human senses and they impair computer vision

CyLab and the director of the Visual Intelligence Studio,

algorithms that provide navigational guidance.

heads the team that modified a firefighter’s helmet by adding haptic actuators, a control box with a radio module, and other devices to provide real-time information to firefighters. They named their prototype the “Haptic Helmet.” The helmet communicates directions to a firefighter by sending a buzz to the front, back, or sides of the head, indicating to move forward, stop, or turn left or right. The haptic signals are sent to the helmet from a RF remote controller that’s in the vicinity or from a virtual reality simulator via a cable. The impetus for this project was the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Public Safety Communication Research (PSCR) Division’s Haptic Interfaces for Public Safety Challenge. The contest assessed the use of virtual reality environments as a development tool for creating safety technologies. The challenge also investigated the relevancy of haptic interfaces for assisting first responders. In November 2019 the CMU team won the challenge and an additional award for their prototype being the “most commercially promising.” “We wanted to keep the design very simple and have


very rapid prototyping. Our solution to the problem was the

at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In

simplest and it can be low cost,” said Cai.

the future, the team will work with Pittsburgh firefighters,

During the multi-phase contest, the helmet was tested in virtual reality scenarios, and in a final challenge, the helmet was live tested in a firefighter training facility in Colorado.

gathering feedback on the helmet to improve its functionality in broader firefighting activities. The CMU research team includes Cai; Hackett; Alber;

In a series of trials, different firefighters would put on

Roberta Klatzky, professor of Psychology and Human-

the helmet and make their way through a pitch-black,

Computer Interaction; Mel Siegel, professor emeritus in the

smoke-filled building. A CMU researcher would follow the

Robotics Institute; Ben Graham, undergraduate student

firefighter through the dark with a thermal imaging camera

in Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Weizhe Guo,

so he could send directions to the helmet. This was done

intern in the Visual Intelligence Studio. Lenny Weiss, MD,

because the contest was constructed to keep the testing

from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine acted

focused on the haptic system and not the contestants’

as a medical adviser during the project.

wireless radio systems. During the trials, the helmet performed efficiently and the firefighters quickly made it through the course. “At the competition, half of the judges were real firefighters and overall, they liked our approach because it was the most intuitive. If you got a buzz on the left side of your head, you look towards the left. Being intuitive is important because firefighting is really stressful,” said Florian Alber, a CMU research engineer. Other winning traits were that the haptics were embedded into an existing piece of gear so it took no extra time to put on the helmet. It was easy for first responders to learn how to use the system, too. “It only took us a minute to explain to the firefighters what each of the commands mean,” said Sean Hackett, a CMU research engineer.

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The helmet was on display at the NIST’s PSCR booth



The incredible benefits of stem cell therapy have been widely known for decades. It can alleviate the pain of arthritis, and help patients heal exponentially faster after surgery. But stem cell therapies are prohibitively expensive—to the tune of $100,000 to $200,000 per patient. Because of the exorbitant cost, these life-changing treatments are far out of range of the vast majority of those who need them. But thanks to Chemical Engineering Professor Kris Noel Dahl and Veronica Hinman, head of Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Biological Sciences, stem cell therapy is about to get a whole lot cheaper. And the key to it all lies in the incredible regenerative powers of starfish. Stem cells are the body’s raw material, able to become any type of cell the body needs: muscle cells, skin cells, blood cells, and more. In humans, when stem cells differentiate into these other cells, they are unable to change back, or dedifferentiate. And they most definitely can’t turn into a different kind of cell. But this is not the case with starfish. Notably, if a starfish loses one of its arms, it can grow it back just the same. This is due to the starfish’s unique cells, which can dedifferentiate themselves from skin or muscle cells back into stem cells. While this regenerative capability in itself is incredible, Hinman’s preliminary

“In the larval state, starfish have a distinctive head that

destination. With this artificial model, Dahl and her team can manipulate the chemical and mechanical factors

contains their brain,” says Dahl. “If the head is removed

that exist in the starfish embryo, blocking them one at a

or damaged, the differentiated cells that are definitely not

time until they find exactly what it is that tells the cells to

neural cells will dedifferentiate, crawl up to the head region,

dedifferentiate back into stem cells, crawl up to the brain

and regrow into neurons. To not only do this in the larval

region, and become neuronal tissue. Once this factor has

state, but to regrow something as complex as a brain—this

been isolated, the goal is to apply it to human cells, to tell

is an amazing regenerative capability.”

those cells to dedifferentiate so they can become whatever

Supported by funding from the DSF Charitable Foundation, Hinman and Dahl are working to understand

the patient needs. Current therapies require stem cells to be harvested

just what in starfish causes their cells to do this. While

from a patient, then cultured over the course of days, in

Hinman is focused on the fundamental science, Dahl’s lab is

order to have enough to be reinjected back into the patient

delving into the structure of the cells, cell crawling, and the

to speed healing. But with this method, cells could be taken

biomechanics of cellular regeneration.

from any part of the body, dedifferentiated back into stem

“While regenerative medicine is great, there’s still a

cells, then re-differentiated into therapeutic cells. This could

lack of understanding of the fundamentals that govern

make the process of preparing stem cell therapy faster,

how cells respecify themselves,” says Dahl. “The hope

easier, and most importantly, cheaper.

is that by studying a model organism like the starfish,

“If you could reduce stem cell therapy from $200,000

and combining what we learn with our knowledge of

to $1,000—it would touch nearly every person’s life,” says

human stem cells, we can use comparative genomics to

Dahl. “Surgeons could include a stem cell injection with

understand the gene expression that allows starfish cells

every major or minor surgery, helping patients heal 100

to respecify their programming.”

times faster. It’s quick healing; it’s reduced scarring. This

Dahl is creating an artificial model of the starfish’s larval system to map the cells as they crawl to their new

could be like penicillin. I see it becoming the standard of care in the next ten years.” PA GE 4 1

research has shown an even more incredible ability.



Carnegie Mellon researchers, led by Bin He, department head of biomedical engineering, has been awarded a National Institutes of Health Helping to End Addiction Long-Term grant to develop a treatment for sickle cell disease. Their treatment uses focused ultrasound neuromodulation, a noninvasive, nontoxic, nonaddictive alternative to the use of opioid pain medications.



A CyLab study reveals that in the

Brandon Lucia has developed

workplace employees often share

hardware and software that

social media and email accounts for

enable sensing and processing

legitimate business reasons, which

onboard nanosatellites. Smaller

often leads to problems. “We need

than a playing card, ChipSat is a

to re-think how to design shared

satellite that senses, computes, and

accounts. You can’t tell who’s done

communicates, and it costs $50

what if everyone’s using the same

to make. Working with ChipSat’s

username and password,” says Jason

creator, Lucia’s lab launched several

Hong, one of the study’s authors. In

satellites as part of NASA’s KickSat-2

addition to accountability issues, he

mission. Their diminutive size and

believes that design modifications

cost make it possible to fly swarms of

could address other problems, such

ChipSats in Earth’s orbit to support

as when a shared account gets

missions on climate science, national

locked because someone entered

security, disaster response, etc.

the wrong password too many times.



Professor Karim Shaikh asked

Carnegie Mellon and the Air

students in the Master’s in

Force Research Laboratory

Software Management program

are establishing a joint Center

to investigate the wealth disparity

of Excellence to develop next-

in the Bay Area of California.

generation aerospace materials,

Challenged to look beyond AI-only

establish research talent with AI

solutions, teams focused on policy

and materials science expertise,

changes and public education about

and advance materials science

what the future will look like if the

by integrating AI into materials

current housing crisis continues.

research and design. Named the Data-Driven Discovery Of Optimized Multifunctional Material Systems, the center is a 5-year, $7.5M venture.



The Department of Energy and the

Matteo Pozzi and Mario Bergés

National Science Foundation have

are leading efforts to predict

both invested in the research of

heat waves and their effects

faculty members Zachary Ulissi,

across cities. Their models

John Kitchin, and Andrew Gellman.

show temperature surges and

They are working to discover new,

temperatures across time at

effective catalysts for the creation of

locations within a city, with

materials, fuel, and various products

variability from factors such as

with the use of machine learning

building composition and exposed

algorithms, which speed up the

surfaces. They are advising Ph.D.


students who are building on this work, all with a goal to inform targeted heat advisories and reveal where heat mitigation techniques like green infrastructure will be most impactful.



On The Proceedings of the National

Three INI students presented

Academy’s Science Sessions podcast,

research at the 2020 RSA

Baruch Fischhoff discussed “the

Conference, the world’s largest

science of science communication,”

security conference. INI director

an emerging field of research aimed

and RSAC advisory board

at understanding which ingredients

member Dena Haritos Tsamitis

make for effective communication of

said, “Carnegie Mellon helped

scientific information, as well as the

shape the RSA Security Scholar

results from poor communication. “The

program as an opportunity

biggest obstacle to any communication,

for top students to showcase

is not understanding the audience,”

their work and interact with

he said. “Scientists are pretty good at

cybersecurity leaders.”

communicating (science) to their peers and in the classroom, but that can be quite different from communicating to general audiences.”


Sheng Shen and his team created a polymer thermal regulator that quickly transforms from a conductor to an insulator, and back again. When it’s a conductor, heat transfers quickly. When it’s an insulator, heat transfer much more slowly. By switching between the two states, the thermal regulator controls its own temperature, of its surroundings, such as a refrigerator or computer.

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as well as the temperature

INSIDE THE COLLEGE technology across all areas of science, technology, and industry. Grossmann’s work has been integral in the global development of novel mathematical programming models and techniques for a variety of problems in process systems engineering, and his contributions to systematic optimization strategies in process synthesis, design, decision-making under uncertainty and scheduling, and planning and supply chain management throughout the chemical processing enterprise have been groundbreaking. His research has particular application in chemical supply chains, process water systems, shale gas production, offshore oil and gas facilities, and many other fields. He has served as Director of the Synthesis Laboratory

GROSSMANN AWARDED AIChE FOUNDERS AWARD Rudolph R. and Florence Dean University

the AIChE Founder’s Award,” says ChemE

Professor of Chemical Engineering (ChemE)

Department Head Anne Skaja Robinson.

Ignacio Grossmann has been awarded

“Over the past four decades at Carnegie

the Founders Award for Outstanding

Mellon, Ignacio has led the process

Contributions to the Field of Chemical

systems field in simulation, modeling, and

Engineering from the American Institute

optimization strategies, and he has a level of

of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). This is the

energy and caring toward his students and

highest award given by the Institute.

colleagues that is almost unequaled.”

This award is presented each year to

Ignacio Grossmann is one of the

one AIChE member who has had a great

founders and Director of the Center for

impact on the field of chemical engineering

Advanced Process Decision-making, a

as a whole, and whose achievements

Carnegie Mellon University research center

have advanced the profession in general.

comprised of twenty petroleum, chemical,

Recipients have a long and distinguished

and engineering companies, which is

record of service, both technically and

dedicated to understanding and aiding

professionally, to the chemical engineering

the complex design and operation issues

profession. Previous award winners include

affecting industry, and developing modeling

Julio M. Ottino (Northwestern), William F.

for process systems engineering. Founded

Banholzer (Dow/Wisconsin), and George

in 1985, the Center was built on Carnegie

Stephanopoulos (MIT).

Mellon University’s long and innovative

“I am thrilled that Ignacio Grossmann

history in the field of process systems

is being recognized for his tremendous

engineering, which has spearheaded the

career and major impact in process systems

advancement of systems concepts and

engineering through the awarding of

integration of computer and systems

from the Engineering Design Research Center, associate editor of AIChE Journal, and member of the editorial boards of Computers and Chemical Engineering, Journal of Global Optimization, Optimization and Engineering, Latin American Applied Research, and Process Systems Engineering Series. In addition to AIChE, he is a member of the Institute for Operations Research and Management Science, the Mathematical Optimization Society, and the American Chemical Society. “I am truly honored to receive the Founder’s Award of AIChE as it recognizes the importance and impact of the area of process systems engineering,” says Grossmann. “Without the great dedication and work of my students, and the strong support over the years by the department, as well as the stimulating environment provided by the Center of Advanced Process Decision-making and our collaborations with industry and the Operations Research group at Tepper, this prestigious recognition would not have been possible.”

CLASSES YOU ONLY FIND AT CMU THE SOUND OF WAVES On the campus of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), you don’t have to choose between your scientific and artistic passions. Sometimes, such as in the case of Chemical Engineering Professor Shelley Anna’s fluid mechanics class, what may seem like contradictory interests can come together to make beautiful music. “I was teaching a math class,” says Anna, “and we came to a problem about the wave equation that had to do with violin strings and why they vibrate at different frequencies. There was a comment that the overtones are what creates an instrument’s unique sound. So instead of just talking about it with my students, I brought my cello in and demonstrated different overtones. Then we looked at the sound spectrum of a recording of it, analyzed its wave form, and compared it to the solution we found mathematically.” From a very young age, Anna loved playing the cello. She started in seventh grade, playing in her school orchestra,


and quickly moved up to join the chamber orchestra, and then the all-state orchestra. It was such a big part of her life, she even considered majoring in music and pursuing a performance career. When it came time for college, she put in applications for both CMU’s College of Science and the College of Fine Arts. Ultimately, Anna pursued a formal career in science, earning a B.S. in physics from CMU and a Ph.D. in engineering science from Harvard University, before becoming a full chemical engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon; however, she never lost her love for the cello. And now, nearly 22 years later, she’s combining her passion for music and her passion for engineering in ways that are not only fulfilling for her, but transformational for the education of her students. “One of the things that I love about Carnegie Mellon is how varied and interdisciplinary the institution is,” she says. “You have students and faculty with interests that run from science and technology to fine arts, visual arts, and music. There are people here on campus who are so talented that they can continue to pursue their artistic interests while also

PA GE 4 5

pursuing a stellar career in whatever their chosen field is.”


and necessary for patients when the mouth, nose, and upper airway cannot provide breathing functions, but it is not without its downsides. Air coming in through the neck incision does not get humidified as it normally would via the nose and mouth. The comparably dry air irritates the trachea, causing it to produce a moisturizing mucus in the throat that builds up over time. Devices called heat-moisture exchangers (HMEs) can be connected to the incision to humidify air coming in through the neck. However, even the best HMEs need to be replaced around three or four times a day when they become clogged with mucus. Constantly replacing the devices results in higher medical costs and a large amount of plastic waste. In addition, patients are usually unable to speak when connected to the devices, since Each summer, researchers from the

the air they need to breathe cannot vibrate

Biomedical Engineering Department (BME)

their vocal cords.

learn about quality-of-life issues affecting

With these problems in mind, Gaurav

patients in Pittsburgh hospitals and come

Balakrishnan, Allison Caron, Tala Habbab,

up with multiple projects for student groups

Rachel Kim, Gayatri Paranjape, and Tahj

to tackle when they return to campus in the

Spigner devised a plan for their year-long

fall. In the 2018-2019 academic year, five

undertaking, incorporating patient feedback,

BME seniors and a junior studying industrial

market research, prototyping, testing, cost

design teamed up to solve one of these

analysis, and developing reports to prove the

issues in Senior BME Design Capstone,

viability of their product.

a year-long course instructed by Conrad

The team initially intended to improve

Zapanta, BME associate department head

existing suctioning devices, but they found

and professor.

that patients were more concerned about

The challenge was to improve the devices

other features, like having the option of

used by patients receiving a tracheostomy, a

speaking while still breathing or to reduce

medical procedure in which a surgeon makes

air resistance to take in a bigger breath after

an incision on the front of a patient’s neck

strenuous activity.

to create a new opening to the trachea or windpipe. This procedure can be life-saving

After multiple stages of prototyping, the group came up with Humidi-Speech,


a humidifying and speech-enabling tracheostomy attachment. The team worked through a long list of desired features to produce an innovative device featuring slits, a removable bottom, and a movable tube. The device has two modes, which can

allowed the team to test different types

be changed by the patient: filter mode and

of insertable filters. “Different filters

speech mode. The blue tube rests slotted

behave differently,” explains Habbab.

in the grey cartridge, allowing air to move

“We found that for moisture capture,

between the slits and the tube to the

our final prototype captured moisture

trachea. However, if the blue tube is pushed

a lot better than the commercial HME

in a bit, it will stop the air flow going to the

with our filter.”

incision. That way, air coming up from the

For testing, the team used easily

lungs can continue up past the vocal cords,

acquirable materials. “We used a bicycle

allowing them to vibrate and create speech.

pump as an inhale, so that would be like

Another benefit of the blue tube is that it

dry air passing through the device. And

can easily be taken out entirely, to provide

then we would do that through a couple

for a greater intake of air. Although that

of different rounds to see how well the

air would not be humidified by the slits

moisture would stay within the device,”

and filter, having a way to take in a large

said Caron.

breath can help a patient who needs to do

Although the best commercial device

something strenuous, like get up to walk to

could capture more moisture per breath

the bathroom.

than their prototype, the moisture the

The slits for airflow are positioned on

commercial device released per breath

either side of the central tubes. “The reason

was much lower. Therefore moisture

why filters or HMEs are thrown out so often

built up more quickly, causing the


is that when you cough up mucus, it goes in

problems patients complained about in


and clogs the filters,” explains Balakrishnan.

the first place. With Humidi-Speech, the

“Our filters are only on the two sides and

rate of moisture captured was lower,

not in the middle, so the chance of that

but more similar to moisture released,

happening is less. Also, you can take out

causing less moisture and bacteria to

the speech valve completely and leave just

collect in the device. The team earned two awards with

mucus to come out without really dirtying up

their results. Humidi-Speech was

the device.” Air can still easily spill over to the

awarded third place in the Design by

slits, but any mucus is likely to remain at the

Biomedical Undergraduate Teams

center of the device, where it can be coughed

challenge, supported by The National

or swabbed away.

Institute of Biomedical Imaging and

Unlike other HMEs, Humidi-Speech


Bioengineering and VentureWell. In

provides a removable bottom, so that just

addition, the seniors were recognized

the filters can be replaced instead of the

by their department for having the

entire device. This change makes the device

Best BME Design Project, which earned

more reusable, affordable, and eco-friendly

them certificates at their undergraduate

than other HMEs on the market. It also

graduation ceremony. PA GE 4 7

the hole, which would be a pathway for the


STUDENT INTERNS AT REMEDIATION SITE IN GERMANY Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) student Tessa

airtight, reinforced containers.” It will then be processed

Weeden’s motivation to take on new challenges led her to

at dedicated thermal soil treatment or hazardous waste

gain valuable hands-on experience through an internship at

incineration plants. The excavated area will be refilled with

a remediation site in Grenzach-Wyhlen, Germany.

clean gravel, soil, and topsoil in 2020.

Weeden assisted on Roche Pharma AG’s project to

Her work built directly upon the soil analysis skills

excavate the western part of the Kesslergrube landfill while

she gained in CEE. Weeden adds that the best part of

ensuring thermal disposal of all excavated soil materials.

the internship was when she was allowed to access the

“The Kesslergrube landfill includes several former gravel

contaminated zone to make a measurement, using a GPS

pits in Grenzach-Wyhlen, which were filled with domestic,

system. “I was required to wear a full body safety suit,

construction, and chemical/pharmaceutical waste until

rubber safety boots, gloves, and a Versaflo Respiratory

1976,” she says. The site is currently enclosed by an

Hardhat Assembly to provide me with fresh air. It was

airtight, sound-insulated building in order to protect the

exciting because I felt like I was on a Mars expedition!”

environment against harmful emissions. Weeden’s internship focused mostly on documentation—

Weeden’s successful internships show that stepping outside of her comfort zone—and taking positions in

but she had the opportunity to work on soil analysis,

faraway places—has been a valuable piece of her education.

GPS tracking, and using 3D scans to measure the daily

She adds that finding these types of opportunities requires


networking and job searching to find the right fit. “I found

She explains that “the contaminated soil will be transported off-site by trucks, rail, or ships in special

out about the internship at Kesslergrube through a CMU alum I met at a networking event at school.”

CMU-SV STUDENTS PARTNER WITH TECH TITANS Students enrolled at Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley (CMU-

Bay Area was with Volvo’s Connected Solutions Innovation

SV) have the unique opportunity to study in the Bay Area of

Lab as a solution developer intern exploring local traffic

California—a place that is booming with technical discovery

infrastructure. She noted that, for an international student

and entrepreneurship. In the Integrated Innovation

like herself, the fact that companies are prepared to work

Institute and Information Networking Institute (INI),

with CMU-SV students made her transition much easier

students also get the opportunity to work in their fields

than it could have been.

with major tech companies who partner with CMU-SV for internship, research, and networking opportunities. Two such companies are Apple and Volvo. Jenny

“Through Integrated Innovation, we have access to corporate sponsors, so this is a bonus point for me. It’s especially nice for international students,” adds Wang.

Elfsberg, the Director of Volvo’s Innovation Lab Hub US

She explains that companies have been very supportive of

says that they are excited to work with CMU-SV students

international students, who sometimes run into challenges

because they “successfully work together throughout the

with securing jobs or internships.

co-creation process. This is a skill set that is extremely

Internships are just one of the many ways that CMU-SV

important for the future of Volvo and something that is

supports student engagement with the vibrant industry

not taught at all universities… There is a balance of the

surrounding them in the Bay Area. Both Integrated

students’ depth of knowledge and expertise, along with the

Innovation and INI lead tech treks to visit local companies,

ability for collaboration and successful teams.”

host corporate speakers on site, and conduct events such as

Bicoastal INI students and some Integrated Innovation students, depending on their degree, start their academic

hackathons and networking nights to fully enrich student lives with professional opportunities that abound in the region.

journey in Pittsburgh on CMU’s main campus. After a year of study, INI students complete a three-month summer internship with a tech company, often in the Bay Area, before continuing their second academic year at the CMUSV location. Not only does the internship provide students with invaluable real-world experience and access to professional mentorship; but, it serves as their introduction to a new home. Yixin Bao is in his final semester of the MS Information Technology Mobility program in INI. His introduction to the West Coast was as a software engineering intern at Apple working on Bluetooth Core projects such as AirPod connectivity. “It’s a very smooth transition,” says Bao. “One of the reasons I applied to this program is because I get to study in Silicon Valley, where you meet more people from industry and you get more opportunities for things like job applications.” Bao is excited to graduate in the spring and return to Apple full time in the summer to start his career. Like him, many CMU-SV students go on to work in the Bay Area, sometimes with companies where they previously interned. Integrated Innovation student Ida Wang is currently in the MS in Technology Ventures program with an expected


PA GE 4 9

graduation date of December 2020. Her introduction to the

ALUMNI NEWS This experience gave Saigal a taste of what it was like to use her unique background in chemical engineering and food sciences to further a cause she was passionate about— the creation of a more plant-based world. It was with that passion in mind that she chose to leave Ripple Foods and start her own company: Down to Cook. Often, vegan and vegetarian specialty foods are cost-prohibitive, available only to higher-income populations. But Saigal wants to change the idea that a plant-based lifestyle is only for the wealthy. The idea behind her new startup is to provide delicious, plant-

ENGINEERING THE FUTURE OF PLANT-BASED FOOD The number of people adopting a plantbased diet is growing by the day. And the

The Clorox Company.

based options for everyone by creating blends of spices and proteins that can be mixed with affordable vegetables to form a balanced meal. “For instance, we’ve created a paste similar to vegetable broth concentrate that when blended with a bell pepper and a sweet

“I thought I would most likely be joining

potato forms a perfect substitute for cheddar

reasons for going vegetarian or vegan seem

their cleaning department, given my complex

cheese,” Saigal says. “We have a mix you can

to be growing as well. Some do it to help

fluids background,” Saigal says. “But as it

pair with other vegetables to change the

reduce CO2 emissions—produced in large

turned out, they needed someone with my

texture and protein content as a replacement

amounts by the meat and dairy industries.

experience to work on Hidden Valley® Ranch. I

for ground beef. In this way, you don’t need

Others hope to increase their overall health;

had specifically studied emulsions in my Ph.D.,

to buy these expensive meat and dairy

especially considering the World Health

and they needed someone to lower the fat in

replacers—you can make them yourself at

Organization has labeled processed meat

ranch, while maintaining its creamy texture.”

home, using your own affordable ingredients.”

a carcinogen. Still others do it to protest

According to Saigal, the majority of her

That’s what Saigal’s Carnegie Mellon

the unethical treatment of animals. But

work on Hidden Valley® Ranch involved

Chemical Engineering education taught her:

whatever the reason, there are millions of

modeling flavor as a function of texture. The

how to manipulate ingredients. In the same

people around the world now looking for

fat level, the droplet size, the interaction of

way that a chef adds spices and oils to create

alternatives to meat.

the fat droplets with one another—all of

a better-tasting recipe, Saigal uses these

this affects the texture and flavor, and can

same ingredients to create a better food

alternatives already exist, thanks to her time

be modified using chemical engineering

product. But the ingredients she chooses

in Carnegie Mellon’s Chemical Engineering

principles. For example, two different

are based on a deep knowledge of their

Department, Ph.D. alumnae Trishna Saigal is

formulations can contain the same amount

chemical properties.

creating a healthier option with her plant-

of garlic powder, but if the fat content or

based food startup, Down to Cook.

droplet size is different you will perceive the

talk about things like emulsifiers, we aren’t

level of garlic differently.

talking about dangerous, unpronounceable

And while plenty of processed meat

As a Chemical Engineering (ChemE) student, Saigal came to Carnegie Mellon

But her work with Hidden Valley® Ranch

“In the world of food science, when we

chemicals,” she says. “In the case of ranch,

thinking what many young ChemE’s think:

was only the beginning of Saigal’s food

it’s egg yolk. The yolk has a combination of

that she would enter the pharmaceutical

science career. From there, she decided it

proteins and phospholipids that stabilize

industry. While this didn’t particularly excite

was time to work on something that more

the droplet. For non-dairy milks, it’s other

her, she loved the process design inherent

aligned with her moral values, and thus,

things. Food scientists understand how

to chemical engineering, and for that, she

found a home at a small startup called

these naturally occurring things function,

would take the good with the bad. But that

Ripple Foods, which makes dairy-free

then use that to design the process of

all changed she went to an open interview at

alternatives to everyday products.

making a food product.”


power, biology and medicine, and even aerospace. The Society is the steward of nuclear technology.” Much of the current press surrounding nuclear technology focuses on the public fear of nuclear weapons— but Kray is out to change that. As leader of the ANS, she is responsible for helping the media, lawmakers, and the general public understand the benefits of nuclear technologies. And while there is still a long way to go, there is growing consensus among energy decision makers that nuclear energy is a necessary part of the path to climate

United States to a cleaner future, nuclear energy is a

change mitigation. “What excites me most about the field of nuclear energy

polarizing subject. But chemical engineering (ChemE)

is its social relevance,” says Kray. “Nuclear power has a

alumna (’83) and Vice President of Exelon Generation

major role to play in staving off the two degree increase in

Marilyn C. Kray has devoted her career to advancing the

average global temperature. There is a growing recognition

nuclear industry and its standing in America. Thanks to

that nuclear power is the nexus between energy and

her decades of hard work and devotion, she has been

climate change mitigation. While renewable energy is

named President of the American Nuclear Society (ANS),

certainly part of the solution to climate change, nuclear

the country’s foremost organization committed to the

power must also be part of the mix as it is a source of

development of nuclear technologies.

reliable and clean energy.”

“Our organization represents the approximately 10,000

As a young chemical engineering major, Kray assumed

professionals from over 40 countries devoted to peaceful

she would go to work in the petroleum industry. But in the

applications of nuclear science and technology,” Kray says.

early 1980s, the industry hit a major downturn. So when

“These fields include nuclear physics, commercial nuclear

Kray graduated in 1983, jobs in petroleum were few and far between. But the market was changing for other energy sectors as well. In 1979, the Three Mile Island accident occurred. In response, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was in a period of heavy recruitment, looking for professionals trained in chemical engineering and other technical disciplines. Kray’s education made her a perfect fit. After graduating, she joined the NRC as a project manager in the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation in Bethesda, Maryland. From then on, she never looked back. Today, as the president of the American Nuclear Society, she is driving various initiatives, including the Navigating Nuclear program, in partnership with Discovery Education. This program is designed to increase the inclusion of nuclear technology education into elementary, middle, and high school curricula. This way, students interested in chemical engineering will enter their undergraduate programs thinking of the nuclear industry as a viable option for their futures. “When I decided to pursue chemical engineering, I thought I knew exactly what I would do with my degree,” says Kray. “But by the time I graduated, I had to adjust my outlook and consider other areas. And that adjustment led me to a successful and fulfilling career. I would encourage any ChemE student to keep their minds open to opportunities. You never know where they might lead.” MARILYN C. KRAY (ChemE ‘83), VICE PRESIDENT OF NUCLEAR STRATEGY AND DEVELOPMENT FOR EXELON

PA GE 5 1

In the search for a low-carbon energy mix to bring the

doctoral degrees in 1966, 1967 and 1971. For nearly three decades, he worked at Digital Equipment Corporation, where he served as consulting engineer, senior vice president of engineering, chief technology officer and senior vice president of corporate strategy. He earned 16 patents for his breakthrough engineering designs. Strecker notes that perhaps his most satisfying role was leading the development of the highly successful VAX computer architecture.


Later, Strecker served as senior vice president of technology and corporate development at Compaq Computer Corporation and venture capital partner at Flagship Ventures. He concluded his career as chief technology officer and executive vice president at In-Q-Tel, a nonprofit working with startups to provide technology to the U.S. intelligence community. Strecker has been honored as a member of the National Academy of Engineering; a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery; a lifetime member of the IEEE, earning its prestigious McDowell Award; and as a recipient

Carnegie Mellon University alumnus William Strecker and his wife, Nancy, have made a transformational $15 million gift to endow the dean’s chair of the College of Engineering. The gift provides critical funds for the dean to invest in

of CMU’s Alumni Achievement Award. A mathematician by background, Nancy Strecker also had an extensive career with Digital Equipment Corporation, where she and Bill met. She built and led an award-

strategic priorities that advance the College of Engineering’s

winning worldwide corporate sales team and DEC’s global

educational and research initiatives across its seven

pharmaceutical industry business unit before ultimately

departments, institutes, and programs at CMU locations in

retiring as vice president of global customer programs.

Africa and Silicon Valley. Carnegie Mellon will recognize this landmark commitment

“Bill and I are both very passionate about education, which can have such a significant impact on every individual

by establishing the Dr. William D. and Nancy W. Strecker

human being, and more broadly as a driver for human

Dean’s Chair of the College of Engineering, and Dean William

rights,” Nancy Strecker said. “We have been affiliated

H. Sanders is the inaugural holder of this new chair.

with many great universities, and we find the College of

“Carnegie Mellon’s College of Engineering is world

Engineering at Carnegie Mellon represents educational

renowned for its innovations that solve pressing global

excellence at its finest. Our gift is not only an investment

problems and for its focus on developing future industry

in the future of engineering at CMU, but consequently

leaders through education,” President Farnam Jahanian

because of CMU, it is an investment driver in the future of

said. “Bill and Nancy’s exceptional generosity in endowing

engineering across the field.”

the dean’s chair will accelerate the college’s important

The Streckers have a long history of philanthropy

work that addresses issues at the heart of our rapidly

at Carnegie Mellon. In 2013, the couple established

evolving society.”

the Dr. William D. and Nancy W. Strecker Early Career

“In our many interactions over the years, we have been

Professorship in electrical and computer engineering at

extraordinarily impressed by the College of Engineering’s

CMU to support talented junior faculty members as they

programs, its students, and faculty, and how it responds

develop into leaders with world-class engineering expertise.

to students’ needs,” Bill Strecker said. “The college has

“I am excited and humbled to serve as the first

had an impact on the entire field of engineering, across

Strecker Dean of the College of Engineering,” Sanders said.

the board. Its inspirational work keeps us connected to

“Philanthropy provides so many essential opportunities for

Carnegie Mellon.”

faculty and students, and I look forward to working with

Bill Strecker is a triple alumnus of the college’s electrical engineering program, earning bachelor’s, master’s and

Bill and Nancy and the entire community of supporters to advance the college and CMU.”

BOB S TRA T T A N E E ’59, ’62

Bob has fond memories of his doctoral research at CMU: adapting an electrical power systems simulator lab. After graduating, Bob worked for Boeing and North American Aviation, and then joined the faculty of the University of Tulsa for 30 years. Bob is one of only a few faculty members inducted into the University of Tulsa College of Engineering and Natural Sciences’ Hall of Fame. Bob and his wife Vada have created a lasting legacy at Carnegie Mellon through a charitable trust that will provide support to the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering where it is most needed. They give back because Bob says Carnegie Mellon was the pathway to a successful and rewarding life.

G I VE S T RAT E G I CALL Y, S U PPORT G E NE ROUSLY. Learn how easy it is to achieve your philanthropic vision through a planned gift by visiting

As a retired engineer, Bob still enjoys spending his time tinkering. He restores vintage cars, such as his father’s 1946 Chevrolet pickup.

Contact the Office of Gift Planning today at 412.268.5346 or

College of Engineering

Office of the Dean College of Engineering Carnegie Mellon University 5000 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890

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